Last week, while the Trump administration unveiled plans to roll back car pollution rules and told the American Civil Liberties Union to find the deported parents it separated from their children, the tallest point in Sweden melted due to climate change, the National Rifle Association announced that it was deep financial trouble, and the US president tried to gaslight the world about whether or not he was late to meet Queen Elizabeth II a couple weeks ago. (He was.) What kind of a crazy world is this, you might be asking? It’s one everyone talks about online. Here’s what else people were talking about on the internet over the past seven days.
What Happened: The first member of Donald Trump’s inner circle went to court, and all the public got out of it was a lot of news stories and some astonishing jackets.
What Really Happened: Last week started with, it seemed, a lot of people interested in someone else’s legal problems. But when that person is former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, about to go on trial for financial fraud in Virginia, that’s somewhat understandable. Many people tried to pre-analyze what might happen, a situation not helped by the fact that, even before the trial, things were already happening.
But it wasn’t just inside the courthouse that a pre-game show was happening.
OK, that kind of sentence is pretty intense. Of course, considering his position in the Trump campaign, surely there’s the possibility for him to avoid all of this and just cut a deal to testify in Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into potential Russian collusion and obstruction of justice. Who wouldn’t go that route?
Something that definitely caught the attention of many was a focus on Manafort’s expensive and ridiculous spending on clothes.
But, at least that spoke to Manafort’s … interesting business arrangements.
Yes, for such a high-profile trial, everyone should be thankful that things were staying on topic and not getting weird…
The Takeaway: In case you were wondering, President Trump is totally relaxed about this whole trial, having already explained that he barely knew Manafort.
What Happened: Someone really needs to tell President Trump to think twice about what he puts on social media.
What Really Happened: With his campaign under investigation and his former campaign chair on trial for financial irregularities, you might think that Trump was prepared to sit back and be silent for once, letting justice run its course. Guess what didn’t happen.
As might be expected, Democratic politicians were quick to respond to what had just happened—
—and, just as obviously, Republicans were less eager to make any kind of comment at all.
Of course, the White House had a different take on the situation, because what else is press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ job if not to obfuscate for the Executive Branch? Spin, Sarah, spin!
As was argued, Trump was only offering an opinion and certainly didn’t feel agitated about what’s happening at all…
As it stands, everyone is now wondering whether or not Trump will finally sit down with Robert Mueller’s team to answer questions or not. One report last week suggested that the president really wanted to do it, despite the fears of his own attorneys. His reason? He thinks he can convince investigators that they’re actually carrying out a witch hunt.
The Takeaway: Lost in the whole response to Trump attempting something potentially illegal on Twitter was this small fact: It wasn’t even anything that could have helped, because the president had overlooked another small fact…
The Paper of Record
What Happened: The administration’s war on the media continued apace last week. Hopefully everyone who is such a fan of those constitutional amendments is ready to speak up for the press.
What Really Happened: Elsewhere in Donald Trump news, it was a busy week for the fraught relationship between the president and the media, starting with this surprise tweet over the weekend.
It was a surprise especially for The New York Times, which subsequently released a statement that not only gave more detail into the meeting, but explained, “Mr. Trump’s aides requested that the meeting be off the record, which has also been the practice for such meetings in the past. But with Mr. Trump’s tweet this morning, he has put the meeting on the record.” The Times also released a story about the meeting in the paper, which contained one especially eye-opening moment.
Bear that in mind as we jump to Thursday, and an appearance by Ivanka Trump at an Axios event at the Newseum in Washington, DC, where the First Daughter is asked a particular question…
This became a thing in itself, so much so that President Trump himself tried to walk it back hours later. The discrepancy between the two, however, meant that Thursday’s White House briefing was … worrying:
The Takeaway: Then again, maybe Ivanka had an ulterior motive in saying what she said, and all of the fallout is just accidental.
What Happened: One of Roseanne Barr’s thought leaders broke through to the mainstream last week, thanks to a Trump rally.
What Really Happened: One of the stranger stories last week came during a Trump rally where a conspiracy theory that had been under the surface for quite some time finally started to get some attention. It all started on Tuesday when folks noticed one letter in particular was making a lot of appearances at the president’s event in Tampa.
Q? This Q?
Apparently not, as fun as the idea of a Star Trek: The Next Generation movement starting at Trump rallies may be. This Q, as it turns out, is something far more disturbing.
Indeed, thanks to the appearances at the rally, the “QAnon” conspiracy theory—in which Trump is a heroic figure pushing back against a conspiracy running America that makes the “Deep State” look like an after-school glee club—went mainstream with all manner of explainers and descriptions. This wasn’t something that went over well with everyone, as some complained that it was merely helping the conspiracy theory become more easily shared (as was apparently happening, it should be noted).
But what drove many people to distraction about the conspiracy theory was the way in which it overlooked actual facts that are happening right now:
As with all conspiracies, the response to this got wonderfully complicated for those into the Dark Web of it all, with Anonymous coming out against Q.
But what’s the scariest thing about this whole subject? How many people eagerly ate up the genuinely mystifying, contradictory nonsense, and what that means for the future.
The Takeaway: But we still don’t know! Who is Q? What could he want, besides simply whipping a whole swath of Americans up into a frenzy for nefarious purposes? If only he’d come forward and tell us what he wan—
Paul Ryan’s Ancestry
What Happened: Turns out, there’s something about Paul Ryan that even Paul Ryan didn’t know. But no one seems to be particularly excited over the news.
What Really Happened: Let’s close the week out with something light. As the result of research carried out for the PBS show Finding Your Roots, Republican speaker of the House and famous fitness fanatic Paul Ryan discovered that he was, surprisingly, 3 percent Jewish. Jewish Twitter was … what’s the opposite of thrilled?
Still, at least Ryan seemed to be excited about it:
Guess how that went down…
The Takeaway: This is getting out of hand. We need someone to bring a sense of perspective here…