POLITICS
06/30/2017 06:31 pm ET

Congratulations To The Kushners On Getting Back Into Blackmail

Like father like son
Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Congress is preparing to go on its July 4th recess, a time when members contemplate the liberty, the sacrifices of our forebears and how to game the federal budget by killing a bunch of Medicare recipients. Thanks to this week’s news cycle, we now know that “spilling the beans on Heidi Cruz” likely meant “planting a story about her in the Enquirer.” And the president wants congress to repeal Obamacare and worry about a replacement later, meaning we might finally get that “Trump To Nation: Drop Dead” Daily News headline. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, June 30th, 2016, and we’ll be back on Wednesday:

OH, GREAT, NOW THIS - Jonathan Cohn: “President Donald Trump said on Friday morning that if Senate Republicans can’t get behind their leadership’s health care bill, then they should just repeal the Affordable Care Act right away and work on its replacement later. Trump made the suggestion in a tweet. As always, it’s difficult to know how seriously to take the comment ― or whether to take it seriously at all…. Trump’s tweet seemed to be endorsing an idea that Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) floated minutes earlier on Fox News and, according to the The Wall Street Journal, in a formal letter to the White House ― that if Senate leaders can’t assemble a majority by July 10, they should try a different strategy: Vote to repeal the bill outright, or at least strip its funding, and then spend a month in non-stop hearings and negotiations to hammer out a deal on a new coverage scheme.” [HuffPost]

Sad Stein: A sad day for all of us at HuffPost. Our dean, Sam Stein, who has been at the organization for a decade, is marking his last day. Sam has been an incredible colleague and friend: building up and cultivating the HuffPost Politics team into one of Washington’s best. He’s that rarest of newsroom creatures: an incredibly talented reporter and editor who is also a genuinely good person. We’ll miss him dearly and wish him all the best at the Daily Beast, where he’ll be helping to direct its politics coverage.

BLOODY-FACELIFT-GATE: KUSHNER THREATENED ‘MORNING JOE’ HOSTS - [extremely annoying “Hamilton” fan] Well, actually, our leaders have been mired in salacious scandals since the foundi―-*is crushed by safe* Gabriel Sherman: “According to three sources familiar with the private conversations, what happened was this: After the inauguration, Morning Joe’s coverage of Trump turned sharply negative. Around this time, Scarborough and Brzezinski found out the Enquirer was preparing a story about their affair. While Scarborough and Brzezinski’s relationship had been gossiped about in media circles for some time, it was not yet public, and the tabloid was going to report that they had left their spouses to be together…. In mid-April, Scarborough texted with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner about the pending Enquirer story. Kushner told Scarborough that he would need to personally apologize to Trump in exchange for getting Enquirer owner David Pecker to stop the story. (A spokesperson for Kushner declined to comment). Scarborough says he refused, and the Enquirer published the story in print on June 5, headlined ‘Morning Joe Sleazy Cheating Scandal!’” [NYMag]

HuffPost’s Paige Lavender dropping some truth on ’Morning Joe.′ “Friday morning, while reflecting on the insults, Scarborough claimed that Trump has changed. ‘The guy that’s in the White House now is not the guy we knew two years ago,’ Scarborough said. ‘The guy that’s in the White House now is not even close.’... That Scarborough and Brzezinski are only now recognizing Trump’s penchant for sexist, offensive insults doesn’t mean he’s changed. It just means they’ve had the privilege of not feeling subjected to his rhetoric. Welcome to the real world, guys.” [HuffPost]

WHITHER IVANKA? - Dana Liebelson: “Ivanka Trump, who presents herself as a champion of women’s empowerment and a moderating influence on her father, President Donald Trump, has been silent so far on sexist tweets he sent Thursday morning attacking a female television host…. Ivanka Trump could be best situated to question these personal attacks on women. She is described as one of the few people who can successfully deliver criticism to her father, and she is portrayed, accurately or not, as a behind-the scenes moderator. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told CNN on Thursday, for example, that she may ‘go through [Trump’s] daughter, with whom I have developed a relationship,’ to address her concerns about the tweets. Ivanka Trump has also made promoting gender equality a signature political issue, while building a corporate brand on the kind of oblivious feminism in which women ― particularly privileged women ― are urged to find a ‘work/life rhythm that’s optimal for you.’″ [HuffPost]

NOT A GREAT LOOK - Tara Palmeri: “When President George W. Bush took office, he quickly and quietly disbanded President Bill Clinton’s Office for Women’s Initiatives and Outreach — and now President Donald Trump appears to be doing the same thing to President Barack Obama’s White House Council on Women and Girls. The council, created by Obama in 2009 to monitor the impact of policy changes and liaise with women’s groups has been defunct while the Trump administration evaluates whether to keep it, according to three senior White House officials…. Since Ivanka Trump joined her father’s administration, she’s been the most visible proponent for women’s issues…. She was also credited with inspiring a World Bank women’s entrepreneurship fund [editor’s note: Clinton Global Initiative clone], to which Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced a $100 million starter donation while Ivanka Trump was there in May as part of the president’s formal delegation. But White House veterans say that’s no replacement for having a dedicated office with staff.” [Politico]

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OH, OK, THEN - Sam Levine: “Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), who was picked by President Donald Trump to lead a commission to investigate voter fraud, said not even he knows whether Trump’s claim that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally last year is true. The comment is notable because Kobach has long pushed restrictive voting measures and has stoked fears of voter fraud, even though numerous investigations have found it’s not a widespread problem. ‘The commission isn’t being put in place to prove or disprove that,’ Kobach said in an interview Friday on MSNBC. ‘We may never know whether that’s true or not.’ Trump has claimed repeatedly, with no evidence, that he would have won the popular vote in the presidential election if not for massive election fraud. He also suggested an investigation by conservative anti-fraud group True the Vote would vindicate his claim, but the group recently scaled back its probe amid financial woes.” [HuffPost]

Meanwhile: “President Donald Trump’s commission on election integrity is facing significant hurdles, as multiple state election officials have said they will not comply with the panel’s request this week for specific, sensitive voter information. Even some Republican officials have said that they may be opposed to or prohibited from releasing such information or that they’re otherwise willing to do only the bare minimum in satisfying the Trump commission’s demands Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), the commission’s vice chair who signed the letter sent to the states on Wednesday, told the Kansas City Star that his state would not release the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers because that information is not publicly available.” [HuffPost’s Sam Stein and Sam Levine]

SLEAZY GUY IS SLEAZY - Paul Blumenthal: “The Journal reports that [Chicago Financier Peter W.] Smith, who died last month at the age of 81, repeatedly stated he was working with Michael Flynn, then an adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and later the shortest-serving national security adviser in U.S. history…. Beginning in 1992, Smith funded various research projects to publicize negative stories about President Bill Clinton. He paid Arkansas state troopers, allegedly to help with their finances in case they were retaliated against, and helped publicize the troopers’ claims that Clinton forced troopers to arrange his trysts with women and hide those relationships from his wife. Smith introduced these troopers to David Brock, then a conservative reporter with The American Spectator, who penned an article based on their statements. Brock later became an ardent Clinton defender and apologized for the article, claiming that the payments Smith made to the troopers tainted their version of events. Smith also paid Brock $5,000 for another research project that never came to fruition.” [HuffPost]

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a baby elephant excited to meet a goat.

PAY YOUR INTERNS, YO - Seriously, it’s amazing how much talent is out there that doesn’t have a parent who gave to your boss’ campaign. Kaeli Subberwal: ”[A] new Pay Our Interns report titled ‘Experience Doesn’t Pay The Bills: Why Paid Internships are a Must in Congress.’ The report calls unpaid internships ‘a blight marring the face of the American job market,’ and argues that the scarcity of paid internships on the Hill diminishes the likelihood that students of color and low-income students will enter the intern-to-staffer pipeline in Congress. This, in turn, leads to a more homogenous government workforce. The extent of the problem the report outlines is startling. In the U.S. Senate, 51 percent of Republicans pay their interns, while only 31 percent of Democrats offer paid internships. The rates in the House of Representatives are even worse, with 8 percent of Republican representatives and 3.6 percent of Democratic representatives paying their interns.” [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD

- Knife-cutting competitions look like so much fun.

- Cat singlehandedly raises poor guy’s water bill.

TWITTERAMA

@daveweigel: If Trump doesn’t watch out, key Republicans may pronounce his comments “disappointing” before donating to his re-elect and voting for him.

@lrozen: Would a guy who enlists tabloid to follow/harass cable news host be willing to take Russian help to smear his political rival? dirt is dirt

@petridishes: I Did Not Like It One Bit When The President Stabbed That Little Girl In The Leg, commented one senator on his way to vote against trees

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