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 leave a comment, follow me on Twitter or let me know if I’m #FakeNews. Thank you for reading!
1 Big thing: Gun Debate
The national gun debate reignited in response to the shooting last week at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School.
- CNN hosted a town hall in Florida about gun laws with Senator Marco Rubio, NRA Spokesperson Dana Loesch and MSD students. Rubio, as well as Florida Governor Rick Scott, supports laws raising the minimum age for buying a rifle. However, the Florida legislature rejected another gun control measure as they struck down a bill that would have banned assault weapons.
- At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C., Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president, went on the offensive claiming the media exploits mass shootings for political gain. He also outlined measures to stop mass shootings, including armed school security, mental health improvements and enforcing gun laws.
- President Trump has directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to regulate bump stocks, although not banning them. Additionally, he supports improving the national gun background system.
Another one bites the dust: Gates
On Friday, Rick Gates, the former Trump campaign deputy chairman, plead guilty to financial fraud. He and Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, allegedly funneled millions of dollars into different companies and accounts, which they later hid.
- Gates also plead guilty to lying to investigators because he misled them when he described a conversation between him and Manafort.
- After he was removed as Trump campaign deputy chairman, Gates served as the liaison between the campaign and the Republican National Committee and then as an advisor to the Trump transition team.
- This development is a sign Gates could cooperate with the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller. However, it depends on how much Gates has to offer Mueller.
Political games over classified info
On Saturday, the House Intelligence Committee released a Democratic memo about the FBI and Justice Department’s role in obtaining a FISA warrant for Carter Page. This memo refutes several points in Republican memo:
- The Russia investigation did not start with Christopher Steele, the spy who compiled the infamous dossier. The investigation started because of Russia’s overtures to another Trump campaign official. Additionally, Page was being recruited by Russian spies long before the warrant.
- The judges on the FISA court were aware of Steel’s political motivations. An excerpt from the FISA warrant application states, Mr. Steele had been commissioned by someone “likely looking for information that could be used to discredit [Trumps]’s campaign.”
Isolation to DeNuclearization
President Trump and the Treasury Department recently imposed new sanctions on North Korean in hopes of denuclearizing the regime.
- These particular sanctions will further crack down on maritime shipping and trading of North Korean companies. The sanctions will also more closely track and possibly seize ships because often, illegal materials, including banned weapons, are transported on the water.
- Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia will coordinate with the United States in the enforcement of these sanctions. Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and advisor, briefed South Korean president Moon Jae-in on the new sanctions.
Off the Beaten Path: Happy Birthday Frank Luntz
You know when your singing happy birthday to a stranger but you don’t know them so you just mumble the part where you have to say their name? Well, last week, Frank Luntz turned 56 years old. Luntz is a Republican strategist who works with focus groups. He coined the term “government takeover” in response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Soon legislators, pundits and protestors used this term as a rallying cry in opposition of the ACA. He was also called out at Republican retreat by President Barack Obama, which gave him some fame and credibility.