What a wild ride the week of February 5 has been for the Dow Jones which experienced two drops of 1000 points making it the worst week for the index since January 2016. Political news has been through a roller coaster ride as well with a quick save on the looming government shutdown, more fall out from FISAGate, Vice President Pence’s awkward appearance at the winter Olympics, and a parting shot from recently sacked White House staffer Omarosa.
In the Wee Small Hours
A long-term government shutdown was once again averted on Friday February 9 when President Trump signed a $400 billion budget deal following the House’s 240-186 and the Senate’s 71-28 votes to re-open the government after a brief wee hour shutdown. President Trump quickly celebrated the budget deal tweeting, “Just signed Bill. Our Military will now be stronger than ever before. We love and need our Military and gave them everything — and more. First time this has happened in a long time. Also means JOBS, JOBS, and JOBS!”
It’s Adam’s Turn to Cry Now.
After more than a week of the media marinating over whether the Democrat version of the FISA memo would be released, on Friday February 9, the White House informed the House Intelligence Committee that they would not be declassifying the memo as it contains information that could risk national security. Instead the President sent the memo back to the Democrats for further editing and reiterated with a Saturday tweet that he was onto the Democrats’ game. “The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency. Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!”
Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and the author of the Democratic response, who had fought against the release last week of the GOP FISA memo, which was authored by Representative Devin Nunes (R-California) the House Intelligence Committee Chairman, expressed his disapproval of the President’s refusal to declassify the Democrat memo with a Friday night appearance on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. During the interview Schiff told Maher, “Had Fox News existed and been essentially the state-run TV during the Nixon era, there might not have been an impeachment of Richard Nixon,” Schiff went on to describe Fox News as part of “an echo chamber” for the President.
It sounds like Schiff is now the one crying “deep state”. It was not a great week for Representative Schiff who also had to endure the resurfacing of an audiotape from April 2017 where he was “pranked” by two Russian comedians pretending to have naked pictures of President Trump.
Speaking of Russian collusion, we also learned this week that Senator Mark Warner (Virginia), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee who was spearheading Congress’s investigation in President Trump’s alleged connections with Russia, had extensive contact last year with Adam Waldman, a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch who was offering Warner access to Christopher Steele, the former British spy and author of the now infamous Trump Russian dossier.
You’re as Cold as Ice
Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Pyeongchang, Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics. The trip should have been an opportunity for the US and South Korea to build a rapport. However, any potential US-South Korean bonding was undercut by South Korean President Moon Jae-in inviting Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean President Kim Jong Un to the games. Ms. Kim Yo Jong is the first member of the North Korean ruling family to visit South Korea since the 1950-1953 Korean War.
The sight of the two Korean leaders standing together during the opening ceremonies was a real cold shoulder moment for Pence who had previously warned the Southern Korean President to be cautious of any overtures from North Korea. Vice President Pence also elected to leave a dinner reception where he would have been sharing a table with Ms. Kim Yo Jong. Pence’s conveying his displeasure with the presence of the North Korean leadership brings into question the strategic value of his visit. Instead of having an opportunity to create positive public relations moments for the United States, the Vice President was put into a situation where his attendance was marginalized.
She is So Vain!
Just when we thought that Omarosa Manigault Newman was out of the spotlight following her December termination as Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison for the White House, she resurfaced this week on CBS’s Celebrity Big Brother. The former Apprentice<.em> contestant wasted no time in throwing President Trump under the bus. “It’s just been so incredibly hard to shoulder what I shouldered because I was so loyal to a person and I didn’t realize that by being loyal to him it was going to make me lose a hundred other friends”, she told her reality television co-stars. She also mentioned that she would not vote for President Trump again “in a million years”.
It is not any surprise that insiders in the White House were at a loss when asked to describe Manigault Newman’s actual job responsibilities during the close to a year that she was employed there. While Manigault Newman’s notoriety may have made her useful on the campaign trail, President Trump clearly took a chance on her when he offered her a position in his administration. Unfortunately, she failed to live up to his expectations and her own hype.
It’s Just a Jump to the Left and a Step to the Right.
Yes, the past week included a frenzied dance of economic, political and popular culture news items of varying levels of significance. And just as the Dow ended its roller coaster ride in stable territory, the hot news items will experience a brief cooling off period before the dance begins again.
Image: CC0 Creative Commons: Excerpted from: https://pixabay.com/en/rollercoaster-amusement-park-fun-1168670/