Weekly Review — December 18, 2018, 9:00 am

Weekly Review

Michael Cohen sentenced to three years in prison; Mitch McConnell announced Senate vote on long-delayed bill to decrease the prison population

The House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, and Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, met in the Oval Office with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for a televised bipartisan back-and-forth that resulted in bickering about a proposed wall on the border between Mexico and the United States, and a potential federal government shutdown, of which Trump said he would be “proud” to have forced in the name of “border security;” Pelosi, who opened the closed-door portion of the meeting with a prayer about the wisdom of King Solomon, said privately that Trump’s prioritizing of the wall is “a manhood thing” and compared the tête-à-tête to “a tinkle contest with a skunk” in which “you get tinkle all over you,” while the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, stated that the talks were a “constructive dialogue.”1 2 3 4 5 Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl who was apprehended with her father after crossing the border into New Mexico with her family and other undocumented migrants, died of cardiac arrest caused by dehydration and shock after waiting more than an hour and a half for medical care while in the custody of US Customs and Border Protection.6 Stephen Miller, senior adviser to the president, said that the Trump Administration would do “whatever is necessary to build the border wall,” and that Caal Maquin’s death was “a painful reminder of the ongoing humanitarian tragedy that is illegal immigration” during an interview in which he had augmented his hairline with an unknown substance.7 8 More than 85,000 Yemeni children have starved to death during the Saudi Arabian–led intervention in Yemen, a motivating factor for the US Senate’s vote to end military support for the Saudi war, the first time the Senate has invoked its powers under the 1973 War Powers Act.9 10 Though the House of Representatives would have to pass the resolution by the end of 2018, and Trump, who has endorsed US assistance and thanked Saudi Arabia for low gasoline prices, would have to sign it, Senator Bernie Sanders said the vote was “a profound statement that will reverberate all over the world.”11 12 For the second time in three years, Iraqi officials declared the heavily fortified neighborhood in the heart of Baghdad known as the Green Zone, which was cordoned off by American forces in 2003, open to the public.13

A judge in Manhattan federal court sentenced Michael D. Cohen, a former lawyer for President Trump, to three years in prison for what the judge called a “veritable smorgasbord of fraudulent conduct,” prompting a contrite Cohen to tell the court that “it was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”14 Trump tweeted that, as a lawyer, Cohen was supposed to have known the law well enough not to break it, and that he only “became a ‘Rat’ after the FBI did something which was absolutely unthinkable & unheard of,” referring to a routine, lawfully executed search and seizure at Cohen’s New York City office.15 16 Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, said that he had been tricked into lying to FBI agents investigating Russia’s election interference, a suggestion that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, rejected.17 The Russian spy Maria Butina, who with her boyfriend hosted dinners with wealthy Americans and courted NRA leaders to gain political influence, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government, and faces a sentence of up to six months in prison after having agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.18 Bowing to pressure from the White House and activist groups, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, announced on Tuesday that the Senate would take up a long-delayed bipartisan bill that aims to reduce the prison population.19 Nearly half of all adults in the United States have a family member currently or formerly incarcerated.20

In response to four weeks of “yellow vest” protests against such perceived injustices as a fuel-tax hike, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged tax cuts and wage and salary increases, but declined to meet a demand to restore a special tax on households with assets above 1.3 million euros which he cut last year.21 Theresa May will remain the British prime minister after a 200–117 no-confidence vote in the Conservative Party, making her immune from a leadership challenge for a year and freeing her to deliver the exit from the European Union for which Britons voted in 2016.22 Apple announced that it will invest $1 billion in a new campus in Austin, Texas, with plans to open new facilities in Washington and California over the next three years, and expand its operations in Pennsylvania, New York, Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, and Iowa.23 Wells Griffith, a White House adviser on energy and climate, presented a defense of fossil fuels at the world’s biggest climate conference in Katowice, Poland, saying that “no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability,” over the laughter of the audience.24 A report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that over the past five years the Arctic has been warmer than at any time since records began, in 1900, and the region is warming at twice the rate as the rest of the planet.25 Organizers of a Christmas event in Cambridgeshire, England, apologized to parents after an evacuation at a nearby event prompted a hired Santa Claus to rip off his beard and make a hasty exit, telling attending children to “get the fuck out.”26Justin Stewart

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