The Americans

The Americans

Sessions recuses himself

According to the Washington Post, Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke twice with Sergey Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the US in 2016, but failed to disclose these conversations during his confirmation hearing. Following this revelation, a growing number of Democratic and Republican congressional officials are renewing calls for an investigation into the ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign – an investigation from which Sessions officially recused himself on Thursday.

 Mr. Trump Goes to Washington

In a joint address to Congress Tuesday night, President Donald J. Trump makes a tonal shift from gloomy to optimistic, denouncing the recent shooting in Kansas City and bomb threats to Jewish centers nationwide, calling for increased infrastructure spending and bipartisan negotiation on immigration policy, and declaring that “the time for trivial fights is over.” In a speech Paul Ryan described as a “home run,” Trump stuck to the teleprompter and delivered few concrete policy details, but did honor the widow of Willliam “Ryan” Owens, the Navy SEAL killed in the botched Yemen raid a month ago, claiming his “legacy is etched into eternity,” prompting a standing ovation that lasted more than ninety seconds.

Click here to access the full speech, annotated and fact-checked, courtesy of NPR.

Click here to read the Democratic response to Trump’s speech, given by former Kentucky governor Steve Beshear, annotated and fact-checked.

 New DNC Chair

After being elected the new chair of the DNC, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez moves to appoint Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) as his deputy chair, in an attempt to unite the moderate and progressive factions of the Democratic Party. Perez has pledged to “rebuild [the Democratic Party] at all levels ‘from school board to Senate’ and reach out to chunks of rural America left feeling forgotten.” Following Perez’s election, Donald Trump tweeted congratulations to Perez and to “the Republican Party,” and accused the DNC of rigging the vote, arguing that “Bernie’s guy, like Bernie himself, never had a chance.”

At The Hill, Jonathan Easley discusses the five main challenges for Perez as he tries to rebuild the DNC.

At the National Review, John Fund is critical of Perez’s record at the Justice Department but concludes (grudgingly) that “in Tom Perez, Democrats have more than just an effective fundraiser; they have a partisan steeped in what it takes to mobilize voters.”

On NPR, Perez sits with Steve Inskeep to discuss, among other things, whether a 50-state strategy is possible.

War on the News

Donald Trump continues his campaign to delegitimize “the media,” barring select media organizations from attending a Q-and-A session with Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday. CNN, the New York Times, POLITICO, the BBC, the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed, The Hill, and the New York Daily News were among the organizations barred.

In a speech at CPAC that same day, Trump blasted the “fake news” for using anonymous sources, claiming such sources were “made up” and shouldn’t be allowed.

Also on Friday: Trump tweets criticism of the FBI for leaking information regarding chief of staff Reince Preibus’s requesting the FBI to deny any connection between Trump’s aides and Russian officials during the campaign.

Other notes:

In a (mostly) unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ordered the lower courts to re-examine eleven districts in Virginia to determine if they had been drawn illegally, along racial lines - this victory against gerrymandering follows a ruling last month in which Wisconsin was found to be gerrymandering illegally and required to redraw districts...The Trump Administration aims to reduce EPA staff “by one-fifth in the first year and eliminate dozens of programs,” according to the Washington PostThousands of people protest in Moscow against the government of Vladimir Putin to mark the 2-year anniversary of the death of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov…Trump’s pick for Navy secretary withdraws nomination…Wilbur Ross is confirmed as Secretary of Commerce in 72-27 vote…Ben Carson is confirmed as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 58-41 vote…Rick Perry confirmed as Energy Secretary in 62-37 vote…Moonlight wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards after Faye Dunaway reads the wrong cue card and accidentally awards the Oscar to La La Land…Actor Bill Paxton is dead at 61 after complications due to surgery.

above image: gage skidmore / flickr

new health care plan, revised travel ban, and, as always, twitter

new health care plan, revised travel ban, and, as always, twitter

'unambiguously good news'?

'unambiguously good news'?