Trump admin made ObamaCare move despite objection from key officials: report

The Trump administration's decision to side with a district court ruling finding the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional was reportedly made despite the disapproval of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrBarr bemoans 'moral upheaval' that has brought 'suffering and misery' Trump threatens to sue Schiff and Pelosi Democratic lawmaker says Barr's reported meeting with Murdoch should be investigated MORE.

Politico reported Tuesday that Azar, during a White House meeting in December, argued against backing a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act.

Barr was also opposed to the move, according to Politico.

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But Barr and Azar were at odds with White House acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyHillicon Valley: Trump official declines to testify on trade protections for tech | Senators call for better info-sharing on supply chain threats | Apple pulls app after Chinese pressure Overnight Energy: Dems subpoena Perry in impeachment inquiry | EPA to overhaul rules on lead contamination tests | Commerce staff wrote statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump Commerce staff drafted statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump's hurricane predictions MORE, who said he thought taking that stance would pressure Congress into repealing the law, according to Politico.

Monday's decision to announce that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was siding with the district court ruling was driven by Joe Grogan, the administration’s domestic policy chief, and Russell Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, Politico reported, citing three sources with knowledge of the decision. Both officials are allies of Mulvaney, according to Politico. 

HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley denied to Politico that Azar was at odds with Mulvaney.

“Secretary Azar fully supports the Administration’s litigation position in the ACA case, which bears his name,” she told Politico in a statement. “Any insinuation that Secretary Azar has ‘butted heads’ with Mulvaney on this issue is false.”

The DOJ had previously argued in court that the Affordable Care Act's pre-existing condition protections should be eliminated rather than the entire law.

Now the administration is siding with U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor's ruling in December that the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional, therefore making the rest of the law unconstitutional.

“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” the department said in a letter to the appeals court Monday.