It was a fairly quiet week in Washington, with only one person getting fired and a few controversial actions by the President. Former Veteran Affairs Secretary David Schulkin was fired from his position this week, a controversial citizenship question was reinstated, and Trump’s proposed trade deal with South Korea went sour. On the periphery, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt continues to be controversial and Russia retaliates.
The Big Drama:
First with the biggest news story of the week: President Trump fired someone again, this time former Veteran Affairs Secretary David Schulkin. Déjà vu anyone? Schulkin has been in danger of being fired for a while now, as he was the lone holdout from the Obama Administration in the Veteran Affairs Office and as such, was held culpable for a controversial and expensive trip to Europe last year. Still, Schulkin kept his position through support by the veteran affairs group, who saw him as the lone man keeping veterans’ health services from being privatized.
Unfortunately, what gave Mr. Shulkin support by the veteran affairs group seems to be what ultimately got him fired from his position – by a Tweet, nonetheless. Since his firing, Shulkin has repeatedly claimed that his position against privatization was the reason for his firing.
In fact, Shulkin has been very outspoken about his firing and life in the Trump Administration.
In a scathing New York Times column, Schulkin lit into the Trump administration but pointedly did not refer to the President by name. One notable quote gives insight into the current state of affairs in Washington, as he stated, “the environment in Washington has turned so toxic, chaotic, disrespectful and subversive that it became impossible for me to accomplish the important work that our veterans need and deserve.”
More Drama Bombs:
While Shulkin’s firing may have been the biggest piece of White House drama this week, a proposed question for the 2020 U.S. Census is close behind. The proposed question would ask if the respondent is a citizen of the United States, which has not been asked on the census since 1950.
There are possible far-reaching consequences to this decision – namely, there will likely be a decreased number of respondents. If the only respondents are eligible voters, then only eligible voters will get political representation, rather than the population as a whole. This will shift the majority of political representation to states with the most eligible voters rather than to states with the most citizens, shifting the structure of our democracy.
In other news, President Trump secured a surprising victory this week – which proceeded to go sour within the next few minutes. Much fanfare abounded when the President announced a trade deal with South Korea on Thursday. Then, almost immediately following the announcement, he said that the White House would hold off from the deal until the negotiations with North Korea took place.
While it may be smart not to poke the bear – Kim Jong Un – before the scheduled talks in May, it is unusual to stop a possible victory like a trade deal before preparations even began.
Other Major Players:
- The Stormy Daniels lawsuit against the President heated up a bit as Daniels’ attorney requested to depose Trump and his lawyer, Michael Cohen. A federal judge in California temporarily stopped the motion, stating that the court had better things to do than take part in an expedited trial on the matter.
- Washington announced a move to expel 60 Russian diplomats and close the Russian consulate in Seattle after the poisoning of a former Russian diplomatic agent on British soil. Russia responded by expelling diplomats from 23 countries, including 60 U.S diplomats, and closing the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg.
- Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse accused EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt of using his oft-mentioned 24-hour security detail on personal trips as well as business-related excursions. This comes mere days after it was reported that the security team broke down Pruitt’s door last year after they suspected he was unconscious.
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