POLITICS

This Week In Trump's Washington Was Head-Spinning. Here's Everything That Went Down.

Yes, that Boy Scouts thing wasn't that long ago.

29/07/2017 07:48 SAST | Updated 29/07/2017 07:48 SAST

If you feel like President Donald Trump's now-infamous speech to the Boy Scouts of America happened a lifetime ago, you're not alone.

The days since Monday, in some ways, have felt like months. From the health care drama on Capitol Hill and new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci's "colorful" commentary, to Trump's crusade against his own attorney general and the simmering investigation into whether the president's campaign colluded with Russia, there was a lot to keep track of.

Here's a look at the week's major stories.

Monday

Trump went after "beleaguered" Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Trump kicked off the week by tweeting his frustrations with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and asking why Sessions isn't investigating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Jared Kushner made a public statement on his meetings with Russian officials.

After meeting privately with staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and top adviser, made a brief statement at the White House defending his meetings as "proper," and claiming he had been "fully transparent" about them.

"I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government," he said.

Trump gave a politically charged speech to 40,000 Boy Scouts.

The president kicked off his remarks to the National Scout Jamboree with a vow to avoid politics, then went off script several times to urge GOP senators to pass an Obamacare repeal bill, complain about the "fake news" media and reminisce about his electoral victory.

The speech drew intense backlash from parents and scouting alums, and prompted an apology from the chief of the scouting organization.

Tuesday

John McCain returned to the Senate, giving the GOP enough votes to move forward with debate on repeal.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this month, returned to the Senate on Tuesday to cast a key vote in favor of moving the GOP plan to repeal Obamacare forward. The motion to proceed passed after Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote, kicking off a multi-day spree of debate and votes.

McCain called for bipartisan cooperation on health care, and for a "return to normal order" — despite his vote to advance the bill.

Rex Tillerson said he's taking "a little time off."

Roughly six months into the job, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is "taking a little time off,″ the State Department announced. The news came amid reports Tillerson was considering stepping down.

"He's entitled to take a few days himself," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Trump attacked Sessions again — this time in a newspaper interview.

The president told The Wall Street Journal that he's "very disappointed" in Sessions, but stopped short of saying he'll fire the early Trump loyalist.

"We'll see what happens," he said.

Wednesday

Trump tweeted his plans to ban transgender people from serving in the military.

Trump announced Wednesday morning that transgender people will not be allowed to serve in the military "in any capacity," an unexpected move that will affect thousands of service members. He claimed transgender troops "burden" the armed services with "tremendous medical costs" ― an entirely inaccurate statement.

Several Republicans later broke with the president on the issue, and the Department of Defense later said it is "awaiting formal guidance from the White House" before making any changes.

He continued criticizing Sessions publicly.

For the third day in a row, Trump publicly humiliated his attorney general and the Justice Department. This time, the president questioned Sessions' decision to not fire Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and falsely claimed McCabe's wife had accepted a campaign donation from Hillary Clinton.

The Justice Department, under Sessions, argued a landmark civil rights law doesn't protect gay people.

Sessions, meanwhile, showed no signs of resigning, despite the public pressure from the president. Instead, Sessions' Justice Department continued its rollback of progressive policies, arguing that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect people against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

LGBTQ advocates fiercely criticized the administration for the position, describing it as "politically-driven" and "legally specious."

Voting began on Obamacare repeal efforts.

And on Capitol Hill, senators began considering proposals to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Two of those plans — a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act without immediately replacing it, and a second plan backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — failed, setting up a showdown over the so-called "skinny" repeal bill, which would remove key parts of Obamacare, including the individual mandate.

Thursday

Scaramucci suggested White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is leaking information to the press.

Scaramucci's rumored tension with Priebus spilled into the open after the newly appointed communications director appeared on CNN to level accusations at the chief of staff.

"If Reince wants to explain that he's not a leaker, let him do that," Scaramucci said.

Scaramucci also attacked other Trump officials in a remarkably crass tirade to The New Yorker.

You can read the highlights here, but they included calling Priebus a "paranoid schizophrenic" and accusing White House adviser Steve Bannon of acting primarily out of self-interest.

"I'm not Steve Bannon, I'm not trying to suck my own cock," Scaramucci told The New Yorker. "I'm not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the president. I'm here to serve the country."

He also threatened to fired the entire White House communications team.

Scaramucci later tweeted about the interview and said he would work to curb his "colorful language," but did not apologize.

Sessions said he's not going anywhere.

Sessions gave a couple interviews and assured the public he has no intention of leaving his role, though he found Trump's comments "kind of hurtful."

He also stood by his decision to recuse himself from the Justice Department's Russia investigation, something Trump has sharply criticized him for doing.

"I understand his feelings about it, because this has been a big distraction for him," Sessions told Tucker Carlson on Fox News. "But, Tucker, I thought the experts in the Department of Justice, people who are trained in that, I'm confident I made the right decisions."

Senators weighed voting for a bill they didn't want to pass.

As the Senate inched toward a final vote on the so-called skinny Obamacare repeal effort, a group of Republican senators came forward to say they would only support the bill if they had an assurance from House leadership that the bill would not pass as is, and would instead be referred to a conference committee for further tweaks.

"Give us the assurance that whatever we pass tonight will go to conference," said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who was joined by McCain, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

In other words — they were prepared to take a risky bet on a bill they didn't want to become law.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) later said his caucus was "willing" to go to a conference committee, but did not rule out passing the bill without further debate.

Friday

In the wee hours, John McCain joined Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins in voting down the GOP's "skinny" repeal bill.

The repeal effort eventually flamed out on the Senate floor close to 2 a.m., when McCain, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted against moving forward with the narrowly tailored bill.

The lead-up to that final vote was extremely dramatic by Senate standards. As HuffPost's Jeffrey Young and Matt Fuller reported:

Just before the vote, it became apparent that Republicans did not have the support they needed, as McCain came to the floor and told GOP leaders he planned to vote no. Collins and Murkowski had looked apt to vote no all week after opposing the motion to proceed to the initial legislation.

For nearly an hour, Republicans ― including Vice President Mike Pence, who was on-hand to break a tie ― tried to persuade McCain and Murkowski to no avail. They had made up their minds.

"It is time to move on," McConnell said in a speech following the vote.

North Korea launches missile into the sea off Japan.

The Pentagon confirmed Friday that North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, which landed in the waters of Japan's exclusive economic zone.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the launch "clearly shows the threat to our nation's safety is severe and real."

Trump criticizes GOP senators for failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

In a series of tweets, Trump said Republicans had "let the American people down" by failing to pass the repeal bill.

Trump endorsed police brutality in a speech to law enforcement officials.

Speaking to law enforcement officers on Long Island, New York, Trump suggested they hit suspects' heads on the doors of their cars.

"When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, and I said, 'Please don't be too nice,'" he said.

He continued, "Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you're protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over, like, don't hit their head and they've just killed somebody, don't hit their head, I said, 'You can take the hand away, OK?'"

Priebus ousted as chief of staff.

Late Friday afternoon, Trump dropped a bombshell tweet: He is replacing chief of staff Priebus ― target of Scaramucci's vulgar tirade a day earlier ― with retired Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, the secretary of homeland security.

"I would like to thank Reince Priebus for his service and dedication to his country," Trump tweeted. "We accomplished a lot together and I am proud of him!"

White House staff reportedly found out about the change at the same time the public did.

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