By Zeke J Miller
June 23, 2017

After more than 40 days, President Donald Trump finally confirmed what everyone suspected: that he had no secret tapes of former FBI Director James Comey. Furthermore, he suggested to Fox & Friends Friday morning that he raised the prospect of the same in an effort to influence Comey’s testimony on Capitol Hill. “Well, it wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that,” he told the friendly outlet—the sort of admission that states the obvious but only makes his current position all the more precarious. The entire episode has been a series of unforced-errors on the part of the president, whose actions invited the special counsel probe into potential obstruction of justice. That’s besides the fact that he also sparked and then continued to fan a media firestorm over the supposed “tapes,” distracting from the president’s priorities of healthcare, tax reform and infrastructure.

Speaking of healthcare, the Senate bill draft has attracted broad criticism from Democrats and healthcare groups, and there are enough Republicans currently against the bill to require significant changes. Conservatives have been outspoken in calling for a bill that goes even further in trying to undo Obamacare, while moderates in the GOP caucus have remained silent—but are skeptical of the current bill as it stands. Put simply, the odds for a successful vote next week are very long.

Obama’s Russia trouble. Pelosi’s defense. And a vetting fail by Trump’s team.

Here are your must reads:

Must Reads

Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault

“I feel like we sort of choked,” a former Obama aide says [Washington Post]

Nancy Pelosi Tells Democratic Critics, ‘I Think I’m Worth the Trouble’

Facing scrutiny, Pelosi touts her credentials in the opposition [New York Times]

The Republican Health Care Bill Faces Trouble in the Senate

TIME’s Philip Elliott on the ideological and political hurdles ahead

McConnell faces hunt for GOP votes for Senate health bill

Conservatives are loudly pushing for changes, while moderates skeptically hold their tongue [Associated Press]

Trump loses patience with his White House counsel

The president has taken out his frustration with the expanding Russia probe on lawyer Don McGahn, one of Trump’s earliest campaign supporters [Politico]

Sound Off

“I don’t believe that the President has specifically weighed in that it’s right to cut Medicaid.” —White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, even though Trump has touted GOP healthcare bills that cut Medicaid.

“He was asked if he had tapes, and he was answering that question.” —Sanders explaining why Trump tweeted that he had no tapes—except he was the one who raised the question in the first place.

Bits and Bites

Trump is struggling to stay calm on Russia, one morning call at a time [Washington Post]

Memo Shows Preet Bharara Was Concerned After Phone Call From White House [BuzzFeed]

4 Republican Senators Say They’re Opposed to the GOP Health Care Bill [TIME]

‘This Bill Will Do You Harm.’ Read Barack Obama’s Statement on GOP Health Plan [TIME]

‘How else can a Kenyan creampuff get ahead?’ is just one of the disturbing tweets sent by this Trump Energy Department agency head [Washington Post]

Shifting Dollars From Poor to Rich Is a Key Part of the Senate Health Bill [New York Times]

Video Shows Disability Advocates Forcibly Removed From Senate Protest [TIME]

President Trump Promised He Wouldn’t Touch Medicaid. The Senate Bill Includes Billions in Cuts [TIME]

President Trump Admits He Doesn’t Have Tapes of James Comey [TIME]



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