THE TAKE with ABC News’ Rick Klein
If intra-party war is what they want, that is what they have. Roy Moore’s win in Alabama moves a divided Republican Party even further in a Trumpian direction – further, in fact, than Trump himself would take it. It’s telling that, in celebrating Moore’s victory, Steve Bannon immediately took credit for the retirement of Sen. Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who was considered for the Trump ticket and secretary of state. Bannon and company already considered it open season on incumbent Republicans, and now he has a giant piece of evidence from a voting base in a deep-red state to cite in recruiting and considering options. Arizona, Nevada, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah – the map suddenly opens up with possibilities for Trumpist forces, if not necessarily for Trump himself. As for President Trump, he seems certain to turn (again) on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the wake of last night’s loss, not to mention the latest health care whiff. Does anyone think Trump will defer to the establishment again when it comes to choosing which candidates to support, even if that means going against sitting office-holders? What happens when the insurgency is run out of the presidency?
THE FUTURE FOR HEALTH CARE
Repeal and replace is dead – again. And there’s no guarantee for what comes next. The top Republican and top Democrats on the Senate health committee both said yesterday they were willing to take a second crack at negotiating smaller, bipartisan fixes to try to stabilize the individual insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell implied their route was the obvious next step. But even if those committee members come back to the table, it could be hard to keep them seated. Tough talks can be a lot tougher without a promise that any deal reached has a real future. Just a few weeks ago the president and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan indicated they had little interest in signing a bill that fundamentally propped up the law instead of repealing it. How they respond to bipartisan talks this go-around could make all the difference. On a policy level too, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bernie Sanders agreed this week that insurance companies, in their opinion, had profited too much under current law, ABC News MaryAlice Parks’ notes. If the Senate committee agrees to a deal that reinforces federal subsidies to insurance companies, can that even pass the Senate, to say nothing of the House or the White House?
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I wasn’t preoccupied with the NFL. I was ashamed of what was taking place.” — President Trump
NEED TO READ with ABC News’ Paola Chavez
Analysis: Trumpism rolls over Trump in Alabama Senate race. Even Trump can’t control Trumpism. The sweeping victory by Roy Moore in the Alabama GOP runoff is the first major electoral defeat for Trump, who endorsed and campaigned for appointed Sen. Luther Strange. It’s arguably a bigger loss for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose super PAC dumped millions into the race in a losing attempt to beat back a challenger he feared would make a difficult senator. Still, the scrambling of political loyalties and agendas just might be a development President Trump would welcome. http://abcn.ws/2k2WKHg
What’s next for health care in the Senate. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced they would not vote on the latest bill from Senators Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., this week, Republicans could return to their campaign promise to repeal former president Obama’s signature health care law down the road. http://abcn.ws/2hvBhGk
Powerhouse Politics podcast: ESPN Radio host says NFL owners aren’t really demonstrating unity. The solidarity expressed by NFL owners with their players in response to President Trump’s criticism of those who take a knee during the national anthem does not actually reflect the unity they are promoting, claims ESPN Radio host Bomani Jones.”I thought it was strategically brilliant for Jerry Jones,” the ESPN personality told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein during the “Political Powerhouse” podcast. “This allowed him to be part of the same demonstration of post solidarity that most NFL owners have been on and allowed players to make a point that they were kneeling just like the other players were.” http://abcn.ws/2wVEAIL
Investigators follow flow of money to Trump from wealthy donors with Russian ties. Three Americans with significant Russian business connections contributed almost $2 million to political funds controlled by Donald Trump, ABC News has learned. The timing of contributions coming from U.S. citizens with ties to Russia is now being questioned by investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller, according to a Republican campaign aide interviewed by Mueller’s team. http://abcn.ws/2xE0zYz
After Alabama, GOP anti-establishment wing declares all-out war in 2018. The Washington Post
Exclusive: IRS shares information with special counsel in Russia probe. CNN
Sean Spicer lawyers up as Russia probe heats up. The Daily Beast