Here are the top stories in politics from the past week you don’t want to miss!
1. Trump denies Pelosi military aircraft after she calls for State of the Union delay
In a tit-for-tat move, President Donald Trump denied House Speaker Nancy Pelosi access to military aircraft for a foreign trip just minutes before the congressional delegation was set to depart, in a shockingly abrupt decision which followed her call that he delay his State of the Union address amid the government shutdown.
In a terse letter, the President wrote:
“Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over. In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate.”
“I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the Shutdown. Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative.”
2. Trump signs bill to ensure back pay for federal employees affected by the shutdown
President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan bill that will provide back pay to federal workers affected by the partial government shutdown.
The bill is called the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019, which “requires the compensation of government employees for wages lost, work performed, or leave used during a lapse in appropriations that begins on or after December 22, 2018, and entitles excepted employees to use leave during a lapse in appropriations.”
The bill was sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland).
3. Cohen claims Trump directed him to pay for poll rigging and to lie to Congress
Donald Trump’s former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, claims that the president personally directed him to lie to Congress about the Moscow Trump Tower project, according to two federal law enforcement officials who are familiar with the matter, as told to BuzzFeed news.
In another report, Cohen at “the direction of and for the sole benefit of” Trump, claims that he paid a small technology company thousands in 2015 to rig online polls, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.
After the publication of the Journal, Cohen wrote on Twitter: “As for the @WSJ article on poll rigging, what I did was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of @realDonaldTrump @POTUS. I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.”
4. Giuliani: “I never said there was no collusion”
In what turned into a heated interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time,” President Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani told the host he “never said there was no collusion” between members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russian officials.
“I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or people in the campaign,” Giuliani pointed out.
Giuliani then pointed out that he said there was “no collusion” between the president and Russian officials.
“I said the President of the United States,” Giuliani clarified. “There is not a single bit of evidence the President of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here, conspiring with the Russians to hack the DNC.”
Giuliani added that “if the collusion happened, it happened a long time ago. It’s either provable or it’s not. It is not provable because it never happened … I’m telling you there’s no chance it happened.”
“First of all, crime is not the bar of accountability for a president,” Cuomo pointed out in response. “It’s about what you knew, what was right, what was wrong and what did you deceive about.”
“The president did not collude with the Russians, whatever collusion is,” Giuliani countered.
5. Judge orders Rice and Rhodes to answer Benghazi questions in Clinton email lawsuit
Federal US District Judge Royce C. Lamberth has ordered that former national security advisor Susan Rice and former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes must answer questions regarding the State Department’s response to the 2012 terror attack that occurred in Benghazi, Libya.
The questions are part of an ongoing lawsuit brought forth by the conservative group Judicial Watch, which seeks to determine whether Hillary Clinton sought to deliberately evade public record laws in her use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State.
The judge also approved a request by the judicial watch to depose the State Department.
6. Facebook takes down anti-NATO pages linked to Russian state-owned news
Facebook removed hundreds of pages that were posing as independent new sites in Eastern Europe and elsewhere that were actually being operated by employees for the Russian state-owned news agency Sputnik.
Facebook said around $135,000 had been spent on advertising on the accounts, which operated 364 pages and had amassed nearly 800,000 followers.
The pages had been established in October 2013 and had been operating until now.
The pages had frequently promoted anti-NATO sentiment and protest movements and had targeted several countries including: Romania, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Georgia and Moldova.
7. “Impeach” is the latest cover of ‘The Atlantic’ magazine
The Atlantic magazine published its March 2019 issue online and its cover was filled with a single word in large, bold, red letters: “Impeach.” The subtitle reads: “It’s time for Congress to judge the president’s fitness to serve.”
The cover story was written by Atlantic senior editor Yoni Appelbaum, who argues that Congress can “rein in a president who is undermining American ideals.” Appelbaum suggests that Congress needs to start the impeachment process. In the piece, Appelbaum asserts that President Trump has “repeatedly trampled” on the Constitution.
“These actions are, in sum, an attack on the very foundations of America’s constitutional democracy,” Appelbaum writes.
“With a newly seated Democratic majority, the House of Representatives can no longer dodge its constitutional duty,” Appelbaum wrote. “It must immediately open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump, and bring the debate out of the court of public opinion and into Congress, where it belongs.”