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 (@sam_j100) or let me know if I’m #FakeNews. Thank you for reading!
1 Big Thing: The Russia SAGA
The week started as the House Intelligence Committee ended their investigation into Russian election meddling. The Committee found that Russia did meddle in the election. However, they disagreed with the U.S. Intelligence Community’s analysis that Russia helped Trump to win. They also claimed to find no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The week started with Russia Saga and continued with the Russia Saga:
- After Congress mandated new sanctions on Russia in August of 2017, the Trump administration finally announced their enforcement. These sanctions come in response to Russia’s 2016 election meddling and their attempts to penetrate the U.S. energy grid.
- Recently, Special Counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents relating to Russia. The Trump Organization had been voluntarily handing over certain documents, but now it is officially required to produce whatever the subpoena calls for.
- In response to the subpoena, John Dowd, Trump’s personal lawyer, called for the end of the Russia investigation. Additionally, Trump pointed to partisanship and conflicts of interest plaguing Mueller and his team. On Sunday, however, some Republicans defended Mueller’s investigation, including Senator Lindsey Graham and Congressman Trey Gowdy.
Lamb v. Saccone: 2018 Foreshadowing?
On Tuesday night, yet stretching into Wednesday, Conor Lamb (D) defeated Rick Saccone (R) in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District Special Election. A couple important points: 1) Trump won this district by nearly twenty percentage points over Hillary Clinton in 2016 and 2) this district will cease to exist after they redraw the districts in Pennsylvania.
- On one hand, Republicans blamed the loss on the bad candidate, Saccone, and the democrat, who, they claimed, is conservative and pandered to Republican voters.
- On the other hand, Democrats were ecstatic about the win and their prospects for the 2018 Midterms.
- In total, this race featured a lot of interesting aspects that will factors in the 2018 midterms: Republican tax cuts, guns regulations, economic message/policy and turnout for either side.
Trump administration Turnover
On Monday, President Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with 253 characters. In the same tweet, Trump appeared to nominate Mike Pompeo, the current CIA Director, for the open Secretary of State position.
- This firing comes at the moment when the administration is preparing for talks and negotiations with North Korea.
- Critics say this instability will hurt the administration’s ability to do their job. Supporters argue compatibility in policy and style are more important as Pompeo is reported to have a good working relationship with the President.
- Additionally, it seems as if other people within the administration are on the chopping block, including staff like National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and cabinet members like Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin.
Too Big To Fail: Banks
On Wednesday, the Senate passed a bill that cuts certain provisions of Dodd-Frank, which was in response to banks’ actions that led to the financial crisis of 2008. The bill passed with 67 votes as it split the Democratic caucus. So, it is bipartisan; something you don’t see every day. It must still pass the House.
- Before, banks with over $50 billion dollars in assets would be subject to enhanced regulations. Now, these regulations will only apply to a handful of banks with over $250 billion dollars in assets.
- The bill helps smaller banks as it eases their regulations. However, it also removes certain provisions for big banks, which benefits Wall St.
- Democrats fear the legislation will pave the way for further rollbacks of financial regulations, which makes another financial crisis more likely.
It’s March. It’s Madness. It’s shitty brackets. No perfect brackets remained after the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) beat Virginia 74-54. UMBC is the first number 16 seed to beat a number 1 seed as 16 seeds experienced 135 losses before Friday night. They joined the Harvard women’s basketball team as the only 16 seeds to ever beat a 1 seed.
Their twitter game was on fire too. Before the game even started, Seth Davis, a basketball analyst, tweeted, “Virginia. Sharpie.” Additionally, ESPN analytics predicted Virginia had a 98.5% chance to win the game. However, UMBC basketball stunned the world and their twitter account made sure Seth Davis, ESPN and the whole world knew about it.