That Was the Week That Was
(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
Last week was not a good week for Donald Trump. On Monday FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers testified before the House Intelligence Committee that they had no information confirming that Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower, a frivolous accusation Trump had launched two weeks earlier. Comey added that the FBI had been investigating contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian agents since July 2016. In an attempt to help Trump the Chairman of the Committee, Devin Nunes, ran to the White House to tell Trump that names of some of his associates, and most likely also his own name, had come up incidentally in communications monitored by the intelligence services. Without Nunes’s action Trump could also have known that, because it would have been very unlikely that foreign agents monitored by the CIA had never mentioned him, and Nunes acknowledged that all appropriate legal procedures had been followed. The effect was not that Trump was exonerated, but that Nunes compromised himself and increased the chance that a Special Investigative Commission would be formed.
And that was only the beginning. During the rest of the week it became clear that the American Health Care Act, the Republican replacement of Obamacare, would not have enough support to pass the House. The AHCA, a product of flim-flammer Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, is essentially a $300 billion tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, in exchange for which health care provisions for the poorest Americans would be gutted. In spite of attempts by Steve Bannon to strongarm congressmen and concessions that would have reduced insurance policies to empty shells, the Freedom Caucus of the GOP could not be convinced, and on Friday the bill had to be pulled. Trump’s initial response, to blame the failure to pass the bill on the Democrats, was amusing, because apparently he expected them to support a bill that screwed their constituents out of the most basic services, but since then he has moved on and blamed the Freedom Caucus. So far Trump has not directly blamed Paul Ryan, but yesterday he strangely recommended that people watch a Fox News show in which anchor Jeanine Pirro demanded that Ryan step down.
The question is: what’s next? Contrary to the known facts Trump maintains that Obamacare will implode in 2017, and it is feared that he will make his prophesy come true with the help of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, by taking as much money as possible away from health care. There will be many victims, not only patients but also doctors and hospitals, but for Trump no price is too high if he can retroactively make Obama look like a failure.
Conservatives argue that there has also been good news for Trump last week, because his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, sailed through his Senate hearings without any obvious damage. Gorsuch, however, was slick and evasive, and probably turned off enough Democrats to make his confirmation questionable, unless Mitch McConnell unilaterally changes the procedure.
And the worst news may be yet to come for Trump. There are strong rumors that General Michael Flynn, National Security Advisor for two weeks, is ‘singing’ to the FBI about collusion with the Russians by the Trump campaign. If true, what went wrong for Trump this week is only the beginning of the end.
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