Here are the main events in Politics that occurred over the past week:
1. Trump Impeachment Talk Begins to Gain Traction in Congress
This past week, support for the impeachment of President Donald Trump began to pick up steam amid continuing fallout from the President’s post-Charlottesville remarks and the continuing investigations into the connections between his 2016 campaign and Russian President Vladimir Putin. On August 21, Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN’s 9th Congressional District) announced that he will be filing articles of impeachment against President Trump. Arguing that “no moral president would ever shy away from outright condemning hate, intolerance, and bigotry and that “no moral president would ever question the values of Americans protesting in opposition of such actions,” Cohen (who himself is Jewish and represents a Congressional district with a sizeable African-American population) correctly argues that President Trump has failed the test of leadership and character and must be impeached and removed from office.
Thus far, Congressman Cohen is the third member of Congress who has filed impeachment articles against President Trump. The other two members were Congressman Al Green (D-TX’s 9th Congressional District) and Brad Sherman (D-CA’s 30th Congressional District). Even though it is unlikely that the House Speaker Paul Ryan will bring any of the impeachment resolutions to the House floor for a vote, they do show that President Trump is becoming increasingly unpopular in the eyes of everyday voters and that he has thus far failed in his duties as President.
2. Trump Restores Military Ban on Transgender Individuals
On August 25, President Donald Trump ordered the military via executive order not to move forward with an Obama-era plan that would have allowed transgender men and women to serve in the armed forces. The executive order also prohibits the Department of Defense from using its resources to provide medical treatment regimens for transgender people currently serving in the military. President Trump also directed the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security to determine how to address transgender individuals currently serving based on military effectiveness and lethality, budgetary constraints, and applicable laws. Furthermore, White House offered no guidance as to how the ban would be implemented, leaving transgender service members wondering about their future in the military.
President Trump’s announcement was met with universal condemnation by members of both parties and civil rights advocates, who feel that Trump’s decision reversed nearly a decade of progress for LGBT rights and went against the findings of numerous studies revealing that allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military has a minimal impact overall. Additionally, critics of the decision feel that it is an example of President Trump playing into his far-right political base as a way to gain higher levels of support in response to the mounting legal and ethical charges that threaten to bring down his Presidency.
3. Russian President Vladimir Putin appoints new Russian ambassador to the US
On August 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he would be naming Anatoly Antonov as the new ambassador to the US, replacing the embattled Sergey Kislyak, who is at the center of allegations regarding the collusion between President Donald Trump and the Russian government. Antonov has served in the Russian foreign service since 1978 and previously served as Deputy Defense Minister from 2011 to 2016. In his capacity as Deputy Defense Minister, Antonov was personally sanctioned by the European Union following Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and has also accused NATO of turning Ukraine into a “frontline of confrontation” with Russia.Widely considered to be a hardliner against the West, Antonov takes office at a time in which the relationship between Russia and the US is at a level lower than it was during the peak of the Cold War (1955-1963) and he is regarded by most observers to do little but inflame the escalating tensions between Russia and the US.
4. ‘Strong indications’ Trump Administration Will Not Recertify Iranian Compliance With The Nuclear Deal
This past week, several members of the Trump Administration signaled that the President will likely not recertify Iran’s compliance in following the 2015 nuclear agreement. If that happens, some observers believe it risks alienating U.S. allies, as the 2015 nuclear agreement was also signed by Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China. The White House sent Nikki Haley, the UN Ambassador, to Vienna on Augst 23 to meet with officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency. During the visit, Haley “discussed the IAEA’s verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments.” Additionally, Haley fallaciously stated this week that the Iranian government is a supporter of terrorism and that it cannot be permitted to use the nuclear deal to justify its alleged actions.
The Trump administration has certified Iran’s compliance twice under a law that requires it to notify Congress of Iran’s compliance every three months. The next review period ends on October 1st. President Trump’s action in not certifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement threatens to put both Iran and the US on the path of a war and to further isolate the US on the international stage. Another reason why the Trump Administration may not seek to recertify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement is that it will diminish the Administration’s central argument that a regime change initiated by the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia is the only viable political solution for Iran.