Wednesday, 6 July 2022 – 09:08

2019: What Happened In US Politics?

January

1st January – On 31st December 2018, as the ball dropped in Times Square and fireworks lit up the American skies, government officials in Washington D.C. were already a week into a dispute that would last through until the end of January.

3rd January – The new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives – elected in November 2018 – take their seats in the House. Their tenure began by refusing to grant the funding for Trump’s border wall. It took more than a month to finally approve a federal budget for the year, with employees across the country – including lifeguards and park rangers – going without pay following the Christmas season. In all, one quarter of government departments were forced to either partially shut down or fully close for 35 days, resulting in 800,000 Americans going without pay, or being furloughed.

25th January – Trump stated that he would veto any bill that did not contain border wall funding, with the Senate and the House both approving a bill that did not contain wall funding. He made an offer to extend protections for Dreamers (children born in the United States to illegal immigrant parents), which he previously opposed, in exchange for wall funding; this was rejected. Trump agreed to a temporary funding of the wall which allowed three weeks for further negotiations on the bill, eventually leading Trump to take executive action – declaring a national emergency to direct funding to a border wall. A bill passed Congress the day before, with Trump left unsatisfied by the lack of wall funding, but eventually forced to concede – his approval ratings plummeted during the shutdown.

January 2019 also saw some Democrats announce their intentions to run for the presidency in 2020, with Kirsten Gillibrand, Pete Buttegieg, Marianne Williamson and Tulsi Gabbard announcing their intentions to run.

February

1st February –  An immediately a contentious political event kicked off February, with Donald Trump announcing that the United would leave the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, a decision that was roundly criticized by opponents and suggested his intention to significantly expand the United States’ nuclear arsenal.

9th-21st February – Some bigger hitting Democrats also announced their intentions to run for president, including front-runners Elizabeth Warren (9th) and Bernie Sanders (19th), along with Amy Klobuchar (10th) and Kamala Harris (21st).

27th-28th February – The second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, of North Korea began; the pair met in Hanoi, Vietnam, and was intended to signal a move towards peace, however, failed to come up with any significant agreements on cooperation, despite Donald Trump proclaiming the summit as a win.

March

15th March – The first veto of the Trump presidency was issued, with him striking down a Senate resolution to end his national emergency declaration over the border wall, allowing him to continue using appropriated funds to build the wall.

15th March – The same day saw a significant climate change protest, with a mass school-walkout aimed at demanding action by the government. This was largely the result of campaigning by Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, who had begun a climate change school walkout protest in her native country the year prior.

22nd March – Special Counsel Robert Mueller, sent his report on Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election, finding that there were significant efforts made by Russia to influence the United States election – although stopped short of claiming the significance of its impact – also stating that there was no evidence of the Trump campaign directly colluding with Russia during the election.

26th March – The House of Representatives successfully banned bump stocks – a stock that allows semi-automatic rifles to be essentially turned into automatic weapons – which were used in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting to kill 58 people at a music festival.

26th March – The same day saw the House fail to find the Supermajority (66%) of votes required to overturn Donald Trump’s veto of the Senate resolution on the border wall, allowing him to continue using emergency funds to build the wall.

April

1st April – April was a comparatively historic month in what was a hectic year for US politics. On 1st April, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that inmates on death row were not guaranteed painless execution under the constitution in the Bucklew vs Precythe case.

3rd April – The House issue a subpoena for the Mueller report, which would allow them to read the full report, rather than only the 4-page summary sent by Attorney General William Barr. Whilst Representative Richard Neal send a letter to the Internal Revenue Service asking for Donald Trump’s tax returns, which he famously refused to publish – against decades of precedent – in the lead up to the 2016 election.

4th April – The war powers act was invoked for only the second time. The bill was passed in 1973 after Richard Nixon was seen to be acting too unilaterally over expanding the Vietnam war into Cambodia and Laos, but has rarely been used. It was invoked to prevent the United States giving military assistance to Saudi Arabia during its ongoing war in Yemen.

25th April – Former Vice President and clear frontrunner, Joe Biden, enter the presidential primary. He later went on to win the nomination shortly after the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

May

2nd May – Facebook began a ‘purge’ of “dangerous individuals and organisations” from all their platforms, removing the likes of InfoWars – a major conspiratorial online media network – and prominent right-wing commentators, such as Mile Yiannopoulos, from their platforms. The move was criticised as censorship of the right-wing by Donald Trump, although was branded as an attempt to tackle fake news, by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

3rd May – New unemployment figures were announced, with just 3.6 percent of Americans unemployed, the lowest level in nearly half a century.

6th May – Arizona’s State Senate declares war on porn, claiming pornography to be a public health crisis in the state, resulting in significant backlash from across the country.

17th May – A major agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico is announced, which will remove the tariffs on steel and aluminium that Donald Trump had previously imposed back in 2018. The agreement, known as US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), intended to replace the NAFTA free trade agreement.

30th May – It was announced by the Center for Disease Control that there was a significant measles outbreak in the United States, with nearly 1000 cases recorded, which was the highest rate for more than 25 years.

30th May – The same day also saw the Trump administration place 5% tariffs on all Mexican imports, in a move that was allegedly to prevent the migration from central America, through Mexico, into the United States, yet was criticised heavily for damaging American consumers with higher prices.

June

7th June – A comparatively quiet month, June saw NASA announce that the International Space Station (ISS) would be opened up for private companies to use from the beginning of 2020.

30th June – The end of the month saw Donald Trump meet with Kim Jong Un once again, at a three powers summit including South Korea’s Moon Jae-In. Donald Trump became the first US president to set foot in North Korea, crossing the heavily fortified border in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) on foot. The majority of the summit was hosted in South Korea, with the United States and North Korea stating that they would reopen negotiations on nuclear weapons

July

4th July – (Independence Day), Donald Trump became the first US president since Harry Truman in 1951 to address a crowd on the National Mall in Washington D.C. on Independence Day.

12th July – Labour Secretary, Alex Acosta, was forced to resign on 12th July, amidst a controversy over his 2007 prosecution in a trial relating to Jeffrey Epstein – who had been arrested earlier in July, causing the controversy to resurface.

16th July – Donald Trump was roundly criticised for an attack on four democratic Congressmen (known as the squad), which was widely perceived as racist. Despite the president denying his comments were racist, the house voted to condemn the comments by a margin on 240-187.

25th July – Attorney General, William Barr, decides to reinstate the death penalty for federal crimes, also scheduling the execution of 5 inmates that had previously been granted stays of execution.

25th July – Just hours later, Mitch McConnell, the House Majority Leader, decided to block legislation that would improve election security, despite reports stating that the US democratic system was still vulnerable to foreign influence and fraud.

31st July – The first cut in interest rates – to 2-2.25% – since the 2008 financial crisis was made. The decision by the federal reserve (the United States’ central bank) suggested that the economy was struggling and that potential recession could be on the horizon.

August

3rd August – El Paso, Texas, was rocked by a mass shooting, which was one of the biggest of the year; 23 were killed and a further 23 injured. Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who was brought up near El Paso, was extremely vocal about the need for gun reform in the United States, but just a day later 9 people were killed at a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio.

23rd August – A significant move was made by NASCAR – one of the most popular sports in the United States – after they announced they were ending the advertising of firearms at its events.

29th August – After reports of faulty voting machines in the previous election, Georgia passes a bill that requires all faulty machines to be replaced, or the state be required to use paper ballots in the 2020 primary, to ensure the integrity of the electoral system.

September

3rd September – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution which called the NRA a terrorist organisation.

9th September – The inspector general of intelligence, Michael Atkinson, reports of an “urgent” and “credible” whistle-blower complaint that Donald Trump had attempted to use $250 million of aid in order to encourage Ukrainian president, Vladimir Zelensky, to open an investigation into Hunter Biden (son of Democratic frontrunner, Joe Biden), who formerly worked for an oil and gas company in Ukraine. The next day, Donald Trump dismisses his national security advisor, John Bolton.

20th September – Another school walkout occurs across America, to protest climate change, led by Greta Thunberg and a Colorado student, Haven Coleman.

24th September – Nancy Pelosi announces the beginning of an impeachment inquiry over the alleged phone call between Donald Trump and Ukraine’s President Zelensky.

25th September – The White House releases a heavily redacted transcript of the alleged phone call between Trump and Zelensky on 25th July. It is criticised for containing barely any information of what was said, leading to speculation of a coverup and comparisons to the Watergate scandal that brought down President Nixon in 1974.

This was one day after Nancy Pelosi had announced the beginning of an impeachment enquiry over the phone call.

October

9th October – It was reported by the Wall Street Journal that two close associates of Rudy Giuliani – Donald Trump’s White House Counsel – had been arrested over charges related to campaign finance violations. They had allegedly worked with Giuliani in an attempt to find ‘dirt’ on Joe Biden, that could be used in the 2020 presidential campaign.

9th October – Former Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, testified to the House impeachment enquiry, despite the state department ordering her not to do so.

31st October – The House votes to formally proceed with the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, paving the way for votes on articles of impeachment.

November

2nd November – It became clear that Donald Trump’s border wall was completely ineffective, with multiple reports that it had been breached by handheld electric saws and other equipment simple and inexpensive equipment, making it effectively useless in its stated aim of preventing illegal immigration.

13th November – The first impeachment hearings were held, with Bill Taylor and George Kent, both of whom served as diplomats or advisors on Ukraine, testifying before the committee.

15th November – Two days later, a former Trump associate, Roger Stone, was convicted of witness tampering and various other charges pertaining to investigations into the 2016 presidential election, whilst Trump also gives pardons to two American officers, who had been convicted of war crimes.

20th November – A bombshell moment occurred at the Trump impeachment hearings – perhaps the most significant to that point – with Gordon Sondland stating that there was an attempt at quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine.

24th November – The former New York Mayor and 77-year-old billionaire, Michael Bloomberg entered the Democratic presidential race, despite five debates having already taken place. He would go on to spend more than $200 billion on his primary campaign.

25th November – Former White House Counsel (the president’s lawyer) Don McGahn was ordered by a federal judge to testify in the impeachment investigation.

December

1st December – The White House announced that Donald Trump would not testify or cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing later that week.

The next day, Donald Trump’s energy secretary Rick Perry resigned.

5th December – Saw an appeal submitted by Huawei to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals against a decision to prohibit the company from providing equipment to rural network providers.

9th December – The Department of Justice Inspector General issued a report that concluded that the FBI investigation into the 2016 presidential campaign was legal and conducted without any political bias.

18th December – Articles of Impeachment are passed along party lines, making Donald Trump the third president to ever be impeached. The charges were for obstruction of justice and abuse of power, sending the impeachment to the Senate for trial – Donald Trump was acquitted in early 2020.

20th December – A brand new military services branch is formed for the first time in 72 years, the United States Space Force (USSF) becomes the sixth branch, alongside the likes of the Navy and the Air Force.

30th December – Donald Trump and Barack Obama tie in a most admired man in America poll, Michelle Obama is the most admired woman, with many asking her to join the Democratic primary race.

 

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