This past week saw President Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen testify against his former client, the ‘great negotiator’ Trump leave Hanoi empty-handed and Democrats win big after passing gun control legislation two days in a row.
Trump Being Sued
Former Trump campaign staffer, Alva Johnson, filed a lawsuit on Monday that alleged then-candidate Trump had kissed her without her consent in 2016 as well as paid her less for her efforts due to her race and gender. According to the lawsuit, Trump had behaved inappropriately when he and Johnson first met in 2015.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be facing corruption charges in the near future. Israel’s attorney general Avichai Mandelblit intends to indict the prime minister on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. This comes a month before the April Israeli legislative election where Netanyahu hopes to secure his 5th term in office. Netanyahu went on TV to state his innocence and claimed that he was the target of a left-wing “witch-hunt.” The charges against Netanyahu accuse him of accepting lavish and expensive gifts that exceed $250,000 and of trying to get more favorable press coverage for himself in exchange for regulatory decisions that would benefit the telecom company Bezeq.
On Wednesday, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen publicly testified before the House Oversight Committee. During the hours-long testimony, Cohen made several claims about Trump that could lead the president to legal problems if they turn out to be true. Cohen accused Trump of paying hush money to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford and presented the Oversight Committee with a copy of a check signed by Trump in August 2017 as evidence. Cohen alleged Trump of knowing that Roger Stone was talking to Julian Assange about hacked Democratic National Committee emails prior to the election. He also stated that Trump was in communication with Russians regarding the Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen best summarized his goal in his opening statement, saying that he wants to show that “[Trump] is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat."
Cardinal George Pell, a high ranking Catholic figure, was found guilty in Australia of sexual offenses against children. This was the second time that the trial was heard after the first jury was unable to reach a verdict. The second jury was unanimous in its decision to convict Pell of sexually penetrating one choir boy and four counts of indecent sexual acts on another. The incidents occurred in 1996 when both choir boys were under the age of 16. For legal reasons, this December verdict was unable to be reported until this past week.
Tension increased this week between India and Pakistan when India launched airstrikes in the bordering Pakistan territory in response to attacks by the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad. A day later, Pakistan’s air force shot down two Indian fighter jets during a dogfight over the long disputed Kashmir region. Both nuclear-armed powers have long claimed the region as their own, which has lead to tensions and attacks in the past, the most recent being a suicide car bomb attack in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Feb. 14 that killed 40 people.
This week in Hanoi, President Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un for the second time in his presidency to come to an agreement regarding North Korean nuclear disarmament. The talks were cut short when it became apparent that the two nations could not reach a satisfactory agreement. Kim demanded all U.S. sanctions to be lifted on North Korea in exchange for partial denuclearization. Trump wasn’t satisfied with this deal and wanted complete denuclearization. At a news conference following the summit, Trump said that “sometimes you have to walk.” Expectations for the meeting were not high from the beginning as Trump claimed to be in no hurry to make an agreement with North Korea.
Kushner Meets with MBS
For the first time since journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, senior White House advisor Jared Kushner met on Tuesday with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). The meeting in Riyadh was part of Kushner’s Middle East tour aimed at “increasing cooperation” between Saudi Arabia and the United States and looking for solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Kushner had these meetings despite accusations against MBS that he had ordered Khashoggi’s murder in Turkey in October 2018. Neither the murder nor the war in Yemen were discussed during the meeting.
House Passes Gun Control Legislation
On Wednesday, the House Democrats passed new gun control legislation mandating federal background checks on all gun transactions, even private ones. The bill passed on a 240-190 vote where eight Republicans voted in favor of the bill and two Democrats opposed it. The following day, the House passed more legislation that closed the ‘Charleston Loophole,’ which allowed people to purchase guns before a background check was completed.
This coming week may see Elizabeth Warren struggle to stay afloat financially after taking on too large of a campaign staff and renouncing events for wealthy donors. As the urgency to join the 2020 presidential race increases, Joe Biden may let the public know if he’s running as soon as this week, especially after his family has voiced its support.