Opinion - November 07. 2017

It used to be that we could follow the events that affect our lives by occasionally checking the news. With Trump’s erratic and autocratic behavior and the Republicans’ unceasing efforts to transfer more wealth to the rich, it is now much more difficult – and more important – to keep up with the onslaught of events. To make that task easier, each week we’ll provide a summary of the critical events facing us as we fight to preserve our democracy.

This past week started in anticipation of the first indictments from Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian/Trump collusion.  On Monday morning, Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager for five months, and Rick Gates, one of Manafort’s associates, were indicted for multiple offenses, including money laundering. Unexpected and even more noteworthy was the disclosure that George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy advisor, had begun cooperating with the Mueller probe back in July, when he was secretly arrested for lying to the FBI.

The events seemingly unnerved the White House, where Trump fell into a Twitter fit and one aide was quoted as saying, “It’s [now] every man for himself.” Meanwhile, the right-wing media stepped up efforts to discredit Mueller, pulling out long-ago debunked conspiracy theories involving – you guessed it! – Hillary Clinton.

Accordingly, one of our actions during this past week was focused on protecting the Mueller investigation. Looking forward, it’s widely expected that former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn will also be charged. We should be prepared to continue to defend the integrity of Mueller’s investigation, especially because House and Senate Republicans seem eager to wrap up their investigations well ahead of next year’s elections, regardless of whether they’ve completed their work.

The other main story is the Republican tax scam. After delaying release of the bill for two days, the Republicans in the House unveiled their tax legislation on Thursday. As expected, the bill would hit working Americans hard, while cutting taxes for the rich and corporations. The bill would also explode the federal deficit.

Like everything we’ve seen from the Republicans this year, the bill was written in secret, is being rushed through Congress, and is deeply unpopular with the American public. Unfortunately, none of that guarantees its failure, as the Republicans in Congress only seem to care about their base, a small minority of voters who are fed an endless stream of disinformation by right wing media. And their donors, who are eagerly awaiting their tax windfall.

So, once again, we have our work cut out for us:  to raise public awareness and let our Members of Congress know how angry we are about the bill.  The Republicans want to get this done in a matter of weeks, so the time to fight is now.

Other key threads this week:  

  • The House finally voted to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which insures 9 million children.  But Republicans attached ”poison pills” to the funding, which will undermine other aspects of healthcare. As a result, the bill is expected to be killed in the Senate.
  • California’s Republican House members, with the exception of Ed Royce, refused to sign a letter requesting $7.4 billion in federal aid for the wildfires that devastated our region.
  • Senate committees heard disturbing testimony about interference in the 2016 election from representatives of Facebook, Twitter and Google.
  • Trump, angry and apparently worried about the Mueller probe, expressed a desire to use the Department of Justice to go after his political opponents and to protect himself.
  • Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands continued to suffer from a lack of aid.
  • In the Virginia governor’s race, Republican Ed Gillespie is too close for comfort behind Democrat Jeremy Northam.  
  • A poll showed that 49% of respondents favored impeaching the President.
  • And Trump’s approval rating dropped to its lowest point yet, which is the lowest by far of any President in the last 70 years at this point in their term.

Let’s get ready for a busy week!

Footnote:  a key resource for tracking all the abnormal events from the past week of the Trump presidency is Amy Siskind’s Weekly List:  theweeklylist.org.