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July 26, 2019

After two weeks of demanding the governor's resignation, Puerto Ricans who protested outgoing Gov. Ricardo Rosselló had a lot to celebrate on Thursday.

Rosselló announced late Wednesday night that he is stepping down Aug. 2. Earlier in the month, leaked group chats between Rosselló and several aides and advisers revealed misogynistic and homophonic remarks, as well as jokes about Hurricane Maria victims. The public was outraged, and the repeated protests spurred Rosselló to leave office.

For many Puerto Ricans, though, they are getting rid of one bad governor and replacing him with a new dud. Rosselló's successor, Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez Garced, isn't very popular. Critics say she has mishandled the prosecutions of members of her own political party, the New Progressive Party, and anti-Vázquez Garced graffiti has been popping up around San Juan. She is a "necessary evil," protestor Mildred Breton told The Washington Post. "But the expectation is that she remains in office the least amount of time possible. She is part of the problem and not a solution."

Under ordinary circumstances, Vázquez Garced would not be replacing Rosselló — the secretary of state succeeds the governor, but that office remains empty after Luis Gerardo Rivera Marín resigned this month in the wake of the group chats scandal. Rosselló could try to appoint a new secretary of state before he leaves office next Friday. Whether it is Vázquez Garced or someone else who assumes the governorship, they're going to have a difficult task ahead — Puerto Rico is dealing with everything from a major bankruptcy and restructuring to cuts to public services. Catherine Garcia

July 21, 2019

The U.S. Southern Command announced Sunday that a Venezuelan fighter aircraft on Friday made an "unsafe approach" to a U.S. Navy aircraft in international airspace, "endangering the safety of the crew and jeopardizing" its mission.

The Navy aircraft, an EP-3 Aries II, was conducting a "detection and monitoring" mission over the Caribbean Sea when the incident took place. Southern Command said it reviewed video that showed Venezuela's "Russian-made fighter aggressively shadowed the EP-3 at an unsafe distance in international airspace for a prolonged period of time." Venezuela's military has since accused the Navy plane of violating "security of air operations and international treaties."

The U.S. government does not believe Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was fairly elected and instead supports opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Southern Command said Maduro's regime "continues to undermine internationally-recognized laws," with Maduro ignoring the suffering of his people and using Venezuela's "precious resources to engage in unprovoked and unjustified acts." Venezuela has claimed that so far this year, more than 76 U.S. aircraft have tried to enter the country's airspace, CNN reports. Catherine Garcia

July 16, 2019

In the not-so-distant past, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) was the fundraising king. He excelled at reeling in the dough during both his 2018 Texas Senate run and his early presidential campaign. But those days are seemingly over for the 2020 candidate.

O'Rourke has struggled recently when it comes to polls and funding, which is raising questions about whether his once-promising campaign has run out of gas. He is expected to report just $3.6 million between April and June, less than half the $9.4 million he raised in the first quarter. The number also falls short of the $6.1 million he raised in the 24 hours after he first announced his campaign, which is what had people thinking he could be a contender in the first place. Politico called the April through June figure "startlingly small."

The fundraising decline reportedly has O'Rourke's allies on edge, though they think he still has time to get things back on track. If that's to be the case, he probably needs to simultaneously improve his polling numbers, which have also dipped.

It doesn't sound as if O'Rourke is ready to bow out, however. Instead of scaling back, the campaign is making a push by expanding its number of field offices in Iowa.

But in the larger picture, the numbers indicate O'Rourke is fading into the primary's muddied waters. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Vice President Joe Biden have begun to separate themselves from the pack in terms of cash and polling data. O'Rourke was never a frontrunner, but he appears to have been displaced by Buttigieg as the election's upstart candidate. Tim O'Donnell

May 8, 2019

There's more to The New York Times' bombshell story about President Trump's tax information than the reveal that Trump is not the best at running a business.

Trump reportedly had a rough go of it between 1985 and 1994. Naturally, he's hand-waving the $1.17 billion that his core businesses lost during that time period — in fact, he's somehow arguing it actually proves how smart he is, business-wise. But his critics are not just challenging that notion. They've also spotted some possibly illegal activity in the form of market manipulation.

Between 1986 and 1988, Trump's businesses were really struggling, the Times reports. Yet he was still raking in millions of dollars on the stock market. His methods, however, were questionable, to say the least.

Eventually, the Times writes, those investors wised up and stopped taking the claims seriously, which eventually resulted in Trump losing most of that money. But it does look like he dodged the Security and Exchange Commission. Not only were Trump's business ethics sketchy, his actions might have been outright against federal law. Tim O'Donnell

August 20, 2018

President Trump told Reuters on Monday he's "not thrilled" with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell raising interest rates.

Trump nominated Powell last year to replace former Fed Chair Janet Yellen. "Am I happy with my choice?" he said. "I'll let you know in seven years." It's rare for presidents to criticize the Fed, as its independence is crucial for economic stability, and when asked by Reuters if he believes in its independence, Trump replied, "I believe in the Fed doing what's good for the country."

The Fed raised rates twice this year, and is expected to do so again in September. "We're negotiating very powerfully and strongly with other nations," Trump said. "We're going to win. But during this period of time I should be given some help by the Fed. The other countries are accommodated." Catherine Garcia

July 23, 2018

"I think it's an overstatement to say we're at the brink of war," Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) said Monday on CNN's New Day of President Trump's late-night Twitter threat against Iran. But, Himes added, there is real cause for concern.

"If you look back at a bunch of Trump's tweets before he was president," the representative said, "he criticized several times Barack Obama and said, 'You just wait, he's going to start a war with Iran if it feels like he's on the political ropes.' And so that's in his head; that's what worries me."

After reviewing a few of the Trump tweets in question, Himes argued that we "need to be sensitive to the fact that this president, who doesn't have a very sophisticated sense of international relations, regards a war as a way to solve political problems — and that's a scary thought." Watch Himes' comments and see the tweets for yourself below. Bonnie Kristian

July 17, 2018

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was so incensed by President Trump's press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday that he called Republican lawmakers and gave them permission to speak out against Trump's comments, three people familiar with the matter told Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman.

Kelly warned Trump that by saying he had no reason to believe Russia would want to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, it made things infinitely worse for him with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Sherman reports, and he also urged him to take back the remarks, which he kind of attempted to do on Tuesday.

Trump himself was surprised by the public's negative reaction to the press conference, but by the time he returned to the United States he was enraged that few people were defending him. "This was the nightmare scenario," one Republican close to the White House told Sherman. Catherine Garcia

April 11, 2018

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has decided not to run for re-election, Axios reported Wednesday. The speaker has apparently told "confidants" that he will announce his decision to retire "soon."

Ryan represents Wisconsin's 1st District, where he's an extremely strong candidate. He won re-election in 2016 with 65 percent of the vote — but perhaps more troubling for the GOP, he won the Republican primary with a whopping 84 percent of the vote, defeating hard-right candidate Paul Nehlen, a person with views so far on the fringe that the Wisconsin Republican Party disavowed him earlier this year.

The filing deadline in Wisconsin is June 1, so should Ryan confirm his retirement plans, the state party would have a bit of time to find a suitable alternative candidate to Nehlen. But even still, Cook Political Report's David Wasserman notes, while Wisconsin's 1st may have been a lock for the GOP under Ryan, that's not so much the case without him:

Rumors that Ryan had reached his limit with the speakership — a job he very publicly didn't want — have swirled for months now, as he has struggled to maintain his reputation as the GOP's moral leader while balancing a relationship with President Trump. But if he indeed walks away from the House, it's a sign of trouble for the GOP: "This is a Titanic, tectonic shift," one Republican insider told Axios. "This is going to make every Republican donor believe the House can't be held."

Democrats need to flip 24 Republican seats to win the House in this year's midterms. Read more about what might happen if they pull it off here at The Week. Kimberly Alters

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