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Long IslandPolitics

Love or revenge: Republican divisions stir Trump mood swings

Sen. Rand Paul, who worked to bury the

Sen. Rand Paul, who worked to bury the GOP health care bill recently, speaks to reporters after playing golf with President Donald Trump at the president's club in Potamac Falls, Va., on Sunday, April 2, 2017. Photo Credit: AP / Manuel Balce Ceneta

Wants partners, isn’t picky

President Donald Trump is confident he can unite Republicans behind a health care overhaul bill, except when he’s not.

On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted that he’s seeking a new deal and: “Anybody (especially Fake News media) who thinks that Repeal & Replace of ObamaCare is dead does not know the love and strength in R Party!”

That’s just a few days after ripping the hard-right House Freedom Caucus and threatening to campaign in 2018 against members who refused to support the bill.

Later on Sunday, Trump went out on his Virginia golf course with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who worked nonstop to bury the failed House plan. Paul said afterward: “We are getting closer.”

If the caucus doesn’t get on board, Trump would rather seek a compromise with Democrats instead than have no action at all, he told the Financial Times in an interview posted Sunday.

“We will have in my opinion not as good a form of health care, but we are going to have a very good form of health care and it will be a bipartisan form of health care,” Trump said. See Newsday’s story by David M. Schwartz and Scott Eidler.

Not his cup of tee

Trump’s golf-swing schmooze game probably won’t be of much use when Chinese President Xi Jinping visits him at Mar-a-Lago later this week.

That’s because Xi has been waging a war on the sport in China, CNN reports. Xi’s government has shut down scores of golf courses and effectively banned the 88 million members of the ruling Communist Party from playing what the people’s republic’s founders called “a game for millionaires.”

Trump’s objectives for the meetings include trying to narrow differences over trade and getting Beijing to exert stronger pressure against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

“Well, if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you,” Trump said in the Financial Times interview.

The take-away: Trump U lessons

The Trump University case is over — a $25 million agreement was approved last week to settle fraud claims from ex-students — but the case provided a learning experience of a kind for watching the Trump presidency.

For example: Will his attack last year on the Mexican heritage of the judge who handled the case be reflected in his nominations for the federal bench? Will Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy Devos reverse Obama-era moves for tighter regulation of for-profit educational companies?

See Dan Janison’s column for Newsday.

Case of the Mondays

In a series of sulky and deflective Monday morning tweets, the president covered some old, still-unfounded grievances -- how he was supposedly spied on, how Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta allegedly had some kind of ties to Russia.

Hailing Fox News, he also repeated another theme from the campaign -- about Clinton ally Donna Brazile tipping her off to questions she'd face in a CNN forum. 

Another Democrat for Gorsuch

One bright spot for Trump amid difficulty advancing his agenda is that his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, is getting closer to confirmation.

Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana on Sunday became the third Democrat to announce support for Gorsuch.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said there will still be enough Democrats to deny Gorsuch the 60 votes the Republican leadership will need to overcome a filibuster.

But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell again indicated the GOP will change rules to get Gorsuch over the top with a simple majority if it has to.

Oh yes Russia did

While Trump keeps up his Twitter complaints about “fake” Russia stories, his UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said she has no doubt that Russian meddling in the election was real.

“Well, certainly, I think Russia was involved in the election,” she said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“There’s no question about that. . . . We don’t want any country involved in our elections ever.”

Haley also said she doesn’t pay much attention to Trump’s tweeting, nor does she need to.

“To me, it’s chatter I don’t focus on,” she said.

The rising son-in-law

Jared Kushner is stirring both resentment and ridicule in the White House as Trump’s senior adviser, Politico reports.

The former is because his family tie puts him closer to the president.

The latter is for taking on a supersized portfolio that includes solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reinventing government.

And over the weekend, Kushner turned up in Iraq on an unannounced trip with Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford. 

What else is happening

  • Trump’s low approval ratings make it harder for him to intimidate Republicans who displease him, reports The Washington Post. “Popularity scares people,” said Ari Fleischer, who was a spokesman in the George W. Bush White House. “Lack of popularity emboldens them.”
  • A Kentucky judge refused to throw out a lawsuit accusing Trump of inciting violence against protesters at a March 2016 rally in Louisville.
  • By a 52 percent to 23 percent margin, a majority of Americans support an independent investigation into contacts between Trump’s campaign and the Russians, an Associated Press-NORC poll found.
  • Trump is set to give a red-carpet welcome Monday to Egypt’s military ruler, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, Politico reports. Sisi was never invited to the Obama White House because of his record on human rights and democracy.
  • Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be visiting New Hampshire on a book tour later this month, stirring buzz about a potential GOP primary challenge against Trump in 2020.
  • Groups funded by the Koch brothers are campaigning against a new tax on imports proposed by House Republicans and backed by Trump, The New York Times reported.
  • The FBI is creating a special unit to better coordinate its widely-watched Russia probe, the Financial Times reported.

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