Friday Spotlight – May 12, 2017

Each Friday, Torchlight Media will publish a summary of the major news that happened for that week: the announcements and events, the twists and turns of ongoing stories, and all of the other highlights in between. Our goal is to give you a big-picture look at the week’s news so that even if you can’t follow everything yourself, you can have a general sense of where things stand. We hope, too, that seeing the highlights laid out will help you separate the small, pointless stories that crop up over the week from the more impactful, ongoing stories.

Here’s what’s in the spotlight for this week:

  • On Sunday, France elected Emmanuel Macron to the Presidency, defeating far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. Jeremy Rosenlund has the details here.
  • On Monday, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on crime and terror. The hearing concerned the timeline of events leading up to the firing of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Yates confirmed that she had warned the White House that Flynn had lied about his conversations with a Russian official, but was unable to provide an explanation for why the White House did not fire him for another 18 days.
  • On Tuesday, liberal candidate Moon Jae-in was elected President of South Korea. The son of North Korean refugees, Moon has worked as a human rights lawyer and as the chief of staff of President Roh Moo-hyun in the early 2000s. Moon favors the use of softer power to bring North Korea to the bargaining table, and has said that Seoul needs to learn to say no to Washington. Because Moon’s election took place in the wake of an impeachment scandal (see Jeremy Rosenlund’s article for more details), he does not have the traditional waiting period, and started his term in office Wednesday.
  • On Tuesday, President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, citing his decisions last year to speak publically about the results investigations into Hillary Clinton’s emails. The move raised widespread alarm, as Comey’s purview included the investigation into Russian interference in the election, and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. The episode led to scrambling by White House staff to defend Trump’s actions. We have more on the firing here.
  • On Tuesday, Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson announced he would step down at the end of June. The move comes as the Census Bureau is beginning the long ramp-up to the 2020 census. Census data is used in a wide range of government and private-sector applications, and an accurate count is crucial for proper resource allocation. It also has a significant impact on voting and Congressional apportionment through its impact on redistricting. The census is Constitutionally mandated and must occur every 10 years.
  • On Thursday, the heads of several intelligence agencies, including Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee; Torchlight’s Christopher Dahlin attended and provided live updates. McCabe directly contradicted statements by President Trump, stating that the fired Director Comey had wide support among FBI staff.