Take a break from Trump-related news and see what else is happening in the world of politics. Also, let’s learn how to define the word “complicit”.
Airstrike On Syrian Base
This isn’t exactly a Trump-free news item, but it’s important enough to mention anyway. The President ordered a “targeted airstrike” on a military base in Syria. Reportedly, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered chemical attacks from the base, to be carried out against Syrian citizens. Such gases, including sarin gas found in attack victims’ bodies, are banned by a chemical weapons treaty signed by the Assad government.
The American move concentrated on aircraft, ammunition, buildings, and more at the base, though U.S. officials stated that the military worked to avoid civilian casualties. Currently, a minimum of 13 people have been killed in the strike, which Assad called an “arrogant aggression” by the United States.
Reaction to the move have been decidedly mixed. Russian officials have expressed dismay over the move. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the airstrike was an “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law”.
Meanwhile, opponents of Assad praised the apparent turnaround in U.S. attitudes toward the Syrian conflict. Captain Mohanad Jnied, with the rebel group Jaish Al Nasr, said that the strike “represents a significant turnaround in how America and the world will treat the Syrian people and their revolution.”
Steve Bannon Removed From National Security Council
In more petty, confusing news, political advisor Steve Bannon has been removed from the National Security Council. Bannon’s camp states that this move was entirely intention, given that his mission to “de-operationalize” the Council is over. So far, no one has been completely clear on what it means to “operationalize” something, or how one goes about dismantling such a thing.
Bannon was also reportedly put there to observe former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who resigned in the face of accusations alleging he had been in contact with Russian officials.
However, other sources claim that the move has been far more contentious. They claim that the current National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, was behind the move to oust Bannon. Bannon, for his part, has apparently come into conflict with numerous other White House officials, including Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner.
Further moves pushed by Bannon’s team may have also damaged his standing. These include the disastrous immigration orders and a dud of an attempt at health care reform. Reportedly, Bannon threatened to quit in the face of this move. However, spokespeople for Bannon claim that no such threats occurred.
Whether or not this means diminished fortunes for Bannon remains to be seen. It may very well be the next step in the administration’s larger plan, a mere speed bump for the advisor, or the beginning of the end.
Nunes Steps Down
Devin Nunes (R-CA), head of the House Intelligence Committee, has recused himself from the ongoing investigation into ties between Russia and the current presidential administration. Nunes has been plagued by accusations of ethics violations, many of which focused on his close ties with the White House.
Nunes has given control over the investigation to Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX). Conaway is currently the head of the House Agriculture Committee and has a history of working with Congresspeople from both sides of the aisle. However, he has also expressed skepticism regarding the Russia allegations.
In a statement, ranking member of the Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (D-CA) said “I look forward to joining with [Representative Conway] and putting our investigation fully back on track”.
UNITED STATES – APRIL 6: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., gives a thumbs up after the Senate invoked the ‘nuclear option’ which allows for a majority vote to confirm a Supreme Court justice nominee, April 6, 2017. The vote for nominee Neil Gorsuch is scheduled for Friday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Gorsuch Confirmation Touches Off The “Nuclear Option”
In an effort spearheaded by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate voted to change its voting rules regarding filibusters. Previously, filibusters, in which Senators could speak for hours in order to impede progress, could only be broken by a minimum of 60 votes.
However, a looming filibuster endangered the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch. So, Senate Republicans voted to change the rules. Now, a simple majority of 51 votes is all that is needed to break a filibuster.
This is pretty convenient, considering that there are currently 52 Republican Senators. Meanwhile, the Senate has 46 Democrats and two independents. This so-called “nuclear option” may have longstanding consequences for Congress and beyond.
Additionally, the Senate confirmed Gorsuch today as the ninth justice of the Supreme Court.
Ivanka Has Trouble Understanding The Definition Of “Complicit”
Specifically, she said “I don’t know what it means to be complicit” during an interview with Gayle King of CBS News. Ivanka Trump has recently been elevated to an official position in the White House. Said position comes complete with a West Wing office and top-secret security clearance, despite concerns about nepotism and ethics violations.
Eventually, someone should consider leaving a dictionary on her White House desk. Just, you know, as a welcoming gift. Luckily, Merriam-Webster has already stepped up to the table via its Twitter account.
Palate Cleanser – “You Girls Having Fun?”
This essay by Sara Benincasa starts out in a rough place, but then finishes up with a happy ending about women in bars and some truly stand-up NYC waitstaff.