Headlines: May 23, 2019
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 8:14 — 7.5MB)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer both accused President Donald Trump of having a “temper tantrum” on Wednesday when he walked out of a meeting on infrastructure legislation after only 3 minutes. Trump, apparently angered that Pelosi had just accused him of engaging in a cover-up seemed to not be in a mood to negotiate. Here’s Schumer, speaking to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. Speaker Pelosi, in a letter to her fellow lawmakers on Wednesday night echoed that language saying, “Sadly, the only job the president seems to be concerned with is his own. He threatened to stop working with Democrats on all legislation unless we end oversight of his administration and he had a temper tantrum for us all to see.” And on Thursday Speaker Pelosi gave a news conference where she repeated her claim that she didn’t want to proceed on impeachment. However, the Washington Post reported that Pelosi told her colleagues in private, “He wants to be impeached, so he can be exonerated by the Senate.”
In other news on Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that Deutsche Bank, the international financial institution that has loaned President Trump hundreds of millions of dollars, can comply with a congressional subpoena to disclose Trump’s records. Trump had sued to stop the bank from complying. The ruling came on the same day that New York state legislators passed a bill to hand over Trump’s state tax returns to Congressional committee chairs upon request, and a day after a judge ruled that Trump’s former accounting firm, Mazars USA can also comply with subpoenas for his records.
Former State Secretary Rex Tillerson had a closed-door hearing with Congress members on Wednesday during which he recounted that Trump had been woefully unprepared for his very first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017. Tillerson, who Trump fired last March spent 7 hours testifying behind closed doors to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and spoke among other things about Trump’s meeting in Helsinki with Putin. According to sources familiar with the hearing speaking with the Washington Post, “The U.S. side anticipated a shorter meeting for exchanging courtesies, but it ballooned into a globe-spanning two-hour-plus session involving deliberations on a variety of geopolitical issues.” A committee aide told the paper, “We spent a lot of time in the conversation talking about how Putin seized every opportunity to push what he wanted…There was a discrepancy in preparation, and it created an unequal footing.” The President responded to the reports of what was said at the hearing saying he, “was perfectly prepared for my meetings with Vladimir Putin. We did very well at those meetings.”
President Trump on Thursday announced a $16 billion bailout plan for American farmers who say they are harmed by the US’s trade war on China. There appears to no indication that the battle will be short-lived. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday said that there were no new trade talks scheduled with China and that importers should look elsewhere for supplies. In response, the global stock market has reacted negatively with a sharp drop in stock prices and even a rebuke from the International Monetary Fund. Chinese authorities are vowing to fight back against Trump’s steep tariffs on virtually all Chinese imports to the US with Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng saying, “If the United States wants to continue trade talks, they should show sincerity and correct their wrong actions. Negotiations can only continue on the basis of equality and mutual respect.”
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announced on Wednesday that plans for Harriet Tubman’s face to grace the new $20 bill were being postponed for several years. The newly redesigned $20 bill featuring the fierce abolitionist known for her leadership in the Underground Railroad, was one of President Barack Obama’s signature issues. The decision to postpone appears to be based on President Trump’s disdain for Tubman to be featured on the bill. He had countered that the Tubman $20 bill was, “pure political correctness,” and that she should instead be featured on the far less common $2 bill. Currently the $20 bill features Andrew Jackson, a President that Trump admires. Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen responded angrily saying, “There is no excuse for the administration’s failure to make this redesign a priority. Sadly, this delay sends an unmistakable message to women and girls, and communities of color, who were promised they’d see Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.”
Best-selling author and New York Times op-ed columnist Michelle Alexander on Thursday published a powerful and personal piece about her experience as a college student being raped and becoming pregnant and why access to abortion was so critical for her. Her story is one of many that women leaders around the country are sharing in the face of strict anti-abortion bans passing in states around the US. Alexander wrote, “If we want to continue to have the rights and freedoms that were won in the generations that came before us, if we want gender and racial equality, and if we want the right to control our own bodies and destinies, we are going to have to stand up, speak out and fight for our right to choose.”
A massive tornado swept through Missouri’s capital, Jefferson City on Wednesday night causing severe damage, toppling building and even trapping some people in their homes. At least 3 people have died as a result. And local authorities in Oklahoma and Kansas are asking communities to evacuate as torrential rains are causing rivers to swell and flood. According to AP, “The emergency was the latest consequence of storms and torrential rains that have ravaged the Midwest, from Texas through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.”
The Pentagon has proposed sending an additional 10,000 troops to the Middle East according to White House sources familiar with internal deliberations. Although the sources denied that the move was in response to Iran, rising tensions provoked by President Trump are making prolonged war in the region more likely. Meanwhile nearly 2 dozen progressive organizations on Thursday urged Presidential candidates to “Put People Over the Pentagon” in a campaign intended to reduce military spending.
And finally election results from the world’s largest democracy are starting to come in and incumbent Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is declaring a decisive victory. Early results show that Modi’s right wing Hindu Nationalist party, the BJP, has exceeded even its own expectations. Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi of the Congress Party conceded defeat. Religious minorities in India fear what awaits them in Modi’s second term. We’ll be bringing you coverage of the election results in the coming days.