Something So Wrong: July 2017

  • On July 19, in an interview with three New York Times reporters, Trump said that special counsel Robert Mueller should not have been appointed. He criticized his Attorney General saying, “Sessions should never have recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.” Trump said that the recusal was “very unfair to the president.” Sessions responded on July 20, saying in a press conference that he planned to continue in the job of Attorney General “as long as that is appropriate.” On July 21, the Washington Post reported that Sessions had discussed campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 campaign, siting US intelligence agency intercepts of Kislyak’s communications with Moscow. On July 22, Trump began a series of “tweets,” criticizing Sessions: “So many people are asking why isn’t the A.G. or Special Council [sic] looking into the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes?” In yet another tweet, Trump on July 24 questioned why “our beleaguered A.G.” was not looking into “Crooked Hillarys crimes.” On Tuesday, July 25, Trump continued his tweet-attack on Sessions: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC leaks) & Intel leakers!” On July 26, Trump again criticized Sessions, tweeting: “Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives.”
  • On July 21, Senate Republicans failed to pass legislation to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. Three Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John McCain of Arizona joined the unanimous Democrats in defeating legislation that would have repealed the ACA and eliminated the law’s mandates for individuals and businesses to purchase health insurance. The so-called “skinny repeal” amendment would have increased the number of people without health insurance by an estimated 16 million by 2026. In response to the vote, Trump threatened to stop the ACA’s federal subsidies to insurers. The payments reduce the price of health coverage for low-income Americans. Trump demanded that the Senate take another vote on ACA repeal legislation before their scheduled August recess.
  • On July 21, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned after Trump named Anthony Scaramucci to be the new Communications Director. Spicer reportedly told the president that he believed Scaramucci would add to the confusion and uncertainty already engulfing the White House. Spicer’s deputy, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, became the new press secretary.
  • On July 26, Trump announced via Twitter: “Please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” This announcement reversed a policy adopted by President Obama’s defense secretary, Ashton Carter, in 2016 that allowed transgender individuals to serve in the military and gave the military one year to develop procedures to allow transgender service members to receive medical care. An estimated 11,000 transgender troops are currently serving, and the president’s announcement did not address whether those currently serving would be allowed to remain in service.
  • On July 28, Trump removed his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, tweeting that John Kelly, Homeland Security Chief would be take over the position. Priebus submitted his resignation after Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci called him a “paranoid schizophrenic” in an interview published by the New Yorker on June 27.
  • On July 31, Trump removed Anthony Scaramucci from the position of White House Communications director, eleven days after appointing him. Scaramucci’s resignation came apparently at the request of John Kelly on Kelly’s first day as Trump’s chief of staff.

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