Taking It in the Trump: Everything the President Did This Week (May 7, 2017) - News | MERRY JANE
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Taking It in the Trump: Everything the President Did This Week (May 7, 2017)

From the GOP's deceptive healthcare bill to the ongoing Russian scandal, it's been another eventful and unfortunate week in Washington, D.C.

by Tyler Koslow

As the United States hobbled past the 100-day mark of President Donald Trump, the bureaucratic carousel of divisiveness and controversy continues to spin faster and faster. Although the Commander-in-Chief and Republican party have been mocked for being unable to pass legislation despite holding a congressional majority, they were finally able to celebrate this week after passing highly controversial healthcare reform in the House. While many Americans fear that they will lose health insurance, the president continues to spout off ludicrous statements and commit outrageous actions. From the ensuing FBI investigation into Russia's involvement in the U.S. election to the GOP’s inability to explain their heinous healthcare reform to constituents, we’ve got a quick recap of everything that transpired this past week in Trumpland. 

GOP House Approves Highly Controversial Health Care Plan

  • After over 100 days of embarrassing failures and divisive policies, Donald Trump has finally managed to bring the Republican party together through the highly controversial American Health Care Act — though credit is largely due to Congressional monsters like Paul Ryan. This past Thursday, the GOP-controlled House narrowly approved a measure to overhaul Obamacare by a 217 to 213 vote, marking the first major Congressional victory for the party since Trump took office, despite the fact that the bill is uncertain to pass in the Senate. The approved act would give individual states more control over health insurance rules. This means provisions so states would be able to allow insurers to charge more money to customers with preexisting medical problems, which stands to leave millions of Americans uninsured. The repeal act will also serve as a hefty tax cut for the wealthy class.

  • To make matters worse, it was soon revealed that a number of House Republicans didn’t even read the bill before they voted on it, and some even openly admitted to that. During an interview on CNN, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) confessed that he hadn’t read the proposed legislation, but relied on his staffers to inform him. He quickly defended himself by claiming that he wasn’t the only GOP House member not to do so. His statement raises questions about the Republicans intent with the American Health Care Act, which seems more like a tax cut for the rich and an empty rally call for their party more than anything else.

  • Other Republicans have resorted to making nonsensical statements to their constituents. Rep. Raúl R. Labrador, a conservative congressman from Idaho, was questioned at a townhall about how the bill would affect those depending on Medicaid. His response was that “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care,” a statement that was met with extreme criticism.

  • Although House Speaker Paul Ryan has claimed that his championed healthcare reform would “lower premiums while keeping protections for the most vulnerable in place," experts expect the opposite for those with preexisting conditions. Healthcare analysts believe that people with serious forms of cancer could be forced to pay up to 35 times more for health insurance. The amendment would even cause the cost of pregnancy to rise by 425 percent.  

  • On Friday, the president made a dumbfounding comment while meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, claiming that the country has “better healthcare than we do.” But in the moment, Trump seemed to have forgotten that Australia has universal healthcare, a system that has been staunchly opposed by the Republican party. The president later tried to clarify his statement by tweeting “Of course the Australians have better healthcare than we do – everybody does,” but that didn’t stop his opposition from pouncing on the opportunity. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the biggest proponent for universal healthcare, relished in Trump’s remarks:

This Week in Russia: Pence Lies, Comey Testifies

  • As Trump and the Republican party shameless celebrated the passing of their healthcare plan, new developments arose from the FBI probe into the administration’s connections with Russia. Reports surfaced this week that the Trump transition team vetted former national security advisor Michael Flynn and knew about his financial ties to Turkey and Russia, but approved him for the highly classified and sensitive position anyway. More importantly, the news directly refutes claims made by Vice President Mike Pence, who was in charge of the entire process and previously stated that Flynn lied to him.

  • To add onto the mounting evidence, Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates will testify before a Senate panel this coming week, and it’s assumed that she will contradict defensive claims made by the White House. Sources have revealed that Yates provided Trump’s team with a serious warning regarding Flynn nearly three weeks before he was fired, which means that the president’s transition team disregarded the disgraced national security advisor’s ties to Russia.

  • This past week, FBI Director James Comey gave a testimony on his agency’s probe into Russia’s attempts to influence the U.S. election. While the ongoing investigation forced him to keep most details under wraps, that didn’t stop Trump from attacking him prior to the hearing. On Tuesday, Trump launched into a Twitter tirade against the Comey, deflecting attention from the Russian probe by stating that “FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!”

  • Meanwhile, former Trump adviser Carter Page has reportedly declined to provide the Senate intelligence committee with records on his communications with Russian officials. His excuse is that anything of importance has already been recorded by former the Obama administration.

  • Call him optimistic, but Sen. Mark Warner, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, reportedly believes that odds of Trump getting impeached before his first term is complete is at two to one. The Virginia Senator clarified his comments by stating that he was "not referring specifically to the Russian investigation, but rather the totality of challenges the President is currently facing."

Congress Breaks From Trump Administration

  • Although Donald has boasted about the success of the GOP health care reform, there have been a handful of propositions and decisions that aim to undermine the administration. Despite the president’s extremely anti-scientific stance, Congress recently voted to keep a number of science-related organizations intact throughout the rest of the year. The bipartisan agreement will increase funding to the National Institute of Health, NASA, The National Science Foundation, and others.  

  • Congress also took a decisive stance against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has signaled that he would go after states with legal cannabis systems. Over the weekend, Congress renewed Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which will effectively prevent the Justice Department from spending tax dollars to persecute the medical marijuana community. Still, crackdowns on recreational marijuana remain a possibility, leaving states with full-fledged legalization in limbo.

  • After signing the religious liberty executive order last week, which increases religious groups ability to get involved in politics, Trump is now being sued by an atheist organization. On Thursday, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit in federal court against the president and IRS, arguing that the executive order is unconstitutional because it allows the government to favor religion over nonreligion.

  • Meanwhile, Democratic Senators from New York are pushing to pass a law that would require Trump to release his tax returns to the public. The legislation is not-so-subtly called the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public Act (aka TRUMP Act). If passed, it would require the state of New York to share the state tax returns of anyone elected to federal or state office in a statewide election, including the president and vice president.

  • Last week, the president’s administration stirred up controversy by removing a section of the Environmental Protection Agency’s website that provided information on climate change. To combat this move, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel decided to take the details from the EPA and create a home for it on the City of Chicago’s website. The new section states “while this information may not be readily available on the agency’s webpage right now, here in Chicago we know climate change is real and we will continue to take action to fight it.”

President Trump: Clueless or Conniving?

  • As the pressures of leading America continue to weigh down on the Donald, his statements and deceitful actions seem to get more and more outlandish. For starters, on Tuesday, the president called for a “good shutdown” of Congress in September to fix the mess in government. The comments seem to stem from his frustrations that the Senate requires a 60-40 vote to approve legislation, and even went so far to hint that the Republicans might need to “change the rules.”

  • In one of his most ridiculous statements to date, the president also went off on a nonsensical tangent regarding the Civil War. During an interview on Monday, Trump openly question why the Civil War started and suggested former President Andrew Jackson could have prevented it had he served later. His remarks bordered between confusing and offensive, as Jackson died 15 years before the war even began. "People don't ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?" Trump pondered.

  • White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer also got involved with the blatant hypocrisy, stating that it’s "somewhat sad" that people are still talking about the presidential election. However, his statement sounds quite absurd, as Trump has continuously resorted to talking about his victory against Hillary Clinton since the day he won the electoral college vote, even to this very day.

  • To celebrate his first 100 days as Commander-in-Chief, the Trump administration created a campaign commercial commemorating the successes of his presidency, from job creation to the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch into the Supreme Court. In the ad, which cost his campaign $1.5 million to run, the president also labeled a number of mainstream media reporters as “fake news.” This attack spurred a handful of news organizations, including CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC, to refuse airing the advertisement. The Trump team has responded by calling the blocking of the commercial an “unprecedented act of censorship.”  

  • Meanwhile, Donald Trump has continued his decimation of federal programs, this time freezing $10 million in grants to organizations that aim to counter violent extremism in the US. Former president Barack Obama sought to assist over 30 organizations with funding, but the White House has now put the grants on hold. Those approved for funding to fight violent extremism included local governments, police departments, universities, and nonprofit organizations.

Stirring Trouble Around the Globe

  • Canada - A few weeks ago, Trump announced that he would place a tariff on Canadian softwood lumber, prompting possible retaliation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. On Friday, Trudeau stated that he’s considering a ban on U.S. coal exports in response to the “unfair tax” on Canadian lumber.  

  • North Korea - As the president increases military aggressiveness against North Korea, the Asian country vowed this past week to accelerate its nuclear weapons program to “maximum pace," and that they could test a nuclear device “at any time.” The threatening remarks from North Korea came after the U.S. military announced that the controversial missile defense system installed in South Korea was now operational. Meanwhile, Trump managed to give a bizarre compliment to Kim Jung-un, calling him “a pretty smart cookie” for maintaining power after taking over for his father at such a young age.  

  • Philippines - Trump has also amassed criticism for inviting the Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte to the White House. Duterte has been under international scrutiny for his law allowing drug dealers and users in his country to be killed without a trial or even proof, prompting the death of around 7,000 people at the hands of vigilante justice. The amicable phone conversation between the two is another instance of Trump warming up to controversial dictators, which some fear relates to his own leadership aspirations.

  • Somalia - On Thursday, a U.S. Navy SEAL officer was killed in Somalia when they were attacked on a mission with the Somali National Army forces. The troops came under fire by Al Qaeda, leaving one dead and two additional U.S. soldiers wounded. Officials confirmed that this is the first instance of a service member being killed in action in Somalia since 1993.  


 


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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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