National News Update: December 11, 2019

World leaders mocking each other, a new U.S. Space Force, and more investigations – this week was full of shocking headlines. Get the update here:

Donald Trump and NATO

Last week marked the 70th anniversary meeting of NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  This organization, formed in 1949 to collectivize and organize western defense against the Soviet Union, is a staple in the relationship between Western countries.  It includes prominent members including the USA, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom.  

The trip included meetings on multiple topics, many of them relating to defense.  It also was met with multiple world leaders, including President Trump, criticizing the alliance and questioning NATO’s future.  The usual bickering occurred regarding the difference in payment each country makes to maintain the alliance. 

This summit, however, did not go as planned for President Trump, who left the summit early after disagreements with other world leaders. This year’s summit was headlined by an incident in which French President Emmanual Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte were captured unknowingly on tape making fun of, or trash talking, President Trump.  Macron was captured criticizing Trump over his long conferences and Trump’s staff disbelief at his actions. This heightened tensions between the US and France, already facing off in a possible trade war.

In the U.S., news channels quickly circulated this video, and it became increasingly embarrassing for all parties involved.  Late night shows made parodies of this exchange, some calling it bullying and relating it to First Lady Melonia Trump’s anti-bullying effort “Be Best,” but others come to the defense of the president.  


Paid Family Leave
Trump used his want for a U.S. Space Force to wager with Democrats on family leave.

The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the White House and Congress were approaching a deal to include expanded paid family leave for the first time in history for federal workers.  In exchange, top democrats agreed to authorize the creation of the sixth branch of the armed forces: the U.S. Space Force, a top priority for President Trump.  

White House negotiators only put paid family leave on the table after the president stated the Space Force as his top priority.  Advanced paid family leave for federal employees has long been opposed by Republicans over concerns of cost. This volatile deal faces opposition from both sides of the aisle but has been accepted by major Democratic leaders and the White House.


DOJ Watchdog Report on Russia Investigations

The Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz has been conducting an investigation into the opening of the Trump-Russia investigation.  This report was released Monday. December 10. The Inspector General’s report states that the investigation was warranted and no wrongful actions were committed by the FBI.  

This report comes in response to many prominent Republicans, including the President, claiming the investigation was opened without sufficient evidence and allegations of wrongdoing and bias within the investigators.

The director of the FBI responded to this report in an interview with ABC News stating: “I think it’s important for the American people to know that when the FBI opens an investigation, it does so with proper predication; with proper authorization based on the law and the facts and nothing else.”  He stressed the importance that the FBI remain an independent entity.  Attorney General William Barr, a frequent defender of the president, disagreed with parts of the report.  He believes that the FBI “launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” ABC News reports.