While You Were Offline: The Stormy Daniels Front Continues to Roll In
Another week, another tale of tumult on the internet. Whether it's Fox News host Laura Ingraham being forced to apologize after mocking one of the Parkland students or the growing pushback against FOSTA/SESTA, everything last week felt fraught. And those are just two of the stories that had people talking on social media. Want to know more? Here you go.
What Happened: After weeks of the matter humming in the background, last week was another big one in the ongoing Special Investigation into Potential Russian Collusion.
What Really Happened: Special counsel Robert Mueller's probe got another added twist last week, and it wasn’t that Joe diGenova wouldn’t be joining President Trump’s legal team after being announced as an addition. (The state of Trump’s legal team was much discussed over the last few days, though.) Nope, the latest curveball came courtesy of the latest court filing from Mueller.
…So that would apparently be a yes, then. It turned out, however, that wasn’t the only Mueller investigation news to come out over the last seven days, because this dropped more or less a day after the Rick Gates story:
Of course, the White House is denying the reports, because why would anyone think differently? But, before anyone got too carried away with the pardons of it all, the week ended where it started, with the revelation that Mueller wanted Gates because he sees him as a link between Trump and Russia. This one, friends, will run and run.
The Takeaway: This feels like a significant understatement…
The Stormy Daniels Front Continues to Roll In
What Happened: Meanwhile, President Trump's other controversy—you know, the Stormy Daniels one—continued unabated.
What Really Happened: Speaking of stories that are set to run and run, Stormy Daniels has had quite a week in the past seven days. It started early last week with her much-anticipated 60 Minutes interview—
But that was just the start! While people wondered why Trump wasn’t responding publicly to the story—although he’s apparently telling people privately that she’s not his type, a fact disproven by looking at almost everyone he’s ever had a relationship with—the next phase of the Stormy plan moved into action. And it was an unexpected one.
That definitely doesn’t sound good for Michael Cohen. But at least all the focus is on Cohen this time around, and not on his boss, the President of the United States. Wait, what’s that?
OK, sure; this sounds worse than it did initially. Thankfully, there’s no chance that the legal teams for either Trump or Cohen would do anything to hurt themselves.
It was the move that prompted the headline “Michael Cohen’s Attorney May Be a Worse Lawyer Than He Is,” which seemed like an understatement, as others pointed out. But surely he learned his lesson and wouldn’t repeat the mistake the very next day…
The Takeaway: If nothing else, this lawsuit is probably going to be very entertaining to watch.
Julian Assange Unplugged
What Happened: What happens when a man who has become a creature of the internet suddenly has no internet access? What is the sound of one hand clapping?
What Really Happened: It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but there’s a reason for that. Or, at least, there was last week.
As might be expected, not everyone thought this was fair.
Eventually a hashtag popped up supporting Assange’s right to the internet: #ReconnectJulian.
Clearly, someone needs to come up with a plan to make sure that Assange can continue to … do whatever he actually does on the internet.
Maybe not that plan, though.
The Takeaway: We think this treats the entire subject with the seriousness it deserves…
Like The Apprentice, But on Twitter
What Happened: President Trump fired someone on Twitter. Again.
What Really Happened: Remember all the fuss when the president replaced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson via Twitter? It was a move that received so much comment and disapproval that there was almost certainly no way that he’d do it—oh, wait. Never mind.
On one hand, it wasn’t the biggest surprise that Shulkin was ousted, considering it was revealed just last month that he (and his staff) misled ethics officials over travel expenses, claimed that he was being pushed out of his job before saying he wouldn’t leave, and then declared that he had White House backing to purge the department of Veterans Affairs. Those aren’t exactly signs that he was going to stay in the position for very long. Nonetheless, his ousting—and the choice of replacement—raised a few eyebrows online. If nothing else, people were quick to respond to Ronny Jackson’s nomination as the new man in charge of the VA.
Still, surely Trump had his reasons when he chose Jackson.
Yeah, that seems about right. With all the people surprised by the nomination, it should be noted that Jackson was one of them, according to the Washington Post, which reported that he was "taken aback by his nomination" and "hesitated to take such a big job." The interview process, which many people suspect didn’t even happen, was described by the Post as "informal," which seems a nice way to put it. Meanwhile, as Jackson was thinking about the future, so was his predecessor; it turned out, David Shulkin had been working on his own going away present.
The Takeaway: Still, let’s think about the future, shall we?
Adnan Syed's New Trial
What Happened: For longtime fans of popular podcasts, this week provided an unexpected piece of good news.
What Really Happened: Fans of the first season of podcast phenomenon Serial got a surprise update to the story of Adnan Syed on Thursday.
Those who haven’t been following Rabia Chaudry’s Twitter feed—and who have not kept up with Syed’s attempts to overturn a murder conviction that relied upon evidence that was not entirely convincing—that tweet might be a little vague, but thankfully, others were along with details soon enough.
This was, not to put it mildly, a big deal, as media coveragesuggested. Chaudry, an attorney and author who advocated for Syed’s case years before Serial (and who continued to work on it afterwards, not least as part of the Undisclosed podcast team), was understandably elated.
Chaudry’s Undisclosed co-hosts also stepped in to comment.
Of course, this doesn't mean Syed will be found innocent this time around—but Chaudry is confident about that outcome.
Although that might require your assistance, as it turns out…
The Takeaway: And for all those feeling as if Serial didn’t do a good enough job of presenting Syed’s innocence, here’s a special message: