Donald Trump Jr.
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Conservatives continued to debate the implications of Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer during the campaign as new details about other attendees emerged on Friday. On Fox News, Shepard Smith and Chris Wallace met those revelations with incredulity.
Smith: We’re still not clean on this, Chris. If there’s nothing there — and that’s what they tell us, they tell us there’s nothing to this and nothing came of it, there’s a nothingburger, it wasn’t even memorable, didn’t write it down, didn’t tell you about it, because it wasn’t anything so I didn’t even remember it — with a Russian interpreter in the room at Trump Tower? If all of that, why all these lies? Why is it lie after lie after lie? If you clean, come on clean, you know? My grandmother used to say when first we practice to — Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. The deception, Chris, is mind-boggling. And there are still people who are out there who believe we’re making it up. And one day they’re gonna realize we’re not and look around and go, “Where are we, and why are we getting told all these lies?” Wallace: You know, I don’t know what to say. I think that there’s a lot of truth to everything that you’ve said.
On The Fox News Specialists, however, Eric Bolling insisted that the ties of one of the revealed attendees, Rinat Akhmetshin, to the firm behind the anti-Trump dossier compiled by Christopher Steele suggests that the Russians might have been “colluding with Hillary Clinton to get information on Donald Trump.”
At the Resurgent, Erick Erickson wrote that the Trump Jr. meeting had taken on the appearance of a setup:
I am still increasingly of the mind that this was a Democratic trick. Again, the Russians wanted to sow discord in the process. No one, including the Russians, thought Trump could win. It would make sense to hedge their bets and try to influence both sides, especially because they wanted the Magnitsky Act overturned and didn’t think Trump would win. But you’ve got Fusion GPS, a Democrat firm preparing an oppo research file on Trump that claims he worked with the Russians, also working with Rinat Akhmetshin and Natalia Veselnitskaya. The latter is the lawyer who met with Trump. The former, if NBC News is to be believed, sounds like it might have been the other person at the meeting.
Erickson explained that the slow revelation of details about the meeting, which presumably would have been useful to Clinton before the election if it was a setup, may have been intended to cover the Democrats’ tracks. “If you had helped stage the meeting and didn’t want it to look like a set up, wouldn’t you let the reporters run their natural course instead of throwing it all at them?” he asked. “But I certainly think we need to ask if the Russians were playing both sides and no one wants to ask that, if only because many of those in the position to ask it favored the losing side.”
In other news:
Conservatives dug more deeply into the Senate’s latest version of their health care bill on Friday. National Review published an editorial calling the bill “a step in the right direction”:
The current draft of the Senate bill should not be the last word. Republicans should restore as many of the tax cuts to the bill as possible. The bill should be more aggressive in helping those who wish to leave Medicaid. Pre-funded health savings accounts would allow them to pay the deductibles for catastrophic policies while also retaining incentives to control costs. We would, however, recommend that conservative senators vote for the bill — and that all Republicans do a better job of defending it from the Left’s hysterical attacks. The bill would not “throw 22 million people off insurance,” the Congressional Budget Office has not said so, and Democrats and reporters who claim otherwise are telling untruths. The bulk of the CBO’s 22 million would voluntarily drop insurance if not threatened with fines. Obamacare hasn’t been shown to have saved any lives (mortality trends since its implementation are not especially encouraging), and there is little reason to expect a partial repeal of it to endanger any. Nothing in the bill requires any state to roll back eligibility for Medicaid. And so on.
National Review editor Rich Lowry lauded Ted Cruz’s work on the bill in a separate post. “If this bill goes down, Republicans aren’t going to come back at it with a more free-market approach—in fact the opposite,” he wrote. “This is why it’s been so important that Cruz has stayed at the table, worked at persuading his colleagues, and moved a flawed bill to the right. His approach is a stark contrast to that of Rand Paul, who is simply opposed to anything proposed by leadership and anything short of his vision of purity.”
At the Federalist, John Daniel Davidson praised the Cruz amendment, which allows the sale of non-Obamacare compliant insurance plans. “This would almost certainly be an improvement over Obamacare because it would allow room for an actual insurance market, for Americans who are actually insurable,” he wrote. “For those who aren’t, there would be the exchanges, which would function like high-risk pools. One of the great follies of Obamacare is that it didn’t allow insurance to function as insurance anymore. If you force insurance companies to cover things that have already happened, that’s not insurance; it’s a junky, yet expensive, version of health care as a public utility.”
On Fox Business, conservative commentator and Trump supporter Harlan Hill said that Republicans not on “the same team” as Trump should fear the consequences of not fulfilling promises to repeal and replace Obamacare.
If Health Care reform doesn’t get done, we need to FIRE these lawmakers! It MUST be done this year! NO EXCUSES! – @Harlan pic.twitter.com/8G8khdcoZ9
— Trish Regan (@trish_regan) July 14, 2017
“If they can not muster the support to pass a repeal and replacement of Obamacare that they’ve been promising their constituents for years now, then we’re going to fire them,” he said. “It’s that clear and it has to be done this year. No excuses. No more recesses.”