Condolence Calls

Thursday, October 19, 2017Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 11.21.42

Good Thursday morning. Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • President Trump said in a condolence call that a soldier killed in Niger knew what he signed up for, the soldier’s mother said. That backs the account of a Democratic lawmaker, who first described the exchange between the president and the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson. Mr. Trump has denied saying those words.

  • After initially voicing support, Mr. Trump offered a different take on the plan to restore the health insurance subsidies that he canceled. The Republican who helped draft the bipartisan deal predicted that it would pass before the end of the year.
  • Federal and state courts have rejected a stream of laws passed by North Carolina Republicans in recent years. Now, Republicans are imposing sweeping changes on the state’s courts.
— The First Draft Team

Breitbart in the White HouseIn this week’s episode, Charlie Spiering, a White House correspondent for Breitbart News, spoke to The Times about how he does his job, what he makes of the controversy surrounding his employer and more.

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The grave site of Marine First Lt. Travis Manion, who was killed in Iraq in 2007. President George W. Bush called the Manion family shortly after the lieutenant’s death.

Fallen Troops’ Families Tell of Meeting Presidents: Sympathy and Sometimes Discomfort


President Trump’s condolence call to the widow of a slain soldier was outside the usual range of encounters with presidents, wounded service members and families of those killed said.

A video frame of Myeshia Johnson over the casket of her husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in an ambush in Niger, upon his body’s arrival in Miami.

Lawmaker on Trump: That Is Not What You Say to a Grieving Widow


Representative Frederica S. Wilson, Democrat of Florida, condemned the president’s words about a soldier’s death in an ambush in Niger. “He was calling the fallen soldier ‘your guy.’ And he never said his name because he did not know his name,” she said.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson on Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Tillerson Hails Ties With India, but Criticizes China and Pakistan


Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson called for warmer ties with India while sharply criticizing China and urging Pakistan to do more against terrorism.

President Trump, in a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington on Tuesday, urged Congress to “find a solution to the Obamacare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies.”

Calling Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments ‘a Bailout’ Is Misleading


Mr. Trump has repeatedly called payments made to health insurers “a bailout,” but they lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income people.

Janet L. Yellen, the Federal Reserve chairwoman, at a news conference in March. Her term is due to end in February.

The Economy Is Humming, but That May Not Win Janet Yellen Another Term


Under Janet L. Yellen, unemployment has declined and inflation has remained low. But that may not be enough for her to keep the job at the Federal Reserve.

A tweet by Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, may have poured cold water on a popular joke.

Ted Cruz, Who Is Not the Zodiac Killer, Acknowledges a Long-Running Joke


The senator from Texas tweeted an image associated with the infamous serial killer, finally acknowledging a joking meme.

Lt. Gov Ralph S. Northam, left, the Democratic nominee for governor in Virginia, during a debate with his Republican challenger, Ed Gillespie, in Wise, Va., last week.

Obama Returns to Campaign Trail to Rally Black Voters


Democrats are facing a test of their ability to inspire black voters, with elections in Virginia and Alabama hinging on their turnout.

President Trump announced in June that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

New Talks on Paris Climate Pact Are Set, and That’s Awkward for U.S.


International delegates will gather next month to discuss implementing the Paris agreement, and American negotiators will be there even though the United States has said it will quit the pact.

Detained members of a youth wing of Indonesia’s Communist Party in Jakarta in October 1965. Half a million Indonesians or more, many of whom had no connection to communism, were estimated to have been killed during the crackdown.

U.S. Stood By as Indonesia Killed a Half-Million People, Papers Show


A purge in 1965-66 played to anti-Communist attitudes, and U.S. diplomats mostly stayed silent while tallying the deaths, documents show.

President Trump signing an executive order on health care on Thursday. He later decided to cut off federal funding to insurance companies for subsidies that help people afford their health care.

Trump’s Attack on Insurer ‘Gravy Train’ Could Actually Help Many Consumers


State regulators and insurers have found a way to funnel more federal money into the markets and protect consumers from big rate hikes.

Sessions Refuses to Discuss His Conversations With Trump AboutAttorney General Jeff Sessions during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday. Comey or Russia


Attorney General Jeff Sessions declined to answer many questions in his first Judiciary Committee appearance as the top law enforcement officer.

The Trump International Hotel in Washington is within walking distance of the White House.

Is Trump Violating the Constitution? In Absentia, He Defends Himself in Court


At issue is whether the Trump Hotel in Washington violates a provision banning federal officials from accepting economic benefits from governments at home or abroad.

Ami Neiberger-Miller at home. Her brother, Chris Neiberger, was killed in Iraq in 2007.

Lawsuit Claims Three U.S. Companies Funded Terrorism in Iraq


The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, cited as evidence contracts between the companies and the Iraqi government, leaked diplomatic cables, and the testimony of informants.

Dinosaur National Monument.

Drilling Near Dinosaur National Monument Draws Criticism


The Bureau of Land Management plans to auction drilling rights on land close to the park’s visitor center. Conservation groups have objections.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
Fred Barnes in The Weekly Standard:
“Democrats won’t be pleased. The steps McConnell has taken in recent weeks are aimed at thwarting their efforts to block, sideline, or delay President Trump’s nominees.”
Mr. Barnes explains, in detail, all the ways that Senator Mitch McConnell has aided the judicial confirmation process. This includes, Mr. Barnes points out, a revision of the “blue slip” process, which in the past allowed senators to hold up a judge’s confirmation by refusing to return their blue slip, or recommendation, to the committee. Read more »
From the Left
Greg Sargent in The Washington Post:
“Trump allies and Republicans are so desperate to pass this tax plan that they’re also doubling down on another strange argument: If Republicans don’t get this plan passed, their majority in Congress is doomed — and with it, so is the Trump agenda.”
It is possible that the public friendliness between Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell is about the Republicans’ desperation to pass tax reform, suggests Mr. Sargent. He is wary of the narrative supplied by Stephen K.  Bannon and more establishment figures like Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “The only conceivable way for the G.O.P. to save itself from the ‘economic populist’ ferment among G.O.P. voters is to pass an enormous tax cut for the wealthy and corporations?” He writes. “Can someone explain why we are supposed to believe this?” Read more »
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