‘Trump Troubadour,’ who attended 45 Trump rallies to honor his late son, feels ‘betrayed’ because of health care


By Samantha Schmidt

Kraig Moss entertains supporters of then-GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump as they wait to attend a campaign rally in Redding, Calif., in 2016 (AP/Rich Pedroncelli)

The grieving father stood with his guitar and his cowboy hat in the cold, crowded lines for hours, driving to towns big and small in nearly every corner of the country.

Beginning in January 2016, Kraig Moss traveled to 45 rallies, belting out songs in support of Donald Trump and telling the story of his late son, Rob, who died three years ago from a heroin overdose. In this way, the musician earned the title of “the Trump Troubadour,” a true believer said to symbolize “the voice of unheard America.”

He stopped making his mortgage payments and sold the equipment for his construction business to stay on the campaign trail, galvanized by Trump’s promise to help young people — like Moss’s late son — who struggle with drug addiction. Trump, Moss thought, was the candidate most capable of bringing an end to the heroin epidemic sweeping the nation.

Trump made this promise to Moss personally at a rally in Iowa in January 2016. Speaking through a microphone to the crowd, he addressed Moss directly: “The biggest thing we can do in honor of your son … we have to be able to stop it.”

“I know what you went through. And he’s a great father,” he said of Moss to the crowd. “I can see it. And your son is proud of you.”

But about two weeks ago, Moss caught his first glimpse of the Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act. The proposed health care bill, slated for floor vote in the House Thursday night, would eliminate a requirement that Medicaid cover basic mental-health and addiction services in states that expanded it, a mandate that covered nearly 1.3 million people.

“This bill is just the absolute opposite,” Moss told The Washington Post. “I felt betrayed. I felt let down.”

He had put all his weight behind the Republican’s promise, sacrificing his business and his livelihood to sing Trump’s praises. But this bill backed by the president “disgusted” him. He no longer sings songs about Trump, and he now wonders if any of his sacrifices were worth it.

“You hear that echo?” he said in a phone interview from his home in Upstate New York. “That’s because there’s no furniture in this house. It’s completely gutted.”

“The one platform that I was just so genuinely involved in with my heart was the one thing that he just turned right around,” Moss said. “He’s turning his back on all of us.”

He had hoped to see provisions in the bill calling for boosted resources for addiction treatment centers, lower deductibles and lower overall health care costs. If Trump wanted to, Moss said, he could “wave his pen” and provide funding necessary to supply emergency responders in every small town in America with naloxone kits to reverse possible heroin overdoses.

“Every one of those doses of Narcan represents a saved life,” Moss said. “If the emergency squad that came down to save my son had that dose, my son would’ve been alive today.”

That day was Jan 6, 2014. Moss, a single father, came home from work and called out Rob’s name, like he always did. “I didn’t hear anything,” he recalled.

In the basement bedroom downstairs, Moss found his 24-year-old son lying unconscious in bed with his arms resting across his chest. Next to him was the book he had just been reading, “The Wise Man’s Fear.” Later, Moss would find the needle.

He called 911 and tried to revive his son through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. An emergency response team arrived and was unable to bring him back. An autopsy later confirmed the cause of death: an overdose of fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller up to 100 times stronger than morphine.

Trump had told the father, “I know what you went through.”

“We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth,” he said in his speech before Congress on Feb. 28, “and we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted.”

Now, Moss said he wishes he could ask the president, “Have you even read the bill?”

The health care proposal would roll back the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act — commonly known as Obamacare — which would affect many states bearing the brunt of the opiate crisis, including Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. The Republican overhaul is spearheaded by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) and backed by Trump.

Republicans argue that the change would give states additional flexibility in coverage decisions, and believe they would continue to provide addiction and mental-health coverage to Medicaid recipients if needed. But advocates say the overhaul could be crushing for addiction treatment services, particularly for the poorest, most vulnerable patients. A record number of people — 33,000 — died of opiate overdoses in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Pay close attention to what you tell people you’re going to do and make some kind of effort to follow through,” Moss said. “Pay more attention to the needs of the people.”

Moss said he initially supported many of Trump’s other promises as well, such as his pledge to build a border wall with Mexico. But lately he has been upset hearing the stories of families being separated by deportations.

“If I contributed to anything like that I’d be ashamed of myself,” he said.

Many have been criticizing Moss for publicly voicing his disappointment with Trump, but he knows there must be many others feeling similar pangs of regret or betrayal.

“I was very instrumental in getting these ‘closet Trumpsters’ to come out” during the presidential campaign, Moss said. In a similar way, he hopes he can encourage other disillusioned Americans to speak up about their concerns with the new administration. “I’m not the lone ranger out here doing this,” he said.

“It’s a little guy like me that put Trump in the office,” and it’s the “little guys” who can call lawmakers and ask for a new health care proposal, he said.

“Don’t turn your head on this problem Mr. Trump,” Moss said.

US officials: Info suggests Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians

By Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Jim Sciutto, CNN


(Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images and Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

Washington (CNN)The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, US officials told CNN.

This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, according to one source.
The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings, according to those U.S. officials. The information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing.
In his statement on Monday Comey said the FBI began looking into possible coordination between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives because the bureau had gathered “a credible allegation of wrongdoing or reasonable basis to believe an American may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.”
The White House did not comment and the FBI declined to comment.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer maintained Monday after Comey’s testimony that there was no evidence to suggest any collusion took place.
“Investigating it and having proof of it are two different things,” Spicer said.
One law enforcement official said the information in hand suggests “people connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready.” But other U.S. officials who spoke to CNN say it’s premature to draw that inference from the information gathered so far since it’s largely circumstantial.
The FBI cannot yet prove that collusion took place, but the information suggesting collusion is now a large focus of the investigation, the officials said.
The FBI has already been investigating four former Trump campaign associates — Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Carter Page — for contacts with Russians known to US intelligence. All four have denied improper contacts and CNN has not confirmed any of them are the subjects of the information the FBI is reviewing.
One of the obstacles the sources say the FBI now faces in finding conclusive intelligence is that communications between Trump’s associates and Russians have ceased in recent months given the public focus on Russia’s alleged ties to the Trump campaign. Some Russian officials have also changed their methods of communications, making monitoring more difficult, the officials said.
Last July, Russian intelligence agencies began orchestrating the release of hacked emails stolen in a breach of the Democratic National Committee and associated organizations, as well as email accounts belonging to Clinton campaign officials, according to U.S. intelligence agencies.
The Russian operation was also in part focused on the publication of so-called “fake news” stories aimed at undermining Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But FBI investigators say they are less focused on the coordination and publication of those “fake news” stories, in part because those publications are generally protected free speech.
The release of the stolen emails, meanwhile, transformed an ordinary cyber-intrusion investigation into a much bigger case handled by the FBI’s counterintelligence division.
FBI counterintelligence investigations are notoriously lengthy and often involve some of the U.S. government’s most highly classified programs, such as those focused on intelligence-gathering, which can make it difficult for investigators to bring criminal charges without exposing those programs.
Investigators continue to analyze the material and information from multiple sources for any possible indications of coordination, according to US officials. Director Comey in Monday’s hearing refused to reveal what specifically the FBI was looking for or who they’re focusing on.
US officials said the information was not drawn from the leaked dossier of unverified information compiled by a former British intelligence official compiled for Trump’s political opponents, though the dossier also suggested coordination between Trump campaign associates and Russian operatives.

HOUSE INTEL CHAIR: US intelligence agencies ‘incidentally collected’ information on Trump’s team during transition


House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes said Wednesday that sources have revealed to him that the intelligence community “incidentally collected” information on President Donald Trump’s transition team unrelated to any investigation of Russian-meddling in the 2016 election during November, December, and January.

In a brief press conference, the California Republican said the collection occurred on “numerous occasions.”

“Details about US persons associated with the incoming administration with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting,” Nunes said.

The congressman added: “Third, I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked. Fourth, and finally, I want to make clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia, or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.”

Nunes told reporters he believed the information was collected legally under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He said he did not know if the surveillance consisted of phone calls, but that the intelligence reports he’s seen “clearly show” Trump and his team were “monitored.”

Nunes said the White House was unaware of the the information he was providing to the media, adding he was set to go over the meet with administration officials to discuss the matter later on Wednesday. Additionally, he briefed House Speaker Paul Ryan on what he revealed.

“I’m actually alarmed by it,” Nunes said, later adding he could not confirm whether his revelation meant Trump was “spied on.”

Nunes, who was a member of the Trump transition team himself, is chairing the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s effort to manipulate the 2016 US presidential election.

During a Monday hearing, FBI Director James Comey told the committee that the bureau was investigating potential ties between the Trump campaign and the Russia government since late July. Comey also said the Department of Justice could provide no evidence to back up Trump’s explosive Twitter claim that Trump Tower was wiretapped by President Barack Obama.