Lightning Round
Published April 18, 2018 / Updated August 12, 2020

Lightning Round

Because it’s been a busy week

by Chris Thomas

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Photo by Ian Froome

Congress is pretty much done for the remainder of the year at this point; elections will dominate the rest of the legislative calendar. But the business of running the country doesn’t stop for politics.

1. Hannity is a client of Michael Cohen’s

The President’s lawyer has three clients: the President, a RNC Deputy Finance Chair who shelled out $1.6 million to silence his impregnated, Playboy Playmate mistress, and Sean Hannity. Just being Cohen’s client (Hannity says he never paid the guy) doesn’t mean much — it certainly doesn’t prove that Hannity used Cohen to cover up an extramarital affair or the like — but there’s essentially no circumstance in which Cohen considers Hannity a client that isn’t deeply suspicious and the closeness of Cohen, Trump, and Hannity raises deep and concerning questions about the status of Fox News as an independent (if conservative) media outlet rather than as propaganda arm of the Trump administration.

2. McConnell stonewalls protection for Mueller

Mitch McConnell is entirely uninterested in protecting Robert Mueller’s investigation. Despite bipartisan attempts to get legislation through Congress to ensure that President Trump can’t fire Mueller, McConnell refuses to allow it to go to the Senate floor for a vote. This is overtly self-serving. It is unambiguously better for the country if Mueller’s investigation is allowed to proceed unhindered but Leader McConnell’s personal political interests are apparently more important to him than the good of the country as a whole.

3. Trump’s EPA chief is looting the agency

Scott Pruitt has been the corruption scandal de jure of the Trump Administration. Kevin Chmielewski, a former Trump campaign staffer and recently-dismissed deputy chief of staff for operations at EPA, presented Congressional Democrats with a list of examples of Pruitt’s “unethical and potentially illegal actions.” Highlights include massive, unsanctioned raises to favorite aids, extravagant spending on office decoration, and new cars and high end security hardware for a large (and unnecessary) security detail. EPA was also directed to look into a private jet for Pruitt and staff that questioned Pruitt’s spending spree faced punishment or demotion.

4. Trump bombed Syria

President Trump ordered a missile strike against Syria as punishment for the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. Trump’s Secretary of Defence, General Mattis, wanted Trump to get Congressional approval for the attack but was overruled by the President, who has changed his views since President Obama considered attacking Syria in 2013.

5. Trump walks back Russia sanctions

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley announced that the United States would be imposing new trade sanctions on Russia due to its support of the Syrian chemical weapons attacks. Vox reports that these sanctions were narrowly targeted — “focused on Russian companies that deal in equipment linked to Assad’s chemical weapons program.

But the next day, Sarah Huckabee Sanders contradicted Haley, saying that the decision to actually implement sanctions had not been made. The walkback echos other opportunities Trump has had to take a firm hand with Russia but has declined to do so.

Tell Congress What You Think

Of course, there is a lot more going on in US politics than just these five stories. Fortunately, you can tell Congress what you think about Mueller, Pruitt, Syria, Fox News, or any other issue by texting RESIST to 50409. Or, if SMS isn’t your style, you can contact your government by talking to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or Twitter.

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