Welcome to the second instalment of our 2024 United States presidential election weekly recaps. If you missed week one’s summary, make sure you catch up here. After another tumultuous week in US politics, we’re here once again to deliver bite-sized and clear summaries of this week’s most important political events. So buckle up folks, because it’s going to be another wild ride.
First of all, we have Congressman George Santos, who decided to give reelection a pass after the House Committee on Ethics accused the Republican of spending a hefty sum of his campaign funds on Botox treatments, luxury fashion purchases, and OnlyFans content.
“He used his connections to high-value donors and other political campaigns to obtain additional funds for himself through fraudulent or otherwise questionable business dealings,” the House Committee alleged in its long-awaited report.
On X, Santos called the findings “biased” and a “politicised smear.” Still, the congressman decided not to seek a second term in light of the probe. “My family deserves better than to be under the gun from the press all the time,” he stated.
Moving on, we have Facebook and Instagram-owner Meta. The company is allowing its two biggest platforms to run political advertising saying that the 2020 United States presidential election was rigged. Yes, you read that right. The claim that a past election was “stolen” is also allowed.
That being said, language questioning the veracity of ongoing or future elections will be prevented. Apparently, the policy was quietly introduced in 2022 after the US midterm primary elections, according to the Wall Street Journal. The publication also reported that Meta came to this decision after weighing the age-old social media free speech dilemma. I hope the company will tolerate my right to freedom of expression when I say that this decision to let opinion prevail over fact is completely bonkers.
Donald Trump’s gag order in his New York City trial has been lifted. Is anyone else shuddering, or is it just me? The court case against Trump, his two adult sons, and the wider Trump Organization is trying to determine whether Trump committed fraud by inflating the value of their properties by over $2 billion in order to secure favourable loans. The gag order against Trump was issued on the trial’s second day by the presiding judge, Arthur F. Engoron, after the former US President attacked the judge’s law clerk in a social media post accusing her of being a Democratic partisan. It prohibited Trump from any further attacks on the clerk and other court staff.
Trump being Trump, violated the order not once, but twice, incurring $15,000 in fines. The judge later issued a similar order against Trump’s lawyers, barring them from commenting on his private communications with court staff. This week, however, Trump’s lawyers challenged both of those orders in an appeals court on Thursday 16 November. The appellate judge, David Friedman, paused them after an hour-long oral argument.
And it only took Trump a couple of hours before he launched a fresh attack on Judge Engoron and a court clerk, writing on his social media platform Truth Social: “His Ridiculous and Unconstitutional Gag Order, not allowing me to defend myself against him and his politically biased and out of control, Trump-Hating Clerk, who is sinking him and his Court to new levels of LOW, is a disgrace.”
Lastly, we should probably recap what happened in a recent meeting between the current US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. While expectations for their little catch-up were kept low, with President Xi noting that US-China relations have “never been smooth sailing” (especially when ballons are involved), it looks like the boys were able to put their egos aside for a minute and find common ground on some real issues like climate change.
The two countries, which uncoincidentally are the world’s biggest carbon emitters, agreed on further measures to tackle climate change. Yayyy. This includes promises to cooperate to reduce methane emissions, a particularly potent greenhouse gas. Further, they will support global efforts to triple renewable energy by 2030. Nevertheless, the two titans fell short of commitments to end the use of fossil fuels.
Next to their agreements on climate change, the countries decided to crack down on fentanyl trafficking. Chinese manufacturing companies are a source not only of the drug itself but of precursor chemicals that can be combined to make it. The synthetic opioid played a role in around 75,000 US deaths last year.
Additionally, and this one made my day, President Xi said that he’d be open to sending more pandas to American zoos. “Pandas have long been envoys of friendship between the Chinese and American peoples,” he said to an audience of business leaders at a dinner on Wednesday night. The whole thing is called panda diplomacy, if you weren’t aware, and China frequently loans the bears for up to ten years, with the possibility of extension.
Historically, when US and Chinese relationships started to take a frosty turn, they were asked to be returned to their home country, however. Thus, the shift towards more panda loans might be a sign that things are starting to warm up again.
Last but certainly not least, in more election-related news, prominent Green Party member Jill Stein announced on Thursday 9 November in a video posted on X that she’s running for the party’s nomination again. In 2016, she was the Green Party nominee in the race against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
And that’s a wrap for this week. Make sure you check in next Friday for our third recap!