Headlines: July 25, 2019
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Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló has finally announced his resignation, two weeks after sustained mass street protests began demanding that he step down. After reports emerged early on Wednesday morning that Rossello would resign, the Puerto Rican legislature threatened to begin impeachment proceedings against Rosselló immediately unless he stepped down. Still, it wasn’t until just before midnight on Wednesday that the Governor issued a video message saying he would step down next Friday August 2nd. His successor would be Secretary of Justice Wanda Vásquez. But protesters made it clear even before his resignation that they would fight her as Governor as well. Protesters reacted with euphoria on the streets of San Juan on Wednesday night, lighting fireworks and singing the revolutionary anthem.
In other news former Special Counsel Robert Mueller spent 7 hours on Wednesday testifying in front of two House committees about his 2-year investigation of the Trump campaign and presidency. During his second hearing House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff asked Mueller about the Trump campaign’s openness to accepting the help of foreign governments in US elections. Just hours after the hearings on Wednesday Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi blocked a series of bills strengthening election security that the House voted on, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday personally objected to the bills on election security.
Media reports widely suggested that while Mueller’s performance did not offer the explosive basis for impeachment that Democrats hoped, neither did it help Trump make his case that the investigation exonerated him. Trump responded to the hearings in remarks to reporters. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also spoke to press on Wednesday explaining what the Democrats’ next steps are after the Mueller hearings. Representative Schiff on Thursday downplayed talk of impeachment saying the only way Trump would leave office would be “by being voted out.”
Meanwhile, the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday issued subpoenas for the private communications of several top current and former Trump aides including Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and Steve Bannon.
The Washington Post has spotted that the Presidential seal Trump spoke in front of at his Monday event for the ultra-right wing group Turning Point USA, was doctored. The seal, which usually sports a Bald Eagle clutching arrows in its claw was replaced by a bird very similar to that seen on the Russian flag, holding golf clubs instead. Written in Spanish across the top were the words “45 is a puppet,” instead of “E pluribus unum.” Turning Point USA insists that there was nothing nefarious and that the doctored seal was a, “last-minute A/V mistake.”
Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar published an op-ed in the New York Times on Thursday titled, “It Is Not Enough to Condemn Trump’s Racism.” In it she explained, “Racial fear prevents Americans from building community with one another — and community is the lifeblood of a functioning democratic society. Throughout our history, racist language has been used to turn American against American in order to benefit the wealthy elite.” Meanwhile a deli in California’s Bay Area has garnered attention after the deli owner offered customers a free side dish if they posted “Send her back” and hashtagged his deli. And a 71-year old white woman in Raleigh, North Carolina used the N-word in a confrontation with several black women at a restaurant. When asked about her language by a media outlet she repeated it and said she wasn’t sorry.
In immigration news, a federal judge delivered the Trump administration a blow in blocking a new rule that ban refugees who pass through a third country from applying for asylum in the US. And Associated Press is reporting on how busloads of hundreds of Central American migrants are being sent from the US and dumped in the northern Mexican town of Monterrey to fend for themselves while they await the adjudication of their cases.
The Justice Department announced on Thursday that after more than 15 years it would resume executions. Attorney General William Barr named 5 inmates on the federal government death row that would be executed this December within 6 weeks. The Washington Post explained that the number is stunning considering that, “there have been only three executions since the federal death penalty was restored in 1988 and only 37 overall from 1927 to 2003.”
President Trump has vetoed a trio of bi-partisan bills that blocked US weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The bills are a measure of the hostility both parties feel toward the President’s bypassing of Congressional approval on such weapons’ sales. State Secretary Mike Pompeo justified the move using supposed Iranian aggression as the reason.
The state of California signed a deal with four major auto manufacturers, Ford, BMW, Honda and Volkswagen, to lift gas mileage standards, sidestepping the Trump administration’s efforts to lower standards. The companies signed the deal with the California Air Resources Board in a move that would build on Obama-era standards. Trump’s EPA reacted with anger at the move calling it a “PR stunt,” and saying that California, “continually refused to produce reasonable and responsible proposals.”
And Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson offered his support to protesters at Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island who are opposing the construction of a 30-meter telescope on the summit. Johnson, hugely popular movie star and former wrestler said, “I wanted to come here and see our people and stand with them and support them.” He added, “it’s bigger than a telescope. It’s humanity. It’s culture.”