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Friday, March 31, 2017

It's On: GOP Appears Ready to Go 'Nuclear' if Democrats Mount Indefensible, Unpopular Filibuster of Gorsuch

Guy Benson

Democrats have zero intellectually-defensible reasons -- none -- to sustain the first-ever partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee, but due to the demands of their extreme base and their misplaced anger over finally being held to their own standards last year, they appear to be headed in that direction anyway. Many liberals have been cheering on this mindless obstruction, with some whispering around that Republicans won't have the votes to invoke the Reid Rule and end the judicial filibuster for nominees to the High Court (Reid's unjustifiable2013 power grab was, of course, one of many unilateral Democratic escalations that has brought us to this point). Are Democrats smart to bet on the GOP folding when the pressure is on? Many conservative activists frustrated with the party might be tempted to say yes -- but just as a steady drumbeat of reporting increasingly pointsto Chuck Schumer whipping at least 41 votes on behalf of his unprecedented filibuster, it's also looking more and more like Mitch McConnell's team is steeling itself to do what must be done in the face of the Left's latest round of extraordinary partisan aggression:

As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., continues to make his case for his colleagues to fall in line behind the filibuster to block Gorsuch from being confirmed, centrist Republicans who have a history of arguing to preserve Senate rules appear open to changing them if Democrats continue to try to obstruct his confirmation, as expected. At least six centrist to more moderate Republicans have either come out squarely in favor of going nuclear to confirm Gorsuch or this week have signaled a willingness to be persuaded to vote to change the rules..."There are no grounds for a filibuster of Neil Gorsuch," she told reporters Tuesday afternoon. Asked if she would support a decision by Senate GOP leaders to "go nuclear," Collins said: "I am not eager to see the rules changed, so I hope that Democrats do not launch a filibuster against an eminently well-qualified nominee...I'm hoping we're not going to get to that point — that's all I want to say," she added.
This is the tone that several GOP centrists have taken in discussing this looming standoff: Please don't make us to this, Democrats. Somewhat worrisomely, one name that didn't appear in that Washington Examiner story is Alaska's Lisa Murkoswksi, an independent who caucuses with Republicans and who is often a threat to buck the party.  But Murkowksi has been very high on Gorsuch, and a new Politico piece quotes the Alaskan making it quite clear that she's firmly committed to getting Gorsuch confirmed, one way or the other: "If it was another nominee that was polarizing, that was not more mainstream, maybe then this is an issue,” she said. “I believe very, very strongly that Neil Gorsuch needs to be confirmed. So I’m going to figure out a way to get him confirmed.”  Your move, Democrats. Are there eight members on Team Blue willing to infuriate the Left and vote in favor of cloture? Maybe:
The Senate is expected to take up Gorsuch’s nomination next week, and the dynamic could change before then. Several senators, like Cardin, Coons, Mark Warner of Virginia and Angus King of Maine, could still vote to advance Gorsuch to an up-or-down voteunder the right conditions, though they would face blowback from liberals. There are five Democrats up for reelection in states that Trump won handily in the same category, though just West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has committed to vote for Gorsuch . Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota are all concerned about changing the fabric of the Senate — but it’s not clear what they are willing to do about it. “I’m going to base it on his qualifications and his opinions,” Tester said. “I don’t think Montanans want me to be cutting a deal.”

And that list doesn't include the Feinsteins and Leahys of the world; veteran liberals who don't like Gorsuch's philosophy, but who've been around long enough to develop real over the prospect of forcing this sort of rules-changing confrontation -- especially when the party is on such weak political ground. In addition to yesterday's poll showing nearly two-to-one support (44/23) for confirming Gorsuch among voters, a new YouGov survey finds a similar margin (40/23) in favor of his confirmation, while a fresh NBC survey finds that an outright majority of Americans (37/54) oppose Democrats' planned filibuster:

I'll leave you with Orrin Hatch -- Utah's senior Senator and a longtime institutionalist, who nonetheless is ready to push the 'Reid Rule' button if intransigent Democrats force his hand -- offering a brief history lesson highlighting Chuck Schumer's glaring personal hypocrisy on these tactics:

"Democrats have been playing this game for years, embracing one standard when it suits them, only to do an about-face later...Senator Schumer voted 25 times to filibuster judicial nominees of President George W. Bush. Then, when nomination filibusters had declined under President Obama, he voted to abolish them. Now, with a Republican again in the White House, he's back on the filibuster train.

And here is Mitch McConnell laying the groundwork for the Reid Rule nuclear option, quite rightly explaining that there is not one single principled reason whatsoever to filibuster Neil Gorsuch:

Freedom Caucus Member Urges Trump to 'Remember Who Your Real Friends Are'

Leah Barkoukis 

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) urged President Trump on Thursday to remember who his real friends in Washington are.

"Freedom Caucus stood with u when others ran. Remember who your real friends are,” Labrador tweeted to Trump. “We're trying to help u succeed.”

Earlier on Thursday Trump again attacked the caucus, tweeting, “The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!” 

Labrador argued the caucus, by opposing the American Health Care Act, was not hurting the GOP agenda, but was in fact trying to help Trump.

@realDonaldTrump R's promised to repeal ACA's "knot of regulations, taxes, and mandates." AHCA fails to to do so and polls @ 17%,” Labrador added.

Not all Freedom Caucus members took the high road, however. Rep. Justin Amash was quick to hit back at Trump.

“It didn’t take long for the swamp to drain @realDonaldTrump,” wrote Amash. "No shame, Mr. President. Almost everyone succumbs to the D.C. Establishment.”

Sanctuary Cities: Where Hypocrisy Rules

It should be commonsense that a nation’s security begins and ends at its borders. 

The primary mission of the military is to keep America’s enemies as far from its shores as possible. 

There is a stirring Navy commercial “America's Navy - The Shield” in which numerous members of the United States Navy from a wide array of divisions appear on screen and a voice says, “To get to you they’d have to get past us.”

Indeed, the valiant members of our armed forces from all five branches routinely go in harm’s way to defend America and Americans.

However, as we saw all too clearly on September 11, 2001, in this era of asymmetrical warfare, America’s enemies are likely to not come to our country in a warship but on an airliner.

Indeed, on that horrific day more than 15 years ago, 19 men from the Middle East carried out the deadliest terror attack ever mounted on American soil.  The casualties of 9/11 surpassed the number of casualties that the Japanese fleet inflicted on the United States at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

The 9/11 Commission was convened to determine the vulnerabilities that the terrorists successfully exploited to attack the United States.  Among the most fundamental vulnerabilities were those that pertain to the various components of the immigration system.

I addressed these issues in my article “The 9/11 Commission Report and Immigration: An Assessment, Fourteen Years after the Attacks.”

Immigration Law Enforcement Is Not About Xenophobia But Commonsense:

To be clear, our immigration laws have nothing to do with race, religion or ethnicity but everything to do with preventing he entry of aliens who suffer dangerous communicable diseases or mental illness as well as aliens who are criminals, spies, human rights violators, fugitives from justice, war criminals and terrorists.

The federal government created the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of those terror attacks to better protect America and Americans from the threat of international terrorism.  The enforcement of our immigration laws was moved into that new department because it was understood that border security and the enforcement of our immigration laws from within the United States back-stops the efforts of the military to prevent the entry and embedding of terrorists and criminals in the United States.

You would think that across America our nation’s leaders, irrespective of party affiliations, would all be in agreement about the need to prevent the entry of terrorists and criminals into the United States.

You would think there would be universal agreement to prevent contraband such as narcotics and dangerous weapons from entering the United States in this perilous era.

It would also seem that these concerns would be of particular focus for the political leaders of New York City, the city that bore the brunt of the hellacious attacks of 9/11 especially when you realize that there had been a previous deadly terror attack committed at the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993 and still other attacks in New York.

Certainly Mayor DeBlasio and New York Senator Chuck Schumer make frequent note of those terror attacks to demand that Washington provide additional funding to protect New York City from international terrorists.

However, over time, the nexus between immigration and national security has been, by design, gradually expunged from the narrative.

Over time, beginning with President Jimmy Carter’s strategy of blurring the distinction between lawful immigrants and illegal aliens, the term alien has been replaced by the term immigrant.

Any effort to distinguish lawful immigrants from illegal aliens is now met with accusations of racism, xenophobia, nativism and other such insults.

The complicit mainstream media has come to refer to anyone who calls for securing our borders against illegal entry as being “Anti-Immigrant” while immigration anarchists have been re-branded “Pro-Immigrant.”

By blurring the distinction between lawful immigrants and illegal aliens has tragically conditioned many Americans to believe that the term “Immigrant” is synonymous with “law violator” when nothing could be further from the truth.

The Trump administration is not seeking to deport true “Immigrants” unless, of course a lawful immigrant commits certain serious crimes.

One progressive organization, Credo Action, posted this petition with the bogus premise: Senate Democrats: Block Trump’s attacks on immigrants.

The push for the deportation of illegal aliens must not be confused with the bogus narrative of the politicians who say that they will prevent President Trump from deporting immigrants.  The administration is not attempting to deport immigrants but is attempting to deport illegal aliens, especially when they have committed serious crimes and pose a threat to public safety the same way that criminals living in public housing pose a threat to public safety.

Not content with simply declaring NYC a “Sanctuary City” DeBlasio has provided hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens with municipal identity documents that help illegal aliens embed themselves in NYC and provide them with a level of credibility they should not have.

After Donald Trump was elected president, ABC News reported, Mayor Says If Trump Tries To Deport Undocumented Immigrants He'll Destroy IDNYC Data.

Following the attacks of 9/11 politicians from both parties stood in front of forests of microphones at news conferences and demanded to know, “Why did no one connect the dots?”

Now Mr. DeBlasio has unbelievably threatened to erase potential dots, thereby obstructing governmental administration in matters involving national security.

When I have attempted to explain immigration law enforcement in a way that most folks could relate to, I have come to say that the difference between an immigrant and and illegal alien is comparable to the difference between a houseguest and a burglar. 

When I provided a deposition to the law firm retained by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to help in their defense against the Obama DOJ lawsuit over SB 1070 (Arizona’s immigration law that largely paralleled our federal immigration laws) I noted that “During the first four years of my career with the INS when I served as an immigration inspector at JFK International Airport in New York City, you could say that I had my eye to the peephole to America’s front door.”

I believe the analogy of comparing our homes with our nation and how reasonable people take whatever measures they can to protect themselves and their homes by locking their doors at night and being careful about letting strangers into their homes or apartments parallels the mission of immigration law enforcement for the United States.

That analogy works quite well and is worth considering today considering that on March 29, 2017 Spectrum News published a report, “NYPD and NYCHA Need to Do More to Remove Criminals from Public Housing, DOI Says.”

That report prompted me to do a bit of research on the issue of how, in New York City, residents of public housing become subject to eviction when they are convicted of committing certain serious crimes and may be excluded from living in public housing permanently.

I found a December 2015 New York Times article, “Report Details ‘Systemic Failures’ in Communication Between New York Police and Housing Authority” that contained a quote from none other than New York City’s Mayor DeBlasio.

Here is the pertinent segment of the news article:

The issue of excluding violent offenders from public housing gained new attention after the fatal shooting of Officer Randolph Holder near the East River Houses in Upper Manhattan on Oct. 20. The authorities have said the officer was killed by a man, Tyrone Howard, who should have been barred from public housing long before based on his criminal history.

Without mentioning the investigation or its findings, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office issued a news release last week promising improved interagency communication and strategies “aimed at quickly and accurately identifying individuals who pose a serious risk to public safety and taking appropriate action.”

“Improved N.Y.P.D. and Nycha communication and process will shorten eviction and exclusion proceedings from public housing to weeks, as opposed to months, for serious offenders,” Mr. de Blasio said in the statement.

This is absolutely stunning.

Mr. DeBlasio has shown commonsense about keeping criminals out of public housing the same way that DeBlasio’s mayoral predecessor and proponent of Sanctuary Cities, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, demanded that police officers patrol public housing and arrest anyone who would trespass on public housing because, he stated, such trespassers pose a threat to the safety of those who live in public housing.

However, while DeBasio is all for evicting criminals from public housing to keep the residents of those housing developments safe, he determined to prevent the deportation of criminal aliens from the United States.

The hypocrisy is startling. and provides evidence of Theft By Deception: The Immigration Con Game.

On March 15, 2017 Newsday quoted the Speaker of the New York City Counsel in an article, NYC’s Mark-Viverito: Trump deportation plan ‘ethnic cleansing.’

The term depravity come to mind in contemplating her reckless, incendiary and outrageous allegations.  Could you imagine if President Trump had said anything that even approached that insane statement?

In “Sanctuary Cities” public safety, law, reason, commonsense and morality are mere speed bumps to be overcome to create immigration anarchy.

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Ending Obamacare Is Easy: Just Ignore Congress

All Democrats and an odd coalition of very moderate and very conservative Republican Congressmen in effect voted that Obamacare was preferable to Trump-Ryan health reform.

President Donald Trump was not pleased: “The best thing politically is to let Obamacare explode,” leaving it “totally the property of the Democrats.” When folks “get a 200 percent increase next year — or a 100 percent or 70 percent” surge that’s “their fault.”

But the media will blame him and the Republicans regardless, so what should the president do?

He was on the right track to ignore the dysfunctional Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, and let nature take its course on healthcare for a while. The House cannot fix it, so its leadership should back off from a planned second attempt next week.

The fact is the individual insurance that was the focus of the defeated House bill is a tiny part of health coverage. Medicaid, which was a part of the proposal, and Medicare insure almost forty percent of the population and a tenth or so are uninsured. But among the other half privately insured 88 percent are covered through their employer and only twelve percent by individual insurance. And, as with individual insurance, large employers who do not offer benefits that meet expensive Federal “minimum value and affordability standards” can be penalized.

After the individual Exchanges collapsed on day one, even President Barack Obama realized the better part of valor was to delay implementation of Obamacare for employer-provided private health insurance, and to defer the so-called Cadillac tax on generous high-benefit health insurance. President Obama further postponed the enforcement of penalties until 2017, leaving his successor president to handle complaints.

All those academic and journalist intellectuals, Democratic politicians, health lobbyists, and foundation experts — all extolling the benefits of Obamacare — and do not forget Congressmen with most of their premium paid by the taxpayer — are just now fully experiencing the joys of Obamacare. Indeed, most of the upper-middle class liberals who want Obamacare passionately for their more unfortunate brothers and sisters may not be so anxious for it themselves or for letting Obamacare’s Cadillac tax go into effect to further increase their health insurance burden.

Although almost completely ignored by the media and in the Congressional debates, the consequences of Obamacare for the employer market are just as dire as for the individual one. A 2016 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that, without counting the majority of premium costs borne by the employer directly, premiums for individuals under employer insurance increased by 20 percent for a family to $5,277, with deductibles exploding an incredible 63 percent and deductibles of $1,000 or more increasing by 51 percent between 2011 and 2016, increasing the de facto cost to each one of $7,000 or more per year.

Now it is the elites’ turn to see what the country has been complaining about.

President Trump did reach out to Democrats, but they want the tax penalty as the stick that forces young, healthy people to sign up to balance the sick people who know they need insurance, providing some balance on costs. But the tax penalty is one of Obamacare’s most unpopular features. Enforcement of the penalty has been delayed by Democrats so far, and to defer to them President Trump would have to override President Obama’s own policy of delaying penalties, hardly possible politically. Without the young, premiums would certainly surge dramatically.

By simply continuing his predecessor’s policy of delaying enforcement, more and more health insurers will be forced to abandon an increasingly unprofitable business.

Even if he approved enforcement, the insurance companies still need the Obamacare cost-sharing subsidy payments that are at issue in the lawsuit filed by the House of Representatives against the executive branch, challenging its authority to make such payments. Could the president fight the House and his voters in the name of subsidizing big health insurers $7 to $10 billion a year? If he did he would lose all credibility with his base.

On the other hand, all Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price — who is now the defendant in the House suit — need do, is concede the House was correct legally, and the subsidy ends. Congress does not need to do a thing and Obamacare becomes unprofitable and expires.

The other possibility is for the president to again simply follow his predecessor and reform Obamacare through executive regulation alone — as President Obama did at least fortytimes. President Trump would need only three modifications.

First, a main sticking-point for conservatives has been overly permissive and expensive mandated benefits, especially for unproven types of preventive care. While these benefits are broadly listed in law, it is up to the HHS secretary to specify them. There is plenty of room to review and limit the number and type of specific requirements and their resulting expenses for both individual and employer plans, and Secretary Price would know just how to do it right.

Second, the most costly Obamacare provision was granting many above the poverty line access to the Medicaid entitlement. President Obama has already granted waivers allowing states flexibility under the program. Sec. Price could do the same, and much, much more. He has already revealed he would grant waivers to states that want to experiment more broadly. Such things as work requirements for the able-bodied, the less-poor paying premiums, and even leaving most regulation to the states are possible under such waivers.

Finally, President Obama has already granted broad waivers of individual tax penalties in “hardship” cases, including the harm of losing one’s old health insurance, which everyone has done by now. So, Sec. Price could simply rule that all Americans deserve hardship exemptions since they were promised they could keep their old insurance and in fact they could not. No one would be left penalized under Obamacare and all would be free to go in a different direction.

Indeed, President Trump signed an executive order in January directing HHS to minimize the regulatory burdens of Obamacare, to take steps to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay its rules.” All his administration needs to do is act.

Either nature takes its course and Obamacare explodes or through executive regulation it is radically redesigned. Either way a market would pretty much be left to develop under state regulation to work its way out of the present morass.

Imagine relying upon freedom? What a concept!

Donald Devine is a senior scholar at the Fund for American Studies, the author of America’s Way Back: Reclaiming Freedom, Tradition, and Constitution, and ran the nation’s largest employer health insurance plan under President Ronald Reagan as director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management during the first Reagan term.

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Politics With a Twist

As always, Ronald Reagan comes in very handy. One of his favorite anecdotes involved a pony. There was this young boy, an eternal optimist, who sure wanted to a have one for himself. A concerned psychiatrist took him to a room filled with manure, as if a pony’s leftovers might dampen his enthusiasm. Instead the boy began digging away at the manure. He knew there had to be a pony in there somewhere.

Our good infantile friends, the Demolibs, are like that too. Except there’s nothing eternally optimistic about them. Eternal damnation is more their style. They operate in nothing but manure, wallowing in its stench and heaving it at their mounting numbers of hate objects. What are they certain they’ll find? Why of course, a Trump-Muscovy samovar collection. Meanwhile, the sheer pleasure of reveling in unadulterated manure keeps them primed. It’s hard to teach those dogs new tricks or how to behave in modern civilized society.

Assuming there’s any of it left.

Their latest related obsession has to do with Republican Rep. Devin Nunes and his contacts with the Republican White House. You see, it’s never happened in our history that a Republican congressman had conversations with a Republican administration without first receiving signed and notarized permission from the Democratic Party, which was never easy to obtain. But at least everyone respected the rules, and above all the Republicans knew there are limits to what they can aspire to be.

At this point, they might never again know what their place is. They need to get one thing straight. On paper they may be the majority party in Washington and in most states and counties in the USA. But in fact, as we’ve been reminded these last few months, there is only one majority party from coast to coast, and its first name begins with D and end with C and an unchallenged majority it shall remain until hell freezes over, no matter how tall and thick the manure pile growth down there becomes.

For a time this week it seemed all fingers need to be pointed at the Republican Congress, the gang that not only cannot shoot straight, but always forgets to load bullets into its guns when it comes time to draw. Then compassion kicked in, and we saw sincere efforts at conflict resolution and new beginnings and a recommitment to a seven-year plan to repeal Obamacare. There’s lots of unity and a dead certitude that this time they’re bound to get it right — okay, not right, but righter, unless of course it might involve some political risk and imagination and a willingness to beat the other guys and build on the momentum an initial victory would set in motion. We’ll check back in seven, nah, make it 14 years to see if there’s been any progress.

And if there hasn’t been any progress? Maybe we’ll offer to provide lessons on bullet-loading.

Time for a little fun. In the big state of Hawaii, Judge Derrick Watson, scoffing at the award we risked all to confer on him, has redoubled his assaults on the President of the United States. At this rate, the war on Isis might soon give way to boots on the ground in the disposable state of Hawaii instead.

The Jezebels of modern feminism are directing their mean looks at the honorable Vice President Pence for giving real meaning to his marriage vows. All the same, there are enough problems in the nation’s capital for us to have to worry that Mika Brzezinski might one day invite Mike Pence to lunch.

Fortunately, there is someone we can always rely on, someone always true to herself, and someone who doesn’t have to run away to Tahiti to plot her next moves and compose her next bestseller. Instead, in a clear admission of the mistake she made in avoiding the northern Midwest last election, she rushed to a critical abandoned working class redoubt for perhaps her most significant political appearance since the unhappy night of last November 8. “Resist. Insist. Persist. Enlist,” Madame Drill Sergeant hissed at the toughs in her San Francisco audience. They felt kissed, in her midst, and the unhappiness of last fall won’t be missed as it fades into the mist.

Even better, she’s back on our list, a runaway EOW who never fails to be dissed, which always leaves her pi–, um, primed for another run under the big glass ceiling. We’re with her. Hiss!

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Tucker SHREDS "White Genocide" Professor Who Almost Vomited After 1st Class Passenger Gave Up Seat For Soldier

I haven't seen a cucking this thorough since the night a binder-wielding Kurt Eichenwald was nearly killed by a post-Tucker tweet...

Last night, Tucker Carlson effortlessly savaged attention craving Drexel University "professor" George Ciccariello - who made headlines in December after calling for White Genocide over Twitter.

On Tuesday, Ciccariello once again made waves after expressing his disgust on an airplane when a 1st class passenger gave up his seat to a uniformed soldier on an airplane. Rational minds on the internet did not take too kindly:

In his latest stunt, the "white genocide" advocate led a group of feeble-voiced children in a protest of writer Charles Murray on the grounds that he's a racist. The next stop for the Drexel degenerate; out of his safe space and into the lion's den...

A facially ticking Ciccariello tried his best to match forces with Carlson, who simply kept knocking him on his ass - over, and over, and over. It was absolutely brutal:

Nobody takes you seriously, I'm trying to take you seriously. You're accusing this guy of racial demagoguery and you called for white genocide, you also applauded the Haitian revolution for killing whites - look those are your views! I'm not saying you shouldn't be allowed to express them. I'm merely pointing out the irony that you're trafficking in race hatred and yet saying that Charles Murray shouldn't be allowed to speak because he trafficks in race hatred. Are you self aware enough to catch that?

Tucker then goes on to read one of Ciccariello's screeds, concluding "It's High School writing... it's crap!"

(that wasn't even the best part... just watch until you see Tucker use air quotes)

Content originally generated at * Follow on Twitter @ZeroPointNow

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How to Amend the Constitution

Liberal Fantasylands

Trump on the warpath against Freedom Caucus

Trump on the warpath against Freedom Caucus
By Jordan Fabian and Jonathan Easley - 03-30-17 19:06 PM EDT

President Trump on Thursday launched an extraordinary attack against conservative Republicans who thwarted the party's healthcare plan, escalating an intra-party feud that could threaten the rest of his legislative agenda.

In a string of tweets, Trump threatened to back primary challenges against members of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus if they continue to oppose party leaders. He also named and shamed the group's chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), and two other prominent group members for what he said is their efforts to derail ObamaCare repeal and tax reform.

"If @RepMarkMeadows, @Jim_Jordan and @Raul_Labrador would get on board we would have both great healthcare and massive tax cuts & reform," the president tweeted.

"Where are @RepMarkMeadows, @Jim_Jordan and @Raul_Labrador? #RepealANDReplace #Obamacare."

House conservatives fought back, furious at the president for picking the fight at a time when congressional Republicans are trying to move past last week's bitter legislative defeat.

"Most people don't take well to being bullied," Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a Freedom Caucus member, told reporters. "It's constructive in fifth grade. It may allow a child to get his way, but that's not how our government works."

Freedom Caucus members argued Thursday that they did Trump a favor by sinking the American Health Care Act, which was reviled by grassroots conservatives and failed to attract support from even some moderate members of the GOP conference.

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), who was named by Trump, shot back over Twitter.

"The bill's polling at 17 percent," added Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), another Freedom Caucus member. "The American people are not in support of this bill. And we represent them, so we can do better."

Trump's deteriorating relationships with conservatives in the House could make it harder for him to pass his top agenda items, including an overhaul of the tax code, an infrastructure package and money to build his proposed wall at the southern border.

It could also complicate GOP leaders' efforts to approve a must-pass spending bill to keep the government open beyond the April 29 funding deadline.

But Trump was angered with the failure of the healthcare bill, the first major legislative initiative of his presidency.

And he decided to act on his initial instinct to cross some of his staunchest allies on the right, against the wishes of establishment figures like Speaker Ryan (R-Wis.) and activists in the conservative movement.

Tea Party leader Mark Meckler told The Hill he was "disgusted" by Trump's attacks against the House Freedom Caucus.

"The man who promised to 'Drain the Swamp' now appears to be the 'Creature from the Black Lagoon,' " said Meckler, who co-founded the Tea Party Patriots and whose new group, Citizens for Self Governance, has a database of 2 million conservative activists.

"He is now on the side of the swamp monsters," Meckler added.

Meckler and others on the right have warned that Trump risked losing his grassroots base by backing the healthcare bill.

Many conservatives have so far directed their anger at Ryan and GOP leadership, who they say misled the president on the legislation.

But Trump's attack on the Freedom Caucus could open up a rift with grassroots conservatives.

Even some of the president's most loyal supporters, like conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, said Trump's broadsides against the Freedom Caucus could prove counterproductive.

Thursday's intra-party drama came as the White House struggled to respond to a new report in The New York Times claiming that two White House officials played a role in passing classified information to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).

Press secretary Sean Spicer was besieged with questions about whether the White House was the source of information Nunes obtained about incidental surveillance of the Trump transition team.

The Times report appeared to contradict repeated assertions from Nunes that the White House was not the source of his information, giving Democrats new leverage to argue that the House investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election has been compromised.

Stories about Nunes rolled endlessly on cable news on Thursday, even as the GOP's public battle over who is to blame for the healthcare failure forced members to take sides.

Speaker Ryan said at a news conference that he understood why the president was frustrated, but broke with Trump in a separate interview by stating that he did not want to work with Democrats on healthcare.

And Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), a Trump ally and member of the centrist Tuesday Group, affirmed at a meeting Wednesday that it will not meet with the Freedom Caucus to negotiate changes to an ObamaCare replacement bill.

"It was just reiterated that next time one of those calls comes in [from the Freedom Caucus], just hang up," Collins said.

In another sign of possible fallout from last week, Ryan on Thursday morning hosted more than a dozen conservative free-market and anti-abortion leaders in his office, including Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union and Douglas Holtz-Eakin of American Action Forum.

Noticeably absent from the meeting were any representatives from four outside conservative groups that opposed the healthcare bill: FreedomWorks, Club for Growth, Heritage Action and Americans for Prosperity.

Scott Wong and Cristina Marcos contributed