This week in White House Drama, both President Trump and United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley ruffled feathers on an international scale. The White House has also had trouble with North Korea, which is contemplating canceling a historic meeting, and Rex Tillerson rebukes the President for telling lies.
The Big Drama
The biggest drama revolved around the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, for her less-than-stellar response to an outbreak of violence on the Gaza Strip. Violence erupted due to the United States opening its new embassy in Jerusalem, which led to dozens of protesting Palestinians to be killed by tear-gas and gunfire by Israeli troops. Haley commented that the violence had nothing to do with the location of the American embassy, and was instead due to people (read: Palestinians) that reject the state of Israel. While this deliberate pro-Israel rhetoric may be inflammatory, that was not the reason for the criticism.
Instead, Haley’s big misstep came when she walked out of a UN Security Council meeting while Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Riyad Mansour spoke about the outbreak of violence. This resulted in many citing the immaturity of the United States, and willful ignorance of how the moved embassy led to the conflict. Haley has been outspoken in her criticism of President Trump in recent weeks – could these defensive moves by the Ambassador be a way to ensure her job is safe?
While Nikki Haley was offending the UN, the President offended both domestic and international allies when he announced that he would be taking steps to bring back jobs – in China. After threatening a trade war with China, the President has decided to help Chinese tech firm ZTE, which has been threatened by U.S. sanctions. While many were angry that the President would try to bring back jobs in China rather than the United States, others were confused about the President’s desire to help this particular company. In a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray emphasized his concern over Trump helping telecom companies like ZTE, especially those that are tied to the Chinese government, which could gain access to American markets.
Following the hearing, the Appropriations Committee rejected Trump’s proposal of easing the sanctions placed on ZTE, claiming that the President did not realize how detrimental ZTE has been to the American economy. Senator Marco Rubio stated that it seems the administration was being tricked into a deal with the Chinese government, without realizing the possible ramifications.
More Drama Bombs
In other embarrassing international news for the Trump Administration, the historic meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is now in jeopardy. North Korea threatened to back out of the summit protesting the United States’ desire to end the North Korean nuclear program. This follows another setback, where North Korea postponed talks with South Korea after they conducted joint military exercises with the United States.
Although these erratic actions by North Korea are not rare considering their past, this change in attitude is especially dramatic for the White House, which has lauded the North Korean summit as their major international success story since the election. President Trump would also personally see the cancellation of the summit as a failure, considering there were rumors that he would receive a Nobel Peace Prize for his part in ending the Korean War and denuclearizing North Korea.
While the President faced the prospect of losing the Nobel Peace Prize he never had, he also made some controversial comments about immigrants which sparked outrage from both parties on social media. In reference to immigrants, the President said, “These aren’t people. These are animals.” Of course, many declared that this was a racist statement while others claimed the comment was made about MS-13 gang members.
Context matters in this case – the President’s controversial statement was made in the course of a conversation with a Sheriff, commiserating about the restrictions California’s sanctuary laws place on law enforcement who are trying to work with ICE to deport illegal immigrants. While the Sheriff specifically referenced gang members, there was no such reference by the President. Whichever way you take the conversation, these statements were racially charged, hidden in the context of political action.
Other Major Players
- Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a commencement speech at the Virginia Military Institute this week, clearly trolling the President. He stated that our leaders are seeking to conceal the truth, reference “alternative realities,” and emphasized the importance of differentiating between truth and falsehoods.
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