Life comes at you fast, and I’m pretty sure it moves even faster during the Trump administration. Here’s a walk-through of American news from the last week, in case you missed anything. Questions? Something I missed? Leave them in the comments!
Wednesday, July 26th
Donald Trump surprised his West Wing and Pentagon staff by tweeting that transgender individuals would no longer be allowed to serve in the military in any capacity. (General James Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, was on vacation.) Although Mattis quickly walked back the comments with a statement from the Joint Chiefs of Staff clarifying that “there will be no modifications to the current policy until the president’s direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary has issued implementation guidance,” the tweets sparked a massive backlash from liberals and conservatives alike. President Trump still does not have the power to implement major policies with Twitter alone, and nobody knows how he envisions a transition out of the military for the thousands of active duty transgender soldiers. (The Pentagon does not track numbers of active or past trans soldiers, but almost every estimate numbers them in the thousands. Trans people are statistically more likely to serve in the military than the rest of the population.) An estimate from the RAND Corporation puts the cost of trans-specific healthcare at 0.004-0.017% of the Department of Defense budget. The military currently spends fourteen times more on Viagra than on necessary medical care and transition services for trans service members.
After Tuesday’s motion to proceed on a repeal of Obamacare, GOP senators scrambled to concoct a “skinny repeal” of the ACA with an even skinnier replacement. The bill was kept secret by McConnell, and remained unseen by the majority of senators through Wednesday night.
President Trump continued to excoriate Jeff Sessions in the news media and on Twitter, following an interview he gave to the New York Times on July 19th in which he claimed that he would never have appointed Sessions had he known Sessions would (or would have to) recuse himself from the Department of Justice’s ongoing Russia investigation. On Wednesday, he queried on Twitter why Sessions hadn’t yet fired Andrew McCabe (acting FBI director) on the grounds that McCabe was a Clinton ally. Sessions, unlike most members of Trump’s team, has not revealed any plans to resign.
The Federal Reserve declined to raise interest rates with the goal of monitoring inflation more closely before a new hike.
President Trump compared illegal immigrant gang members to animals, claiming they “take a young, beautiful girl, 16, 15 and others and they slice them and dice them with a knife because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die.” He may have been alluding to the MO of a particular gang, MS-13, but immigrants arrested under his authority have largely committed no crimes other than unauthorized entrance to the country.
The DOJ filed an amicus brief claiming that Title VII, which currently prevents employment discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, and national origin,” does not prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. The ACLU called the brief a “gratuitous and extraordinary attack on LGBT people’s civil rights.” Current appellate court rulings are split on the issue, with the northern 7th Circuit ruling against this kind of discrimination and the southern 11th Circuit ruling for it.
Thursday, July 27th
Anthony Scaramucci, President Trump’s pick to replace Sean Spicer, threatened a reporter with FBI and DOJ investigations after she published an article on his financial disclosure forms, a matter of public record. In a now-deleted tweet, he implied Reince Priebus, Chief of Staff at the time, was behind what he saw as a “leaking” campaign against him.
Senators voted for the first amendment to the Senate healthcare bill, unleashing the process informally known as ‘vote-a-rama’. The voting process lasted until 2 am Friday morning, when John McCain followed the leads of Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and killed the ‘skinny repeal’ of Obamacare. McCain was widely lauded as the savior of the ACA for his common-sense decision, but Collins and Murkowski had opposed the bill since the beginning, and disabled activists had risked arrest and put their lives on the line for weeks in protest of a bill that would condemn many to bankruptcy or death.
White House staff and GOP leaders announced a united front on tax reform, promising to jettison planned border taxes and complete an overhaul of the tax code by the end of the year.
The House approved a $790 billion spending package, including 1.57 billion to fund a border wall with Mexico. The border wall provision makes the bill almost certain to fail in the Senate, but the bill didn’t have an easy journey through the House, either: a New York Times article revealed that squabbles over including the cost of medical care for transgender soldiers had threatened to derail the package and had perhaps sparked Trump’s public ruminations on the subject.
The New Yorker published a truly incredible interview with Anthony Scaramucci, covering his thoughts on Reince Priebus, leakers, Steve Bannon, and self-fellatio. If you haven’t seen it, no summary can really do it justice. Scaramucci claimed that he thought the interview was off the record, and that his only mistake was trusting a reporter. The reporter clarified that he had explicitly asked Scaramucci if the interview was on record, and Scaramucci had said yes before launching into his tirade.
Friday, July 28th
North Korea tested a ballistic missile that some experts say has the potential to hit California.
Reince Priebus, Trump’s embattled Chief of Staff, handed in his resignation at the request of the President. Trump chose Gen. John Kelly as his replacement, becoming the first President since Nixon to appoint a general as his chief of staff.
Monday, July 31st
Trump fired Anthony Scaramucci at the request of John Kelly, bringing an end to the Mooch’s ten-day tenure. Sean Spicer allegedly had a role in drafting the statement on Scaramucci’s departure, perhaps leaving the door open for a potential return.