Top 5, Top 5

The Top 5 consists of the top five things happening right now in politics.

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: Presidential Power

On Monday, President Trump tweeted, “I have the absolute right to pardon myself.” However, days before President Nixon resigned in 1974, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel penned a memo that stipulated the president cannot pardon himself because “no one may be the judge in his own case.”

  • Certain Republicans refuted this self-pardon claim. For example, House Speaker Paul Ryan stated, “No one is above the law.” Likewise, Democrats have asserted Trump is not a king.
  • Addtionally, on Saturday, a memo from Trump’s lawyers to Special Counsel Robert Mueller became public. In it, Trump’s lawyer asserted it is impossible for Trump to obstruct justice because of the authority vested to the president in the Constitution. The memo continues that the president can’t be subpoenaed to answer questions in the investigation.
    • However, these claims of broad presidential powers over obstruction of justice and subpoenas have no precedent. So, for now, legal scholars will debate about the constitutionality. Later, judges will rule on the conflicts if both sides press forward.


The Trump administration has been working with Mexico and Canada to renegotiate several elements of NAFTA, including automotive rules of origin, government procurement and how to handle investment disputes. However, a new deal is less likely after recent developments:

  • Recently, the U.S. imposed tariffs on steel imports from Mexico and Canada. Therefore, Mexico and Canada are retaliating with tariffs on certain U.S. goods.
  • On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to give him an ultimatum: any NAFTA deal will expire in five years or no deal. Trudeau not only declined the offer but was so off-put that he also declined an upcoming visit to Washington to discuss the issues in NAFTA.

U.S. Trade With China

Along with NAFTA, the U.S. is in the midst of negotiating trade with China:

  • To start, tensions have since cooled since the threats of a trade war between the two countries. Now, the top two economies in the world are going back and forth over different market barriers and the prices of various products.
  • Next, Chinese intellectual property theft, an initial focus of the negotiations, has fallen to the back burner. For example, the Trump administration has now offered to help alleviate sanctions from ZTE, a Chinese telecommunications company, which was previously sanctioned for national security reasons.
  • An X-factor in these U.S.-China trade negotiations is North Korea. China has been central to the North Korea denuclearization talks because of its close economic, political and geographic ties. If China can help the U.S. with North Korean denuclearization, the U.S. might respond reciprocally in trade negotiations.

2018 Primaries

On Tuesday, several states held primary elections where there was lot more to lose than to gain for party officials. However, these officials breathed sigh of relief as they mostly averted general election disasters in states like California, New Jersey, Iowa and New Mexico.

  • For example, California has “jungle” primary election where the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.
    • In many Congressional races that are critical to Democrats taking back the House, there were too many Democratic candidates. So, if the Democratic candidates split the vote between themselves, it would allow for two Republicans to advance to the general election.
      • Disaster averted: A Democrat advanced to the general election in these Congressional races.
    • In the gubernatorial race, there was chance a Republican wouldn’t make it on the general election ballot, which would suppress turnout in important down-ballot races in November.
      • Disaster averted: A Republican will be on the general election ballot.

White House Championship Visits

Before the political controversy erupted between the Philadelphia Eagles and President Trump, politics were mostly removed from a sports champion’s visit to the White House. President Calvin Coolidge started the tradition in 1924 after he invited the Washington Senators to the White House. However, President Ronald Reagan made the visit a TV spectacle. For example, Reagan threw the football around with the championship team on the White House lawn in 1987. Like everything in society now, sports are intertwined with politics.