Donald Trump this week: a ‘witch hunt,’ Sessions in session and a shooting in Virginia
It was another chaotic week for the Trump administration.
And while the White House dealt with Trump’s stalled travel ban and the Senate continued to struggle to offer a replacement bill for Obamacare, it was the shooting of Republican congressman Steve Scalise at a charity baseball practice that took centre stage.
“Steve in his own way may have brought some unity to our long-divided country,” Trump added. “We’ve had a very, very divided country for many years. And I have a feeling that Steve has made a great sacrifice, but there could be some unity being brought to our country. Let’s hope so.”
Here is a round-up of this week’s events in the world of the 45th U.S. president.
June 16: ‘I am being investigated’
Trump tweeted early Friday morning saying he was “being investigated” for firing former FBI director James Comey “by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director.”
The statement appeared to confirm he is under investigation for possible obstruction of justice, although it wasn’t clear what information he was basing his tweet on.
Trump could be referring to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who in a memo to Trump raised concerns over Comey’s performance. He could also be referring to Robert Mueller, who has been appointed special counsel to investigate Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
June 15: ‘WITCH HUNT’
Trump took to his favourite medium of communication Thursday to criticize a report that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating him for obstruction of justice.
The president tweeted what he called a “phony” story from The Washington Post that Mueller was investigating Trump directly and that investigators have been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates.
“You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people!” the president tweeted.
Accusations of obstruction arose last month when Trump fired Comey. The ex-FBI boss testified in a Senate hearing last week that he believed he was fired “because of the Russia investigation.”
Trump also announced Thursday that Kelly Knight Craft – a wealthy Republican donor with family ties to the coal industry – will become the United States’ 31st ambassador to Canada.
June 14: A shooting in Virginia
A gunman opened fire at a Republican baseball practice early Wednesday morning injuring five people including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a five-term Republican from Louisiana.
U.S. officials identified the gunman as James Hodgkinson, who was killed in a shootout with Capitol Police.
“Congressman Scalise is a friend, and a very good friend,” Trump said in an address from the White House.
“He’s a patriot. And he’s a fighter. He will recover from this assault — and Steve, I want you to know that you have the prayers not only of the entire city behind you, but of an entire nation, and frankly the entire world.”
Two Capitol Police officers and a congressional aide were released from hospital after they sustained minor injuries.
But Matt Mika, a congressional aide-turned-lobbyist, was critically injured after being shot multiple times. He remained in hospital.
Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old from Illinois who had several minor run-ins with the law in recent years and lashed out at Trump on social media, belonged to a Facebook group called “Terminate the Republican Party.”
June 13: Sessions’ Senate testimony
Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the Senate intelligence committee denying he met with the Russian ambassador and called suggestions he colluded with Russians during the election an “appalling” lie.
“I have never met with or had any conversations with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election,” Sessions said. “Further, I have no knowledge of any such conversations by anyone connected to the Trump campaign.”
He also refused to detail any conversations he has had with the president while also refuting earlier testimony from Comey that Comey asked him not to leave him alone with Trump again.
“I responded to his comment by agreeing that the FBI and Department of Justice needed to be careful to follow department policies regarding appropriate contacts with the White House,” Sessions said.
Meanwhile, horror author Stephen King noted that Trump blocked him on Twitter. Many have argued, including a free-speech institute in New York, that Trump’s practice of blocking people violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
He had been fiercely critical of the president on the social networking site, and he responded to being blocked by tweeting that he had been “condemned to an existential wasteland of Trumplessness!”
A U.S. lawmaker also tabled a bill dubbed the “COVFEFE Act of 2017″ in an effort to preserve Trump’s tweets.
June 12: ‘Beware the ides of March’
New York’s Public Theater company lost Bank of America and Delta Air Lines as sponsors after it depicted the killing of a Donald Trump-like dictator in a staging of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
Delta issued a statement saying that “artistic and creative direction crossed the line on the standards of good taste.”
The theatre company, however, defended itself, saying that its staging provoked “heated discussion.”
“This discourse is the basis of a healthy democracy,” it said.
— With files from Adam Frisk and the Associated Press
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