The Trumpian winter continues, but there are hints of spring: tendrils of common sense have been spotted amidst conservative legislators, and small backbones may be sprouting within the administration.
This week, Donald Trump:
- Announces Sexual Assault Awareness Month, to the jaw-drops of women and thoughtful people everywhere.
- Publicly defends Fox’s Bill O’Reilly as it emerges that Fox and O’Reilly have paid over $13m to settle five women’s claims of sexual harassment and misconduct. While the President of the United States remains by his side, advertisers flee O’Reilly’s show.
- Celebrates women’s equal pay day by not mentioning the executive order that he signed on March 27th that revoked the 2014 “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” order. F*** you, Donald.
- Donates his first months’ salary of $78,333 to the National Parks Service. Sean Spicer presents oversized check to Tyrone Brandyburg, superintendant of the Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park. Brandyburg looks decidedly unimpressed: Trump’s budget would cut $1.5 billion from the Department of the Interior, which runs the National Parks.
- Hosts Chinese President Xi Jinping at the “winter White House,” Mar-a-Lago. Xi is reportedly unhappy with the location of the summit, preferring instead the symbolism of the White House. Pundits suggest that it is premature for Trump to call a summit with the Chinese, as so many key advisory and policy positions remain unfilled and as Trump has no clear sense of the American agenda.
- Claims anger against the Syrian gas attack, citing the deaths of “tiny babies” as core to his outrage. While ordering an American military response, he nevertheless suggests no change of course to his refugee ban.
In good news,
- Steve Bannon is removed from the National Security Council.
- Chair of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes withdraws from Russia investigation after protests about his ethical flaws and close ties to the Trump administration.
- Kellyanne Conway remains hidden.
- Across the Netherlands, Dutch men hold hands in solidarity with attacked gay couple–in the office, on their commutes, at lunch…quite lovely.
In bad news,
- Senate Democrats threaten to filibuster Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch; Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) holds the floor for fifteen hours overnight as a pre-filibuster protest against Gorsuch’s confirmation. Republicans respond by deploying the “nuclear option,” voting to change the Senate confirmation rules to require a simple majority. This move further politicizes the Supreme Court and sets a precedent that will impact both parties’ nominees well into the future. Gorsuch is confirmed to the court.
- AG Jeff Sessions orders crackdown on marijuana; states that have legalized it issue strongly-voiced concerns.
- AG Jeff Sessions continues to imperil progress in police reform and will likely empower police targeting of communities of color: a move away from equity and justice.
- Fallout continues around the GOP/Trump removal of internet privacy restrictions. States scramble to pass legislation that protects their residents.
- A suspected sarin gas attack in Idlib, Syria kills over seventy people, including many children and infants, and triggers international outrage and anger against both Bashar al-Assad’s regime and against Russia and Iran, its protectors.
- After blaming Obama for the gas attack, Trump, whose administration earlier declared no intention to intervene in Syria (part of the “America First” policy), then claims a change of heart, decrying Bashar al-Assad and ordering missile strikes against an air base from which the gas attack was said to have been launched.
- Russia responds with hackles up. The world tenses.
And in more trivial news,
- It is now illegal in Russia to share pictures of Vladimir Putin as a sad gay clown. Here is a picture of Vladimir Putin as a sad gay clown.