This week marked the first steps towards Donald Trump and his administration officially taking the reigns of power. Not only did some of the President-elect's most high profile cabinet appointees face their public grilling before the Senate, but Trump held his first press conference in months. On top of this, new reports surfaced indicating that Russia may damaging information on Trump. As Trump continues to face ethics questions over his upcoming administration and his business ties, the House voted to begin the first steps towards rolling back the Affordable Care Act without a clear plan in place to replace it. Here is a quick summary of what the heck happened this week:
Trump nominees take the stage:
This week the first round of Trump cabinet nominees faced off against a panel of Senators to discuss their qualifications to lead a federal department. While some are expected to easily be confirmed (Elaine Chao for Transportation and James Mattis for Defense have huge bipartisan support) some are likely to narrowly be elected to their job mostly along party lines. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions is one of those controversial candidates. The former prosecutor and state attorney general is Trump's choice to lead the Justice Department. Despite marching alongside civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis during the 50th anniversary of the 'Bloody Sunday' march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge two years ago and working on bipartisan legislation to recognize civil rights monuments with Senator Cory Booker both men testified against him. Allegations continue that Sessions made racist statements to an African-American colleague in the past.
ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to become Secretary of State was another contentious nominee that testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week. Suspicions remain that Tillerson is too close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and may have business interests in Russia that will interfere with his ability to perform his job. During the hearing he separated himself from Trump several times by mentioning several key areas they disagree on including climate change, a Muslim registry ban and international trade deals
Ben Carson was another candidate that Trump critics are concerned about. Trump's selection for Secretary for Housing and Urban Development may have grown up poor, but he has no experience working with public housing nor has he even led a major government department. He also refused to commit during his hearing to ever sway public money for housing projects towards land deals that would benefit the Trump Organization.
Trump's long awaited press conference
At long last, Trump finally held a press conference to discuss his upcoming administration. He covered a wide range of topics from Russia, to Iran, to Supreme Court nominees to even announcing his pick for Secretary of the VA. He announced that he was transferring control of his company to his sons and blasted "inaccurate news" for delaying his press conferences.
Trump's blackmail file?
Perhaps the biggest issue that Trump addressed was the recent revelations that Russia may have a file on Trump that could be used against him in the future. Both Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed this week by FBI Director James Comey on an unsubstantiated report that Russia may have access to a folder of anti-Trump material. This folder of information supposedly originated from a former MI6 agent collecting opposition research on Trump during the Republican primaries before pro-Hillary groups took over during the general election. Trump dubbed rumors of the meeting and this alleged file as "fake news."
Obamacare begins to crumble
To Democrat's chagrin, it would appear that the Affordable Care Act is being destroyed much the same way that it was created. Being passed along party lines despite the other side's objections. This week the House voted on a budget bill to match a similar measure in the Senate. The bill contained language that would begin the first act of repealing Obamacare. The only issue is that it is unclear what will take its place. Trump claimed during his news conference that he will get to work immediately in repealing the ACA but some Republicans would prefer to wait until there is a plan in place. Some Republicans, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell call for repealing the law now but it won't take effect until a few years from now when GOPers will have a chance to replace it. If/when he is nominated, Rep. Tom Price will likely have a lot of eyes on him as he steps into his role as Secretary of Health and Human Services. It will be his job to be the main architect of what America's health care system will look like in a post-Obamacare era.
This is only scratching the surface of what a dramatic week it has been in Washington D.C. On top of all this, Republicans and Democrats are fighting over whether a painting is artistic expression or anti-police, a former senator tried to start a rebellion onboard a plane and Joe Biden got the best surprise present ever. But don't expect things to let up now. With another week of confirmation hearings to go, talk of Trump appointing a new Supreme Court Justice and Obama entering his final week in the presidency, things are only going to get more and more dramatic from here.