Senate Braces for Health Care Showdown

Tuesday, July 25, 2017Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 9.16.34 AM

Good Tuesday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • After debating health care for seven months, Republicans have reached the moment when they have to vote, but they have yet to be told precisely what they will be voting on.

  • Jared Kushner emerged from a private, two-hour session with congressional investigators and said his meetings last year with Russians were not part of any attempt by Moscow to disrupt the presidential election.

  • Brian Benczkowski, the president’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s criminal division, has disclosed to Congress that he previously represented Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s largest financial institutions.

  • President Trump turned up the pressure on his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, calling him “beleaguered” in a tweet questioning why the Justice Department was not investigating Hillary Clinton.

  • Democrats gathered in a small town in Virginia to unveil the economic themes that they hope to run on in 2018 as they look beyond Mr. Trump.
— The First Draft Team
News Analysis

With the Trump White House, a New Bar for Outrage

By PETER BAKER
President Trump leaving the White House on Monday. In just six months, he has radically shifted the understanding of what is standard presidential behavior.

President Trump leaving the White House on Monday. In just six months, he has radically shifted the understanding of what is standard presidential behavior. Tom Brenner/The New York Times

Remember that time President George W. Bush told his attorney general to investigate Al Gore for his “crimes”? Or President Barack Obama called for a Justice Department prosecution of John McCain?
Neither did that, of course, nor has any president in modern times sought to prosecute the candidate he beat at the ballot box. But when President Trump publicly declared last weekend that his Justice Department should investigate Hillary Clinton, his exhortation generated relatively little reaction.
Indeed, when he repeated it on Twitter on Monday, more attention was paid to the fact that he described his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, as “beleaguered” — a condition that, if true, was due in large part to Mr. Trump himself, who last week said that he regretted appointing Mr. Sessions because the attorney general had recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation.
After six months in office, Mr. Trump has crossed so many lines, discarded so many conventions, said and done so many things that other presidents would not have, that he has radically shifted the understanding of what is standard in the White House. He has moved the bar for outrage. He has a taste for provocation and relishes challenging Washington taboos. If the propriety police tut tut, he shows no sign of concern.
“His tweet is bizarre and unprecedented,” said James A. Thurber, the founder and former director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University in Washington. And yet, “he has made so many outlandish statements, Americans seem to be immune to this latest call for investigating Hillary.”
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The Outcomes of the Many Republican Health Plans Are Not So Different

By HAEYOUN PARK

Comparing how the plans would affect key measures like the number of uninsured and the deficit.

Janet L. Yellen, the Federal Reserve’s chairwoman. She has attributed the recent weakness to declines in the prices of particular goods, like cellphone-service plans and prescription drugs.

U.S. Inflation Remains Low, and That’s a Problem

By BINYAMIN APPELBAUM

The Federal Reserve is struggling to hit its annual inflation target for the sixth straight year, suggesting that, once again, it may be too optimistic about the health of the economy.

Demonstrators fighting for a $15-an-hour minimum wage marched through Chicago in May.

Congressional Democrats Promise a ‘Better Deal’ for American Workers

By BINYAMIN APPELBAUM

Senator Chuck Schumer said his party was committed to raising the minimum wage, regulating drug prices and battling corporate consolidation. But there were some striking omissions in the plan.

Read Jared Kushner’s Prepared Remarks

Jared Kushner’s representatives released on Monday morning prepared remarks for Senate investigators. In the statement, Mr. Kushner flatly denied participating in — or having any knowledge about — collusion with Russia.

Times Insider
The New Presidential Interview
By PETER BAKER
President Trump in the Oval Office at the conclusion of an interview with Reuters in February.

President Trump in the Oval Office at the conclusion of an interview with Reuters in February. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

As we walked out the door of the West Wing, the one sometimes guarded by a uniformed Marine and used by the president to greet visiting heads of state, editors back in the office texted the obvious question: Did we have any news?
Um, yes. Yes, we did. My colleagues Maggie Haberman, Michael Schmidt and I had just finished an interview with President Trump one day last week and the challenge was not whether there was a headline but how many.
In just 50 minutes, the president undercut his attorney general by saying he regretted appointing him, accused a former F.B.I. director of trying to leverage compromising information against him, hinted that he might fire the special counsel examining Russian election meddling if the investigation strayed too far into his finances, and revealed that he had talked about sanctions with Russia’s president.
Whatever else he is, Mr. Trump is a news machine. He generates headlines every time he speaks. He has made the White House press corps a growth industry. With other presidents, we sometimes struggled to find nuggets of news in an interview; with Mr. Trump we were overwhelmed. After the session on Wednesday, I have now interviewed seven presidents — some in office, some after they left — and with Mr. Trump the experience is strikingly different in almost every respect.
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