The President of the United States is under investigation
I haven’t written about the Trump/Russia investigation much on here, mostly because my life has been insanely busy lately, and other events demanded more of my attention. Brief recap: former FBI director James Comey was fired on May 9, ostensibly because he was unfair to Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign. While that is true, many people didn’t buy that excuse. Why would President Trump fire him for something he did to a political opponent? Trump gave an interview with Lester Holt soon after in which he seemed to admit that he fired Comey because he was investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the presidential election. This prompted the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller (who was Comey’s predecessor at the FBI) to further investigate the situation. In addition, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence began an inquiry and called both Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to testify.
In Comey’s testimony, he revealed that he had “no doubt” that Russian operatives interfered with the 2016 election. He also described several conversations in which he said Trump pressured him to drop an investigation into his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired because of his ties to Russia. Comey also admitted leaking information to the press because he wanted a Special Counsel to be appointed. While Comey didn’t come out and say it, his testimony seemed to indicate that he believed Trump obstructed justice by interfering in an official investigation that he was connected to. Spurred on by this, Special Counsel Mueller is now investigating Trump for that very charge.
So what does this mean? Well… we don’t really know yet. Democrats have been salivating at the prospect of a possible Trump impeachment, but since Republicans control Congress, that probably won’t happen anytime soon. From what we know of partisan polarization and loyalty, it would stand to reason that Republicans wouldn’t start abandoning Trump in any real numbers unless something catastrophic were to happen. That “something catastrophic” would probably have to be one of two things in my view: Either Mueller’s investigation finds solid evidence of obstruction of justice, or evidence that many high-level officials in the Trump campaign helped the Russians interfere in the election. And either of those could take a long time. If Democrats take over the House in the 2018 midterm elections, the chances of impeachment could rise. But they would still need buy-in from Republicans to remove Trump from office, as a 2/3 majority in the Senate is required to do so. Republicans will probably remain in control of the Senate after 2018 due to an extremely favorable playing field.
Republican health care bill gets new life
Lost in the news of Trump’s legal troubles was the fact that the Republican health care reform effort soldiers on. Even as House Speaker Paul Ryan declared that Obamacare was the law of the land for the foreseeable future after the House failed to pass first version of the bill back in March, the effort was revived. Several changes were made to the bill to placate the super-conservative Freedom Caucus, such as allowing state governments to roll back required coverage for essential health services, and letting states seek waivers that would allow insurers to charge more to people with preexisting conditions. Even then, 20 Republican Congressman joined every Democrat in opposing the bill, many of them moderates from swing districts.
Many moderate Republican Senators immediately slammed the bill upon its passage, and promised to work on their own version. However, the Senate bill is being drafted behind closed doors, drawing bipartisan criticism. This has created speculation that the bill will be quickly ushered to a vote without a public hearing or drafting session. Given the intense unpopularity of the House bill, it would seem that these methods would only serve to exacerbate those problems. Even more interesting is the fact that Republicans repeatedly accused Democrats of “ramming Obamacare down America’s throat” (they didn’t… the process took 8-9 months) and now appear poised to do just that with their bill.
After seven years, finally more Metroid
On a lighter note, my favorite video game series is finally making a proper comeback. I haven’t written much about my Metroid fandom on here, frankly because there hasn’t been much to write about since Metroid: Other M’s release in 2010. That game sharply divided the fanbase, and since then Nintendo has seemed reluctant to release a new Metroid game (beyond that weird spinoff in 2015). But at the E3 expo this year, fans’ prayers were finally answered with two games: Metroid: Samus Returns, which is a reimagining of the 1991 Game Boy game Metroid II: Return of Samus, will come out first in September of this year for the Nintendo 3DS. While some may criticize this as a retread, I actually think remaking Metroid II is a good idea. The original version left a lot to be desired in terms of gameplay, though it did continue the tradition of killer soundtracks for Metroid games. Honestly, one of the things that got me most excited about this game was hearing that several composers who worked on Super Metroid’s soundtrack are coming back for this game. Nintendo also has a good track record with Metroid remakes, as Metroid: Zero Mission was an excellent remake of the original Metroid game for the Game Boy Advance.
And, perhaps the biggest news of all: the Metroid Prime series is back! Nintendo unveiled this news with a dramatic reveal at E3 of the logo and the words “now in development for the Nintendo Switch.” And… that’s pretty much all we know about it. Retro Studios, the subsidiary of Nintendo who was responsible for the first three games, is not making this game, which caused some panic among fans. But like the worry that surrounded the Rogue One reshoots, let’s not jump to conclusions until we see the game. After all, Kensuke Tanabe, the producer behind the original series, is still on board, so it’s not like this is a total departure from the past. Either way, after skipping the Wii U because of a less-than-stellar game library and lack of Metroid, I will now be buying a Nintendo Switch.