Quick Takes: Mueller Knows Why Trump Fired Comey

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* From the New York Times today:

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has obtained a letter that President Trump and a top political aide drafted in the days before Mr. Trump fired the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, which explains the president’s rationale for why he planned to dismiss the director.

The May letter had been met with opposition from Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, who believed that some of its contents were problematic, according to interviews with a dozen administration officials and others briefed on the matter.

Mr. McGahn successfully blocked the president from sending Mr. Comey the letter, which Mr. Trump had composed with Stephen Miller, one of the president’s top political advisers. A different letter, written by the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, and focused on Mr. Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, was ultimately sent to the F.B.I. director on the day he was fired.

* Republicans are running out of time to repeal Obamacare.

Senate Republicans will lose their special privileges to repeal Obamacare without any Democratic votes at the end of this month, the Senate parliamentarian ruled Friday.

Reviving Obamacare repeal was always unlikely, but the parliamentarian’s decision comes one step closer to slamming the door shut. While a looming deadline might mobilize some conservatives to push for action, a packed calendar and the desire of many of their colleagues to move on to other issues makes such a Hail Mary very challenging.

When Senate Republicans sought to repeal Obamacare earlier this summer, they did so through the budget reconciliation process. That process allows a bill to advance with only 51 votes, instead of the usual 60, which was essential to passing an Obamacare repeal bill: Republicans have only 52 members, and no Democrats would support repealing the health care law.

But the window for using budget reconciliation will soon close, according to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is the ranking Democratic member on the Senate Budget Committee. Sanders said in a statement that the Senate parliamentarian, who oversees the chamber’s arcane procedural rules, has decided that the current budget reconciliation privileges would expire at the end of September, the last day of this fiscal year.

* If Trump wants to suggest that Iran isn’t living up to their part of the nuclear weapons agreement, he’ll have to content with this:

Iran is honoring the terms of the landmark 2015 nuclear accord, the UN atomic watchdog said in its latest quarterly assessment today, according to news agencies that obtained the confidential six-page report. The latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assessment puts the agency charged with overseeing compliance with the nuclear accord at odds with members of the Donald Trump administration who have signaled that they want to declare Iran in breach of the deal.

IAEA officials said they would not help the Trump administration make a false case for abandoning the agreement.

* Here is yet another way that Trump and Obama are opposites. The current president makes loud proclamations about his philanthropic intentions, and then rarely follows through. His predecessor quietly does this:

* Finally, the Washington Monthly experienced a terrible loss this week. Kukula Kapoor Glastris, books editor and wife of Paul Glastris, passed away on Tuesday. James Fallows has written a lovely tribute to her that begins with this:

Many people who knew or worked with Kukula Glastris described her as “the kindest” or “the most generous” person they had known. It’s a big world, and titles like that can be contested. But I’ve never met anyone whose combination of personal goodness, plus intellectual and professional abilities, exceeded Kukula’s.

Based on that as well as the many tributes that have been written about “Kuku” by so many people who loved her, it seems that James Taylor had her in mind when he sang about showering the people you love with love.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.