On Friday morning, when it was still unclear if the GOP would round up enough votes to pass the Republican healthcare proposal, we noted that Bloomberg reported that as a "Plan B" contingency plan, Trump was preparing to sacrifice Paul Ryan, to wit "several Trump associates have already laid groundwork to blame the speaker" as well as potentially Reince Priebus.
Trump's long-time friend, Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy was quoted as saying “I think Paul Ryan did a major disservice to President Trump, I think the president was extremely courageous in taking on health care and trusted others to come through with a program he could sign off on. The President had confidence Paul Ryan would come up with a good plan and to me, it is disappointing.” Additionally, Bloomberg quoted a Trump associate who said that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus may also be imperiled.
One day later, while the fate of Paul Ryan is still to be determined even as he will likely be responsible for setting the framework of Republican tax reform, the NYT confirms that the internal scapegoating has begun and that as hinted yesterday, the blame for the failure to get GOP support for ObamaCare repeal and replace legislation has increasingly fallen on White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and other top administration officials. Specifically, the Times also reports that the blame for the legislative failure has fallen on Priebus, who was in charge of coordinating an initial plan on ObamaCare repeal with Speaker Paul Ryan, who for now appears to hve avoided Trump's direct wrath. To wit:
On Friday evening, a somewhat shellshocked president retreated to the White House residence to grieve and assign blame. He asked his advisers repeatedly: Whose fault was this? ... Increasingly, that blame has fallen on Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, who coordinated the initial legislative strategy on the health care repeal with Speaker Paul D. Ryan, his close friend and a fellow Wisconsin native, according to three people briefed on the president's recent discussions.
Politico's Tara Palmeri confirms as much:
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was also blamed for the failure, while the president was reportedly annoyed with Jared Kushner, his adviser and son-in-law, who returned to Washington on Friday from a family skiing trip in Colorado.
Two other republican sources told the Times that Trump expressed annoyance that Kushner was absent during the vital discussions. A White House spokesman, however, denied that Trump was displeased with Kushner, according to CNN, which reported that Trump was "upset" by Kushner's absence during the pivotal week. Kushner had said for weeks he thought supporting the GOP healthcare plan was a mistake, the Times added citing two sources,
The report presents a different picture from Trump's piblic posture, when both in his address to the media and on Twitter on Saturday morning, the president was quick to blame Democrats on Friday after Ryan pulled the GOP plan, repeating on various occasions that "ObamaCare will explode." Several dozen Republicans had publicly opposed the plan, and Trump asserted that Democrats now "own ObamaCare." The White House was also publicly supportive of Ryan's efforts to rally support for the legislation, but West Wing aides told the Times they were "stunned" by the Speaker's inability to master the politics of the GOP conference.