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: A Confusing Storm
President Trump knew about Michael Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels before he denied it aboard Air Force One in April. This payment, which occurred a couple weeks before the 2016 presidential election, was an attempt to silence Daniels about an affair with Donald Trump in 2006. So why does this matter?
- To start, the President of the United States bluntly lied to the American people about this situation. In April, President Trump was asked if he knew about the Cohen’s payment to Daniels. He responded, “No.”
- This payment could have violated campaign finance laws. Trump has a legal right to pay Daniels to protect his campaign. However, he must report this payment as a campaign expenditure, which he did not. Moreover, the legality of the payment is further compromised if the Trump Organization was involved with the payment.
- This recent news draws more scrutiny to Cohen and his activities, which are a part of an ongoing investigation.
Add It to the List
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt faces more ethics allegations this week. These reports follow his testimony in front of Congress and numerous other allegations.
- On Thursday, it was reported that when Pruitt first entered the office, he selected a list of countries he wanted to visit. He then asked aides to find official reasons to visit these countries. Moreover, later, questionable people, including lobbyists and donors, were asked to help plan the trips.
- Additionally, Pruitt’s various ethical troubles are surfacing from his time as a public official in Oklahoma. For example, as a state legislator, he purchased a house with a lobbyist, which was never reported. Then, as Oklahoma’s Attorney General, he paid himself thousands of dollars from his campaign. This campaign reimbursement is sketchy because 1) it was not transparent at all and 2) it involved personal purchases, not campaign purchases.
On Wednesday, Emmett Flood joined President Trump’s legal team. Flood previously represented President Bill Clinton in his impeachment proceedings and President George W. Bush in a variety of Congressional oversight inquiries.
- A renown and effective professional, Flood will bring structure to Trump’s legal team as well as an adversarial defense to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
- Flood will replace Ty Cobb on Trump’s legal team. Also, Rudy Giuliani, another Trump lawyer, made headlines and created more questions about Trump’s legal battles in several interviews this week.
U.S. Senator from Arizona John McCain is battling cancer from his home in Arizona. Here, friends from across the country are visiting him to reminisce about the past and the future.
- McCain is facing glioblastoma, a rare and aggressive brain cancer, which Senator Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden’s son Beau both succumbed to.
- Looking back, McCain is writing a memoir which included a regret about not choosing Joe Lieberman as his running mate in 2008. He also questions the current state of politics and the country.
Solving the Opioid Crisis
Dr. Rahul Gupta, West Virginia’s public health commissioner, is using data to save lives in the opioid crisis. Gupta and his team examined data from people who died from an opioid overdose. This data allowed Gupta to identify the warning signs of people likely to overdose: males between the ages of 35 to 54, less than a high school education, single and worked in a blue-collar industry. Because of this data, Gupta and West Virginia can take substantive preventative measures before an overdose occurs.
Additionally, the data also showed a couple more interesting points. First, the incarcerated population was also at a high risk of overdose. Second, only about half of people who received emergency medical treatment were given naloxone, a medicine which can reverse the effects of opioids within minutes. These two data points allowed legislators to understand and apply effective policies, specifically around jails and outreach campaigns about naloxone.