On Politics: The Biggest Stories of the Week

From the president’s checks to a resolution against hate, it’s been a busy week in American politics. Here are some of the biggest stories you might have missed (and some links if you’d like to read further).


On a busy day at the White House in October of 2017, President Trump took the time to sign a $35,000 check to Michael D. Cohen, his fixer, who had made hush payments to keep sexual misconduct allegations against Mr. Trump from being exposed. Six such checks were provided to The Times, showing that the president was managing affairs of state while, allegedly, paying to keep his personal secrets out of the public eye.

Mr. Cohen gave documents to the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that he said backed up his claim that Mr. Trump’s lawyers helped to shape false testimony he delivered to Congress in 2017.

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee sent requests for information to 81 agencies, individuals and entities tied to Mr. Trump on Monday, opening a broad inquiry into possible obstruction, corruption and abuse of power. Mr. Trump signaled that he did not intend to cooperate with the requests, calling the investigation a “disgrace to our country.”

Additional Reading

House Democrats Are Flooding Trump World With Demands. Here’s a Guide to the Investigations.

Giuliani Says Lawyers Have Sought Trump Pardons for Their Clients

Representative Ilhan Omar again came under scrutiny for comments about Israel, after asking why it was “O.K. for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” Critics said she was invoking the anti-Semitic trope that American Jews have dual loyalties.

The furor over Ms. Omar’s remarks led to a proposed resolution in the House of Representatives condemning anti-Semitism. But a generational debate ensued between older Democrats in the House leadership and their young, more liberal counterparts, many of whom said Ms. Omar was being unfairly singled out.

After much back and forth, the resolution became one condemning “hateful expressions of intolerance” against “African-Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, immigrants and others.” It passed by a 407-to-23 vote on Thursday.

Additional Reading

Ilhan Omar Controversy Caps a Month of Stumbles for Democratic Leaders

Ilhan Omar’s Criticism Raises the Question: Is Aipac Too Powerful?

Another Democrat joined the 2020 race for the presidency: John Hickenlooper declared his candidacy on Monday. The two-time Colorado governor, socially progressive and pro-business, has called himself an “extreme moderate.”

Others decided not to join the field. Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, said he would not run; instead, he plans to use his wealth to finance the opposition to Mr. Trump and support causes like gun control and fighting climate change.

Jeff Merkley, a two-term senator from Oregon, and Sherrod Brown, a populist senator from Ohio, also declared they would not run.

Aides to Joe Biden have laid the groundwork for a campaign, and his strategist has been saying the former vice president is all but certain to run. But Mr. Biden, who would give the Democratic field a clear front-runner, has yet to make a final decision.

Additional Reading

Pennsylvania Democrats Wonder How Far Is Too Far Left in 2020

White House Ambitions Cloud Democratic Hopes to Win the Senate

A ‘Beat Trump’ Fervor Is Producing Big Turnouts for 2020 Democrats

Paul Manafort, the onetime Trump campaign chairman whose work in Ukraine and ties to well-connected Russians made him a target of the special counsel, was sentenced on Thursday to less than four years in prison. Prosecutors had sought a 19- to 24-year term.

One of President Trump’s goals was to narrow the country’s trade deficit. Instead, it has hit a record $891 billion, amid a global economic slowdown, weaker demand for American goods, the trade war with Beijing and Mr. Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut.

The National Security Agency has quietly shut down a system used to analyze the logs of Americans’ phone records and text messages to search for terrorists. The program’s disclosure by Edward J. Snowden in 2013 set off intense discussions about privacy and the rule of law.

Senator Martha McSally, Republican of Arizona and the first woman in the Air Force to fly in combat, said she was raped by a superior officer, one of multiple times she was sexually assaulted while in the military.

North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District, where fraud tainted the November election, will be without representation in the House until at least September. A new open primary will be held on May 14 and a new general election on Sept. 10.

Bill Shine, the former Fox News executive who joined the White House staff last summer to manage Mr. Trump’s communications operation, has resigned and will move to the president’s re-election campaign.

More than 76,000 migrants crossed the border without authorization in February, an 11-year high and a sign that the Trump administration’s aggressive policies have not discouraged new migration.

The Trump administration formally ended rules that required the government to annually make public its estimates of civilian bystanders killed in airstrikes outside conventional war zones.

The Justice Department is forming a task force to root out violations of foreign lobbying restrictions, which prosecutors — notably the special counsel — have targeted vigorously in recent years.


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