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The GOP health care push collapses. Trump and Putin’s private conversation. John McCain fights brain cancer. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.
GOP health care on life support this week, and President Trump on the offensive – against his own attorney general. Trump says he wishes he’d never chosen Jeff Sessions. Looks to brush back the man investigating him – and now his finances – on Russia, Robert Mueller. Has his legal team brushing up on his power to pardon – maybe even himself. OJ’s out. John McCain has cancer. Australia’s agog at a U.S. police shooting. This hour On Point: Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines. -- Tom Ashbrook
From Tom's Reading List
POLITICO: Trump aides move on after health care loss — "Following the biggest legislative debacle of President Donald Trump’s first six months in office, the White House on Tuesday was some hands on deck. The president’s most senior aides appeared eager to move on from the health care loss, busying themselves with their own pet projects."
New York Times: Trump and Putin Held a Second, Undisclosed, Private Conversation — "The July 7 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, was the single most scrutinized of the Trump presidency. But it turned out there was another encounter: a one-on-one discussion over dinner that lasted as long as an hour and relied solely on a Kremlin-provided interpreter."
CNN: McCain faces his greatest battle — "John McCain has always lived for the fight. Now he's facing his toughest battle. The Arizona Republican senator has often seemed indestructible, despite the best efforts of his Vietnam War jailers, an earlier bout with melanoma and a list of honorable political defeats. And now he has been diagnosed with brain cancer, as CNN reported Wednesday."
Week In The News Highlights
On Jeff Sessions' Tensions With Trump
Eliana Johnson: "When Jeff Sessions offered his resignation in May, he did so at the demand of President Trump. He didn't offer it simply because he knew the president was angry at him. By the next day, when he furnished a letter of resignation, Trump's mood had changed significantly that he declined that offer. So Jeff Sessions has never wanted to leave this job, I think that anecdote illustrates, and he's not going to do so. Behind that is Sessions' knowledge that if he were to step down, it would unleash a cascade of events that would really paralyze the federal government more broadly, and the Russia investigation.
On Trump At Odds With Mueller
John McCormack: "There is some precedent for a White House going after a prosecutor. Bill Clinton's aides accused Ken Starr of a witch hunt. Where this kind of gets into a weird and wild situation is this talk of actually firing Mueller. I don't see that happening, but if it did it would cause a huge crisis.
On The Makings Of A Constitutional Crisis
Jack Beatty: "It would be a constitutional crisis if Mueller recommended impeachment or produced a bill of particulars against Trump that was unequivocal in showing collusion with Russia, financial dealings with Russia, whatever the connection would be — and if Congress punted, if the Republicans refused to anything. That would be more like a constitutional capitulation.
On Political Consequences For Republicans
John McCormack: "In terms of the status of the Republican party, the Republicans, their performance in the midterm elections will be highly correlated to the president's job approval rating, which is now below 40 percent. I don't see how you really keep the House of Representatives at the point.
On Trump Hurting His Own Agenda
Eliana Johnson: "Even when the president is trying to be productive, he's self-defeating and steps on himself. I think the firing of James Comey illustrates that. And that's something that I think his supporters haven't totally grappled with — that he has a very difficult time being a productive actor on the national political stage.
On The Future Of Health Care Legislation
Eliana Johnson: "Frankly, I think health care is dead despite there being a lot of movement around it. But I don't think anything's happening going forward, and I think the tragedy, or the frustration, for many Republicans as well as for the White House, is that it makes advancing and pushing the ball forward on the rest of their policy agenda all that much harder. There's a lot of talk about tax reform and infrastructure reform right now, but the fact is: failure on health care makes tax reform much harder.
John McCormack: "Next week, I think there's basically zero chance. For there to be even a tiny chance, you'd have to bring John McCain back, who — the tragic news this week of his being diagnosed with brain cancer — he's being treated in Arizona. As long as John McCain is gone, there's basically zero chance that people get together.
This program aired on July 21, 2017.
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