Republicans are in the midst of a messy civil war between their establishment wing and the tea-party insurgents. But with President Obama’s approval ratings collapsing amid problems with his signature health care law, Democrats are starting to face their own divisions.
— President Obama v. the Clintons. It’s hard to believe Bill Clinton’s recommendation that Obama honor his health care promise was an accident. Not only did it provide cover for congressional Democrats to break with the White House, it also added to the pressure on an administration desperately trying to come up with any last-ditch administrative fix to stop the bleeding — without harming the law itself. Clinton knows how damaging the Obamacare problems could be to Senate Democrats and, if not resolved soon, that they could have a lasting impact on his wife’s (likely) presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton can’t tweak her old boss, but her husband certainly can (and has before).
— Congressional divide between red-state Democrats and Obama loyalists. We’re already seeing red-state Democrats and senators on the ballot in 2014 begin to break away from the White House. As politically palatable legislation to alter Obamacare comes through with bipartisan support, there will be a lot of pressure on others to join in (paging reliably liberal Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Ben Cardin). The White House may resist, but a veto-proof majority may soon be building to make significant changes to the law, given the current political sentiment. Despite difficult relations with Congress, Obama usually could count on party loyalty to get him through rocky patches. Not anymore.
— The party’s Hillary Clinton-Elizabeth Warren split. Clinton looks closer to a lock than anyone for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination this far out — assuming she runs. But the party’s progressive wing is already started to push Elizabeth Warren as a credible candidate. That’s unlikely. Warren, despite the buzz, isn’t a smooth campaigner. She would appeal mainly to a narrow, affluent slice of the Democratic electorate, and many of her Massachusetts Senate donors would go with Clinton. But as 2016 draws closer, Democrats may start to worry about Obama’s baggage spreading to the party’s future nominee. Expect to hear growing progressive angst to find any liberal outsider to challenge the formidable front-runner.
American political history shows that the president’s party tends to be united, while the opposition often looks leaderless, rudderless, and divided. But when the president’s approval rating sinks into dangerous territory, that formula becomes inoperative. And Obama is facing the reality that many longtime allies are now looking out more for their political survival than his legacy or the fate of his namesake law.
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
"The House voted Thursday to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security. The bipartisan measure passed easily by a vote of 386-41, with nine Republicans and 32 Democrats voting in opposition. If the bill makes it through the Senate, it would be the first-ever reauthorization of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since it was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks." Among the provisions it contains is a mandate that the Senate confirm the Secret Service director. It also boosts funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative by $195 million per year.
In remarks scheduled to be delivered today at the American Federation of Teachers' summer conference, President Randi Weingarten "likens U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to a climate-change denier" and "says the Trump administration's school choice plans are secretly intended to starve funding from public schools. She calls taxpayer-funded private school vouchers, tuition tax credits and the like 'only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.'" The pro-voucher Center for Education Reform said teachers should "consider inviting Weingarten’s resignation."