Hello and welcome to the Top 5 by Sam Jenkins. The Top 5 consists of the top five things happening right now in politics. Be sure to click that like button, leave a comment, or let me know if I’m #FakeNews. Thank you for reading!
1 Big Thing: Russia Saga
Several different storylines from the Russia saga made headlines this week:
- On Sunday, President Trump acknowledged Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump campaign officials met with Russian officials in Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign to seek negative information on Hillary Clinton.
- This tweet contradicts previous statements from the President about the true intention of the 2016 meeting in Trump Tower.
- Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, is on trial for “tax schemes” (i.e. false tax returns) and “financial institution schemes” (i.e. bank fraud).
- In the first of two Manafort v. Mueller trials, Manafort’s alleged crimes don’t directly relate to Russian election interference, but, for Mueller, they set the context for the other trial that will directly relate to the interference.
- For a while now, Trump’s lawyers and Mueller have been negotiating about an interview with Trump. On Wednesday, Trump’s lawyers said Trump can be interviewed with the qualification of a narrow scope.
A Pundit’s Delight
Credit: [Danny O'Connor's Twitter profile](https://twitter.com/dannyoconnor1)
Credit: [Troy Balderson's Twitter profile](https://twitter.com/Troy_Balderson)
On Tuesday, another round of elections, including primaries and a special election, led to a fervor of pundit analysis about the 2018 Midterm Elections.
- In Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, Republican Troy Balderson currently leads Democrat Danny O'Connor by a small margin.
- On one hand, Republicans claimed victory because 1) they won and 2) Trump’s last-minute endorsement led to Balderson’s victory. On the other hand, Democrats claimed a moral victory because the Republicans won by less than a percentage point in a district they usually win by double-digit percentage points.
- In the Republican primaries across the country, one thread is how a Trump endorsement carries (or sometimes drags) candidates across victory line.
- In the Democratic primaries across the country, one thread is how progressive and moderate wings of the Democrats are electorally battling it out for a shot at the general election.
Following the departure from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran Deal), the U.S. re-imposed sanctions on Iran. The sanctions will come in different sets with the first set targeting the automotive industry among other things and the second set targeting oil exports and the central bank.
- These pointed sanctions will weaken the Iranian economy as their currency loses value and exports will decrease.
- The reaction around the world is ambiguous. To start, other signatories of the Iran Deal will continue to trade with Iran despite U.S. opposition. However, certain multinational companies will face the loss of access to the large U.S. market if they continue to deal with Iran.
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claims the sanctions were revamped to make Iran “behave like a normal country.” For example, the U.S. wants Iran’s regime to stop sponsoring terrorism, roll back its military operations in the Middle East and eliminate its nuclear programs.
Credit: [sunny kumar/Flickr](https://www.flickr.com/photos/160244702@N02/42034402110/)
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee released a few of the thousands of pages of documents relating to Judge Kavanaugh’s tenure in the White House during George W. Bush’s administration.
- However, Senate Democrats are claiming this process is not transparent for two reasons: 1) there are thousands of more documents from Kavanaugh’s tenure in the White House and 2) a Republican lawyer is screening the documents for public viewing, which makes the process biased.
- To start, Republicans claim these documents are not necessary to decide whether Kavanaugh would make a good Justice. Additionally, they claim many of the documents can’t be disclosed because the process to screen the documents takes longer than the Senate has and certain disclosure rules ensure some documents will remain closed.
Kansas Governor’s Race
On Tuesday, Kansans cast their ballots for their respective party’s nominee for governor. In the Republican primary, Jeff Colyer, the incumbent governor, trailed Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state, by 91 votes as of Thursday. Because of this close margin, Colyer can initiate a recount of the vote.
However, the person in charge of that recount is none other than Colyer’s opponent, Kris Kobach. At first, Kobach refused to recuse himself from the recount but later said he would. Another element of the recount is whoever files for the recount is responsible for the cost. Likewise, the secretary of state also sets the price of the recount. These logistical dynamics will simmer in the background in the final stretches of a nail-biting primary.