Is This News? (04/03/17)

In this edition of Is This News? we look at, Mike Flynn asking for immunity in turn for testimony, Vice President Pence being a tie-breaking vote for a controversial bill, and President Trump telling China he’s ready to “go at it alone” in nuclear talks with North Korea.  



Much like the animals in “Animal Farm”; all news is equal, but some news is more equal than others! We see if these stories are worthy of their headlines in another installment of “Is This News?”



The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Mike Flynn, President Trump’s former National Security Advisor, told the FBI that he’ll testify in-front of the House Senate Intelligence Committee over the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia in exchange for immunity. This one is a very obvious one, but we’ll ask anyway, is this news? 


If it isn’t obvious already, this is absolutely news!


So the original story we were going to talk about in this spot was regarding the New York Times report that California Rep. Devin Nunes “unknown source” was pair of White House officials helped provide him the intelligence reports that showed that President Trump and his associates were under surveillance by American spy agencies. This, of course, fueled questions over whether Rep. Nunes can conduct an independent investigation over Russia’s interference with presidential elections.  Now compound that story with Flynn wanting immunity for his testimony and you have something that is becoming a troubling trend for the Trump administration.


At some point these stories stop being this dark cloud that is a nuisance to the Trump administration and become something that could question the very legitimacy of a Trump presidency! Even the handful of Republicans that used to defend the Trump administration against accusations that they had connections with Russian intelligence have started to back away and ask tough questions.


Now it’s important to remember that just because Flynn is asking for immunity for his testimony doesn’t necessarily mean there’s going to be a “smoking gun.” There have been multiple cases where witnesses have asked for immunity for their testimony, just to make sure legally they’re in the clear. Still, this story is becoming a bigger-and-bigger albatross for the Trump administration that as we say every week, isn’t going anywhere.



Bloomberg Politics reported that Senate Republicans voted on a measure that would repeal the regulation of barring states from withholding federal funds from Planned Parenthood. While the measure passed, it was only able to do so with Vice President Mike Pence being the tie-breaker in a 50-50 split vote. So, is this news?


It’s news because there were Republicans that actually voted against a measure that would help towards the defunding of Planned Parenthood, which is relatively rare. GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins went against the party line, hence why Pence was needed to break the tie in the Senate. However, with that said, it would be surprising if the Republican Caucus didn’t coordinate on the vote beforehand.


For Republicans in Congress, it’s looking more-and-more likely that the 2018 general elections are going to be a real battle. For many in the GOP Caucus, the votes that they are casting this year could easily be used as attack ads by either primary opponents or Democrats trying to get their seat. So for controversial votes like this one, you’re going to see more politicians breaking from their party in service of keeping their congressional seat.


As for the legislation itself, it will be interesting to see if Congressional Republicans and the Trump administration try to push smaller legislative agendas going forward. After the debacle that was their healthcare reform push, the idea trying to push smaller legislative initiatives through Congress makes sense. But we have to see if this becomes a trend.



In an interview with The Financial Times, President Donald Trump told the publication that he would be willing to “tackle North Korea alone” if China isn’t willing to help curb North Korea’s nuclear program. As you may guess, this has some foreign policy experts a little worried. Is President Trump’s comments news?


President Trump’s statement pretty much encapsulates the strange dichotomy of the Trump presidency thus far. On one hand, if a sitting US President were to ever threaten to directly talk to North Korea over nuclear proliferation, without China being the intermediary, that’s a HUGE deal (or would that be ‘UGE). But the fact that it’s coming from someone like Donald Trump, you hope that it’s just tough talk, which he does quite a bit.


Of course the obvious answer to all of this is, the United States won’t pressure North Korea on nuclear proliferation without China. It just would go against decades of US foreign policy, and not to mention piss-off US’ closest allies (ie South Korea). Yet President Trump has been positioning US foreign policy to take a much more drastic shift than it had with the Obama administration. The million-dollar question is whether that shift will actually happen? If it does, then statements like these from President Trump will undoubtedly be news. But until then, they look to be just empty threats.



(Photo Credits:, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Politics, Financial Times)


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