The hidden side of politics

While You Were Offline: Wait, John Kelly Said What?

Reported by WIRED:

What even happened this past week? Sure, there was that brief, glorious moment when people cared about whether a sound clip said one word or the other. And yes, of course, who wasn’t fascinated by the news that President Trump and Sean Hannity talk on the phone most nights before bed? Then, midweek, everything just exploded: the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report that said, basically, sure, Russia wanted to help the president get elected, and in the process revealed new information about Don Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting. But, don’t worry; apparently the president can’t be indicted because he’s the president. At the same time all of this was going on, a newly released financial disclosure form from Trump confirmed that he did actually reimburse Michael Cohen for the whole Stormy Daniels thing. (There’s a lot more Michael Cohen below. So, so much more.) Meanwhile, North Korea threatened to pull out of a meeting with the US next month, and the Senate voted to save net neutrality and confirmed Gina Haspel as the next CIA director. No, really. It was a week. Let’s relive it together, shall we?

Trump Changes His China Tune

What Happened: Just when you thought you could count on Donald Trump to at least be consistent on that whole “Make America Great Again” thing, last week he appeared to switch national allegiances…

What Really Happened: The week began with an unexpected tweet from the President of the United States. Sure, most of his tweets are unexpected to some degree, but … remember “America First”? Remember the guy who repeatedly complained that China was stealing American jobs? Who would’ve expected him to send this tweet?

As people got confused as to what was actually happening, the president continued his campaign.

Let’s just say that many people were suspicious about what was behind this apparent desire to, out of nowhere, help another country’s economy.

But then things started to come into better focus.

Yes, there was a potential bribe right in the middle of the story. Still, at least Republicans said they were going to look into the matter.

Wait. Never mind.

The Takeaway: It’s things like this that might give you pause about a belief in government.

The US Opens Its Embassy in Jerusalem

What Happened: Meanwhile, the opening of the United States’ embassy in Israel was complicated by what was going on in the immediate area.

What Really Happened: Last December, President Trump announced that the US embassy in Israel would be moving to Jerusalem. Last week, the new embassy was ready to be opened by some high-ranking government officials.

Oh, no, wait; we meant, relatives to the president, which it turns out isn’t the same thing at all.

Still, at least Trump appeared via video conference. Which is … a thing now?

While all the pomp and circumstance was happening at the embassy, however, expected protests at the Gaza border got underway. What wasn’t as expected was the Israeli response to said protests.

Dozens were killed, and condemnation from international humanitarian organizations was swift.

The same couldn’t be said of the response from the US administration.

The Takeaway: Whoever is in charge of trying to control the president’s social media these days, they maybe should’ve tried to avoid letting him tweet this after news broke about the deaths in Gaza.

Don’t Speak, John Kelly, We Know Just What You’re Saying

What Happened: White House chief of staff John Kelly upset a lot of people with his comments about immigrants.

What Really Happened: In an unequivocal interview, John Kelly told NPR immigrants were “not people that would easily assimilate into the United States, into our modern society. They’re overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from—fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English, obviously that’s a big thing. They don’t speak English. They don’t integrate well, they don’t have skills. They’re not bad people. They’re coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws.” That’s not all, either; speaking about the potential separation of children from their families by immigration officials, Kelly said, “the children will be taken care of—put into foster care or whatever.”

The “or whatever” part became worryingly clear when, days later, it was reported that the administration was preparing to hold immigrant children on military bases. If the outcry that followed inflamed the already contentious debate about immigration, the president managed to pour another helping of gasoline on the fire a day later. Asked about deporting immigrants—and, particularly, gang members—President Trump didn’t hold back.

Yes, that really happened; the President of the United States said that illegal immigrants “aren’t people,” but are instead animals. So much for the country of The New Colossus. What the president said was chilling, and, well, everyone noticed (because of course they did).

As folks consider immigration and the danger it apparently poses to the country, this is something worth remembering, of course.

Even as people were getting upset, others were already preparing for the next stage of the story.

Don’t worry; it arrived the day after.

The Takeaway: Well, maybe he meant it … as a compliment? (He didn’t, of course.)

More Michael Cohen News

What Happened: It wasn’t just the President of the United States who was making waves this week, though; his personal attorney was keeping people pretty busy as well.

What Really Happened: Maybe we’ve given you enough of President Trump and what mischief he caused last week. Why don’t we talk about what his lawyer has been up to? Michael Cohen had a pretty bad week, too. Actually, he had a really crappy Wednesday. How crappy?

Yeah, that crappy. Ronan Farrow’s story in The New Yorker revealed that the leak of Cohen’s financial records was just the tip of the iceberg.

But wait! That wasn’t the only story. There was also Cohen’s attempts to solicit a million dollars from an investor from Qatar. (Something else that Stormy Daniels’ lawyer had teased, notably.) It was a story later confirmed by the Washington Post.

Oh, and on the same day, there was also a story about Cohen lying about how long the attempt to build a Trump Tower in Russia actually went on for.

With all this going on, no wonder that a fifth major Cohen story again from Wednesday reported that the lawyer was telling friends “I just can’t take this anymore.” Hey, Michael: We’re sure Robert Mueller would be willing to lend an ear if you want to talk.

The Takeaway: All of that happened in just one day. Is this too much for regular people? Hell, is this too much for people who work in news?!

The Age of the Twink?

What Happened: Sorry, Age of Aquarius. And Age of Ultron. And any other age, really; it turns out, we’re in a far sexier, skinnier age than anyone even suspected.

What Really Happened: It was the style piece that launched all kinds of response. Far more than anyone expected, in fact.

Yes, the New York Times declared that this was the age of the Twink, and people had opinions about it. Even on social media, people were unimpressed.

Indeed, let’s ask a dating app, shall we?

But, OK, sure. Let’s grant this particular supposition and ask the obvious question: if this is the Age of the Twink, what is next?

The Takeaway: If only everyone had jumped to this pun, everything would have been so much better.

More Great WIRED Stories