EAST WIND: That Was The Week That Was

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By MIYA IWATAKI

(Published May 24, 2017)

“That Was the Week That Was” ran from 1962-63 on BBC. Presented by David Frost, it broke ground in TV comedy by lampooning the establishment and political figures. The American version of TWTWTW aired Saturday night on NBC in 1964-65 hosted by Frost; and featured parodies, debates, song and stand-up by the likes of Woody Allen, Steve Allen, Mike Nichols and Elaine May. 

“It’s déjà vu all over again.” — Yogi Berra

Do you feel like you’ve been on a roller coaster ride after you read, watched and listened to the news? You never know what to expect. Each day reveals a new snarky presidential tweet, and a longer peek at a White House in disarray. But these last few days between May 8-18 — OMG! That Was the Week That Was! Let’s take a brief look:

May 8 — Ousted Acting Attorney General Sally Yates provides explosive testimony that had she warned the Trump Administration about fired National Security Advisor Michael Flynn on three different occasions. Later, that same day, Obama Administration officials confirm that Obama warned Trump about Flynn at their meeting just two days after the election.

May 9 — Trump fires FBI Director James Comey. He indicates the firing is based on the recommendation of Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and AG Jeff Sessions. Rosenstein’s memo uses as justification Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. While Trump’s letter inexplicably states: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the DOJ that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.”

Comey finds out he is fired while in L.A. on an FBI recruitment trip, when the recruits he’s speaking to see the news on TV.

Wild speculations mount over who will now lead the FBI and the Russia investigation.

May 10 — The very next day after Comey’s firing, Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak (who was a key player in the Michael Flynn firing and investigation) at the White House! The American media is barred from this meeting, but photos are taken and released by the Russian press, who are allowed to attend.

Further trying to justify the Comey firing, the White House says the FBI’s “rank-and-file had lost confidence in their director.”

May 11 — NBC News’ Lester Holt interviews Trump about the Comey firing. Trump contradicts his staff’s explanation that it was a DOJ recommendation, and tells Holt he had already decided on his own to fire Comey days before.

At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe contradicts the White House, testifying that it is not accurate that FBI rank-and-file had lost confidence in Comey, adding, “I hold Dir. Comey in the highest regard.”

May 12 — Trump tweets, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” The specter of Watergate and the Nixon tapes is raised. No one seems to know if the president actually does have tapes.

Now Rep. Maxine Waters is not the only one talking about impeachment, although others tiptoe around referring to the “I-word.”

May 15 — The Washington Post reports that during Trump’s White House meeting with Minister Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyakat (a known Soviet spy), he shared highly classified information about Islamic State while boasting about how good his intel was. The shared intel was top secret and came from an extremely sensitive closed source. Reportedly, one staff person present was so concerned about Trump’s revelations that he immediately notified the NSA and CIA.

May 16 — The New York Times reports that Comey documented his one-on-one meetings with Trump, including a Feb. 14 conversation where Trump asked him to end the Flynn investigation. A potential obstruction of justice.

During Trump’s invitational meeting with Turkey’s President Erdogan at the White House, some demonstrators outside protesting Turkey’s dictator are attacked and beaten by members of Erdogan’s security detail.

May 17 — Putin comes to Trump’s defense, playing down any security concerns, and offers to share with Congress the Russian records of the meeting between Trump and Lavrov.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller is named special counsel to head the DOJ’s Russia investigation, including Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any role that Trump’s associates may have played.

May 18 — Trump tweets to protest “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”

Today Trump embarks on a trip including going to NATO (it is being said that NATO speakers are being encouraged to keep their statements around four minutes because Trump has a short attention span), Israel and Saudi Arabia. The timing of this trip with so many distractions at home has his advisors (and our country!) concerned. I’m hoping that this trip does not result in another That Was The Week That Was!

That being said — in times like this, it is important to maintain hope, and remember the obstacles overcome by our great leaders.

“A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”

“I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream.”  Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

GAMBARE!

Miya Iwataki has been an advocate for communities of color for many years, from the JACS Asian Involvement Office in Little Tokyo in the ’70s, through the JA redress/reparations struggle with NCRR while working for Rep. Mervyn Dymally, to statewide health rights advocacy. She also worked in public media at KCET-TV, then KPFK Pacifica Radio as host for weekly radio program, “East Wind.” She can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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