CNN brought in a courtroom sketch artist to illustrate Sean Spicer’s camera-free briefing — the press secretary will let the illustrator’s craftsmanship speak for itself. Joe Biden called activist investor Bill Ackman an “asshole,” so you can pretty much expect Carl Icahn to bankroll his 2020 presidential campaign. And Donald Trump can’t stop incriminating himself. We swear, if you gave the guy a Cessna with a skywriting smoke dispenser attached to it, vacationers on the Eastern Shore would soon know that he is trying to obstruct a federal investigation. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, June 23rd, 2017:
DEAN HELLER HAS NOTHING NICE TO SAY ABOUT THE HEALTH CARE BILL – He sounded like he’s been reading HuffPost’s health care coverage, tbh. Jeffrey Young: “Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) on Friday offered a harsh assessment of Senate Republicans’ health care bill and vowed to withhold his support for it unless it is altered significantly…. Speaking at a joint press conference with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) in Las Vegas, Heller said the Senate bill must protect states, like his, that expanded Medicaid and preserve gains in coverage that resulted from the Affordable Care Act. ‘In this form, I will not support it,’ Heller said. ‘It’s going to be very difficult to get me to a yes. They have a lot of work to do.’″ [HuffPost]
PRO-TRUMP GROUP TARGETING HELLER – Matthew Nussbaum: “America First Policies, a group started by some of President Donald Trump’s campaign advisers, is set to launch an advertising blitz against Nevada’s Republican Sen. Dean Heller, who on Friday came out against the Senate’s Obamacare repeal bill without significant changes. Heller is up for re-election in 2018 and is seen as one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans in that cycle. The ad blitz is backed by more than a million dollars, according to a source familiar with the planning, and the digital component is set to launch this weekend. The television and radio component will launch next week. Heller, according to the official, has also indicated privately to the White House that he is unlikely to get to ‘yes’ on the current Senate version of the bill.” [Politico]
INSIDE THE OBAMA ADMIN’S ATTEMPTS TO PUNISH RUSSIA – Instead, it turned into a pseudo-apology tour. Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous: “Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried ‘eyes only’ instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides…. Obama also approved a previously undisclosed covert measure that authorized planting cyber weapons in Russia’s infrastructure, the digital equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the United States found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow. The project, which Obama approved in a covert-action finding, was still in its planning stages when Obama left office. It would be up to President Trump to decide whether to use the capability.” [WaPo]
The health care bill is bad, Part I. “You’ve heard consumers say this about their health insurance policies, particularly in the last few years since Obamacare became law. And if you’ve been paying attention to politics, then you’ve heard Republicans promise to bring those deductibles down…. If the GOP proposal becomes law, then it’s likely out-of-pocket costs for people buying coverage through healthcare.gov or one of the state exchanges would tend to be higher, not lower ― unless these people were able and willing to pay even more in premiums.” [HuffPost’s Jonathan Cohn]
The health care bill is bad, Part II. “The legislation unveiled Thursday, which Republicans dubbed the Better Care Reconciliation Act, aims to preserve the Affordable Care Act’s popular rule forbidding health insurance companies from rejecting people with pre-existing conditions. But the bill also would repeal that law’s unpopular individual mandate that most Americans obtain health coverage or face tax penalties and would significantly scale back financial assistance that helps make health insurance premiums affordable…. In their attempt to appease public sentiment by keeping a widely liked thing, getting rid of a widely loathed thing and scaling back a poorly understood thing, Senate Republicans may have set up their own system to fail.” [HuffPost’s Jeffrey Young]
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DONALD TRUMP IS THE LEBRON JAMES OF SELF-INCRIMINATION – It’s like he has Fifth Amendment Tourette’s. Willa Frej: “President Donald Trump admitted this week that he did not tape his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey despite his earlier tweets suggesting he had. When asked why he did this in an interview that aired Friday, he offered the following perplexing explanation: ′When he found out that there may be tapes out there, whether it’s governmental tapes or anything else, I think his story may have changed,′ Trump said in an interview alongside first lady Melania. ‘I mean, you’ll have to take a look at that, because then he has to tell what actually took place at the events.’ While we didn’t exactly follow his logic, ‘Fox & Friends’ co-host Ainsley Earhardt ate it up. ‘It was a smart way to make sure [Comey] stayed honest in those hearings,’ she said. ‘It wasn’t stupid, I can tell you that,’ he replied, adding, ‘You never know what’s out there but I didn’t tape and I don’t have any tapes.’” [HuffPost]
TRUMP NOT SAVING YOUR JERB – Dominique Mosbergen: “President Donald Trump proclaimed while visiting a Boeing plant in South Carolina in February that he was there ‘to celebrate jobs.’ Jobs is one of the primary reasons I’m standing here today as your president and I will never, ever disappoint you” he told the crowd in North Charleston that day. ‘Believe me, I will not disappoint you.’ On Thursday, Boeing confirmed that it would be laying off workers at the very plant where Trump had spoken so reassuringly five months ago. The aerospace company told CNNMoney that about 200 jobs at its facilities in South Carolina would be cut.” [HuffPost]
WHAT IS REALITY, ANYWAY? KELLYANNE CONWAY REFLECTS – The White House advisor definitely playing into the commander-in-chief’s strong belief that he is living in a simulation. Sam Levine: “Kellyanne Conway, a top adviser to President Donald Trump, attempted to spin a question about Russian interference in the 2016 election by saying people who questioned whether Trump could win had actually meddled with the campaign. ‘The president has said previously, and he stands by that, particularly as president-elect, that he would be concerned about anyone interfering in our democracy,’ she told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Friday. ‘We saw a lot of people interfering with our democracy by saying he couldn’t win here at home.’” [HuffPost]
TRUMP A GIFT TO INTELLIGENCE – Not the kind you’re thinking about, though. Nada Bakos: ”Trump’s Twitter feed is a gold mine for every foreign intelligence agency. Usually, intelligence officers’ efforts to collect information on world leaders are methodical, painstaking and often covert. CIA operatives have risked their lives to learn about foreign leaders so the United States could devise strategies to counter our adversaries. With Trump, though, secret operations are not necessary to understand what’s on his mind: The president’s unfiltered thoughts are available night and day, broadcast to his 32.7 million Twitter followers immediately and without much obvious mediation by diplomats, strategists or handlers.” [WaPo]
JUDGES FINES KOBACH – Sam Levine: “A federal magistrate judge fined Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) $1,000 on Friday for misrepresenting the content of documents he was photographed holding while meeting with President Donald Trump, but will allow Kobach to continue to shield the documents from the public. The ruling came in connection with a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union over a Kansas law requiring people to prove their citizenship when they register to vote. As part of the lawsuit, the ACLU sought documents Kobach was photographed holding when he met with Trump in November that contained proposed changes to the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. Kobach argued the documents were not relevant to the lawsuit, but the ACLU argued they were because Kobach’s proposal of amendments to federal voter registration law signaled he did not have the authority to implement a proof of citizenship requirement.” [HuffPost]
BILL ACKMAN’S BAD BET ON VERBAL-STRIFE – Bill Ackman is definitely the guy who responds to “a-dollar-a-day” charity infomercials by wondering why the children don’t just invest in a solid emerging market fund. Charlie Gasparino and Brian Schwartz: “Some say former Vice President Joe Biden is too old to run for president in 2020, but he still knows how to throw a verbal punch — just ask financier Bill Ackman…. [D]uring a private VIP dinner…the question of why Biden didn’t run for president in 2016 was raised once again…. Biden explained that part of the decision stemmed from the death of his son Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015. The room grew quiet as Biden became emotional, and said: ‘I’m sorry…I’ve said enough.’ That’s when Ackman blurted out ‘Why? That’s never stopped you before.’ The formal, and understated dinner conversation suddenly turned tense, according three people who were present and confirmed both the substance and the wording of Biden’s responses. Biden, these people say, turned to someone seated near him, and asked, ‘who is this asshole?,’ a reference to Ackman.” [Fox Business]
Joe Scarborough has a new music video. Please don’t ask us why.
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR – Here’s a gorilla splashing about in a tub of water.
– A trip inside a World War Two B-17 Flying Fortress.
– The richest person in each state.
– Acquaint yourself with Justin Trudeau’s socks.
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