This week in politics, 11/27-12/4


Former General and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn looks on at a Donald Trump campaign rally. (Gage Skidmore/ Flickr)

Following the announcement of indictments of former Trump campaign staffers Paul Manafort, Richard Gates, and George Papadopoulos on Oct. 30, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has once again turned up new charges.

Elsewhere, Congressional Republicans continue to move forward with the Republican tax reform plan, with a variation of the bill being passed by a narrow margin in the Senate.

Flynn pleads guilty to lying to FBI

Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser to both President Obama and President Trump, has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about communications he had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, per a New York Times article posted on Dec. 1.

Flynn, who was fired by President Trump in February, released a statement about his plea (per USA Today), saying that he accepts full responsibility for his actions and plans to cooperate with Special Counsel Mueller. He did note, however, that accusations of “‘treason’ and other outrageous acts” are “false,” and “contrary to everything I have ever done and stood for.”

The implications of this guilty plea could potentially be significant in Mueller’s probe to discover the highest levels of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Much like Papadopoulos when he was arrested over the summer, Flynn’s willingness to cooperate indicates that he probably received a deal from Mueller in exchange for revealing more information about wrongdoing by higher-ranked officials within the Trump campaign and administration.

If Flynn possesses information crucial to the investigation, even more charges could be coming soon. Powerful figures like Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. and even the president himself could be implicated.

Despite the intensifying investigation, the Trump White House remains steadfast in its position.

According to CNN, White House officials claim that “nothing about the guilty plea or the charges implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.”

Senate passes tax reform bill

On Dec. 2, the Senate passed a massive tax reform bill by a narrow margin of 51-49. According to TIME, the bill will add nearly $1.5 trillion to the budget deficit.

According to TIME, no Democrats voted to pass the bill. Ultra-conservative spending Senator Bob Corker — who has publicly feuded with President Trump over the past few months — also voted against the bill due to the amount that it would add to the growing deficit.

The bill includes a number of significant provisions. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill would eliminate state and local income tax deductions, which could have significant implications for public schools, according to The Washington Post.

While Republicans are inching closer to a major tax overhaul, there are still key differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill which need to be reconciled before the bill can be passed and written into law.

For one, medical expense deductions would remain in place in the Senate bill, while they would be eliminated completely in the House bill. On the other hand, the Senate bill would preserve exemptions for graduate student tuition waivers, while those would be eliminated under the House bill (per Forbes).

While there are still plenty of critical differences to be sorted out before a bill is officially passed, Republican tax reform is looking increasingly likely each day.

Email John at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @JohnDCoakley.

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