Whether you were at the beach, studying or just too busy relaxing to keep up with the news during spring break, here’s a rundown of the biggest local and national headlines from the past week.
FBI investigates Russia’s interference in U.S. presidential election — March 20:
FBI director James Comey announced at a House Intelligence Committee hearing that the Trump administration would be placed under investigation to determine if Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election in any capacity.
Comey also announced during the March 20 hearing that there was no evidence to support Trump’s claims that he had been wiretapped by the Obama administration.
Gov. Larry Hogan backs down from initial outrage of county’s high school rape report — March 21-23:
Two high school students were charged with first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl at Rockville High School in Montgomery County on March 16. The case has sparked conversations about immigration, as both offenders happened to be undocumented.
“To ensure we do not unintentionally prejudice an ongoing investigation, MCPS cannot provide any additional details about this specific case at this time,” the county’s superintendent Jack Smith wrote in a message to the community March 19.
Hogan initially criticized the Montgomery County Public School administration for privatizing the details of the investigation, claiming the “public has a right to know how something this tragic and unacceptable was allowed to transpire in a public school,” he said in a statement March 21.
Further comments from Hogan later that week suggested his changed point of view.
“We kind of want to let everybody do their jobs,” Hogan said, according to The Washington Post. “I think the school system is taking it seriously, the police are taking it seriously, and there’s obviously a federal component to it that we’ve got to pay attention to.”
American Health Care Act pulled — March 24:
Upon realizing he lacked the necessary votes to pass the bill, House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the American Health Care Act — also known as Trumpcare — which was meant to replace the seven-year-old Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, instated by former President Barack Obama.
Despite the unsuccessful bill, President Trump tweeted with optimism the following day, stating, “ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!”
Passing the American Health Care Act would mean Americans would no longer be penalized for not having health insurance, according to the Los Angeles Times. However, it would also mean cutting potentially $1 trillion in federal Medicaid spending, and denying extra aid for lower-income Americans by eliminating the subsidy system currently in place under the ACA.
Keystone Pipeline Vote — March 24:
President Trump granted approval for the State Department to issue a presidential permit that will allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, coinciding with a proposal initially made by the pipeline’s parent company TransCanada, according to CNN.
Proponents of the pipeline’s construction like the idea of creating more American jobs, while also extending the transportation network of crude oil from locations in Canada to the United States. Others oppose the construction for environmental reasons, and because extending the construction would cross into Native American tribal land.
The construction of the pipeline will eventually create 50 permanent jobs, CNN reported.
Michael Flynn communicated with Turkish officials — March 25:
It was revealed that Michael Flynn, former national security adviser for Trump’s administration, had spoken with members of the Turkish government in September about the possibility of removing a Muslim cleric from the United States and sending him back to Turkey.
Former CIA director James Woolsey told the Wall Street Journal he witnessed this meeting, though a spokesman for Flynn denied Woolsey’s claims.
Flynn resigned as national security adviser in February after evidence surfaced that he had misled Vice President Pence regarding his communication with the Russian ambassador to the United States.