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The Week in White House Drama: G7 Tension and More Russia

G7, Paul Manafort and Scott Pruitt

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This week in White House drama: President Trump makes waves at the G7 Summit, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is facing more charges, and recently imposed tariffs cause more problems. Other news includes more presidential pardons and another scandal from EPA Chief Scott Pruitt.

The Big Drama 

The President concerned Americans this week when he stated that he had the right as president to pardon himself from any crime. In the last few months, Trump has pardoned several controversial people, but no one would be as controversial as the President himself. The issue of the President pardoning himself arose when Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani stated that the President would not ever pardon himself – and the President responded by stating that he would. While there is no precedent on the matter, many see this as an admission of guilt. After all, why would the President need to pardon himself if he had not committed a crime?

Others are concerned that the President believes he is above the law, building on statements that he made in the campaign and in his time in the White House so far, from claiming he could shoot someone and still be elected, to stating that he would pardon himself or his family members. While past evidence may indicate that Trump believes he is above the law, and his office gives him special immunity, when pressed he claimed that his “absolute right” to pardon himself does not make him above the law, despite the contradictory manner of those statements.

While Trump spent the week, contemplating pardoning himself from any possible wrongdoing in the Russia investigation, he continued to advocate for the very country under scrutiny – Russia. In a week of turmoil between the U.S. and allies in the international community, President Trump announced during the G7 summit that he thought Russia should be reinstated, citing their economic interests.

Although Russia does have a stake in the talks, they lost the right to be a member of the group when they were dropped from the G8 in 2014 for annexing Crimea and promoting instability in Ukraine. The President claims that bringing Russia back into the fold “may not be politically correct” but “we have a world to run.” Of course, the other G7 countries think that part of running the world is making Russia accountable for its actions, in order to ensure less future conflict.

President Trump’s statement about re-instating Russia follows with all of his other actions, which are doing their part to drive away key allies and draw in traditional enemies such as Russia and North Korea.

More Drama Bombs

News about Russia is not the only drama coming out of the G7 summit, with multiple traditional allies of the United States rebuking the President for his tariffs and other isolationist tendencies. Some tense moments included a promise by French President Emmanuel Macron to publicly condemn the United States’ trade actions and isolationist moves, followed by Trump missing their scheduled meeting.

Our neighbor to the north is also showing disdain for recent actions by the President, as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remained frosty towards the President. One awkward moment highlighted the new divide between the two leaders, as Trump tried to joke about the tariffs while stating that Trudeau was probably pleased that he was leaving early.

While Russia issues reared their ugly head at the G7, there were more problems at home for key actors in the Russia investigation. Special counselor Robert Mueller filed more charges against Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime associate Konstantin Kilimnik for obstructing justice. These charges state that Manafort and Kilimnik tried to coach or even prevent two witnesses from testifying. Most of Manafort’s other charges directly relate to the Russia probe and include illegal foreign lobbying, money laundering, and more.

 Other Major Players

  • Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old nonviolent drug offender who was convicted of a life sentence in 1996, after being lobbied by Kim Kardashian. Although the President has made some interesting pardon decisions recently, this unbelievable convergence of Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump actually ended in an extremely positive result.
  • EPA Chief Scott Pruitt has yet another scandal, enlisting his security to pick up his dry cleaning, moisturizer, and a “mattress for personal use.” Federal rules do not allow for an official to ask for unpaid services from their staffers, especially for personal gain. How does this guy still have a job?

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Rachael Blandau is a senior political science major at Centre College, in Danville, Kentucky. She enjoys writing about the news and her favorite topic - politics.

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