Rank #1: Week 142 - Moscow Mitch
This week started with Trump’s attacks on Black leader House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, whose panel has several ongoing investigations targeting Trump and his family. Trump used dehumanizing language like “rats” and “infest” to disparage Cummings’ home district of Baltimore, then broadened his attack during the week to other prominent Black men including Al Sharpton, who he called a “con man” and CNN host Don Lemon who he called “dumb.” Trump refused to back off, escalating his racist attacks — gaslighting the country that he is not the racist, but Cummings is — as news of hate-based shootings and instances of overt racism spread in an anxious and increasingly divided country.
A new label for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — Moscow Mitch — struck a nerve with the leader, and as the media and Democrats questioned his unwillingness to secure the country’s election, his other ties to Russia came under scrutiny. Headwinds for impeachment continued post Mueller’s testimony as over half the House Democrats formally called for the start of an impeachment inquiry, while Trump continued to deny Russia interference happened or is happening now. Trump pushed out the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, one of the few remaining voices who stood up to Trump on foreign policy, and perhaps the last non-partisan stop-gap to future Russia interference.
The future of the Republican Party came into question this week, as Rep. Will Hurd, the only Black American member of the House for the GOP, became the ninth Republican to say he will not seek re-election in 2020. Among the nine are also two of the 13 GOP women, including Rep. Susan Brooks, who was meant to recruit more women to run.
Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-142/
Rank #2: Week 119 - The Continuing Rise of White Nationalism
This week the FBI thwarted a major domestic terrorism plot by a white nationalist serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard, who had called for the establishment of a “white homeland.” His target list included Democratic politicians and cable-TV hosts, almost all of whom were subjects of Trump’s public ire on Twitter or in words. Nonetheless, Trump continued his attacks on the media, calling them the “enemy of the people,” and repeatedly referring to them as “fake news.” When asked if his rhetoric played a role, Trump responded, “No, I don’t. I think my language is very nice.” Trump has also started in recent weeks to attack fact-checkers as fake news.
Trump ally Roger Stone found himself hauled back into court this week for posting an image of a federal judge next to a crosshairs, while other Trump supporters used words like “civil war” and “coup” on-air as the country waited for Mueller’s findings. In conjunction with his new book, former FBI director Andrew McCabe spoke to media outlets about F.B.I. investigations into Trump, the prospect of invoking the 25th Amendment, and concern that Trump is a Russian asset. In response, Trump spent the week attacking his old, familiar target.
Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-119/
Rank #3: Week 89 - Trump's Alt-truths
Seeking to counter these closing walls, Trump continued to promote his alternative version of the truth, telling a crowd in Kansas City, “Just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” and pushing a new storyline that Putin wants to help Democrats win the midterms.
Read the full list: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-89/
Rank #4: Week 118 - Paul Manafort's Mueller Probe Troubles
This was a jarring week as Trump declared a national emergency after Congress refused to fund his wall — perhaps his most brazen authoritarian act yet. Trump’s predilection not to govern, but rather rule by an unprecedented executive fiat, set off alarm bells for Constitutional separation of powers, as Trump departed early Friday for a weekend of golf at Mar-a-Lago.
This week the Mueller probe made news as reporting indicated Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort discussed a peace plan for Ukraine and handed off internal polling data in a secretive meeting to a business associate with ties to Russian intelligence, and a search warrant revealed Roger Stone was in direct contact with WikiLeaks while interacting with the Trump campaign —both in the months before the 2016 election.
Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-118/
Rank #5: Week 130 - Constitutional Crisis
This week marked a subtle shift in House Democrats’ position on impeachment, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her committee chairs cited a “constitutional crisis,” and argued Trump was “goading” them and giving them no choice with his continued stonewalling. The House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, and threatened the same for former White House counsel Don McGahn. Trump said he would block special counsel Robert Mueller from testifying, and later in the week backed off. Notably, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee served the first subpoena on a member of Trump’s family, Donald Trump Jr.
There was more reporting on Trump’s irreverence around norms and laws, including his attempts to have McGahn publicly state he did not believe Trump obstructed justice, and dispatching personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to spur investigations likely to help his re-election.
Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-130/
Rank #6: Week 114 - 29 Days (and Counting) Government Shutdown
This week marked 29 days of the government being shuttered, with no end in sight. Agencies continued to feel the effects, as thousands of furloughed employees were called back to work unpaid. Federal workers formed blocks-long lines at food banks, and borrowed from retirement accounts to make ends meet. Trump’s approval continued to fall this week, with one poll indicating he is losing support from his base. Conversely, House Speaker Pelosi’s popularity hit a 10-year high as the two did battle, and Trump reckoned with the first check on his power.
This week was full of bombshell stories which, along with the continued shutdown, rocked the country and made people increasingly anxious and scared about the direction of the country. Major storylines included Trump concealing contents of meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump’s continued fixation of withdrawing the U.S. from NATO — a boon to Russia, and Michael Cohen paying an IT firm to rig online polls to boost Trump. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani made headlines, telling CNN, “I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign,” which he later retracted. A bombshell BuzzFeed News story suggesting Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress on Trump Tower Moscow was refuted by Mueller’s team, which Trump and his allies quickly weaponized to attack the credibility of the media.
Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-114/
Rank #7: Week 116 - Trump Meets Putin
This week concerns about Trump’s foreign policy were front and center, as the regime rolled back sanctions against a Russian oligarch, and withdrew from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty — both seen as victories for Putin. The Financial Times reported on a previously undisclosed one-on-one meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 just months after Helsinki. Congress rebuked Trump’s foreign policy again this week in a piece of legislation drafted by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over Trump’s withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Heads of U.S. Intelligence agencies testified before the Senate on their annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” revealing findings in sharp contrast from Trump on Iran, ISIS, and North Korea, as well as the southern border. Trump reacted by castigating his appointed agency heads, then later inviting them to the Oval office and blaming the media instead.
Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-116/
Rank #8: Week 126 - Stephen Miller: Immigration Czar
This week, Trump’s frustration with migrants coming to the southern border boiled over, as he purged the Department of Homeland Security, and empowered immigrant hardliner Stephen Miller to be in charge of the regime’s immigration policy. As the week ended, 12 of the 30 senior roles at DHS were either vacant or filled with “acting” leaders. Departures of senior officials at the cabinet level and below are at record levels. Meanwhile, Trump continues to consolidate power, act unilaterally, and welcome the “flexibility” of using “acting” directors whom he can hire and fire at will — without needing the oversight of the Senate to confirm them.
Troubling reporting this week indicated Trump instructed his incoming Secretary of DHS to break the law, assuring him he would be pardoned. Reporting also indicated Trump and Miller had contemplated releasing migrant detainees into sanctuary cities as a means to punish political enemies. When confronted with the story, the White House pushed back, only to have Trump say indeed that was his plan. Trump also looked for ways to increasingly use military troops at the border, including in ways that violate the law.
Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-126/
Rank #9: Week 137 - Detention Center Realities
This week as Trump backed off mass deportations, public outcry grew over conditions at detention centers for migrant children. Reminiscent of Theresienstadt Ghetto in the Nazi era, the Trump regime offered limited tours of detention centers to the media — viewings that contradicted interviews of immigration lawyers and advocates who described first-hand the inhumane conditions and traumatized children. Much of the country was moved and heartbroken over a photo of a Salvadoran father and daughter who drowned on the bank of the Rio Grande trying to cross to the U.S.
This week Trump headed to the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, ahead of which he attacked Japan, China, and European countries. While there, he cozied up to Russian President Vladimir Putin and reveled in joking about 2016 election interference and attacking the free press. Trump had a second private meeting with Saudi Arabia Crown Prince MBS despite United Nations findings of his likely involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Supreme Court made two major decisions on gerrymandering and a Census citizenship question, and seemed to signal a shift towards revisiting controversial issues with the now five conservative justices. Robert Mueller agreed to testify before two House committees on July 17, as the Trump regime continued to stonewall all congressional investigations.
Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-137/
Rank #10: Week 141 - Robert Mueller Testifies
This week Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees about his 448 page report. The testimony was the first glimpse many Americans had of its findings, especially Mueller’s stark warnings on Russia’s past and ongoing interference, and Trump’s and other regime members’ financial and other conflicts. While the media quibbled over whether Mueller was made-for-television articulate, the House Judiciary Committee took the first steps to effectively start an impeachment investigation, as over 100 House members have now come out in favor of impeachment. Despite testimony by Mueller and FBI director Christopher Wray, as well as a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee sounding alarms about Russia’s ongoing efforts at election interference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continued to halt efforts by Congress to counter Russian meddling.
Troubling signs of eroding norms and Trump seizing power at an alarming rate continued. Trump ramped up attacks on the media, calling them “fake” and “the enemy of the people,” and saying the press has lost all credibility. Trump continued his diatribe on the Federal Reserve and targeted U.S. companies with his ire. A disturbing Supreme Court ruling allowed Trump to take funds from the Pentagon to build his wall, while he continued to push to end asylum and ramp up rhetoric on deportation — further fanning the flames of “us” versus “them” in America.
Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-141/
Rank #11: Week 88 - Trump in Helsinki
Trump stumbled defiantly through the rest of a shocking week: shifting his positions on backing U.S. intelligence, considering an offer to allow Russian intelligence to question the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, publicly criticizing the Federal Reserve, and threatening his former fixer Michael Cohen who had taped their conversations.
Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-88/
Rank #12: Week 128 - The Redacted Mueller Report
This week Trump’s White House refused all requests by House Democrats to interview current or former members of the regime, or to turn over records, including those requested by subpoena. The NYT Editorial Board noted Trump “is effectively declaring lawmakers powerless over him. This, warn the experts, puts the nation in uncharted territory and threatens to erode its democratic foundations.” With Congress out of town for a second holiday week, the feeling of Trump’s omnipotence was all the more palpable.
This week while the country grappled with the contents of the redacted Mueller report, Trump and his allies invoked a failed “coup” and threatened to investigate the investigator. They also sought to downplay Russian interference and its impact in 2016 — with Jared Kushner dismissing Russian efforts as “some Facebook ads.” Alarming reporting indicated Trump is refusing to work to safeguard the 2020 election, nor would his campaign pledge not to take stolen information again, even as FBI director Christopher Wray said Moscow’s interference in the past has been a “dress rehearsal” for the 2020 presidential contest.
Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-128/
Rank #13: Week 96 - Paul Manafort Fully Cooperates with Mueller Probe
Increasingly, Trump stands alone. Reporting indicates his sense of betrayal from current and former officials speaking out in Bob Woodward’s book and in the anonymous Times op-ed has left Trump outraged and paranoid — canceling meetings, and trusting a shrinking circle of his family and Stephen Miller. The sense of a pending coup from the “deep state” was further exacerbated by the stunning news that Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is cooperating fully in the Mueller probe. Even by Trump standards, his behavior this week was unbalanced and alarming. On the solemn anniversary of 9/11, Trump acted entirely inappropriately, with no one to rein him in. With Hurricane Florence approaching and questions about his past handling of hurricanes resurfacing, Trump bragged about his regime’s performance in Puerto Rico, and then careened into conspiracy theories about the actual death toll. Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-96/
Rank #14: Week 87 - NATO Summit
At home, Trump and his allies are taking every possible step to discredit the Mueller probe and attempt to preview FBI information. This week Trump continued his hostility towards the free press and his attacks on free markets, while taking steps to consolidate power.
Read the full Week 87 list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-87/
Rank #15: Week 113 - Trump's Prime Time Oval Office Address
This week Trump struggled to create stagecraft and find narratives to justify funding for his border wall, while keeping the government shuttered. Trump delivered a prime-time Oval Office address, visited the U.S.-Mexico border, and held an immigration round-table to make his case, while the reality of the shutdown hurt federal workers and contractors, and agencies started to cut back or cease operations and functions.
This was a week of bombshells on the Trump-Russia front, as an inadvertently unredacted filing by Paul Manafort’s attorneys revealed Manafort had delivered 2016 president campaign polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik, who the FBI believes has ties to Russian intelligence. Michael Cohen set a date to testify before the House, and Natalie Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin who attended the June 9 Trump Tower meeting was back in the news. Late Friday, a bombshell story by the Times revealed the FBI had opened an inquiry in May 2017 into whether Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.
Read the full list: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-113/
Rank #16: Week 138 - 2020 Census Citizenship Question
This week, two years after visiting France for Bastille Day and admiring its military display, Trump hosted a “Salute to America” on July Fourth, replete with an expansive array of military hardware and troops. The scenes of tanks rolling into the nation’s capital drew comparisons to other authoritarian regimes who flaunt their military might through public displays, including North Korea, where Trump paid a surprise visit as the week began.
This week, Trump thumbed his nose at the Supreme Court’s decision in Week 137 not to allow a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. The Justice and Commerce Departments, after stating the questionnaire was being printed without the citizenship question, completely reversed themselves 24 hours later following a single tweet by Trump. By weeks’ end, the DOJ said it would, at Trump’s behest, try to put forth a new argument in court justifying the question, while Trump mused he had four or fives options to get his way. Notably, Trump has now challenged the authority of both the legislative and judicial branches — including the nation’s highest court — to counter his unilateral power. And the Justice Department, under the leadership of Attorney General William Barr has been rendered a tool to help his efforts.
Reports by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General revealed dire conditions at immigrant detention facilities at the border. Trump defended the facilities and Border Patrol agents, as protests and uproar from Democrats continued. Republicans remained silent.
Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-138/
Rank #17: Episode 47 - Leaked Mueller Letter to Attorney General William Barr
This week a leaked letter sent from special counsel Robert Mueller to Attorney General William Barr days after Barr released his four-page “summary” indicated Mueller did not believe that Barr captured the “context, nature, and substance” of his work. Mueller’s letter, leaked in part to the Post the day before Barr was set to testify before the Senate, shook the country and set off a firestorm, including allegations Barr had lied in previous Congressional testimony. His demeanor at his Senate testimony did little to mollify concern that Barr had acted in concert with Trump’s team to shape the narrative ahead of the redacted report’s release, and was continuing to protect Trump from its contents and repercussions.
House Democrats sounded the alarms and escalated matters as Trump, his family, and regime all continued to stonewall Congressional demands, including a lawsuit to block Deutsche Bank from cooperating with House subpoenas and Barr being a no-show for House testimony. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wore the gravity of the situation in her demeanor at her weekly press conference, admitting she had trouble sleeping after watching the top law enforcement officer’s performance. Pelosi, who has been committed to avoiding impeachment, was reported to be losing patience.
Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-129/
Rank #18: Week 108 - The Effects of Trump's Trade Tariffs Begin
This week major stock indexes tumbled more than 4%, erasing all the year’s gains, as economic data softened, showing Trump’s trade tariffs and the growing budget deficit are slowing the economy. As Trump’s second year comes to a close, he reportedly has no vision or strategy for 2019, save for his xenophobic and racist agenda, and instead is distracted by the Mueller probe and the incoming Democratic House majority. Continued shake-up in personnel plague the regime, and many key roles remain vacant, or are filled with loyalists who are unqualified.
Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-108/
Rank #19: Week 107 - Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone
This week the Mueller probe was center stage, as Trump stepped up his attacks to discredit Mueller ahead of the findings being released. The week started with focus on Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone as possible conduits between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. Until a bombshell Thursday, when Michael Cohen outlined in a plea agreement how he misled Congress about negotiating on the Trump Tower Moscow. Cohen said negotiations continued until June 2016, and that Trump and his children were also in the loop. Cohen’s documents made clear that other members of the regime, including Donald Jr., may have lied to Congress, and also called into question Trump’s written answers in the Mueller probe, submitted under oath in recent days, on his and his campaign’s contact with Russians.
Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-107/
Rank #20: Week 139 - Consolidation of Power
This is the longest week so far, and it felt that way. The chaos of our lives has obfuscated the damage and extremes under Trump, as each week blurs into the next week’s crises and unprecedented actions. This week’s turmoil centered on Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest and the resignation of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, the 13th Cabinet member to depart the regime — next week there will certainly be new plot lines to engage and exhaust the American people.
This week the Democrats seemed to take a step back, amid party infighting. Notably, the Trump regime continues to successfully stonewall all the House efforts at accountability, and seemingly Democratic leadership is taking a slight uptick in Trump popularity as a rationale to back off in tone, while in actuality, the lack of action by the Democrats has normalized the previously unthinkable of accepting foreign help and obstructing justice. While the country eagerly awaited Robert Mueller’s testimony on July 17, that too evaporated and became a moving target.
Trump careened from one rage to another this week, but notably, he is largely getting his way. When things go against him, he finds new ways to re-center and seize the narrative. His central message of immigration continues to be front and center and Fox News seized on the theme of “these are not our children” to dull the news on conditions at detention centers, as deportation raids were set to start. Trump continued to repeat his themes that the media is “the enemy of the people,” that he will serve more than two terms, and that Democrats are enabling millions of “illegal aliens” to vote — all setting the stage for an unpredictable 2020 election.
Read the full list here: https://theweeklylist.org/weekly-list/week-139/