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The Week in White House Drama – Kennedy Retires and More

Court Justice Kennedy will be retiring, and there is a social media firestorm over a Trump official kept from eating in a restaurant. Sounds about right.

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Another week, another Trump official kept from eating in a restaurant. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to being barred from the restaurant with a Twitter rant, which started a social media firestorm. Other dramatic moments include A Supreme Court Justice’s retirement, backlash from Trump’s tariffs, and escalation in North Korea.

The Big Drama

The news with the most long-term importance is the announcement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s impending retirement. For the Trump White House, this is very welcome and expected, allowing the President to nominate a second Supreme Court Justice in his first term in office, and officially sway the bench to the right. However, this news has also led to some major backlash, specifically since the nomination would likely take place a few months before the Midterm elections in November – and a possible majority for Democrats.

Why is the proximity to the election so problematic? Simply put, there is a feeling of hypocrisy – specifically considering the stance Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had about the last SCOTUS opening. When Justice Scalia passed away, former President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland, a moderate pick, to take his place on the bench. Citing the circumstance – that there would be a Presidential election in less than a year – McConnell blocked the pick, declaring that one of his proudest moments was telling President Obama he would not get to fill the vacancy on the court.

Now, months before an important election, McConnell’s words seem even more hypocritical, especially with the Majority Leader claiming that the situations are different. In addition to this hypocrisy, Democrats are also worried about another Conservative pick leading the bench to overthrow Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. Only time will tell.

Another possibly consequential decision this week was US ambassador Nicki Haley’s announcement this week that the United States is leaving the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). This decision screams that the United States is not only taking a less important role in the UN but that we also do not care about human rights. Both of these connotations could hurt US international relations and alliances for years to come.

In addition to leaving the UNHRC, Vice President Mike Pence fired a parting shot, claiming that the Council was making a mockery of the original intent of its formation – preventing human rights violations – essentially calling every country that remains in the Council a violator of human rights. Not a great look.

More Drama Bombs

Despite some important news this week, the most covered White House story was all about a Tweet, this time not from the President. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took to Twitter to complain about being kicked out of a restaurant in Virginia, the Red Hen, for being a member of the Trump Administration. The business owner claimed that she could not serve someone who is against the rights of her gay staffers, and subscribes to other “unethical” policies. This is yet another example of the divide between the Right and the Left that has only intensified since the election. For Sanders, the rift manifested at a restaurant. Other Americans are seeing worse sides of America (hint: immigrants).

While the President was worried about his staff being kicked out of restaurants, North Korea was increasing their nuclear capabilities. With this news, it’s official – the North Korea Summit in Singapore was a waste of time, and North Korea never had any intention of following through on their promises. In other words, we got played.

Even members of the Cabinet are acknowledging that North Korea is increasing the fuel production for nuclear weapons, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refuting Trump’s claim that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has also stated that North Korea has not made any steps to denuclearize. Pompeo followed up initial statements about North Korea by claiming that North Korea has also not fulfilled the other end of the deal, and has not returned the remains of any US soldiers.

What once seemed to be the Trump Administration’s biggest victory so far is starting to turn into one of its most embarrassing failures. 

Other Major Players

  • After the “major success” of the North Korea summit, the President seems to be itching for more, scheduling a summit with Russian Leader Vladimir Putin on July 16. This comes as many US allies worry whether the US will remain in NATO, and during Mueller’s Russia probe.
  • Corporations such as G.M. and Harley Davidson are making plans to move jobs out of the United States, and steel companies describe a “nightmare” following President Trump’s tariffs. These moves have proven to be damaging so far, prompting ire from everyone from corporations to allies like Canada and the United Kingdom.

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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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