‘A Looming Showdown’
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‘A Looming Showdown’

Trump Takes Out After Special Prosecutor Mueller, Dumps on Sessions and the Justice Department

L’état, c’est moi. The Trump-Kremlin conspiracy investigation reached a new level of tension Thursday as it appeared that Trump may be preparing an effort to fire or severely restrict Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut Mueller’s Russia investigation, The Washington Post reported.  Trump has also asked advisers about his ability to pardon aides, family members and even himself. The attorneys are compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest. The effort to investigate the investigators is another sign of a looming showdown between Trump and Mueller, who has assembled a team of high-powered prosecutors and agents, some of whom have vast experience prosecuting financial malfeasance. Asked if Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it expanded to look at his family’s finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Trump told The New York Times, “I would say yes. I think that’s a violation.” He would not say what he would do about it. Trump also used The Times interview to lash out at Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller. Trump said he would have never nominated Sessions if he knew Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Trump-Kremlin conspiracy case. Sessions said he plans to stay on at the Justice Department. “Who attacks their entire Justice Department?” one person asked The Washington Post. “It’s insane.” Fired US Atty. Preet Bharara also had a string of Twitter comments on the boiling situation: “If Mueller is fired, then does rule of law matter anymore?”

Left to right: Todd Palin, Sarah Palin, Cindy McCain, and John McCain. Rally in Fairfax, Va., on Sept. 10, 2008. Photo by Rachael Dickson.

Insured. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has a type of brain cancer that is often deadly, but he does have at least one thing in his favor: health insurance. Cancer patients with private health insurance or Medicare outlive those on Medicaid or without insurance. Trumpcare would have left millions more people, some of them current and future cancer patients, without insurance.

Arts matter. The National Endowment for the Arts would receive $145 million in fiscal 2018, just a 3 percent cut from its funding of about $150 million this year, under a bill approved Tuesday by the House Appropriations Committee. That’s about five dimes for every American. Trump’s tacky budget for the NEA would have slashed about $116 million, or about 77 percent of this year’s funding. Republicans typically have wanted to reduce or eliminate cultural funding. Trump’s budget for the NEA, which helped fund “Hamilton” and an arts program in Berea, Ken., would have saved taxpayers $1 out of every $35,351 Trump wants to spend.

Not union proud. Loren Sweatt, a former lobbyist for the anti-union construction group Associated General Contractors, will reportedly be named deputy assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. Sweatt would be OSHA’s highest official until an assistant secretary is nominated and confirmed. The deputy job does not have to be confirmed by the Senate. Sweatt is the senior policy adviser for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

More Keystones. Oil companies that want to build pipelines from Mexico or Canada could face fewer obstacles under a bill, H.R. 2883, approved 254-175 Wednesday by the House. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) would eliminate the need for a presidential permit for pipelines that cross U.S. international borders. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, not the State Department, would examine whether a pipeline is needed. Former President Barack Obama rejected the 1,179-mile Keystone XL pipeline, but Trump later approved the project.

July 21, 2017