Good day to you! Are you ready for some déjà vu? Welp, the GOP, apparently forgetting how poorly it went for them last time, has decided to target the Affordable Care Act again. What else happened last week? Federal prosecutors charged Stormy Daniels’ attorney with some pretty major crimes, and Chicago authorities dropped all charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett. It was also a week in which Spice Girls slashfic turned out to be real and promotion for the next Avengers movie became a meme. But perhaps most importantly of all, it was the week when Meghan McCain threw shade and the internet loved it a lot. What else has been happening over the past seven days? So glad you asked.
There Is No Closing Argument with the Mueller Report
What Happened: After almost two years, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is over, and it’s time to find out just what he discovered. Or, rather, it’s time to find out what one man wants to tell people about what Mueller discovered.
What Really Happened: When we last spoke, the long-awaited Mueller report had just been delivered to the Department of Justice after almost two years of long-running investigations, including multiple indictments and guilty pleas. Following two days of anguished and pundit-filled conversation, Attorney General Bill Barr issued a summary of the report to Congress. So what did it say?
This was interesting for obvious reasons, not least of which being that the 22-month investigation might have ended with someone placing their finger on the scale instead of, you know, letting justice be served.
And, what might be worse? He didn’t even do it that well.
On the other side of the aisle, the outlook was significantly less celebratory.
(You’ll want to remember what these two had to say in a little while; bear with us.)
And then, there was the man whose firing arguably launched the entire investigation in the first place. What did he make of it all?
No, really. What did he make of it all? Can’t tell.
The Takeaway: If only there was an analogy or a metaphor to try and put the weirdness of Barr’s decision into the appropriate context. Hey, David Frum—you’re a former George W. Bush speechwriter, which means you’ve got to have some facility with words. Can you take a swing at it?
The Post-Mueller Victory Lap, Part 1
What Happened: For those hoping to see what Robert Mueller and his team actually put in the report themselves, instead of the attorney general’s summary, you might be in for a long wait. No, like a really long wait.
What Really Happened: If the disagreement over Bill Barr’s summary of the Mueller report made one thing clear, it’s that everyone should probably read the actual report by Mueller in order to fully understand what actually happened. There’s just one problem with that.
Well, that seems entirely normal and above board; It’s not as if Congress voted unanimously to release it earlier this month or anything.
It’s easy to be snarky and say that withholding a report that you claim entirely exonerates your guy is absolutely ridiculous and the rhetorical equivalent of having the words “No, We Don’t Believe What We’re Saying, Either” in large neon letters above your head at all times, but here’s the thing: It’s not as if this kind of behavior is anything new from McConnell:
And about that original Mueller report … a detail about it emerged late last week that might reveal what’s behind all the secrecy. Namely, that four-page summary might be a pretty basic summary of the actual report.
Rest assured, this story is nowhere near over.
The Takeaway: No, really; this whole thing is surprisingly— actually, maybe unsurprisingly?—very, very strange indeed.
The Post-Mueller Victory Lap, Part 2
What Happened: Emboldened by an apparent victory with regards to one investigation, the Republican Party moved to enact punitive measures against anyone who even suggested that the investigation was warranted.
What Really Happened: Part of the fallout of the Barr summary of the Mueller report has been an aggressive push on behalf of the president and his party against anyone they feel furthered the idea that Trump or someone on his behalf was working with foreign nationals to impact the 2016 election. For example, there was this.
That’s Devin Nunes saying that, remember; the man who is suing a fictional cow.
Let’s just say that things didn’t necessarily go the way that the Republican intelligencia might have hoped, as Rep. Adam Schiff responded to calls for his resignation with a moment almost made for television circulation.
The viral moment led to the speedy creation of the hashtags #IStandWithAdamSchiff and #IStandWithSchiff as more and more people got behind him online. As for the idea that putting pressure on Schiff would force Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to push him out, that’s … really not what happened.
And, really, Schiff doesn’t seem to be that bothered one way or another.
The Takeaway: There’s one obvious flaw in the argument being used by Republicans in their attempt to push Schiff out that, until properly answered, makes it a clearly partisan gambit. Better luck next time?
The Special Olympics Budget Cuts
What Happened: In another moment that would seem far too broad if it was fiction, the Trump administration announced that it was planning on cutting funding for the Special Olympics. Guess how well that went down.
What Really Happened: In case you were wondering if the current administration had done enough lately to look like cartoonish supervillains, don’t worry; they’re on top of that. And we have Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to thank for it.
That’s not a bit, by the way; part of DeVos’ proposed education budget actually increased executive salaries.
Overall, DeVos’ performance in sharing her budget proposal didn’t go that well:
Following the outcry about the proposed spending cut—including someone pointing out that just five trips from Trump to Mar-a-Lago would pay for the Special Olympics spending—DeVos was forced to try and explain herself, which she did by going on the offensive.
Needless to say, people weren’t too convinced by this, which led to a classic Trump administration moment, in two acts. Act I:
Got that? Neither the president, whose budget it was, nor DeVos, whose job it was to deliver the news that the Special Olympics budget was being cut and who defended it for more than a day amid vocal upset, wanted the budget cut in the first place. That seems believable, right?
The Takeaway: The punchline of the whole thing, of course, is that the proposed budget cuts were just that: proposed. The Trump administration never had the power to actually make it happen by itself no matter what.
If At First, You Don’t Succeed, It’s Probably Brexit
What Happened: As the United Kingdom moves ever closer to the date of Brexit, things continue to go poorly when it comes to decision-making—not to mention, the ability to actually vote for any kind of positive outcome.
What Really Happened: As a sign that all things Brexit continue to go as poorly as possible, the United Kingdom’s Parliament faced some very important votes last week. They all went … confusingly.
Admit it; you don’t know what that means. Don’t worry, most people don’t. The short version is, all Members of Parliament (MPs) get a say in what potential next steps in Brexit could be, as opposed to being restricted to voting on decisions made by the ruling party, aka, “Government.” Yes, it’s still confusing. Don’t worry, things will only get worse.
If you’re feeling like your head is spinning, here’s something else to consider: None of this really matters, in more than just an existential kind of a way.
Well, how did all those indicative votes go? Spoilers: They went, well, Brexit-ly.
So… What next? We’re back into the realm of last-ditch panicking measures, because remember, the British government has to get the existing Brexit agreement with the European Union passed by April 12, or else it falls into immediate separation with no deal or agreement in place.
We do, at least, have to give British Prime Minister Theresa May credit for finding a novel way to try and get support for the latest vote: By essentially promising to resign if it passes.
But will it be enough? At the time of this writing, the vote has yet to take place, but judging by recent experience, it’s almost certain to fail. Brexit: a story of numerous, at times entirely contradictory, failures.
The Takeaway: Let’s see what’s happening inside the British Government at this particularly important, telling, moment, shall we?
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