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Taking It in the Trump: Everything the President Did This Week (June 11, 2017)

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies, and Trump digs an even deeper hole for himself.

by Tyler Koslow

About one month ago, Donald Trump made the jarring decision to fire FBI Director James Comey from his position, sparking controversy that has had lasting repercussions. Although he originally claimed that the firing had nothing to do with the impending investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump administration, recent revelations prove otherwise.

This past week, Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his discomforting interactions with the president while he was still the head of the FBI. The hearing helped answer (and also create) more questions about the Russian probe, and has also aroused the ire of the president. To keep you up-to-date with Comey’s critical testimony and the many other happenings in Washington, D.C., we’ve got a recap of everything that went down in Trump’s White House over the past week.

Comey Testifies Before Senate Intelligence Committee

  • In what many have alluded to as the Super Bowl of the political landscape, former FBI Director James Comey took the stand on Thursday to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The day before the public hearing began, Comey’s opening statement was released to the public for all to read, and included some interesting revelations. The report confirmed that Trump pressed Comey to “let go” of the FBI investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The statement also showed that the president told the former intelligence chief "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty,” and also went into detail about the few meetings that Comey and Trump had before he was ultimately fired.

  • During the testimony, the former FBI Director shared a number of potentially damning remarks with the Senate Intelligence Committee. Upon confirmation that Trump told Comey “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go,” in reference to the investigation into Flynn back in February, the intelligence chief stated that he believed this to be an order from the president for him to drop the probe. Comey also suggested that he was fired because he refused to drop the investigation, hinting that Trump possibly committed obstruction of justice. "I take the president at his word, that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. Something about the way I was conducting the Russia investigation was... putting pressure on him... irritating him," Comey said.

  • When the Senate Intelligence Committee questioned Comey about Trump’s claims that he recorded the conversations between the two, which the president made after Comey released his own memos documenting their meetings, Comey directly challenged Trump to release the supposed tapes. He also added that it never occurred to him that Trump recorded their discussions until he said so on Twitter, and that he hopes they existed and consented to their release. Comey also accused Trump of trying to “defame” the FBI, while also pegging the president as a blatantly dishonest person.  

  • While there were a number of revelations that arose from the hearing, not all of Comey’s testimony was focused on Trump. In fact, during the closed hearing that took place after the highly publicized open testimony, the former FBI Director reportedly acknowledged that Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have had a third interaction with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Trump And Co. React to Comey's Testimony

  • Although there were predictions that Trump would be live-tweeting during the Comey testimony, the president somehow managed to restrain himself from his usual social media tirades during the event. However, he had plenty to say about it after the fact. On Friday, when questioned by a reporter, Trump said that he is "100 percent" willing to testify under oath and dispute the fired FBI director’s claims about their interactions. He also turned to Twitter that same day to accuse Comey of being a leaker and claiming that the testimony given him “complete vindication.”

  • But Donald Trump Jr. seemed to unwittingly confirm Comey’s story that Trump pressured Comey to drop the FBI investigation into Flynn. The president’s son remarked that his father never told the ousted FBI Director to end investigations, only that he “hoped” he would, essentially confirming exactly what Comey said during his testimony. Meanwhile, the other Trump son Eric made headlines this week for saying that Democrats are “not even people” to him because they have repeatedly stood in the way of the president’s agenda.

  • Even House Speaker Paul Ryan came to the defense of the president and his constant controversy, suggesting that we should cut Trump some slack due to his inexperience. “He’s new to government, and so he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses. He’s just new to this,” Ryan stated.  

Revelations From Russian Investigation Continue to Drop

  • Outside of the highly anticipated Comey hearing, there have been a number of other developments regarding the ongoing Russian investigation. One of the biggest news stories of the week was the leaking of a classified NSA document showing that Russia attempted to hack into the voting infrastructure of the United States. The report is considered to be the most detailed account of how Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Almost immediately after The Intercept leaked the document, a government contractor named Reality Winner was arrested for sharing the classified document.

  • Reports also show that tensions have been flaring between Trump and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as well. This past week, it was rumored that the relationship between the two has become so tense that Sessions suggested that he should resign from his position. Sources have claimed that Trump was extremely dismayed by the AG’s decision to recuse himself from the Russian investigation.

  • According to The Washington Post, Trump asked a top intelligence official if he could intervene with Comey’s investigation and get the FBI to stop focusing on Michael Flynn and supress the Russian probe. The request reportedly took place in March, where the president asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats to help squash the investigation.

  • Although the president and his staff has tried to spin Comey’s testimony into a victory for the White House, recent developments in the special counsel investigation headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller tell a different story. Over the past week, Mueller has added a number of legal experts to the independent investigation team. The group now includes lawyers who have worked in high-profile cases like Watergate and Enron, and could hint at an intensification of the probe.   

As Trump Takes Spotlight, GOP Silently Implements Agenda

  • While all eyes were focused on Comey’s testimony and Trump’s reaction, the GOP and White House has been silently moving to cast their controversial agenda upon America. For starters, the president’s highly touted “$1 trillion infrastructure plan” looks more like a tax cut for the rich than a plan to rebuild the country’s roads and bridges. Although the administration has boasted about this $1 trillion plan, it’s actually a $200 billion plan that is lackluster in actual details. Trump believes that giving tax breaks to private business will enable them to spend more money on infrastructure projects.

  • The GOP Senate has been negotiating the American Health Care Act behind closed doors, and have refused to even hold a hearing on this extremely impactful matter. On Thursday, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill called out Republicans at a Senate Finance Committee hearing about the secretiveness of their plan. After chairman Sen. Orrin confirmed that there would be no hearings on the health care bill, McCaskill criticized the GOP for lack of transparency and unprecedented bipartisanship.

  • Surprisingly, there does seem to be some limit to what the GOP will approve from the Trump administration. On Tuesday, both Democrats and Republicans rejected education budget proposals by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Both parties agreed that the proposal would slash or eliminate critical educational programs.

Fallout From Paris Climate Agreement Debacle

  • Meanwhile, the reputation of the United States is still being hampered by the fallout from Trump’s decision to withdraw the country from the Paris climate agreement. In fact, the controversial choice led David Rank, the acting US ambassador to China, to resign from his position in Beijing. The experienced and well-respected diplomat has worked within the State Department for years, but apparently the issue on climate change was enough for him to leave his hard-earned career behind.
  • Even though Trump’s move to withdraw from the Paris agreement has isolated the United States on the global stage, many states and cities are ignoring the president’s will and still upholding their end of the bargain with our allies. Last week, the EU and China released a joint statement that emphasized their intentions to move on with the climate change agreement without the White House’s involvement. Instead of trying to convince Trump to change his mind on the matter, the international community has decided to work individually with states and cities that are willing to cut their carbon footprint. For instance, Germany will work directly with California to defeat climate change, while Gov. Jerry Brown also announced his intention to create a new independent climate agreement with China.
  • The president’s unwillingness to fight against climate change isn’t the only way he’s alienating the U.S. from its allies. After a terrorist attack in London left seven people dead and 48 injured this past week, Trump took it as an opportunity to mock Mayor Sadiq Khan instead of offering support. The day after the attack, the Khan stated that "Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days — no reason to be alarmed." Donald decided to take these words completely out of context and lambast the mayor on Twitter. 

Is Trump’s GOP Breaking at The Seams?

  • Meanwhile, the reputation of the United States is still being hampered by the fallout from Trump’s decision to withdraw the country from the Paris climate agreement. In fact, the controversial choice led David Rank, the acting US ambassador to China, to resign from his position in Beijing. The experienced and well-respected diplomat has worked within the State Department for years, but apparently the issue on climate change was enough for him to leave his hard earned career behind.

  • Even though Trump’s move to withdraw from the Paris agreement has isolated the United States on the global stage, many states and cities are ignoring the president’s will and still upholding their end of the bargain with our allies. Last week, the EU and China released a joint statement that stated their intentions to move on with the climate change agreement without the White House’s involvement. Instead of trying to convince Trump to change his mind on the matter, the international community has decided to work individually with states and cities that are willing to cut their carbon footprint. For instance, Germany will work directly with California to defeat climate change, while Gov. Jerry Brown also announced his intention to create a new independent climate agreement with China.

  • The president’s unwillingness to fight against climate change isn’t the only way he’s alienating the U.S. from its allies. After a terrorist attack in London left seven people dead and 48 injured this past week, Trump took it as an opportunity to mock Mayor Sadiq Khan instead of offering support. The day after the attack, the Khan stated that "Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days - no reason to be alarmed." Donald decided to take these words completely out of context and lambast the mayor on Twitter.

  • While the Russian investigation might be moving a bit too slowly for your liking, the grip that Trump and GOP has over Washington may be fading faster than expected. One telling sign is Georgia’s House special election, pitting the young Democrat Jon Ossoff against Republican Karen Handel. Although the state’s 6th Congressional District has always been a right wing stronghold, a recent poll shows that Ossoff actually has a 7-point lead against his opponent. The surprising poll numbers can be likened to a couple factors. Not only is Trump growing increasingly unpopular even in red states, but Handel also had a major blunder in a recent debate, stating that she does not support a “livable wage.” The election will conclude on June 20.
     
  • According to a Gallup poll released on Monday, Trump has seen his approval rating drop from 42 percent to just 36 percent. As the president inches closer and closer towards an all-time low approval rate of 35 percent, more Americans support impeachment than ever before. This past week, a Politico/Morning Consult poll showed that nearly 43 percent of American voters support the idea of starting official impeachment process against Trump.

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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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