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Weekly News Wrap-Up 6/9 “Shots Fired”

Week of 6/9 “Shots Fired”

Last night, Republican and Democratic lawmakers walked onto the field at the Washington National’s ballpark and played a friendly game of baseball. The event was in stark contrast to other events of the week, and recent history as a whole. People with very different viewpoints, put aside their opinions for a short time, and just enjoyed a game. People questioned if the charity game would be delayed or canceled after the shooting at the Republican practice on Wednesday. I think it was the right decision to play the game.

Lawmakers, pundits and regular people were quick to point blame on Wednesday. Some blamed liberals as a whole for the actions of one man. Others of course pointed to how easy it is to get a semiautomatic rifle in the country. I worry that the actions of James Hodgkinson will make things more dangerous for average Americans just trying to have their voices heard. I hope that Americans can come together like Congress did and use this event to try and move towards a less fractured society, but I know that is wishful thinking.

Violence is never an appropriate response when people disagree with you. Whether you are being confronted on the train in Portland for hate speech, or feel that Republican lawmakers are threatening your rights. We have to remember that we are all Americans, and most of us are just trying to make the nation better. We just disagree on how to do that.  

 

Russian Investigation:

  1. Russian hackers were able to breach our election systems, getting access to voter rolls and and software systems. While top intelligence officials still say there is “no evidence” that they tampered with anything, it is clear that Russia was prepared to do so if they felt it necessary, and that they had the means to do so. (3)
  2. Remember how Comey said if he announced that Trump was not under investigation he would be forced to issue a corrective statement if Trump ever became under investigation? Yeah, Trump is now under investigation for possible obstruction of justice. (5)
  3. Jeff Sessions gave testy testimony this week to the Senate Intelligence Committee in order to respond to some comments made by James Comey the previous week. Sessions countered some of what Comey said, reiterated that he didn’t have any meetings with Russians about the campaign, and also could not recall a lot of things. (12)
  4. Vice President Mike Pence has secured legal representation to help with the Russian inquiries. (13)
  5. In response to the news that Trump was under investigation, he sent out a series of angry tweets going back to his witch hunt claim. Trump surrogates like Newt Gingrich are now trying to undermine Muller, who reportedly was on Trump’s shortlist to run the FBI before he was tapped as special counsel, and who was praised by both sides as being apolitical and a great choice for special counsel. (15)
  6. Trump’s lawyer threatened to fire a complaint against Comey for “leaking privileged information” during his testimony and in the memos that he released. There was a lot of criticism around this decision, experts said the information could not be privileged because Trump spoke of it candidly and the memos weren’t classified. Additionally, complaining about Comey could be seen as intimidating a witness or even going after a whistle blower. The legal team announced this week that the complaint has been put on hold. (22)
  7. Responding to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for tapes of Comey’s conversations with Trump, the Secret Service responded that they do not have any tapes. If any tapes exist, they were recorded without Secret Service knowledge or involvement. (23)
  8. Do you need a one stop shop to better understand what is being investigated and why? The Washington Post Analysis has a great breakdown of the three investigations that Robert Muller is investigating, and why they are important. (28)

 

Administration:

  1. Washington DC, Maryland and 190 Democrats in Congress have sued the President for violating the emolument clause of the constitution. The Emolument clause says that a President cannot take gifts or financially benefit from foreign powers. Since Trump still controls his vast business empire, and is not keeping accurate accounting of foreign investments and stays at his hotels, the case argues that he is violating the constitution. And they’ll ask for tax returns in discovery. (20)
  2. It appears that Trump’s trip to the UK has been put on hold. Mr. Trump was invited by the Queen shortly after he became president. However, it is reported that Trump told Prime Minister Theresa May that he would not be visiting if there would be protests against him. A date for the trip has not yet been set. (1)
  3. Days after Trump accused Qatar of funding terrorism at a “very high level” and praised Saudi Arabia and other nations for cutting off diplomatic ties, America sold Qatar $12 billion in F-15 fighter jets. (8)
  4. Trump held his first cabinet meeting this week. Traditionally, the press pool comes in, the president makes some remarks, and the reporters are ushered out. Trump however, had the reporters stay while he went around the table and asked his cabinet members to introduce themselves and say something about the administration. Cabinet members then took turns praising Trump in an event that was more reminiscent of something you’d see in an authoritarian state, not a republic. (11)
  5. Former United States Attorney from New York, Preet Bharara is fifth official to come forward and complain that Trump contacted him inappropriately. Bharara was abruptly fired with a number of other justice officials in March. (20) Bharara was actively investigating Trump’s Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price, when he was fired. Trump’s personal attorney bragged that he got Bharara fired, telling Trump “This guy is going to get you.” (21)
  6. A third district court has ruled against Trump’s travel ban. The Justice Department has already asked the Supreme Court to reinstate the ban, but with three district courts in agreement that it should not be reinstated, it isn’t looking good for the Trump administration. (24)
  7. Trump, who during the election knew more than the Generals, has completely handed off all decisions about Afghanistan to the Generals. The Pentagon is weighing sending 3,000-5,000 more troops to try and break a stalemate. (25)
  8. The Energy Department has closed an office working on climate change abroad. (27)

 

Congress:

  1. James Hodgkinson liquidated his businesses, sold all of his things, and went to Washington DC in March, telling his wife he was going to change tax brackets. On Wednesday, Hodgkinson brought an AR15 to a baseball field in Alexandria, VA. He opened fire on Congressional Republicans, hitting majority whip Steve Scalise and three others. The shooter was killed and thankfully all who were injured are recovering. As a leader, Steve Scalise has armed protection. If Scalise was not at practice many could have been killed. (10)
  2. Mitch McConnell started the process to get the Senate healthcare bill voted on as soon as it is ready. Using Rule 14, the bill can completely avoid the committee process. The Senate healthcare bill is being pushed through under complete secrecy. (16)
  3. In response to Republicans attempt to get the healthcare bill through without any hearings and little debate, Democrats in the Senate have introduced a bill that would require every bill go through at least one committee before being considered by the full chamber. (17)
  4. The secrecy surrounding the healthcare bill is alarming to Republican and Democratic Senators alike. It also is in stark contrast to the Affordable Care Act, which took over a year to draft and debate with more than a hundred hearings and 160 Republican amendments. (18)
  5. In a direct response to the softening of views towards Russia from the current administration, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to curtail Trump’s power to ease sanctions against the country. (6)
  6. Following Wednesday’s attacks, at least two Arizona representatives (McSally and Schwikert) and those in other states have shared their concern about safety. Some are saying that GOP lawmakers should cancel town halls. While I don’t blame them, the instinct to withdraw and only meet with those who agree with them will only continue the belief that different viewpoints are being ignored. (29)

 

Arizona/Other:

  1. While America is pulling away from innovation and fast-growing green energy segment, China is going full wind ahead. And this is bad news for America economically and politically. (2)
  2. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ended discrimination against unwed fathers when it comes to the citizenship of their children. Called a “stunning stereotype” in the majority opinion, the US previously gave children born abroad to unwed American women instant citizenship, while those born of US fathers had to meet different standards. Now they will be on the same footing. (4)
  3. A federal judge has ruled that the Dakota Access Pipeline did not receive adequate environmental review. While the ruling sets a good precedent for future projects, the courts did not rule that the pipeline project be shut down or be subject to further review. (7)
  4. A voter approved initiative giving Arizona some of the most liberal sick leave policies in the nation goes into effect on July 1st. Lawmakers have passed several laws trying to restrict the initiative process as a direct result of Prop 206. (9)
  5. Since winning the election, most sales of Trump real estate has been to shell companies. LLCs buying Trump properties is up to 70% post election, from just 4% for the two previous years. Buyers are actively trying to shield their identities from the public. (26)
  6. This is about a month old, I missed it when it was new, but I think it should be read. Politico did an incredible story on Muller and Comey’s show down with the Bush Administration over NSA surveillance as a story of warning to the Trump administration. (14)

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/11/donald-trump-state-visit-to-britain-put-on-hold
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/edfenergyexchange/2017/01/06/china-is-going-all-in-on-clean-energy-as-the-u-s-waffles-how-is-that-making-america-great-again/#1af1097561c1
  3. https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-06-13/russian-breach-of-39-states-threatens-future-u-s-elections
  4. http://www.npr.org/2017/06/13/532674073/high-court-strikes-down-law-favoring-unwed-mothers-over-unwed-fathers
  5. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/special-counsel-is-investigating-trump-for-possible-obstruction-of-justice/2017/06/14/9ce02506-5131-11e7-b064-828ba60fbb98_story.html
  6. https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/senate-overwhelming-votes-to-curtail-trumps-power-to-ease-up-on-russia-sanctions/2017/06/14/8c02d73a-5134-11e7-be25-3a519335381c_story.html?wpisrc=nl_politics-pm&wpmm=1
  7. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/06/dakota-access-standing-rock-sioux-victory-court/530427/
  8. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-sells-qatar-12-billion-arms-days-after-accusing-it-of-funding-terrorism/
  9. http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/jobs/2017/06/15/arizona-bucks-conservative-image-progressive-law-paid-sick-leave/394556001/
  10. http://abcnews.go.com/US/congressional-baseball-shooting/story?id=48051222
  11. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/trump-holds-cabinet-meeting-promises-change/2017/06/12/3d1a24ce-4f96-11e7-b74e-0d2785d3083d_story.html
  12. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/us/politics/jeff-sessions-testimony.html?_r=0
  13. http://www.npr.org/2017/06/15/533120669/vice-president-pence-hires-outside-lawyer-to-deal-with-russia-inquiries
  14. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/05/18/james-comey-trump-special-prosecutor-robert-mueller-fbi-215154
  15. http://www.npr.org/2017/06/14/532985377/report-trump-under-investigation-for-possible-obstruction-of-justice
  16. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/the-health-202/2017/06/08/the-health-202-amid-comey-drama-a-health-care-skirmish-is-unfolding/593818c8e9b69b2fb981dc80/
  17. http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/337663-dems-introduce-bill-to-block-obamacare-repeal-vote-without-senate
  18. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/15/us/politics/secrecy-surrounding-senate-health-bill-raises-alarms-in-both-parties.html
  19. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/dc-and-maryland-to-sue-president-trump-alleging-breach-of-constitutional-oath/2017/06/11/0059e1f0-4f19-11e7-91eb-9611861a988f_story.html?utm_term=.8dac57602134
  20. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/11/us/politics/preet-bharara-trump-contacts.html
  21. https://www.propublica.org/article/trump-personal-lawyer-boasted-that-he-got-preet-bharara-fired
  22. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-complaint-idUSKBN1942R1
  23. https://www.wsj.com/articles/secret-service-has-no-audio-recordings-or-transcripts-made-in-trump-white-house-1497291979
  24. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/federal-appeals-court-upholds-freeze-on-trumps-travel-ban/2017/06/12/035893c4-4f91-11e7-be25-3a519335381c_story.html?utm_term=.5670c793adda
  25. https://www.wsj.com/articles/white-house-hands-say-over-afghan-troop-levels-to-military-1497404106
  26. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/06/13/trump-property-buyers-make-clear-shift-secretive-llcs/102399558/
  27. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/15/climate/energy-department-closes-office-working-on-climate-change-abroad.html
  28. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/06/15/3-prongs-of-the-russia-investigation-explained/?utm_term=.40cab026b215
  29. http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/15/politics/kfile-lou-barletta-town-halls/