Author: By Greg Sargent

Alarming new revelations about Trump’s addiction to Fox News

THE WASHINGTON POST OPINIONS (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) THE MORNING PLUM: There are two Mueller probes. There’s the one that exists in the Fox News-addled mind of President Trump and his supporters, which features dark conspiracy mongering about a Deep State coup against Trump; out-of-control federal agents jack-booting poor, hapless Trump allies; and of course the corrupt failure to prosecute Hillary Clinton. Then there’s the one that exists in most mainstream news accounts, which features a team of investigators mostly going by the book, never leaking, methodically following the facts, albeit very aggressively, wherever they will lead. The gaping disconnect...

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This brutal new poll shows that fewer and fewer people believe Trump’s lies

THE WASHINGTON POST OPINIONS (Alex Brandon/Associated Press) THE MORNING PLUM: The 100-day mark of the Trump presidency is approaching, and his aides are worried that the media narrative will depict his historically awful lack of accomplishments with highly unflattering levels of accuracy. But don’t tell that to President Trump. He knows the real problem is that the news media won’t acknowledge how terrific the start to his presidency has actually been in comparison with his loser predecessors: The Fake Media (not Real Media) has gotten even worse since the election. Every story is badly slanted. We have to hold...

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The battle over Obamcare repeal starts now. Are Republicans going wobbly?

(AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File) THE MORNING PLUM: Today Republicans are set to huddle on Capitol Hill with incoming Vice President Mike Pence to talk about their strategy for repeal, or repeal-and-delay, or repeal-and-replace, or repeal-and-maybe-replace, or repeal-and-pretend-to-want-to-replace — whatever you want to call it, Obamacare repeal is very likely to happen. Are Republicans going wobbly? I doubt it will mean that much in the long run. But some reports this morning are hinting at it. To be sure, Republicans are entering into a totally new phase — the great and glorious moment of liberation and catharsis they have long yearned for is upon them. But all is not bliss. For years, they could vote for repeal, secure in the knowledge that they would never have to deal with the consequences of it actually happening. Republicans could rail away without worrying that their own constituents would lose health coverage — allowing them to say they supported the ACA’s popular provisions while not explaining how they’d retain those things under a (non-existent) GOP replacement. But, now that it is very likely to happen, Republicans are finding repeal isn’t so awesome, after all. CNN reports today that some Republicans are now publicly worrying about the Republican plan to repeal the law on a delayed schedule that would theoretically give them time to come up with a replacement later, and they’re pumping the...

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Memo to the media: Stop giving Trump the headlines he wants

Donald Trump is once again claiming credit for beating back the scourge of outsourcing, this time insisting that he is the reason that Sprint has announced plans to move thousands of jobs back to America from other countries. “Because of what’s happening, and the spirit and the hope, I was just called by the head people at Sprint, and they are going to be bringing 5,000 jobs back to the United States,” Trump said, adding that the news of jobs “coming back into the United States” marks “a nice change.” Trump later added that the jobs were coming back “because of me.” But based on what we know right now, it is not at all clear what role Trump — or whatever “spirit” of “hope” his victory has created — had in bringing these jobs back to the U.S. Yet here are some of the headlines that greeted Trump’s claim: * CNN: “Trump declares victory: Sprint will create 5,000 U.S. jobs.” * The New York Times: “Trump Takes Credit for Sprint Plan to Add 5,000 Jobs in U.S.” * USA Today: “8,000 U.S. jobs? Trump takes credit for Sprint, start-up decisions.” * ABC News: “Trump claims Sprint to create 5,000 jobs ‘because of me’.” * The Associated Press: “Trump takes credit for 8,000 jobs from Japanese mogul.” * The Washington Post: “Trump touts thousands of new jobs in deal with Softbank...

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These coal country voters backed Trump. Now they’re worried about losing Obamacare.

(EPA/Mark Lyons) Last night, CNN aired a terrific segment on people from coal country who voted for Donald Trump — but are now worried that his vow to repeal Obamacare will deprive them of crucial protections that enable them to stay afloat financially. This dovetails with other reporting that suggests a lot of Trump voters may be harmed by repeal of the law. Which raises a question: Did voters such as these know they were voting for this? After all, Trump promised countless times throughout the campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act, didn’t he? If they are complaining about this now, don’t they have only themselves to blame? No. I’m going to argue that, while Trump did repeatedly vow repeal, these voters were absolutely right to conclude that he would not leave them without the sort of federal protections they enjoy under Obamacare. That’s because Trump did, in fact, clearly signal to them that this would not happen. The CNN segment features people who live in eastern Kentucky coal country who backed Trump because he promised to bring back coal jobs. Now, however, they worry that a provision in the ACA that makes it easier for longtime coal miners with black lung disease to get disability benefits could get eliminated along with the law. That provision shifted the burden of proving that the disability was directly caused by work in the...

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Could Trump help unleash nuclear catastrophe with a single tweet?

(AFP photo/Jim Watson) Donald Trump’s alarming Tweet about his desire to “greatly strengthen and expand” the “nuclear capability” of the United States unleashed a frenzy of media efforts to try to divine his actual policy intentions. It forced some of his advisers into tortured claims that Trump didn’t say what he actually said, even as others simultaneously insisted that Trump did meaningfully put other countries on notice that if he deems them to be challenging our supremacy, they will face an arms race. But perhaps the most worrisome thing about Trump’s nuclear Tweet is not the intention to break with decades of international disarmament efforts that it may have signaled, though that’s frightening enough on its own. Rather, it’s that he saw fit to Tweet about nuclear weapons at all. As we prepare for President Trump to take near-unchecked control of our nuclear machinery, his nuclear Tweet is best seen as a window into his temperament. Trump still does not appreciate that every word he utters carries tremendous weight and could have dramatic, untold, far-reaching, unpredictable consequences — something that is especially true in the nuclear arena. Or, perhaps worse, Trump may be entirely indifferent to this fact. President-elect Donald Trump has called nuclear weapons “the single greatest problem the world has” – but he’s also made some controversial statements about them. (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post) Arms control experts I spoke with suggested...

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Trump is threatening to wreck our democracy. Blame the Republicans who are looking the other way.

(Daniel Acker/Bloomberg) THE MORNING PLUM: The events we’ve seen in the run-up to the inauguration of Donald Trump have only confirmed that he represents a threat to our democracy and governing norms in multiple unprecedented ways. But this isn’t just a story about Donald Trump. It’s also a story about congressional Republicans. Trump is doing all he can to discredit the apparent CIA conclusion that Russia tried to interfere in our election, which might make a true accounting of this apparently unprecedented assault on our democracy harder. He continues to suggest he will do little to address all the potential conflicts of interests — and possibility of corruption — that are developing around his global business interests on a mind-boggling scale. He continues to claim — after the election — that millions voted illegally, to sow confusion and doubt about the real meaning of the outcome and the integrity of our political process. Yet there are steps congressional Republicans could take to mitigate the damage of those things, but aren’t: 1) Republicans are already signaling they may hamstring efforts to get to the bottom of Russian interference. The Post’s Karoun Demirjian reports today that, while Republicans say they want a vigorous probe of what happened, some appear to be taking steps that make this less likely. Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan want to run the probes through their respective bodies’...

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Top Republicans just came out for an investigation into potential Russian interference. Now what?

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Mitch McConnell announced this morning that he favors an investigation into any efforts by Russia to tip the election to Donald Trump, observing: “The Russians are not our friends.” A spokesman for Paul Ryan appeared to confirm this afternoon that the House Speaker, too, supports a similar probe, though he was more circumspect about it. So now what happens? There are two basic things to keep an eye on in the short term: Who conducts these investigations, and how they are defined. Nate Persily, a professor of law at Stanford University, told me today that a lot will turn on which investigative model is selected. Will it be an outside panel similar to the 9/11 Commission, created by Congress? Or will it be joint Senate and House committees created by Congress for the express purpose of probing alleged Russian interference, similar to the Iran-Contra committees? It will almost certainly be neither of those. The most likely outcome in the short term will be that these investigations will be run through existing Congressional committees. McConnell today insisted that the Senate Intel Committee would be up to the task of probing potential Russian interference, and Ryan’s spokesman also appeared to suggest that the House Intel Committee would likely carry out any investigation. “That approach has less independence,” Persily said. “There’s less potential for randomness and jurisdiction-spreading if you...

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