Taking It in the Trump: Everything the President Did This Week (March 26, 2017) - News | MERRY JANE
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Taking It in the Trump: Everything the President Did This Week (March 26, 2017)

As the Russian investigation looms and health care reform falters, this past week was one of the worst yet for the unstable Trump administration.

by Tyler Koslow

Last week marked the three-month anniversary since Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States, and it sure didn’t take long for this titanic mess of an administration to start steering the country straight towards many unfathomable icebergs. From the FBI’s ensuing investigation on Trump’s ties to Russia, to the GOP’s disastrous attempt to replace Obamacare, this past week has been undeniably awful for the White House, and pretty damn entertaining for his dissenters.

While Trump’s continuous inability to “win” certainly supplies some much-needed comic relief during these tough times, it’s critical that we stay up-to-date with all of the moves that the president and his cronies continue to pull behind the scenes. To help you connect the dots, we’ve got another weekly update of the latest catastrophic shortcomings and potential coverups from the Trump administration.

GOP Pulls Health Care Reform Off of the Table

  • After spending the last seven years decimating and undermining the hallmark healthcare reform put into place by former president Barack Obama, House Speaker Paul Ryan and his GOP colleagues were finally given the chance to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with their own measure. But on Friday, the hastily written and unpopular American Health Care Act was effectively shut down on the House floor. Despite having a heavy majority in Congress, the Republican party was in complete disarray when it came to voting on the shoddy bill, which was championed by both Ryan and Trump.

  • In an attempt to push the repeal act through, Trump tried to strongarm the House with an ultimatum, telling them to vote on Friday or else Obamacare would stay intact. But the pressure seems to have backfired on the president, as his healthcare reform was criticized by both moderate and hardline conservatives alike. After the miserable attempt to pass his first major piece of legislation through Congress, Trump was quick to deny that he ever promised he would "shred" Obamacare into pieces right away. But his denial was quickly thwarted by proof that Trump repeatedly stated he would repeal the Affordable Care Act as soon as he was elected.    

  • Even though the White House-approved reform couldn’t even muster up the full-fledged support of the GOP, Trump directed his blame at the Democrats for not supporting the bill. Despite his deflection, the fact remains that a united Republican front would have been enough to pass the measure. Instead of jamming the highly flawed legislature through the House again, the president’s new strategy is to “let Obamacare explode and then go make a deal with the Democrats.”  

  • On the other hand, House Speaker Paul Ryan seemed to have gained a bit of humility from his immense failure. During a press conference that followed the defeat of his healthcare act, the Wisconsin Rep. seemed to reflect inward, essentially admitting that the Republicans have been so used to opposing Obama that they’ve forgotten how to actually govern. “We were a 10-year opposition party, where being against things was easy to do... We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future,” he admitted. Clearly embarrassed by the faltered bill, Ryan’s usual bravado was nowhere to be found, also hinting that he won't try his hand at healthcare reform again until at least after the 2018 midterm election.

  • Ryan wasn’t the only Republican who was candid about the embarrassing outcome. The House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Oregon), who was a part of the panel that had jurisdiction over the bill, flat out stated that “the bill is dead.” The GOP’s largest hurdle was the extremely conservative Freedom Caucus, which wasn't convinced by the shortsighted bill despite the fact that Trump and his advisor Steve Bannon demanded that they backed it.   

  • The Democrats seemed the revel in the right-wing’s implosion, coming out to claim that the collapse of the repeal act wasn't just a victory for them, but for all Americans. The best reaction came from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D - NY), who equated the defeat of the bill to the “incompetence” of the Trump administration. “So much for the art of the deal,” he quipped, openly mocking the title of the president’s most well-known book.  

As the Russian Investigation Get Murkier, Intentions Become Clearer

  • If you thought last week was filled with bombshell speculation on the Trump administration's sketchy ties to Russia, it now seems that we were just seeing the tip of the iceberg. According to CNN, The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump had indeed communicated with Russian operatives to coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign.

  • Even more startling, Trump might actually have an insider in the House Intelligence Committee, which is in charge of overseeing the investigation. One high ranking member, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), has suspiciously come to his defense, defending the president’s claim that he was under surveillance by the intelligence community, directly contradicting what both FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director denied at last week's hearing. In addition, Nunes received scathing criticism for visiting to the White House to share the investigation details with Trump, a reprehensible move that has put him at odds with the rest of the House committee. Now, the Republican Rep. may have accidentally put himself in the center of this shitstorm. The Washington Post’s editorial board has called for Nunes to be investigated for publicly leaking sensitive information directly to Trump.

  • Meanwhile, Rep. Adam Schiff, the top ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on Wednesday that there is “more than circumstantial evidence now” suggesting that President Donald Trump’s campaign may have colluded with Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election. Schiff has also publicly criticized Nunes, alleging that his Republican colleague cancelled the most recent public hearing in order to protect Trump.

  • Widely known as the Trump media mouthpiece, the alt-right news outlet Breitbart and the infamous conspiracy website InfoWars have reportedly become a critical part of the FBI’s probe. According to Richard Painter, a senior ethics lawyer under George W. Bush, the intelligence agency is likely "uncovering evidence of treason" committed by the far right US news websites, creating an even larger web that all seems to link back to Trump.  

  • Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has been at the center of the speculative Russian connection. Despite claiming that he had never worked to benefit Putin, recent reports show that he worked for a Russian billionaire to create an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics. Manafort has since volunteered to testify to the House Intelligence Committee, but only under the circumstances that it was a closed-door hearing. Some have speculated that his willingness could be a smoke screen, while Democrats like Schiff have called for the hearing to be held in the public eye.

  • The shadiness surrounding Nunes and the Russian probe has caused Republican stalwart John McCain to call for an independent select committee to take over the investigation. Unsurprisingly, 66% of America agrees with him, also wishing to see an independent panel in charge of oversight.

  • While all this shady bullshit has been transpiring, FBI Director Comey seems to be keeping a watchful eye on every move Trump and the Republicans make. On Friday afternoon, reports surfaced that the FBI Director was seen walking into the White House on his own. It’s unclear whether or not the visit was related to the probe, but his sudden hour-long visit is still worth noting nonetheless.

Gorsuch Hearings

  • While the healthcare debacle and Russian probe have been hogging up the headlines, Neil Gorsuch has been trying to woo Democrats to confirm him as the next Supreme Court Justice. But Trump’s personal pick has had a rough time convincing his peers that he has the best interest of the everyday American in mind.

  • On Thursday, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders publically announced that he would not be voting to confirm Gorsuch, arguing that the judge “refused to answer legitimate questions.” Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and a handful of other Democrats have suggested that the SCOTUS vote should be delayed until the probe into Trump's connection with Russia is completed.  

  • During the confirmation hearing, Gorsuch was grilled for his previous ruling against a trucker from Detroit, who was fired by his company for leaving the broken down cargo behind to seek shelter after sitting in below-freezing temperatures for three hours. Alphonse Maddin was faced with a life or death decision after his feet and torso started to go numb from the harsh winter weather. But the federal judge sided with the trucking company’s decision to fire him, supplying merit to the Democrats’ claim that Gorsuch is out of touch with the average American, and has consistently favored corporations over people.

Pipeline Pipe Dreams

  • In other news, Trump’s promise that the highly disputed Keystone XL would create 28,000 jobs has been disproven by the U.S. State Department. This past week, it was revealed that the construction project, which many believe to be a threat to climate change and the country’s water supply, would only bring about 50 permanent jobs.

All in the Family

  • Last week, we finally got a look at Trump’s proposed budget cuts, which aim to put the lives of the most vulnerable Americans in jeopardy. The press has started crunching these numbers, and have discovered that the Trump family’s lavish lifestyle alone could help fund many of these vital programs. For starters, security for his wife Melania and son Barron in the Trump Tower will cost the taxpayer an estimated $18 million by June. Meanwhile, the president is planning to cut the same amount of money from the education system. Additionally, the Commander-in-Chief’s constant trips to his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida could feed nearly 6,000 senior citizens. Instead, Trump has insisted on cutting budget items that would effectively end programs like Meals on Wheels, which helps feed older Americans who are unable to fend for themselves.  

  • Ivanka Trump has raised serious ethical questions due to her unclear position within the administration. Although she’s technically not employed as a Trump advisor, she is still planning to move into the White House and assume a “voluntary” role with the staff. This would allow her to forego the typical standards required for the job, while likely having influence over the president’s policies and decision making.

  • Eric Trump is also under fire for admitting that he would be sharing financial reports about the family business with his father, even though he promised to not to talk business with Papa Trump due to potential conflicts of interest. 

  • But not all is peachy in the Trump family. The president is reportedly angry at his daughter and son-in-law Jared Kushner (also one of his closest advisors) for jetting off on vacation to Aspen while Trump’s health care reform was thwarted by the House. According to a source close to the president, "[Trump] is upset that his son-in-law and senior adviser was not around during this crucial week."     

Stirring Trouble Around the Globe

  • Germany: Trump has further alienated the U.S. from Germany, one of the country’s closest modern allies. The president stated that Germany "owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!" German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen dismissed the president’s outlandish claim, stating that no such debt account exists.   

  • Rex Tillerson: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has also shown disrespect to the country’s allies, deciding to skip a meeting with NATO foreign officials to visit with China and Russia instead.  

  • Middle East: While one of the skid marks that stained Barack Obama’s legacy was his use of drone warfare in the Middle East, President Trump has amplified the use of this lethal military technology. Reports claim that civilian deaths by drone strikes have reached record highs under Donald Trump’s reign. In March alone, nearly 1,000 deaths have been alleged from coalition actions. The latest drone strike took place on a Syrian school, killing up to 30 civilians who were seeking shelter in the facility.  

 


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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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