Trump backs move against Obamacare despite internal opposition

President Donald Trump made clear Wednesday he supports his Justice Department’s move to back a full invalidation of the Affordable Care Act following a December court ruling, though it’s a decision that’s caused consternation.

Speaking in the Oval Office, Trump said he believes the ruling will “be upheld” by higher courts and “will do very well in the Supreme Court.” But his remarks also made clear the administration does not yet have a replacement ready to go.

“If the Supreme Court rules that Obamacare is out, we will have a plan that is far better than Obamacare,” Trump said.

But after a federal judge struck down the Affordable Care Act in its entirety in a December ruling, the Trump administration wrestled with the fallout.

A heated debate broke out among several of the President’s top advisers in the wake of the decision about whether the administration should support the judge’s ruling invalidating the entire law or instead maintain its position that only parts of the law should be struck down, a White House official and source close to the White House told CNN.

The debate pitted the President’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and now Attorney General William Barr — who opposed fully striking down the law — against acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and policy officials allied with him, a source close to the White House said.

Politico first reported the details of the internal debate.

Azar was concerned that invalidating the entire law would be a policy failure because there is no health care plan to replace Obamacare, the source close to the White House said, while Barr was more concerned that the underlying legal argument being made by the states to strike down the law in its entirety was wrong and would not be upheld in courts.

The debate unfolded over a series of meetings beginning in late December and culminated in an Oval Office meeting on Monday that turned fiery when White House counsel Pat Cipollone objected to Mulvaney’s position on invalidating Obamacare, a senior administration official said. Cipollone, according to this source, voiced concern about whether the administration would have a legal standing in the court filing, and noted that Attorney General Bill Barr agreed with him. Vice President Mike Pence, who agreed with Mulvaney about joining the lawsuit, also raised questions about what the White House strategy would be if the suit succeeded, according to the source. The New York Times