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The Friday Night News Dump, Abbreviated for Your Saturday Morning Hangover

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | December 15, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | December 15, 2018 |


A lot of business went down in the world of politics yesterday — the Friday news dump — that we were too Friday’d to bother with, so here’s a quick Saturday morning catch-up:

— Mick Mulvaney will take over as “Acting Chief of Staff,” because Trump was embarrassed about the fact that no one would take the job and that everyone kept pulling out of consideration (Mulvaney is the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and he is apparently not going to quit that position (yet), but his underling will take over. My guess is that Trump made Mulvaney the “acting” Chief of Staff because he’s still holding out for a better candidate, but should one not surface, Mulvaney will become permanent.

In the meantime, The Daily Beast has video of Mulvaney calling Trump a “terrible human being” before the 2016 election.

After decrying the Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as a liberal who would take the country in the wrong direction, Mulvaney said he was supporting Trump, essentially by default.

“Yes, I am supporting Donald Trump, but I’m doing so despite the fact that I think he’s a terrible human being,” he said, according to a report in The State newspaper.

That should go over well in the Oval Office.

Also, just this morning, Trump announced that Ryan Zinke, who — like almost all of Trump’s cabinet members — is mired in a number of scandals, will step down as Secretary of the Interior.

Last night, a federal judge in Texas ruled that Obamacare’s individual mandate was unconstitutional and therefore all of Obamacare is unconstitutional, which is not good for either the 133 million people with preexisting conditions or, honestly, Republicans. Is this what the GOP wants heading into 2020?

If Judge O’Connor’s decision ultimately stands, about 17 million Americans will lose their health insurance, according to the Urban Institute, a left-leaning think tank. That includes millions who gained coverage through the law’s expansion of Medicaid, and millions more who receive subsidized private insurance through the law’s online marketplaces.

Insurers will also no longer have to cover young adults up to age 26 under their parents’ plans; annual and lifetime limits on coverage will again be permitted; and there will be no cap on out-of-pocket costs.

Also gone will be the law’s popular protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which became a major talking point in the November midterm elections, as Democratic candidates constantly reminded voters that congressional Republicans had tried to repeal the law last year.

Obamacare has never been more popular, and while Trump’s answer is to force Congress to pass a new healthcare bill, that seems all but impossible given the current state of Congress. Obama had both chambers under his control, and he still barely only managed to get Obamacare passed and lost a lot of political capital along the way. Here, there’s even less of a chance that this divided Congress can come to an agreement on a new healthcare bill, although it probably will make Medicare for All a much bigger issue in the 2020 election. In the meantime, the Texas ruling will obviously be appealed, and Obamacare will remain in effect in the meantime.

— Finally, WNYC and ProPublica have obtained emails that show that the Trump organization charged the Trump Inaugural committee artificially high rates, which may explain where millions of unspent dollars went to. And guess who was in charge of setting for the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.? Ivanka Trump.

That price was apparently much too high. One top inaugural planner emailed Ivanka and other officials at the Trump Organization to express “concern” that the hotel was overcharging — and that it could be a problem “when this is audited.”

“If the Trump hotel charged more than the going rate for the venues, it could violate tax law,” ProPublica noted.

It sounds like Ivanka was running a grifting operation.

Finally, this is in no way political, but it’s an amazing, amazing story and should help you to wash down the political toxicity of the above.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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