It’s judgement day for President Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, as their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare faces an uncertain future on the floor of the House of Representatives. Right now they don’t have the votes, with moderates and conservatives both defecting from the legislation. Republican leadership and the White House are engaged in an 11th hour scramble to rewrite the bill in a fashion that can win over the votes needed to put the bill over the finish line. But in doing so they are guilty of much of the same closed-door dealmaking that they criticized Democrats for seven years ago. The new bill, with its still undetermined changes designed to win over the conservative Freedom Caucus, will not have been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, nor will the public have much time to read the bill before legislators cast their votes later tonight.
Is truth dead? That’s the subject of TIME’s new cover story by Michael Scherer, looking at the president’s habitual lies and misstatements—and how they’ve often gone without consequence. The cover is an homage to a legendary 1966 TIME cover, “Is God Dead?” In an interview with TIME, Trump refuses to concede he misstated facts in even the most obvious cases. But the mechanics of how Trump fudges the truth are the true focus of the piece. Trump is expert at leaving himself the smallest escape hatch—minor qualifiers and vague references—designed to make it harder to prove he was lying. His shamelessness about the truth has had the the odd effect of boosting his campaign during the election, but now that he’s president, it has all manners of unintended consequences. There’s little way to know for sure whether a presidential proclamation is factually accurate—and that’s just something America will have to live with for at least the next four years.
Gorsuch’s “bigly” day on the Hill. U.S. deepens role in Syria. And the Kochs rally against the healthcare bill.
Here are your must reads:
Can President Trump Handle the Truth?
The truth may be real, but falsehood often works better, TIME’s Michael Scherer writes
President Trump Faces His First Big Test in Congress
11th hour dealing as Washington watches whether he can govern, or if his agenda will be in jeopardy [TIME]
Key Republican Lawmaker Says Intelligence Was Collected on Members of Trump Transition
“Incidental collection” means they weren’t targets [TIME]
As Neil Gorsuch Avoided Tough Questions, Senators Turned on Each Other
It wasn’t about him Wednesday [TIME]
Read President Trump’s Interview With TIME on Truth and Falsehoods
Trump defends his controversial and false comments [TIME]
US Combat Airlift Marks Deepening Involvement in Syria
As Trump’s strategy review is ongoing [Associated Press]
“Hey look, in the mean time, I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not. You know.” — President Trump to TIME’s Michael Scherer Wednesday
“There is no plan B. There is Plan A and Plan A. We’re going to get this done.” — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on the GOP’s Obamacare replacement plans Wednesday
Bits and Bites
US probes banking of ex-Trump campaign chief [Associated Press]