The House Judiciary Committee hearing this morning was supposed to feature testimony from Attorney General William Barr about the Mueller report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. But, as Rep. Steve Cohen made clear with a plastic chicken and a KFC meal, Barr was too afraid to face questioning. “Chicken Barr should have showed up today. It’s a sad day in America,” Cohen told reporters. Rep. Ted Lieu, however, took matters a step further, declaring that Barr is “one of the most dangerous men in Washington D.C.” He cited, among other things, Barr’s disturbing new role in helping Trump repeal the Affordable Care Act and place millions of Americans’ lives at risk.
Lieu warned about an important development that many people have missed, which is that Barr “is suing in court to eliminate preexisting-conditions healthcare coverage.” In late March, the Department of Justice filed a brief with the Fifth Circuit, reversing its position on the Affordable Care Act by no longer committing to defend any part of the law. Yesterday, DOJ attorneys argued in a new court filing that “the entire law should not be allowed to remain in effect,” according to CNN. If the right-leaning court rules in Trump’s favor, an appeal could reach the Supreme Court before the election. Trump’s hope, no doubt, is that the Supreme Court will strike down Obamacare, handing him a win at a critical time while prompting decent lawmakers who actually care about their constituents to come groveling and accept whatever healthcare demands Trump and Congressional Republicans insist on.
Trump used to pretend that he cared about Americans’ healthcare. At a press conference days before his inauguration, Trump assured the public that he will provide an immediate and better alternative to Obamacare. “It will be repeal and replace,” Trump insisted. “It will be essentially simultaneously. It will be various segments, you understand, but will most likely be on the same day or the same week but probably the same day; could be the same hour. So we’re going to do repeal and replace. Very complicated stuff!”
Of course, Donald Trump had no viable replacement plan and failed to repeal Obamacare despite two years of a Republican-controlled House and Senate. He recently tweeted about a “really great” healthcare plan in the works to be voted on “right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win.” But we know that if Trump had such a great plan, he would have presented it already. Now that Barr has been outed as Trump’s Roy Cohn, Trump cannot bank on Barr remaining as the AG for long. As Lieu told reporters about Barr this morning, “We in Congress will rein him in. We will hold him accountable.” It looks like Congress has a full plate — of chicken.