Taking It in the Trump: Everything the President Did This Week (April 9, 2017) - News | MERRY JANE
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Taking It in the Trump: Everything the President Did This Week (April 9, 2017)

This week, the Republicans went "nuclear" and the president teased a potential new war in the Middle East.

by Tyler Koslow

Last week, America had all eyes glued on the FBI’s probe into Donald Trump’s increasingly sketchy ties with the Russian government. But a slew of new controversy has flooded the administration since, from the Republicans’ decision to go "nuclear" in order to confirm Supreme Justice Neil Gorsuch, to the frightening possibility of a new war in the Middle East. There’s been an increasing amount hypocrisy brewing in both the White House and Senate, creating an air of uncertainty across the country. To keep you up to speed with the latest happenings in Washington (and Trump’s second homebase in Mar-a-Lago), we’ve got a recap of everything that went down under Trump's watch this past week.   


Republicans Hit the Nuclear Button, Confirm Gorsuch

  • Senate Republicans made an unprecedented move on Thursday by deploying the highly controversial “nuclear option,” effectively warping Congress's traditional practices in order to confirm Neil Gorsuch as the newest Supreme Court Justice. This modification has allowed the GOP to approve Trump’s SCOTUS nominee with a simple majority vote, a farcry from the usual 60 required votes. All 52 Senate right-wingers towed the party-line by approving the jarring mandate, a decision that members of both parties warned would have a major impact on the way future SCOTUS appointees will be confirmed. Spearheaded by Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the “nuclear option” could backfire on Republicans if Democrats reclaim majority in the Senate after midterm elections in 2018.

  • The GOP’s decision to squeeze their nominee through the confirmation process was made after just one filibuster by Senate Democrats. After garnering the 41 votes needed to halt Gorsuch from advancing to the Supreme Court, Republicans immediately used their majority to change the requirements. Arguments against the confirmation of the right-wing ideologue ranged from his corporate-friendly track record to the glaring fact that Trump is under FBI investigation. Although most of the Democrats staunchly opposed Gorsuch, a select few actually supported the Republican's choice.  

  • In addition to enacting the “nuclear option,” the president made his own sly moves to shakeup the judicial system. Last weekend, the Trump administration ended the American Bar Association’s role in evaluating potential judges for the federal court system. This would effectively lower the requirements that nominees would have to meet in order for them to be put on the bench, potentially giving Trump free reign to stuff the courts with unvetted lawmakers.       

Bannon Booted Off National Security Council

  • The Senate wasn’t the only political realm that was shaken up over the past week. In a surprising turn of events, one of Trump’s closest advisors (and nationalistic figurehead) Steve Bannon was removed from his position with National Security Council. The move, which increases the influence of national security advisor H.R. McMaster, was portrayed as a non-story by the White House, but reports that followed the announcement tell a different tale. On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that the former Breitbart News editor was livid about the demotion, and even threatened to quit when he heard the plan to change his position.  

  • Bannon’s frustration has been said to stem from his depleting role in the administration, pitting him against Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has found himself with increasing influence over the president's agenda. Reports have surfaced that show Trump has been attempting to reconcile the relationship between his two advisors, but that could prove to be a trying task due to their apparent mutual disdain for one another. After the NSA demotion, several Trump administration officials told The Daily Beast that Bannon had called Kushner a “cuck” and “globalist” behind his back.  

  • But the attempt to patch up the contempt Bannon has for Kushner could prove fruitless. On Friday, anonymous officials admitted that Trump is mulling over the option of firing both Bannon and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.  

The Tides of War Start to Rumble

  • This week prompted the most critical military decision made by Trump thus far. After a horrid chemical attack that left over 85 Syrian civilians dead and scores more injured, which was allegedly leveled by the country’s own president Bashar al-Assad, Trump gave the green light to shoot 59 Tomahawk missiles at a government-run air base. The president claims to have been “moved” by the graphic images of dead children involved in the attack, and suddenly feels a “responsibility” to help the Syrian people. The massive bombardment did minimal damage, but is said to have been a more symbolic attack that will "send a message" to the Assad regime. But on Saturday, the same town that had been victim to the chemical attack was involved in another airstrike, bringing into question how seriously Trump’s “message” was taken.

  • The military strike has received a blurring mixture of approval and criticism from both sides of the aisle in the US. Some have praised the president for taking a stand against Assad for the awful chemical attack, while others have argued that the move was either hypocritical or too spontaneous by Trump. Republican Sen. Rand Paul has spoken out against the retaliation against Assad, criticized Trump for not obtaining congressional approval before signaling for the airstrike. On Saturday, the Kentucky senator stated that he wants the U.S Congress to exercise its constitutional authority to declare war before any further actions are taken against the Syrian government.

  • For the first time in Trump’s presidency, the resulting airstrike has openly pitted his administration against Russian President Vladimir Putin, at least on the surface. Although the Pentagon alerted Russia — who is a vital backer of the Assad regime — about the U.S. airstrike about an hour before it transpired, the country was quick to react by dissolving a mutual deal meant to prevent mid-air collisions over Syria. Moscow officials also responded by sending a warship armed with cruise missiles off the coast of Syria. The US ambassador to the UN placed part of the blame on Russia for the chemical weapons attack. This could create an awkward week for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is traveling to Moscow on Tuesday to meet with Russian officials.    

  • Although Trump's airstrike has received some praise from the media, some of his supporters are livid about the president’s hypocritical involvement in foreign affairs. Since 2013, Trump has repeatedly spoke out against former president Barack Obama’s involvement with Syria. On top of that, while on the campaign trail, the Republican nominee constantly asserted that his opponent Hillary Clinton would bring us into a full-fledged war with Syria. In fact, one of the main platforms of his campaign was to not get the U.S. involved in another war, something that presumedly compelled many of his supporters to vote for him.

  • To help contrast the newfound view Trump has on military involvement in Syria, here are a few of his tweets from 2013 condemning Obama for proposing military involvement in Syria:

Nunes Steps Down From Russia Investigation, Replaced by Three Republicans

  • After raising suspicions of trying to undermine the FBI’s probe into illegal connections between the Trump administration and Russia, House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes recused himself from the investigation. The embattled Rep. will step aside while House investigators look into ethics charges against him. Unsurprisingly, Nunes deflected the accusations by blaming “leftwing activists” for placing charges on him that are “entirely false and politically motivated.”  

  • His prominent role in the investigation will be taken over by a questionable crew of fellow Republicans. Nunes will leave the position in the hands of Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, who will receive assistance from Rep. Trey Gowdy and Rep. Tom Rooney. Back in January, Conway compared the allegations against Russia hackers to Hillary Clinton’s decision to hire Mexican entertainers at her campaign events. In addition, Gowdy was a part of Trump’s transition team, raising suspicion that Nunes’ replacements will fail to oversee the investigation in a non-partisan way.   

This Week in Russia: Murky Blackwater Ties & Kushner’s Secret Meetings

  • Although the mainstream media’s news cycle has been largely focused on Gorsuch's appointment and airstrikes in Syria, new revelations regarding the intelligence community’s investigation into Trump and Russia continue to emerge. This past week, evidence surfaced that Erik Prince, the founder of the private military service Blackwater, had established a back-channel line of communication in the United Arab Emirates between the Trump administration and Moscow officials. While the contents of the meeting remains unclear, the fact that they took place nine days before Trump’s inauguration has raised immense suspicion that sanctions, Syria, and Iran were discussed. It’s important to note that Prince is the brother of Betsy Devos, the highly disputed head of Trump's Department of Education.

  • Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has also found himself caught in the middle of the ongoing investigation. Reports show that the familial advisor met with Russian banker Sergey Gorkov. Shortly after, it was revealed that Kushner failed to disclose dozens of meetings with Russian officials on his application for top-secret security clearance.

  • Carter Page, a former foreign policy advisor under the Trump campaign, has also been caught in the crossfire after evidence pointed to him meeting with a Russian spy back in 2013. Court records show that Page maintained contact with Victor Podobnyy, exchanging emails about U.S. sanctions that were placed on Russia.

Stirring Trouble Around the Globe

  • United States: As Trump continues to spew his nationalistic rhetoric about immigration and putting “America First," the nation’s tourism industry has taken a major blow. After the president signed an executive order banning travel from seven Middle Eastern countries back in January, international visits to the U.S. dropped 6.5 percent over the following eight days. The predicted reduction in tourism is estimated to result in 4.3 million fewer visitors this year, essentially leading the country to lose $7.4 billion in revenue.

  • China: In the midst of the U.S. airstrike against the Assad airbase, Trump was occupied in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. It was the first time the two leaders have met face-to-face, likely addressing ways to stabilize the relationship between the powerful nations. In the past, Trump has gone on record saying that China comitted “rape” against the U.S. economy, and also made the cringeworthy claim that global warming was a hoax manufactured by the Asian country. 

  • Middle East: The dispcible terrorist organization ISIS has also come out to publically denounce Trump, exclaiming that the United States is “being run by an idiot.” In their first official comment on the new administration, spokesman Abi al-Hassan al-Muhajer said: “America you have drowned and there is no savior, and you have become prey for the soldiers of the caliphate in every part of the earth, you are bankrupt and the signs of your demise are evident to every eye."

  • North Korea: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made some ominous remarks in response to a ballistics missile test launched by the unruly country of North Korea, silently stating that “The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.” The empty comment follows the secretive pattern of the former oil mogul’s role as Secretary of State, leaving the U.S. more uncertain about their direction with foreign policy than ever before. Shortly after Trump met with Jinping, the U.S. military sent an aircraft carrier ship to waters off of the Korean coast, hinting at increased action against North Korea.    

 


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Tyler Koslow is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer with an intensive focus on technology, music, pop culture, and of course, cannabis and its impending legalization.



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