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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
In short: Donald Trump has spent his whole life manipulating his image through the news and TV. Which brings me to Trump’s Wednesdaymorning tweet that he had selected Christopher Wray to succeed deposed director James Comey at the FBI.
It is impossible to see the move as anything other than Trump throwing some chum to the news gods — and some news that tells a much more positive story for this White House than the testimony expected later today from deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and, especially, from Comey on Thursday.
Trump knows that the next 48 hours are going to be very, very rough for him. No matter how confident he acts publicly about the Comey testimony — “I wish him luck,” Trump said on Tuesday when asked about it — Trump has to be worried about the prospect of the former FBI director directly contradicting the idea that he reassured the president that Trump was not under investigation.
► As for that aforementioned piece of chum, Trump has apparently found someone who is actually willing to submit to the confirmation process for becoming the next FBI Chief. From the Washington Post:
President Trump announced Wednesday that he would nominate Christopher A. Wray — a white-collar criminal defense attorney who led the Justice Department’s Criminal Division during the George W. Bush administration — to serve as the next FBI director…
…Wray, now a partner at King & Spalding, led the Justice Department’s Criminal Division from 2003 to 2005, and his firm biography says that he “helped lead the Department’s efforts to address the wave of corporate fraud scandals and restore integrity to U.S. financial markets.” He oversaw the president’s corporate fraud task force and oversaw the Enron Task Force. Before that, he worked in a variety of other Justice Department roles, including as a federal prosecutor in Atlanta.
Trump announced Wray’s nomination via Twitter, of course. Twitter is the same medium that White House staffers insisted days ago should not be cited as official Trump policy news.
Also, if there is a worse job right now than “FBI Director,” you’d be hard-pressed to make that argument.
► They aren’t getting the same headlines that James Comey is getting, but some top intelligence officials are testifying today in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee about Trump’s Russian connections. Politico highlights some of the key moments from today’s testimonials, featuring Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The New York Times is also providing live updates on today’s hearings.
► Attorney General Jeff Sessions may be the next big name in the Trump administration to nab a spot under the bus. As the New York Times reported on Tuesday:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions offered to resign in recent weeks as he told President Trump he needed the freedom to do his job, according to two people who were briefed on the discussion.
The president turned down the offer, but on Tuesday, the White House declined to say whether Mr. Trump still had confidence in his attorney general.
“I have not had that discussion with him,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters, responding to questions about whether the president had soured on Mr. Sessions.
Mr. Spicer’s remarks came after The New York Times reported that Mr. Trump had vented intermittently about Mr. Sessions since the attorney general recused himself from any Russia-related investigations conducted by the Justice Department. Mr. Trump has fumed to allies and advisers ever since, suggesting that Mr. Sessions’s decision was needless.
If recent history is any indication, Sessions is probably a goner. The White House operates under the “law of the jungle,” and by showing weakness to the head of the pack (Trump, if you’re still following this tortured analogy), Sessions probably sealed his fate.
Get even more smarter after the jump…
IN CASE YOU ARE STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…
► Senate Republicans are inching closer to a potential vote on some sort of version of Trumpcare, although “closer” is a relative term in this case. From the Huffington Post:
Senators still lack an actual bill [Pols emphasis], and the compromises needed to pass the Senate could imperil the legislation in the House, which will also have to back it. But Tuesday was a pivotal day for discussions in the upper chamber ― and seemingly a positive one ― as Republicans try to build a 50-vote coalition to repeal Obamacare.
“We’re getting close to having a proposal to whip and to take to the floor,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters, after nearly three hours of closed-door meetings.
McConnell is working with hardly any margin for error. He can afford to lose only two of his 52 Republicans ― with Vice President Mike Pence then breaking the tie ― and it seems highly unlikely that conservative Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) or moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) will vote for the legislation. That means the majority leader must pressure, cajole or even deploy state-specific giveaways that could risk the support of other senators in order to keep the rest of his caucus in line.
Senate Republicans are going to continue to portray an optimistic tone on healthcare legislation — at least officially — but nobody really seems to want to be the first one in the swimming pool.
► Since we’re on the topic of healthcare, the Denver Post reports on the serious ramifications facing Colorado if Medicaid funding is slashed by Republicans in Congress:
Colorado could be on the hook for spending close to $700 million more per year by 2023 if the federal government does away with its enhanced contribution to the Medicaid expansion, according to a new reportreleased Tuesday.
The report, from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, found that Colorado could be one of the states most impacted by the repeal of Medicaid expansion that is proposed in the U.S. House of Representative’s version of the GOP health care bill. That’s because the federal government, which splits the cost for Medicaid with each state individually, contributes a below-average amount of money to pay for all other Medicaid patients in Colorado. Ending the feds’ enhanced contribution to the expansion would mean Colorado would have to pay more than others if it wants to maintain coverage for people who gained it through the expansion.
In a separate report, to be released Wednesday, researchers at Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families found that cuts to Medicaid would hit rural areas hardest. Both nationally and in Colorado, the report found, higher percentages of people in small towns and rural communities are covered by Medicaid than in cities.
What say you, Sen. Cory Gardner?
► EMILYs List is backing Democrat Cary Kennedy in her bid for the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
► At some point we need to send George Brauchler a bill for all of the advice we’re doling out about his fledgling online presence in his bid for Governor.
► This headline from the New York Times needs no additional explanation: Comey Told Sessions: Don’t Leave Me Alone with Trump.
► Colorado native David Bernhardt is closer to being confirmed for a top position in the Department of Interior.
► You can add some of Colorado’s biggest ski companies to the list of businesses that are unhappy that President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement.
► A relative newcomer to Colorado’s health insurance industry says things are going pretty well under Obamacare, thank you very much.
► The Pueblo Chieftain has more news on the battle over a stormwater lawsuit and the Environmental Protection Agency.
► Legislators in Kansas finally figured out that Gov. Sam Brownback is killing their state.
► Governor John Hickenlooper is still deciding whether or not to sign a bill regarding asset forfeiture that passed out of the Colorado legislature this Spring. Hickenlooper has until 5:00 pm on Friday to make his decision.
Meanwhile, the Denver Post explains why Hickenlooper will not sign a handful of other bills that will become law anyway.
OTHER LINKS YOU SHOULD CLICK
► At least one group that was considering sponsoring a 2017 ballot measure related to transportation funding has set its sights on 2018 instead.
► Ohio residents are suffering because of an uncertain future for Obamacare — a future that would likely get much worse under Trumpcare.
► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has long been labeled a “rising star” among Republicans. That ship has sailed.
This article in the New York Times speaks to one of our central arguments about Gardner: He is a rock-thrower, and little else.