Back to the wall as Trump orders shutdown

A digest of two months in DC

The World Today
Published 8 February 2019 Updated 31 July 2019 1 minute READ

Shutdown After a record 35 days of partial government shutdown, President Trump agreed on January 26 to reopen the federal government until February 15 without getting any promise from Congress to fund his $5.7 billion wall on the Mexican border. Trump had started the trial of strength with Congress saying he was happy to see the government deprived of funds in the interests of border security. The result was widely seen as a victory for Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, who forced the president to delay his State of the Union address for the duration of the shutdown.

Mattis Defence Secretary James Mattis resigned on December 20, following Trump’s abrupt announcement of the withdrawal of US troops from Syria and the halving of the military presence in Afghanistan. In his resignation letter, Mattis cited Trump’s lack of respect for long-standing allies and wrote: ‘You have a right to have a secretary of defence whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects…’ Mattis had been seen as the last senior representative of the security establishment in the administration who might curb the president’s America First reflexes.

Syria On January 11 the Pentagon said it had begun withdrawing troops from Syria, nearly a month after Trump’s announcement. Doubts remained, however, about the timetable. In a rebuke of President Trump, the Republican-led U.S. Senate on January 31 advanced legislation opposing plans for any abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan

Warren Elizabeth Warren, above, a Senator from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, announced on December 31 the formation of an exploratory committee, the first step towards running in the 2020 presidential race. Kamala Harris, Senator for California, announced her campaign on January 27. Other candidates expected to run include Joe Biden, former vice-president, and Bernie Sanders, the unsuccessful far-left contender in 2016.

Roger Stone On January 24 Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted Roger Stone, a long-time adviser to Trump, on seven counts including obstruction, making false statements and witness tampering. According to the indictment, a Trump campaign official dispatched Stone to get information from WikiLeaks about stolen Democratic campaign emails to damage Hillary Clinton. Earlier Michael Cohen, former lawyer for Trump who is due to begin a three-year prison term for campaign finance violations, declined to speak in front of the House Oversight Committee, ‘due to ongoing threats against his family’ from Trump and Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer.