By: Connor McNairn, Columnist
It’s now 2018, and as many had hoped, the political calamity that was 2017 has substantially calmed; Democrats and Republicans now coexist in harmony, the president has ceded his Twitter account, and surprisingly, the vile rhetoric that has polluted much of this country’s recent discourse has been replaced with professional dialogues spawning from heightened levels of decorum.
Upon further observation, none of the aforementioned luxuries have actually taken place, but I felt that juxtaposing a more idealistic – albeit naïve – view of American politics with its less-appealing reality may lend my readers some hope, or at the very least, draw meager humor from the dumpster fire that seems to burn perpetually.
The New Year, with regard to political developments, has started off with a tremendous “bang!” On Jan. 5, Michael Wolff – a journalist and notorious GQ columnist whose work never fails to push provocative boundaries – published a bombshell book, entitled “Fire and Fury.” In the work, Wolff details countless shocking events that have taken place among the upper ranks of the Trump administration, ranging from treasonous meetings with Russian officials, to the president’s apparent paranoia surrounding his susceptibility to poisoning. Shortly after the book’s publishing, reports surfaced that the president’s lawyer – Michael Cohen – established a limited-liability company to pay a former adult-film star $130,000 to remain quiet before the election about her alleged relationship with Trump.
More recently, Senate Democrats and Republicans sparred over funding the federal government, as the fates of children receiving CHIP insurance and DACA protection precariously hung in the balance. Although the Congress was able to pass a temporary spending bill only three days after the government shut down, it will expire Feb. 8, giving Congress roughly two weeks to hash out a deal that effectively funds children’s health and insurance and thoroughly addresses immigration.
And Wednesday, the public learned that the investigation into the Trump campaign/administration’s ties with Russia has taken another unforeseen turn. According to multiple reports, Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor to the president, concealed a January 2017 interview with the FBI from Trump’s White House. The new reports suggest that Flynn, who has already plead guilty to lying to the FBI, has actually been working with the agency for longer than anyone had previously assumed. As Mueller continues to tighten his grip on Trump’s staff, and perhaps even the president himself in the form of an upcoming interview, the new developments surrounding Flynn add yet another tier of seriousness to this ever-expanding political drama.
The key concentrations of this column are the institutions of Congress and the Supreme Court. That said, I feel it particularly appropriate to begin the new semester with a brief rundown of today’s most pressing political developments, as they most conveniently set the stage for my future deliberations on the legislature and the judiciary. As digesters of news, participants in crucial dialogues and students at Towson University, it is paramount that we approach all matters concerning politics with a critical eye. Fortunately for us, Donald Trump, a dysfunctional Republican Congress, and a controversial Court will offer plenty of material to critique.
Welcome back to Congress and the Courts.