Obama initially thought his health mandate had been overturned

President Obama initially thought his healthcare mandate had been overturned due to erroneous reports on cable news, according to senior administration officials.

Obama had been standing in a room outside the Oval Office staring at a muted television screen showing four networks — including CNN, MSNBC, FOX News and one other — when his general counsel, Kathy Ruemmler, came into the room flashing two thumbs up.

Ruemmler was the one to tell Obama and his chief of staff, Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewOvernight Finance: US reaches deal with ZTE | Lawmakers look to block it | Trump blasts Macron, Trudeau ahead of G-7 | Mexico files WTO complaint Obama-era Treasury secretary: Tax law will make bipartisan deficit-reduction talks harder GOP Senate report says Obama officials gave Iran access to US financial system MORE, that the administration's signature legislation had actually been upheld, senior administration officials said.


Obama smiled upon hearing the news and offered hugs to Ruemmler and Lew before heading into the Oval Office. Asked to characterize his emotions at the moment, senior administration officials said he was pleased. 

Later, after he had time to ruminate about the development, the first call the president made was to Solicitor General Don Verrilli, who argued the case before the court, to offer his congratulations. 

Verrilli’s performance defending the law during oral arguments was widely panned, but a senior administration official who spoke on background to a small group of reporters said Obama always believed that Verrilli had done an excellent job. 

Some time after the court ruled and Obama had his initial conversation with Ruemmler, the president was interested in learning more about how the court voted. But senior administration officials would not say what his reaction was to the news that Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote to uphold the law.

One official said that there was always a belief among some people that the chief justice was going to be an important — if not the most important — decision-maker in the case. 

Officials said Obama hasn't had time to read over the thick decision by the high court, but one official said he might delve into it over the weekend.