It’s Thanksgiving Week, which means that the tryptophan haze has caused us to produce a shorter look back at online chatter in a week during which the stock market tanked, romaine lettuce was revealed to be potentially poisonous, and California remained on fire. There was, as that list might make clear, a lot going on over the last seven days despite the holiday, so let’s get to it, shall we?
But Her Emails (Reprise)
What Happened: Ivanka Trump failed to learn the most obvious lesson from her father’s 2016 presidential campaign.
What Really Happened: What’s that saying about history not repeating, but rhyming? Perhaps we should ask First Daughter Ivanka Trump.
Lock her up! Lock her up! That’s what folks are supposed to shout in response to women who use personal email accounts for government business, right?
That certainly sounds just like what Trump used to complain about in reference to Hillary Clinton, but surely there are particularly nuanced differences that make this entirely different. Anyone?
For those who love headlines with a point of view, you might be happy to know that CNN described the defense by Ivanka’s team as “ridiculous.” Of course, the story was widely reported on by the media, because of course it was. (Even a Fox News contributor called it “unforgivable.”) But how were the Twitteratti feeling about all of this?
Perhaps we should focus on the important things and ask the President of the United States what he thinks about this whole problem. After all, he must find it somewhat hypocritical to have one rule for Hillary Clinton and another for his daughter.
The Washington Post wasn’t the only organization looking into the matter; indeed, the Post story relied on the efforts of American Oversight, a non-partisan ethics watchdog that was happy to share what it had found on social media.
So, let’s review where we are…
For anyone wondering what the incoming Democratic House is going to do about this:
Oh, and it won’t just be Democrats that will be looking into this.
The Takeaway: Perhaps we’re all focusing on the wrong part of this whole story. What if Ivanka really didn’t know any better? What could that mean for everyone?
The Fate of Jim Acosta’s Press Pass
What Happened: The White House’s war against the media took an unexpected couple of turns last week in the wake of a lawsuit filed (and, seemingly, resolved) by CNN the week before. You can say a lot with a letter, it turns out.
What Really Happened: A couple weeks ago it looked as though CNN’s lawsuit against the Trump White House had been settled when a judge ordered the White House to restore reporter Jim Acosta’s hard pass to the building. Little did anyone (outside of CNN and the White House, that is) realize that the battle wasn’t as over as it seemed.
No, wait, we mean this.
Yes, the White House essentially told Acosta his pass would be taken away again as soon as the judge’s ruling expired. (Considering that the president had, just days earlier, demanded “decorum” from reporters in response to outcry about what the White House was doing, this shouldn’t be the biggest surprise, admittedly. See also: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying that CNN needed to send an adult in Acosta’s place if he couldn’t behave.) CNN was quick to respond to the White House’s threat.
The Takeaway: Well, at least Acosta got to return to the White House. What’s the worst that could happen with that outcome?
What Happened: Just in case anyone needed a reason to be even more suspicious of the man currently in charge of law enforcement in the United States, that very thing surfaced last week. It’s hard to follow the money when you don’t know where the money comes from…
What Really Happened: There are a number of questions surrounding incoming Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, not least of which are “Does the president know him?” and “Is he being hired to close the Russia investigation?” (Both answers would appear to be yes, with a better question about the latter topic perhaps being whether or not he has already tampered with Mueller’s probe.) Oh, there’s also the surreal matter of the White House refusing to say when he was actually formally named acting AG as well, which is only mildly very suspicious. Last week, more concerns arose about the scandal-prone figure thanks to the release of his financial disclosure form. Ready for some more questions?
The story was the second big scoop of the week from the Washington Post and ethics group American Oversight, with the latter once again sharing information via Twitter.
Perhaps the reason for the delay was that something was clearly amiss.
Or, beyond the revisions, there’s the potential violation of federal law, which one would tend to think would be a no-no for an acting attorney general.
The Takeaway: Oh also, the irony of the name of the form that revealed all this glorious new (lack of) information wasn’t lost on everyone.
Captain America Would Be Ashamed
What Happened: In a statement released early last week, President Trump stood with Saudi Arabia following the death of a journalist despite widespread belief that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered his killing.
What Really Happened: As the country prepared to slide into the Thanksgiving weekend, the Trump administration clearly thought that it was a good time to demonstrate that it honestly wasn’t every concerned with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite the CIA having reportedly concluded that the Saudi crown prince ordered the murder.
Yes, the president issued a statement on his desire to stand with Saudi Arabia that, honestly, lives up to the New York Times‘ description of “extraordinary,” as well as NBC News’ term “unusual.” It was particularly Trumpian in its verbiage, and although it’s nowhere near good, it’s certainly something.
At least he read through all of the available information before drafting this statement.
But if you thought that the administration might be embarrassed by the statement, think again.
In case you’re wondering quite how bad this statement actually is, there’s literally a thread from a former Department of Defense analyst and expert on the Middle East.
On his way out of town for the holiday, Trump offered some additional clarity to the waiting press.
(Bear in mind that, if the president hadn’t read the CIA report before issuing his statement, it’s very unlikely he’d managed to get through it within the couple of hours between that release and making this comment.)
Now, let’s take a second to look at what Vice President Mike Pence was tweeting about while all this was kicking off.
…There’s a Space Force joke to be done here, surely. Moving on. Perhaps, to the current administration, sending birthday wishes to an inanimate object is more important than trying to hold someone accountable for the murder of a journalist? After all, it’s not as if the current occupants of the White House are particular fans of the fourth estate.
But, really: Whatever could be behind the president’s reticence to actually address reality here?
Yeah, that’ll do it.
The Takeaway: Just to bring this one back to the holiday season…
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