GOP feels betrayed by White House: Trump’s ‘heart was not in the healthcare battle’
Republicans in Congress feel like Pres. Donald Trump hung them out to dry this week by never committing to an all-out push to pass the party’s healthcare bill, which was intended to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — also known as Obamacare.
Politico reported Saturday that in the wake of the bill’s ignominious end on Friday when it was pulled before going to a vote, some Republicans feel that the Trump White House set them up for failure.
“Their heart was not in the healthcare battle,” said one House Republican who declined to be identified. “Think about the level of intensity on the executive orders for the travel ban, or on the wiretapping claims. He certainly checked the boxes on healthcare, to his credit. But it’s self-evident there was not a certain level of intensity devoted to this.”
Trump and his aides insist they gave their all to the fight. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a Saturday email, “The president and vice president left everything on the field… They were making calls and having members to the White House all week. In total, we spoke or met with over 120 members of Congress.”
Resentments were further inflamed on Friday when photos surfaced of Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner romping on the ski slopes of Aspen, CO as House Republicans furiously tried to whip up enough votes to pass the American Health Care Act. Kushner is purported to be one of the administration’s level heads and one of the president’s key advisers.
House staffers and other Republicans who spoke with Politico said that the president has done lip-service to the Obamacare repeal, but in meetings about the bill he seemed distracted, disengaged.
“Halfway through that meeting, he stopped to talk about Gorsuch,” the anonymous Republican official said. “His mind was bouncing around. I never felt they were dialed into this.”
Trump’s seemingly flippant attitude in the wake of the bill’s failure — he told the New York Times he’s “ready to move on” — has further alienated GOP officials who have had questions about the president’s conservative bona fides since he joined the party as a primary candidate.
The ex-reality TV star turned chief executive has had plenty to distract him over the last week. On Monday, FBI Director James Comey announced that the administration’s 2016 campaign is under federal investigation for collusion with the Russian government. Comey also said there is no evidence to support the president’s claims that former Pres. Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Towers.
Former Trump transition team member and House Intelligence Committee Rep. Devin Nunes embarrassed himself and the White House on Wednesday by attempting to give the administration political cover with making vague revelations that members of the Trump team were “incidentally surveilled,” but later in the week had to walk those statements back.