While You Were Offline: So What Did Trump and Kim Jong-Un Agree on Anyway?
It seems like we say this every seven days now, but man, a lot happened last week. For one, President Trump's campaign chair Paul Manafort went to jail the same day it was reported his attorney Michael Cohen was apparently open to flipping. For another, trolls forced Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown off Twitter. There was also the matter of people getting upset at Robbie Williams for his World Cup opener. So, yeah, it's been a roller coaster. What else has been happening? So glad you asked! Read on, MacDuffs.
When Trump Met Kim…
What Happened: On one hand, the North Korea/US summit didn’t result in nuclear war, but it also didn't end incredibly well, either.
What Really Happened: Fresh from attacking Canada at the end of the G7 summit (which he left early, withdrawing his endorsement of the agreed-upon final statement in the process), President Trump flew to Singapore for what might be the most high-profile meeting of his tenure so far: The off-again, on-again meeting with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un. Only scheduled to last a day, few were convinced anything of value would come of it, which is why this rumor towards the end seemed so surprising:
But, wait. What did the statement actually say?
The full thing was released for people to read themselves, but it didn’t impress many of them. On social media, initial responses from foreign policy experts were, shall we say, not entirely positive.
Some saw this deal in contrast to the (now-junked) Iran nuclear deal…
…But at least the president was happy, right? It seemed that way from his tweets.
So happy, in fact, he kept talking about it.
Ahead of the summit, much was made about whether or not Trump would raise the issue of North Korea’s human rights abuses. The White House initially said he would discuss the subject, then that he wouldn’t. Post-summit, the president talked to Fox News and was asked directly about Kim Jong-Un’s human rights record. It didn’t go well.
The comments made headlines from a stunned and appalled media, while many wondered why Republican lawmakers didn’t speak out against this apparent defense of human rights violations.
The Takeaway: OK, so some Republicans—if not lawmakers, at least media commentators—did say something. Where goes Bill Kristol goes… Well, that remains to be seen.
Federal Bureau of … Insubordination?
What Happened: Did the FBI screw up the election, and if so, for which side? This week, the official decision came, and not everyone was happy about it.
What Really Happened: Last Thursday, the Inspector General's long-awaited report into the FBI's conduct during the 2016 election dropped, and it was … 500 pages long. Thankfully, others were ready to summarize it. Or, if you want even more of a summary…
Let’s just say that the report was fairly critical of the FBI, to a degree. Certainly, it cited former director James Comey as insubordinate and criticized his actions and public comments, even though the FBI itself was essentially cleared of wrongdoing with a few exceptions. (You can see WIRED's take here.)
There was even a piece of dramatic irony in the report for people who fondly remember the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s email server:
Oh, and an email from Comey explaining why the agency never said anything about investigations into then-candidate Trump’s connections with Russia, which has its own bitter irony, considering.
Overall, though, what did the report prove with respect to the president’s theories about FBI bias? Honestly, it didn’t look too good.
Comey himself publicly supported the report despite the criticism he faced—
—and, in a press conference about the report, FBI Director Christopher Wray was pretty unsubtle in his rebuke of the paranoia surrounding the agency even as he pledged to act on issues raised.
The Takeaway: But what about the figure at the center of the whole thing, Hillary Clinton?
President Trump Finds Himself in Another Lawsuit
What Happened: As if the president wasn’t dealing with enough right now, last week he got hit with another lawsuit … and it’s a big one.
What Really Happened: Even as the media was getting excited about the Inspector General report, there was something else happening in the Trump orbit, and we're not talking about his 72nd birthday. What do you get for the man who has everything? What about … a lawsuit?
Yes, the NY Attorney Aeneral Barbara Underwood detailed the case against the Trump Foundation on the president’s preferred platform, Twitter.
Is this a big deal? Well, it’s the result of a two-year investigation and certainly looks well sourced and convincing.
As you might expect, the Trump Foundation cried "politics!" Because reasons.
Funny thing about that Trump Foundation statement, though…
But how did the president take it?
The Takeaway: We know what you’re thinking: Isn’t Trump already getting sued by someone? Well … yes. A lot, actually.
Does An Angel Contemplate My Fate
What Happened: For those wondering under whose authority US immigration officials are separating families at the border, a genuinely surprising answer came from administration officials last week.
What Really Happened: That the US's immigration policies have gotten increasingly problematic recently is sadly no secret, and last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions offered up the most unbelievable explanation for it, invoking an unexpected source.
Yes, the Bible is why families are being separated, apparently. Who can forget when Jesus said, "Yeah, let’s take children from their parents and house them in tents in Texas"? It’s a classic moment that people talk about every Sunday.
Following Sessions' comments, the press took the subject to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and it was hardly a West Wing moment, all things considered.
Wait. That doesn’t sound right…
Things got worse for Sanders.
In the midst of everything Sanders was saying, there’s one simple fact worth remembering:
As is this:
Suffice to say, using the Bible didn’t prove to be a particularly popular tactic on Twitter.
Also, isn’t there supposed to be something to prevent using Biblical defenses for political decisions? If only we could remember what it is.
The Takeaway: It’s things like this that make you wonder whether some people haven’t really been reading their Bibles closely enough, isn’t it? Or, at the very least, deeply misunderstanding what the whole thing is about.
The Bravest Raccoon in Minnesota
What Happened: Look, up in the sky! (Well … on a building, at least.) It’s the one thing that could bring the entire internet together as one: A plucky little raccoon.
What Really Happened: Look, let’s just end on a win, OK? But where could we find one? Maybe Minnesota, where one small raccoon won over the entire internet this week? Take it away, little guy…
People were gripped by the story, as it made its way across the internet. Gripped and terrified for the little raccoon, obviously.
For those of you who weren’t following the story as it happened, surely you’re on the edge of your seat wondering, did she make it to the roof of the building?! Well, we said we were ending on a win, didn’t we?
And in case you’re wondering where she ended up…
By the end of her climb she had become, in fact, a folk hero.
Really, it’s an inspirational story any way you choose to look at it.
The Takeaway: And just to bring it back around to where we started this week, let’s just pretend this is true, shall we?
Inside the Fake News Factory of Macedonia
In the aftermath of the US elections, documentary photographer Guy Martin travelled to Veles, Macedonia to find out why this small town became the heart of the fake news scandal. These are the photos he took.