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Dogged by controversies, Trump’s tactics get pushback

From the Russian hacking investigation to the Gold Star controversy, the Trump administration continues to be dogged by scandals. This has hurt legislative efforts to pass the GOP’s health care and tax plans and made the potential path toward bipartisanship less attainable. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Jeff Greenfield discusses the state of the president’s affairs with Hari Sreenivasan.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Meanwhile the White House confirmed that President Trump will spend at least $430,000 of his own money to help White House aides and former campaign staffers pay legal bills stemming from investigations into election meddling by Russia. The ongoing Russia investigations are just one of the items that continues to hang over the Trump administration. Even the most solemn of presidential duties condolences to fallen members of the military continue to dissolve into recriminations and false accusations this weekend.The path forward on health care was surrounded by confusion and the prospects for much long bipartisanship seemed brighter one day and gloomy the next. Here to talk about this is NewsHour Weekend special correspondent Jeff Greenfield – they all have different issues on the surface. Any the common thread?

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    The occupant of the oval office and specifically his unique relationship to reality. I mean when the president believes that when he asserts something it is by definition true. And that puts everybody from the White House staff and his Congressional allies up on the Hill into states of almost panic. He gets into this fight with a congresswoman who said he he left the widow of one of the fallen in tears and somehow that results in the most kind of respected apolitical member of the White House staff the chief of staff Kelly General Kelly gets into this discussion where he makes assertions about the congresswoman that are refutable on tape and then you have the situation of health care. We’re going to do a bipartisan stopgap. No we’re not. Because I really want Graham Cassidy passed because we have the votes, which he doesn’t. And even politically one day he’s standing next to Mitch McConnell the Senate leader said You have never been closer. Everybody knows that the the two of them have been screaming at each other and at the same time he’s saying yeah you know that’s my guy. His former senior strategist Steve Bannon is saying explicitly I’m going after Mitch McConnell. I’m declaring war on the GOP establishment.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Now you mentioned the bipartisan deal. Lamar Alexander, Patty Murray from Washington have something that gets some bipartisan support. You’ve got 12 Republicans onboard. You’ve got the 60 votes in the Senate beginning.

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    Well the narrow answer is see above. By which I mean if the president was clearly and concisely say I want this then Mitch McConnell and Speaker Ryan would deliver enough Republicans even at the cost of infuriating the more militant conservatives in both houses. But if the president is going from one end to the next saying yeah, no, maybe you kind of wonder are they going to stick their necks out on behalf of a policy that may be undercut. We should also note that a couple of days ago the new DNC chair Democratic Tom Paris called the president an existential threat to the nation. And it’s pretty clear that if the Democrats were to take the House next year, item one for many of them would be impeachment. That doesn’t sound like a recipe for a move toward bipartisanship.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    How do you translate from where we’re at to actually implementing policy health care policies that’s we’re talking about. But yesterday we had a conversation about NAFTA negotiations that are actually really consequential. You look at environmental policy that’s being changed at the EPA.

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    It’s entirely possible we’re headed toward a health care situation where millions are going to be paying way more in premiums and other countless numbers are going to be denied coverage altogether. If NAFTA is repudiated what that does to the agricultural industry across wide swaths of this country is going to be devastating. And you’ve got I don’t know how many so-called DREAMers the children of the undocumented immigrants who were told by speaker Ryan rest easy, told by the by the president we’re going to fix this, who now face this uncertainty. [30.8]

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    What about this notion that he is, the president is willing to pay for the legal fees on the one side you say well that’s a very respectable thing to do. These people are going to have better representation because he can afford it. The other side of their ethical legal, political concerns. Is there at least the appearance of impropriety?

  • Jeff Greenfield:

    I guess the question is going to be what underlies this offer? In other words it clearly Trump’s adversaries are going to say this sure looks like some way to make sure that they say what the what the president wants them to say what the underlying reality of that is. I don’t know what the president’s going to say about this. 48 hours from no now. No I wouldn’t bet a nickel on that. Jeff Greenfield thanks so much for joining us.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Jeff Greenfield, thanks so much for joining us.

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