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June 23, 2018

Katie Arrington, the South Carolina state representative who defeated Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) in his GOP primary race this month, has been seriously injured in a car crash, her campaign announced Saturday.

Arrington was riding with a friend when their vehicle was struck by another driver going the wrong way on the highway. The driver of the other car did not survive. Arrington is expected to remain hospitalized for several weeks to undergo multiple surgeries.

"My thoughts and prayers are with Representative Katie Arrington of South Carolina, including all of those involved in last nights car accident, and their families," President Trump tweeted Saturday morning. Bonnie Kristian

June 22, 2018
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The House overwhelmingly passed a massive package meant to address the opioid crisis by a vote of 396-14 on Friday. "This is costing us lives. This is why we're so focused on ending this opioid epidemic," said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in comments last week. "This is all hands on deck."

There are 58 individual bills in the package, including Jessie's Law, which will require medical records to list addiction histories so doctors can avoid prescribing opioids to such patients, NBC News reports. Privacy advocates have expressed concern that opening up medical histories to doctors will prompt addicts to avoid seeking professional medical help, but some still say the legislation does not go far enough: "I do question if this bill will have a meaningful impact on the opioid crisis," said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.).

Experts say the opioid epidemic could claim 1 million lives by 2020, with the CDC reporting an average of 46 deaths due to prescription drugs every day in 2016. Jeva Lange

June 20, 2018

President Trump has signed an executive order reversing his administration's own policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. "We're going to have a lot of happy people," said Trump, who in the past week doubled-down on his false claims that there was nothing he could do to stop it.

The executive order is titled "Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation," despite the family separation policy not being a law; it was introduced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in May. The executive order states: "It is ... the policy of this administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources." The New York Times more critically described the order as allowing authorities to detain "families together indefinitely."

Trump's executive order has to contend with the 1997 Flores settlement, which prohibits the government from holding minors in immigration detention for more than 20 days, regardless of whether they are with a parent or not. The order appears to declare a challenge to the settlement: "The Attorney General shall promptly file a request with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to modify the Settlement Agreement in Flores v. Sessions ... in a manner that would permit the [homeland security secretary], under present resource constraints, to detain alien families together throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings for improper entry or any removal or other immigration proceedings." Read the full order here. Jeva Lange

June 19, 2018
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The U.S. is officially withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jointly announced Tuesday.

Haley first threatened to leave the council in a U.N. speech last June, slamming its inclusion of human rights abusers such as Venezuela as council members and condemning what she said was anti-Israel bias. Haley cited that warning in her announcement Tuesday, saying the human rights group was "not worthy of its name," per NBC News.

"Human rights abusers continue to serve on and be elected to the council," Haley said. She also criticized the council's five resolutions against Israel this year, "more than the number passed against North Korea, Iran, and Syria combined."

The move comes just a day after the council's high commissioner bashed the U.S. for "forcibly" separating children and parents at the border, calling on the U.S. to end this "abuse." Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new "zero tolerance" immigration policy last month.

Former President George W. Bush refused to join the council when it was created in 2006, per The Washington Post, but the Obama administration opted for seat at the table in 2009. Kathryn Krawczyk

June 15, 2018
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President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, will be sent to jail, his bail having been revoked by a judge after Manafort was accused of witness tampering, The Washington Post reports. Manafort has been charged with, among other things, conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to launder money, and he was formerly under house arrest while awaiting trial.

In court documents, an FBI agent wrote that at least one witness has said Manafort reached out and seemed to be trying to coach them on what to say about his lobbying practices, The New York Times reports. Earlier Friday, Trump told the press that "Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign ... Manafort worked with me for a very short period of time." Jeva Lange

June 15, 2018
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A U.S.-Afghan drone strike early Thursday morning killed Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah, the Afghan Defense Ministry told The Associated Press on Friday.

Fazlullah, who was killed in eastern Afghanistan on the Pakistani border, is believed to be behind the 2012 assassination attempt of Malala Yousafzai, who was 15 at the time and would go on to win the Nobel Peace Prize after her recovery. Fazlullah is also responsible for a 2014 school massacre in Peshawar that left 132 children dead.

Earlier this year, the United States offered a $5 million reward for information on Fazlullah, HuffPost reports. Jeva Lange

June 14, 2018
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The Justice Department inspector general concluded Thursday that former FBI Director James Comey "deviated" from bureau protocol in his handling of the probe into Hillary Clinton's emails in 2016, but that his decisions were not ultimately the "result" of political bias. The 500-page report, a copy of which was obtained early by The Washington Post, also reveals that some bureau staff expressed a "willingness to take official action" to stop President Trump from reaching the White House.

Comey has faced condemnation over his decision to criticize Clinton's use of a private email server when announcing that the FBI found no wrongdoing, and again for publicly reopening the investigation a week before the 2016 election. "While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey's part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice," writes DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

Perhaps even more startling, the report found that Comey himself on "numerous instances" used a personal Gmail account to conduct his official FBI business. In July 2016, Comey famously summarized Clinton's use of a private email server as being "extremely careless," even as he said she was not guilty of any crime.

The Washington Post observes that the inspector general's report "aim[s] to define once and for all what the FBI and Justice Department did right and what was wrong in the Clinton probe, but partisans are likely to seize on different findings to buttress their long-held views about that investigation." Significantly, it says that the conclusions "fell significantly short in supporting the assertion by the president and his allies that the investigation was rigged in favor of Clinton." Read the full report here. Jeva Lange

June 14, 2018
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One of the primary investigators in the probe into Hillary Clinton's private email server and into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign apparently texted a colleague in August 2016 to reassure her that "we'll stop" then-candidate Donald Trump from becoming president, The Washington Post reports. The text message from investigator Peter Strzok to FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was romantically involved at the time, is reportedly included as part of the Justice Department inspector general's report on the FBI and DOJ's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which will be released in full Thursday afternoon.

"[Trump is] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!" Page texted.

"No. No he won't. We'll stop it," Strzok replied.

The revelation, as well as the inspector general's likely condemnation of former FBI Director James Comey, are expected to be ammunition for President Trump, who was briefed on the report Thursday. Still, the Post writes that the inspector general's findings "fell significantly short of supporting the assertion by the president and his allies that the investigation was rigged in favor of Clinton," based on a conversation with someone familiar with the report's content.

The president has repeatedly tweeted about Strzok and Page, calling them "incompetent and corrupt FBI lovers" and citing them as proof that "SPYGATE is in full force!" Jeva Lange

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