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While He Was Tweeting: The Collusion Edition, Week 25

In a week where Donnie Jr. told more lies than his dad and Trump Sr humiliated the US by drooling over the French First Lady, democracy died a little more. Here's what you missed.
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It sure felt like the last two weeks reached an exhausting level of surreal dread, but that was before we got to this week, where reality outstripped the hyperbole of Trump’s Twitter feed.   

Indeed, thanks to a trip to France for Bastille day, Trump’s feed remained somewhat dull for the latter half of this week. He did accidentally call the GOP attempts to replace ObamaCare “failed” but for him that's almost not even worth mentioning. In an instance of “the President doth protesteth too much” he also explained that the White House was functioning perfectly and he had very little time for watching TV. Yeah, right.

The most interesting tweets of the week were of course reserved for Donald Jr. and his ever-shifting story about his June meeting with some Russians, a meeting he managed to forget about until the press reminded him of it.

Where do we even begin? Donald Trump Jr., who manages to seem even stupider and more callow than his father, which is quite a feat, took a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, after she promised him hot hot anti-Hillary info. All hell broke loose when this news hit, so Junior went on Fox News aka House Organ Hannity to swear that there were no more shoes to drop. And then news dropped that there was another Russian-American in the room, one who had been Kremlin-cozy too. And then it turned out that there were at least 8 people in the room, though we only know the names of five so far. This nothing-burger of a meeting has turned out to be a veritable clown-car of wannabe treasonists.

For his part, the elder Trump tried hard to blame this on fake news, engage in the obligatory hypotheticals about how Hillary would have done it too, but worse, and to tepidly praise his son for being transparent.

All in all, it was thoroughly depressing to learn that the position of many in the GOP is “collusion isn't a crime and so what if it is” when it comes to Trump and fam. But a lot of other stupid and terrible and stupidly terrible things happened this week. Let’s dive in.

Jeff Sessions has been an integral part of covering up administration connections to Russia, including lying about his own contacts with Russian officials during the campaign. He was under court order this week to provide his security clearance paperwork with contact disclosures, so he coughed up a mostly blank page. The form asks if you’ve had any contact with a foreign government in the last seven years, and Sessions just wrote “no.” Everyone knows this isn’t true, because he met with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. What’s a little perjury coming from the nation’s highest law enforcement official?

Sessions also spent some quality time with a virulently anti-LGBT hate group, the Alliance Defending Freedom. The DOJ has decided it doesn’t feel like releasing those remarks, so you know they were probably really pro-LGBT and fair and balanced.

Betsy DeVos and her Department of Education continue to bring their “A” game when it comes to being reprehensible, and they hit for a double this week. First, DeVos lined up some meetings with mens’ rights activists to talk about campus rape. Sure, why not chat with the likes of the National Coalition for Men, whose leader, Harry Crouch, explained that Ray Rice wouldn’t have had to beat his fiance if she hadn’t irritated him. I’m sure he had some really great insights into the widespread problem of campus rape.

Speaking of that, DeVos also brought aboard Candice Jackson to be the top civil rights official over at the Department of Ed. What does Jackson think about campus rape? Oh, just some totally normal and rational things.

“Rather, the [campus rape] accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right,’” Ms. Jackson said.

These people are going to undo all of the good work of the Obama administration so quickly.

Remember the so-called “election integrity commission” and its transparent attempts to suppress the vote? A bunch of people submitted comments to the commission explaining that this caused them some consternation, so the administration responded by releasing completely unredacted emails and letters, complete with names, email addresses, and physical addresses. You don’t expect to be functionally doxxed when you send letters to the government, but hey, it’s a brand new day. Oh, and more than 3000 Colorado voters have already canceled their voter registration because they didn’t want the federal government getting their mitts on their complete voter data. Suppression works.

We told you a few months ago that Trump’s FCC was going to gut the Obama-era net neutrality rules. Net neutrality ensures that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can’t throttle your bandwidth or block you from seeing information they don’t want you to see. Under the Orwellian name of “Restoring Internet Freedom”, the FCC is proceeding with that plan. The FCC has received 2 million comments opposing this throttling and blocking, but they basically said they don’t care about those comments. Your internet is about to get so much worse.

The Muslim ban is back in the news, because the litigation continues. The United States Supreme Court allowed part of the ban to go into effect, but said that people with “close familial relationships” were exempt. The Trump administration decided that grandparents weren’t close family. The state of Hawaii asked the federal district court to rule on this, and the court said that grandparents do indeed count as close family members. In response, Jeff Sessions fear-mongered about the rule of law and national security.

The House of Representatives introduced a godawful amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would have prohibited transgender military service members and their dependents from receiving certain types of medical care. It was narrowly defeated, which is probably the only sliver of good news this week.

The healthcare bill, of course, continues to march through the Senate. There are various amendments and alterations, but nothing changes the fact that whatever gets passed will strip healthcare from millions of people. In a really nice twist, the Senate is proposing to exempt themselves from parts of Trumpcare. Neat.

It was such a jam-packed week that it seemed like months ago that Ivanka Trump took daddy’s seat at the G20 convention. Typically, when other world leaders need to step away, they have top officials or policy people sit in. Ivanka, who has the policy and political experience of your average houseplant, should have never been in the room in the first place.

That’s all until next week, when we’ll likely find out that President Trump was probably in the room with all the Russians offering dirt on Hillary, because why wouldn’t he be?

 

Lisa Needham is an attorney who has worked in the areas of First Amendment, education, and labor law. She is the deputy editor of Lawyerist, where she writes about access to justice and diversity in the law, and a contributor to Rewire, where she writes about LGBTQ and reproductive-health legal issues. She is ride or die for Dionne Warwick, Doris Day, and the Oxford comma. Follow her: @snipy
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