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50/100: Indiana: No Nukes for Iran

Welcome to our flagship series of articles, 50/100. This series of articles breaks down what would happen if a given state (in this case, Indiana) ruled the nation, and also shows the results of the last election.

The 2016 federal election season was rough for Democrats. They only maintained the two House seats they already had, and picked up no open seats, as well as losing the state in the Presidential election. There were two open seats in the House, one in the Senate, and the Governor’s seat was open as well. Democrats lost all of these races.

Donald Trump (R-NY), now the President, won the Republican primary in this state. The Democratic primary winner was Bernie Sanders (D/I-VT).

Result: In the general election, Donald Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton (D-NY), 56.9%-37.8%, with write-ins and Libertarians making up the other 5.3% of the vote. The race, called at 8:00 PM on Election day, was bad news for Hillary Clinton as Indiana has voted with the winning candidate 70% of the time in the last 116 years (or 29 elections). In fact, in the past ten years, the only candidate who has won as a Democrat was Barack Obama (D-IL). Indiana had 11 electoral votes, or 4% of what was needed to win the Presidency

The Gubernatorial election was unusual in that the Republican state committee chose their candidate. Originally, Mike Pence (R) would have run for the seat, but since he was selected by Donald Trump, the committee selected Eric Holcomb, Pence’s running mate, to run against John Gregg (D), the former State Speaker of the House. Despite Gregg having a bigger war chest than Holcomb at first, and ultimately outspending and having more contributions than the winner, the Republican still won the governor’s seat.

Result: Republican Eric Holcomb won over John Gregg, 52.93%-45.73%, with the Libertarian Party making up 1.34% of the vote. The result has given Republicans control of the Governor’s seat for twelve straight years.

The open Senate Seat (held by Dan Coats until he announced he was not seeking another term) was won by Todd Young (R). His opponent, Evan Bayh (D), entered the race ahead by 7 points and with a sizable cash advantage. But series of missteps, such as the revelation that he was considered by the State of Indiana to be an “inactive voter,” that he was searching for jobs at financial firms while serving on the Banking Committee while in his last term as Senator, and apparently not knowing his own home address, tanked his campaign. Young shrewdly portrayed him as a candidate who, for the last six years, had left Hoosiers to “fend for themselves.”

Result: Republican Todd Young won over Evan Bayh, 52.1%-42.4%, with Libertarian Lucy Brenton winning 5.5% of the vote. This election guarantees that Republicans will have held this Senate seat for at least twelve consecutive years.

The House results were also dismal for the Democrats, winning only two of nine possible seats, and none of the open seats. Incumbents, however, did very well for themselves, winning all seven of their seats back.

Detailed Results*:

District 1: Peter Visclosky (D) def. John Meyer (R)

District 2: Jackie Walorski (R) def. Lynn Coleman (D)

District 3: Jim Banks (R) def. Tommy Schrader (D)

District 4: Todd Rokita (R) def. John Dale (D)

District 5: Susan Brooks (R) def. Angela Demaree (D)

District 6: Luke Messer (R) def. Barry Welsh (D)

District 7: Andre Carson (D) def. Catherine Ping**(R)

District 8: Larry Bucshon (R) def. Ron Drake (D)

District 9: Trey Hollingsworth (R) df. Shelli Yoder (D)

*Third party candidates are only mentioned if they are the only other candidate running.

**Ran in 2014

So, how would Indiana run the nation if they were in charge?

They would definitely reduce government spending, prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and help veterans. They would be one vote away from supporting the agriculture industry, improving and investing in agriculture, and overhauling the tax code. Finally, they would be two votes away from repealing the Affordable Care Act, protecting the Second Amendment, Balancing the Budget, Securing the Border, being Pro-Israel, supporting the manufacturing industry, using natural gas as our national energy source, and making the nation pro-life.

It should be noted that Hoosier politicians at the federal level do not agree on how to help veterans, or how to support either manufacturing or agriculture.

Methodology: Poli Sci Pulse digested the public Congressional and Gubernatorial pages of the winners above. Once a majority of politicians were in favor (or against) something, we used this as one of the things the state would do if their public pages were not, in fact, lying. 



House Cleaning #2-2018: Jeb Hensarling (R-TX-5)

Welcome to House Cleaning, 2018 edition. This series explores House of Representatives members who have either left Congress early or have decided not to seek re-election. This series covers what a Representative has done in Congress from 2016 until they either resigned or decided not to seek re-election.

Jeb Hensarling is the Republican Representative from the 5th District of Texas. He is the chair of the House Financial Services Committee. Representative Hensarling decided not to seek re-election on October 31, 2017. When someone thinks of Hensarling, they should think of just one issue: financial reform.

In the 2016 Republican Primary, Jeb Hensarling endorsed Ted Cruz (R-TX), who would ultimately lose to current President Donald Trump (R-NY). He attacked Trump during the election, stating, “Based on Donald Trump’s track record, I have serious questions about his commitment to the conservative cause.”

Once Donald Trump won the nomination, Hensarling was courted by current Vice President Mike Pence (R-IN). The Vice President even gave him seats in Trump’s VIP box for th Republican nominating convention. One can imagine the look of horror on the Representative’s face as he saw Senator Cruz snub President Trump at the convention, with Hensarling onlooking.

Hensarling was also considered for Treasury Secretary, but he was not interested. He told POLITICO’s Zachary Warmbrodt, “It’s nice to be mentioned, and I certainly want to help our new president make America strong and more prosperous, but serving in his cabinet is not something I’ve indicated an interest in and it’s not something I am pursuing.”  He also later turned down an offer to be head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the primary governmental organization that designs the President’s budget .

His tenure as the House Financial Services Committee chair was controversial. He angered various news organizations by asking federal agencies not to comply with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding the information that his Committee was seeking from those federal agencies.

On Abortion, on October 3rd, 2017, the Representative voted for HR 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. This bill would make it a crime for anyone to perform or attempt to perform an abortion if the fetus was 20 weeks or older, with exceptions being made to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.  The 20-week mark is when many pro-life Republicans believe that the fetus can feel pain, hence the name of this act. The bill passed the House by a 237-189 vote. This bill died in the Senate.

On Cyber Security, Jeb Hensarling led the charge to toughen data security standards at financial institutions. When Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) proposed legislation that would update breach notification standards, the president and CEO of the National Association of Federal Credit Union praised the committee, in particular Hensarling, for trying to make sure that all other “financial entities holding consumers’ personal financial data are held to the same standards credit unions are already accountable to.”

When the SEC was hacked, Hensarling urged the agency to halt the implementation of a stock market surveillance too out of fear that the tool itself could be hacked.

On the Economy, Hensarling voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on November 11th, 2017. This bill reduced tax rates and modified other aspects of the tax code. The bill passed the House by a 227-205 vote on partisan lines. In December 2017, President Trump would sign the bill into law.

He also voted against the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, which would provide relief for victims of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Despite his objections, mainly that it would suspend the debt ceiling, the bill passed the House 316-90, and was later signed into law. He did, however, vote for an earlier version of the bill, which would provide $7.85 billion to Harvey victims, which had no debt ceiling raise. This bill passed the House almost unanimously, 419-3.

On Financial Reform, the Representative from Texas wanted to change the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. However, the debate hit a snag when Republicans could not agree over swipe fees, which is the fee that banks charge retailers who accept their credit cards. This issue eventually was resolved and the Representative eventually introduce the Financial CHOICE Act. Although Hensarling presented the bill as “choosing Main Street over Wall Street,” the fact is that, if passed into law, the bill would severely stem the powers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). This agency enforces rules for student loans and for-profit colleges.

There was also another controversial part of this bill. It would remove the “too big to fail” label from insurance companies AIG, MetLife, and Prudential, and they would also no longer be labelled as “systemically important” to the United States economy. The removal of that designation meant that regulations would be loosened on those companies and, in fact, all large financial institutions that were not banks would have the “significant financial institution label” removed, leaving only big banks with such labels.

The issue of flood insurance put Hensarling at odds with his own party in the House. Twenty-six House Republicans wrote a letter to House GOP leaders, stating that they would not vote for a bill to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which was approved by Hensarling’s committee. The NFIP provides government-administered flood insurance to homeowners in designated areas. These 26 Republicans said they would not vote for the bill because it would “make flood insurance unaffordable to our constituents, will stall development and construction and increase exposure to the federal Treasury.” In response, Jeb Hensarling was expected to drop a controversial construction provision and revise grandfathering, whereby homeowners are able to pay lower flood insurance under NFIP even if the flood maps had changed during their residency.

However, instead of relenting, Hensarling stuck with his reform proposal. Hensarling said he was “pressing on the accelerator,” adding that it was “more urgent than ever we get this bill done.” As Hurricane Harvey pounded Texas, the bill was stuck in the House. One House leadership aide was quoted by POLITICO as stating, “Hurricane Harvey makes a rapid reauthorization of the NFIP – in its current form – more likely. Considering the ongoing disaster in Texas and the fact we are not even halfway through hurricane season, I think there will be immense public and political pressure to get this finished.”

On Foreign Policy, Representative Hensarling voted for the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. This act would allow for Congress to review and counter acts of aggression by the governments of Iran, Russia, and North Korea. The bill passed almost unanimously, 419-3, on July 25th, 2017. It was later signed into law by the President.

On Health Care, Representative Hensarling is against the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. This explains his “yes” vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) of 2017, which would essentially turn Obamacare into Trumpcare. The bill passed the House, 217-213, along partisan lines. The law eventually died in the Senate.

On Immigration, on June 29th, 2017, he voted for Kate’s Law. This bill would provide an increase in penalty severity for illegal immigrants who are convicted of certain crimes, are deported, and then re-enter the U.S. illegally. The law’s namesake is Kate Steinle, who was allegedly shot and killed by an illegal immigrant who had seven felonies. The alleged murderer was later acquitted after the vote, which essentially removes any legal connection it would have had with the illegal immigrant. his law passed the House 257-167, but has not yet passed the Senate.

He voted for the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act. This bill would withhold federal funds from states and localities that are “sanctuary cities/states” for illegal immigrants. The bill passed the House, 228-195. It has yet to be signed into law by the President.

Jeb Hensarling decided not to run for reelection on October 31st, 2017.  There was no speculation around his leaving: those close to the chairman believed he wanted to spend time with his family, most notably, his daughter, who was now sixteen years old. This was not a surprise as those in his inner circle, including his staff, were only expecting him to serve three or four terms, not the six terms that he ultimately stayed.

His released statement confirmed this, reading in part, “Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned.”

Mr. Hensarling leaves behind a mixed legacy. Most of the legislation that he got passed through the House, such as the Financial CHOICE Act, landmark though they were, were dead on arrival almost as soon as they arrived in the Senate for debate. The unfinished reform of the NFIP was something that he had struggled to complete since he first became the Financial Services Chairman, and still remains unfinished.

House Cleaning #1-2018: Luis Gutierrez (D-IL-4)

Welcome to House Cleaning, 2018 edition. This series explores House of Representatives members who have either left Congress early or have decided not to seek re-election. This series covers what a Representative accomplished in Congress from 2016 until they either resigned or decided not to seek re-election.

When someone thinks of Luis Gutierrez, they should think of just one issue: immigration. Luis Gutierrez is a Democratic Representative from the 4th District of Illinois. He is of Puerto Rican descent. He is also a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC). Luis Gutierrez decided not to seek re-election on November 27, 2017.

During the 2016 election, Representative Gutierrez aligned himself with Hillary Clinton (D-NY) over Bernie Sanders (D-VT). On a conference call coordinated with Hillary’s campaign, he criticized Bernie Sanders for not being strong on immigration.

He also spoke at the Democratic National Convention. The goal of his speech was to “highlight the clear distinction between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump on immigration policy,” according to a press release. It went on to say that “Rep. Gutierrez will point to Trump’s anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric, and his threats to deport millions of immigrants and ban Muslim refugees as dangerous.” He also was an appointee to the DNC Platform Committee, which is the committee of the Democratic Party that designs the campaign platform for the President.

Gutierrez spent most of the last part of 2016 and all of 2017 on a crusade against President Donald Trump. He told Ben Joravsky of the Chicago Reader that “If you believe in anarchy and a clash of American values, you’re going to get a great experiment. Personally, I feel sadness and fear. This is a scary time for our country.”

As part of his crusade against President Trump, he got into a verbal battle with Chief of Staff John Kelly and called him a “disgrace to the uniform” because he was in favor of ending President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order, often referred to as the “illegal amnesty order” by Republicans. Kelly shot back, stating that the Democrats did “nothing” to help the situation. “As far as the congressman and other irresponsible members of Congress are concerned, they have the luxury of saying what they want as they do nothing and have almost no responsibility,” Kelly said to Fox News’ Chris Wallace. “They can call people liars but it would be inappropriate for me to say the same thing back at them. As my blessed mother used to say, ‘empty barrels make the most noise.’”

One of his protests against President Trump led to his arrest. Gutierrez and two other Congressmen – with the speaker of the New York City Council – were arrested for an act of “civil disobedience,” according to Gutierrez’s spokesperson. They were outside of Trump Tower protesting Trump’s decision to end DACA.

Luis Gutierrez led the charge to impeach President Donald Trump. At a speech to the City Club of Chicago, he claimed that he, along with other members of the House Judiciary Committee, were preparing articles of impeachment to be filed before Thanksgiving 2017. He eventually did file articles of impeachment and used the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The filing added accusations of over-using the Presidency to make a personal profit, colluding with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 election, and interfering with not only the judiciary branch but also with freedom of the press.

On Abortion, in October of 2017, the Representative voted the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. This bill would make it a crime for anyone to perform or attempt to perform an abortion if the fetus was 20 weeks or older, with exceptions being made to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.  The 20-week mark is when many pro-life Republicans believe that the fetus can feel pain, hence the name of this act. Even though Gutierrez voted against it, the bill still passed the House by a 237-189 vote. It has yet to be signed into law by the President.

On the Economy, Gutierrez voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on November 11th, 2017. This bill reduced tax rates and modified other aspects of the tax code. The bill passed the House by a 227-205 vote, again largely on partisan lines. In December 2017, President Trump signed the bill into law.

He voted against the Financial CHOICE Act of 2017 on June 8th, 2017, which would amend multiple economic laws, including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and the Consumer Protection Act. The bill passed the House, 233-186, and has yet to be signed into law by the President.

On Foreign Policy, the Representative voted for the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. This act would allow for Congress to review and counter acts of aggression by the governments of Iran, Russia, and North Korea. The bill passed almost unanimously, 419-3, on July 25th, 2017. It was later signed into law by the President.

On Health Care, Representative Gutierrez is for the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. This explains his “no” vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) of 2017, which would essentially turn Obamacare into Trumpcare. The bill nonetheless passed the House, 217-213, along partisan lines. The law eventually died in the Senate.

On Immigration, when the constitutionality of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), called the “illegal amnesty executive order” by Republicans, was considered by the Supreme Court, Gutierrez declared that any potential outcome was a “win-win.” He was quoted by POLITICO as stating, “Politically, it’s a win-win,” since either way, immigrants would be energized to vote against Republicans.

When an effort to reform the immigration system went awry, Luis Gutierrez blamed Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Both pressured Gutierrez to not give too much away to the Republicans. He was quoted in a New York Times article as stating, “I just found it extraordinary that every time we reached an agreement on something, then we had to go back to House Democratic leadership to explain it all over again.” Despite this perceived problems of interference, Gutierrez nonetheless endorsed Nancy Pelosi for House Minority Leader after the 2016 elections.

Along with Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO), he sponsored the BRIDGE Act. This Act would extend the DACA order for undocumented students. The American Medical Association was in favor of this Act, writing in a letter to Gutierrez and Coffman that “these individuals help contribute to a diverse and culturally responsive physician workforce, which in turn helps benefit not only traditionally underserved patients, but all patients as well. DACA recipients should continue to study and work without fear of being deported.”

Later, Gutierrez gave a speech about the need for Democrats to stand up for DACA at the Democrats’ weekly caucus meeting. He said there needed to be an equivalent of a red line for Republicans when it came to negotiating aid to victims of Hurricane Harvey, and that DACA needed to be included in the deal.

Likewise, when Trump struck a deal with Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to raise the debt ceiling and provided Hurricane Harvey aid, Gutierrez was disappointed that it did not include anything resembling DACA or protection for Dreamers. “Right now there are many Democrats who feel we gave up, not just me,” he was quoted as saying. “Democrats just don’t seem to want to use their leverage to protect the Dreamers.” It should be noted that this was after the 2016 elections, which gave Republican majorities to the House and Senate, Gutierrez eventually voted in favor of the deal.

The deal passed the House by a vote of 316-90 and was later signed into law by the President. Rep. Gutierrez later remarked that he had felt completely unprepared for it. “I remember when issues of immigration were first filtered through, checked in with us [the CHC]. And I don’t see that.” Gutierrez felt that he and other CHC members had been left out in the cold.

When the debt ceiling debate came up in December, the Representative from Illinois had had enough. He took a stand, urging Democrats to vote against any debt ceiling deal that did not include funding for the DREAMers, and was determined to have the Democrats stage a shutdown. “We will shut it down,” ee said in a speech on Capitol Hill in front of activists, “or let Republicans keep it open with their own votes.”

As the vote for a spending bill came closer, Luis Gutierrez was joined by other Democrats, all of whom were asking for the DREAM Act or similar law to be included in the final legislation package. This group of Democrats were going to vote against the spending bill, which could have resulted in government shutdown. He told POLITICO, “It’s not like we want to close the government, actually we want to keep it open…[Democrats] shouldn’t throw the DREAMers under the bus a second time when it is clear that the only way to pass that budget is with Democrats.” More than 24 Democrats pledged to vote against the spending bill. He later stated, “We want a clean Dream Act. That is what it’s going to take for me and others to sign on.”

The Representative from Illinois was upset over Donald Trump’s immigration plan. The President’s plan, which called for “many more arrests and removals” of illegal, undocumented immigrants, was the subject of a meeting with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which was scheduled by Republicans. Democrats were held out of the meeting at the President’s request. Irritated with the situation, Gutierrez remarked, “I’m pretty shaken. I’ve been here 25 years and I’ve never been told by the Speaker of the House that I can’t attend a meeting I’ve requested.”

This antagonism with ICE continued when Gutierrez met with officials in Chicago. Then, he led a sit-in with 22 other interested parties, and was handcuffed after refusing to leave the meeting. He had planned to stay from 10 AM until whenever his demands had been met.

He also teamed up with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) to help make Chicago a more welcoming place for both legal and illegal immigrants. “What is criminality?”  asked Chicago Business’s Greg Hinz. “Even someone who was deported and sneaks back into the country to see their wife and children technically is a felon.” He, along with Rahm Emanuel and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), teamed up to run the “Chicago Is With You” task force as part was the Mayor’s “One Chicago” campaign. The first item on their agenda was to set up a website that would be one-stop shop for immigration resources.

He wrote an editorial in the US News on September 5th, 2017, claiming that ending DACA was “Trump’s most dangerous and damaging act yet.” In the editorial of the same name, he called the ending of the DACA program a “serious mistake that will harm the United States and will spark a national political crisis.” He argued instead that those in US residence were an “integral part of our economic and civic life.” He further called the decision a “self-inflicted wound our economy doesn’t need,” and that therefore, “President Trump shouldn’t curb legal immigration if he wants America to grow and prosper.”

His editorial then takes a darker turn, noting that “punishing individual immigrants who are deeply embedded in American communities is not the mandate Trump was given when he was elected.” He called the decision the “latest evidence” that the Republican Party is based in white supremacism.

His final points of the editorial are centered around Trump and his supposed endorsement of white supremacy through the ending of this program. Other evidence of this supposed endorsement comes from his pardon of “convicted racist Joe Arpaio,” and the launch of Trump’s campaign, which centered around the idea that “Mexican immigrants are rapists and murderers.” He concludes the piece by saying that the ending of DACA is “further evidence that his [President Trump’s] administration is now on a very dangerous trajectory towards the full-throated endorsement of white supremacy — the likes of which we haven’t seen in the open from a sitting president for a century…[ending DACA] is the ugliest act of appeasement so far for the far-right’s white-supremacist goals. It has not gone unnoticed.”

On June 29th, 2017, he voted against Kate’s Law. This bill would provide an increase in penalty severity for illegal immigrants who are convicted of certain crimes, are deported, and then re-enter the U.S. illegally. The law’s namesake is Kate Steinle, who was allegedly shot and killed by an illegal immigrant who had seven felonies. This law passed the House 257-167, but has not been signed into law by the President. The alleged murderer was later acquitted after the vote, which essentially removes any legal connection it would have had with the illegal immigrant.

He voted against the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act. This bill would withhold federal funds from states and localities that are “sanctuary cities/states” for illegal immigrants. The bill passed the House, 228-195. It has yet to be signed into law by the President.

On Puerto Rico, Congressman Gutierrez wanted to help relieve the United States’ territory’s $70 billion debt crisis. However, the Illinoisan Representative wanted changes to the bill. This is because, as Senator Bernie Sanders stated, the bill was treating Puerto Rico “like a colony.” As a result, the Representative teamed up with Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to fix the bill.

He also called on President Trump and members of Congress to declare Puerto Rico a major disaster area. If given this designation, then Puerto Rico would be eligible for FEMA disaster relief. He urged FEMA to “aggressively marshal and coordinate all federal resources available to the island as quickly as humanly possible.” He later teamed up with the Mayor of Chicago to send 23 fire department personnel, plus “defibrillators, stretchers, communications equipment and other supplies,” according to a Chicago City Hall press release.

As the situation developed, he was not pleased with the hurricane relief effort. He told CNN’s Jim Sciutto about the effort, “I think it isn’t a good job; it’s a disgraceful job. The United States of America is the most powerful, wealthiest country in the world, and this is not a response that’s demonstrative of our power and wealth.” He later called for a sizable military intervention in a phone interview, noting that “FEMA cannot do it alone.” Finally, he saw Chicago as a new migrant city, with those displaced in Puerto Rico going to live in Chicago.

On Women’s Rights, Representative Gutierrez was thrilled that Harriet Tubman would appear on the $20 bill. He sponsored legislation in the House to get her face on the $20 bill. He was quoted a saying, “All’s well that ends well and I can’t wait to spend a twenty with a woman’s picture on it. To celebrate, I’ll go with my wife my daughters, or my mom as they spend a $20 bill with a woman’s face [on it] for the first time.”

Finally, he also boycotted President Trump’s inauguration, and instead attended the Women’s March on Washington, one of 18 Representatives to do so. The Women’s March was a response to misogynistic comments that President Trump made during the 2016 election. The goal was a general march meant to convey solidarity with women. When the Representative from Illinois was asked why he was boycotting, he told CNN, “I can’t go to this inauguration because he continues to spew hatred, bigotry and prejudice — even after he said he was going to bring us all together, he was going to unify us, but he’s not.”
Endorsements. He endorsed Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) for Congress, believing that Espaillat would be a strong voice for immigration. Espaillat was running for Charles Rangel’s (D-NY) old seat.

He also endorsed J.B. Pritzker for Illinois governor ahead of the 2018 Democratic primaries. He gave a speech to support  Pritzker’s candidacy, which linked sitting governor Bruce Rauner (R-IL) to sitting President Donald Trump. Pritzker would later return the favor when he ran an ad against Rauner. The ad urged Rauner to “defend DREAMERs and stand up to Trump,” and the ad also mentioned Representative Gutierrez and Senator Durbin in a favorable light.

He endorsed Jesse Ruiz (D-IL) for Illinois Attorney General. At a news conference held in the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago  the Representative stated, “For decades, Jesse has been a leader in the fight to improve public education, to protect immigrants, and to promote civil rights. As Illinois Attorney General, I know that Jesse will stand tough when Donald Trump attacks our fundamental rights.”

When Gutierrez withdrew his nominating petitions he filed the day before, he endorsed Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for taking over his seat. This appears to have been a political deal, as Mr. Garcia forced Rahm Emanuel into a runoff for Mayor of Chicago, and was planning to run again.

Time Capsule #1: Ukraine 2014, Part I: Coup and Kidnap

Welcome to the first Time Capsule piece. In this piece, Coup and Kidnap, we discuss regime change in Ukraine and the Russian invasion of Crimea in the first quarter of 2014.

Coup. In November of 2013, it was widely believed by many observers that Ukraine would join the European Union. The European Union had just offered them a generous aid package. But the President of Ukraine at the time, Viktor Yanukovych, had different ideas. Instead of signing an agreement with the European Union, he signed a $15 billion aid deal with President Vladimir Putin and Russia. In December, a wave of mass protests started, and lasted to February 27th.  This signing of the Russian aid package over the European one marked the beginning of Yanukovych’s fall from power. Perhaps the first unfortunate move made by Yanukovych was on in January 16th.

January 16th, 2014. in response to the waves protesters in Independence Square, President Yanukovych’s party passed a law that restricted protesting. The law was passed via a show of hands. Yanukovych signed the law once it got to his desk. The provisions of the law prevented protesters from wearing helmets and masks at rallies, forbade the setting up of tents or sound equipment without permission, and  banned convoys consisting of more than five vehicles that were not already authorized. Many opposition leaders, including Vitali Klitschko, head of UDAR, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk, head of the Fatherland party, believed that the way the law was passed was illegal, hence rendering the law invalid.

January 19th. in clear defiance of the recent anti-protest laws, thousands of protesters gathered in Independence Square, otherwise known as Maidan. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry also said that the protesters tried to attack the police and take over government buildings. When the day was done, 100 police officers were injured and over 60 were hospitalized. More than 100 protesters were injured, including politicians, while 42 were hospitalized. Twenty people were arrested.

European Union foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton, was concerned about the development. She released a statement in which the EU “calls on all actors to exercise restraint and on the authorities to fully respect and protect the peaceful demonstrators’ right to assembly and speech, and the freedom of the press. All acts of violence must be duly investigated and those responsible brought to justice.”

Caitlin Hayden, who was the spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, stated, “We urge the government of Ukraine to take steps that represent a better way forward for Ukraine, including repeal of the anti-democratic legislation signed into law in recent days, withdrawing the riot police from downtown [Kiev] and beginning a dialogue with the political opposition.

January 20th-22nd. The clashes with police continued. Dozens were left injured. A meeting was scheduled with the opposition to discuss the way in which the crisis could be ended. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, warned that the situation was quickly getting out of hand. Four people were killed and hundreds injured in another clash.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf issued a terse statement. “Increased tensions in Ukraine are a direct consequence of the Ukrainian government’s failure to engage in real dialogue and the passage of anti-democratic legislation on January 16th. We urge the Government of Ukraine to take steps that represent a better way forward for Ukraine, including repeal of the anti-democratic legislation and beginning a national dialogue with the political opposition.”

Meanwhile, three opposition leaders – Klitschko, Yatsenyuk, and Oleh Tiahnybok of the Freedom party – walked away from talks with the President without resolution. “We did not receive any answers,” Klitschko said, speaking to protesters at Independence Square, “when we talked about cancelling the new laws that make each of us here a criminal, we heard that maybe this can be a point of negotiations. I will be with the people. If I have to fight, I will fight. If I have to go under bullets, I will. I will stand up for the people, because I want to live in a different country…if tomorrow the President does not make a step forward, we will attack.” The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said that a total of 70 people had been detained since the 19th.

The U.S. Embassy in Kiev revoked the visas of Ukrainians, who were believed to have taken part in the violence. In statement, the U.S. Embassy said, “Because visa records are confidential under U.S. law the Embassy will not comment on individual cases. We are considering further action against those responsible for the current violence.”

Catherine Ashton stated, “The use of force and resort to violence is not an answer to the political crisis. All acts of violence must come to an immediate end and be swiftly investigated. Those responsible will have to be held to account. Ukrainian citizens’ rights of assembly, freedom of expression and media must be fully respected and protected. I am deeply concerned about attacks on journalists and about reports of missing persons.” The European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also stated, “I would like to explicitly underline the fundamental responsibility of the Ukrainian authorities to now take action to deescalate this crisis and in particular the need for them to engage in a genuine dialogue with the opposition  and with civil society on the ways to overcome this deep crisis. We are also following with great concern the recent restrictions on fundamental freedoms including freedom of expression and freedom of the media.”

January 26th-27th. Ukrainian protesters seized the Justice Ministry building. More municipal headquarters were also seized by them. Protesters left the Justice Ministry headquarters after Ukrainian Justice Minister Olena Lukash threatened to call a state of emergency. The protesters who were occupying her building received amnesty.

Catherine Ashton stated, “What is urgently needed is a genuine dialogue to build a new consensus on the way forward. I hope that the Ukrainian parliament will set a clear path during tomorrow’s session towards a political solution.”

US Vice President Joe Biden weighed in as well, calling Yanukovych and released a summary of the call to the public, which read in part, “Underscoring that no time should be lost, the vice president urged President Yanukovych to pull back riot police and work with the opposition on immediate measures to de-escalate tensions between protesters and the government.”

Yanukovych had also apparently tried to bribe opposition leaders with government positions – a tone-deaf move as it ignored the substance of the issues going on. Arseniy Yatsenyuk was offered the position of prime minister, which he declined. Yatsenyuk led the opposition Fatherland party. Opposition leader for the Democratic Alliance for Reforms party (UDAR), Vitali Klitschko, also rejected a proffered post of Deputy Minister on Humanitarian Issues. President Yanukovych did, however, signal openness to looking at changes to the country’s constitution.

Opposition spokeswoman Lesya Orobets stated, “We as an opposition spend the whole day to negotiate with people who actually captured the premises to get out of here, not to give them any legal base for a state of emergency.” She further warned that such a declaration could lead to use of military force to suppress the protesters.

January 28th. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his government resigned, but would continue in their roles until a new government was formed. President Yanukovych accepted their resignation.

Meanwhile, the parliament was back at work. First, the anti-protest laws, which had been passed by a show of hands, were repealed. Then, they looked at how to give amnesty to over 200 politically protesting prisoners. Parliament then adjourned until Wednesday with no formal decision being made over the amnesty issue. These concessions, though significant, would not ultimately give the protesters what they wanted, which was a complete overhaul of the government and their country’s constitution.

Vitali Klitschko believed this was a step in the right direction, but Fatherland opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, apparently more versed in Ukrainian politics than Klitschko, a former boxer, urged the President to sign the legislation that would repeal the anti-protest laws. “I’m asking Viktor Yanukovych to immediately sign a law for which the parliament has just voted,” Yatsenyuk stated to the official state-run media, Ukrinform. “We have finally closed the shameful practice of voting by a show of hands and abolished those laws against which the whole of Ukraine rebelled.”

January 29th. Parliament voted to give amnesty to the protesters. While the top legislator attempted to sell the amnesty as something everyone had agreed to, neither Yatsenyuk nor Klitschko supported it.

Yatsenyuk said that he did not know what was in it. Klitschko noted that, while it did free 218 activists from jail, it did little else. In a statement, Klitschko said, “People took to the streets because they want to change the situation. A statement [such as] ‘we will free people, if they go home’ is unacceptable. It can not be understood. Today, the key issue is the confrontation between people and the government. Withdrawal of charges and amnesty is not enough.”

January 30th. Viktor Yanukovych again blamed protesters for the unrest. Stating that the government had “fulfilled all its obligations,” he blamed the protesters for fomenting anger at the government and continued to make the situation worse. On his website, he stated in part, “We must understand that there is no future for the state and people if political interests of certain groups are set higher than the existence of Ukraine itself.”  He also took a leave of sick absence due to “acute respiratory disease accompanied by fever.”

More details were revealed by CNN about the amnesty law. In order for the protesters to receive amnesty, they had to vacate government building and unblock public roads. Opposition leader Yatsenyuk stated, “It depends on the way the government is to act. If they press on peaceful protesters, this will definitely trigger another spiral of violence.”

Opposition leader Dmytro Bulatov reappeared in the public eye. Accusing government forces of literally “crucifying” him by piercing his hands, he also said that he was dumped in a forest after being kidnapped. The EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney were quick to condemn the cruelty. Bulatov would leave the country for Lithuania to receive medical treatment on February 2nd.

Meanwhile, a resolution passed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said that the repeal of the anti-protest laws should be followed up on. It further noted that “If grave human rights violations continue, or if the Maidan protest were to be broken up by force,” sanctions could be imposed. It also called for a full investigation into “violence by police against protesters.”

February 3rd. Russia stepped up their rhetoric against the protesters. The Foreign Ministry accused those in Independence Square of taking “provocative steps” which “Contradict statements about the opposition’s commitment to the democratic and European values.” The statement further read, “we hope the opposition in Ukraine will renounce threats and ultimatums and activate a dialogue with the government to solve the severe crisis.”

February 16th. Protesters pulled back from the City Hall in Kiev and unblock streets near the city center. This was done in the response to the government saying it would drop charges against political prisoners arrested during the protest.

February 18th. Riot Police moved in, using water cannons, stun grenades, and other means meant to suppress a crowd. Using shield and sticks, they attempted to suppress the rebellion. But the protesters were not driven from Independence Square. 26 protesters died as a result. In the same clash, the House of Trade Unions, the revolutionary news headquarters, was burned to the ground. The protesters responded and burned down the headquarters of the ruling party. An armed law enforcement vehicle charged the barricades set up by the protesters, but was immediately burned to a crisp by Molotov cocktails. Government officials told everyone to stay inside and closed bus and train stations. That night, smoke and flames constantly burned in Independence Square, partially from burning tires and fireworks set off by the protesters, but the smoke and flames were also remnants of the stun grenades. At the end of clash, CNN reported that at least 21 people – including nine police officers, eleven protesters, and one government employee – had died.

The parliament’s speaker did not allow amendments that would limit the president’s power and return Ukraine’s government to what it was in 2004 under the constitution from that year. The government responded and said that the protesters were breaking their agreement as well. “For the sake of pursuing their own political interests,” the Ukrainian prosecutor general said, “they neglected all previously reached agreements and put lives and the peace of millions of Kiev residents under threat.”

Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko and President Yanukovych met face-to-face overnight, but nothing changed. Speaking to reporters in the morning, Klitschko implied that meeting overnight was a waste of time. The President had demanded that the protesters go home and accused them of having weapons. “I think the authorities should immediately pull back the police and stop the blood,” Klitschko said, “because people are dying. I told Yanukovych this. How can we negotiate when there is blood being spilled. Unfortunately, he does not understand this.”

February 19th. In the aftermath of the deaths, the United States and other Western nations put more pressure on Yanukovych’s regime. President Obama stated, “We hold the Ukrainian government primarily responsible for making sure that it is dealing with peaceful protesters in an appropriate way, that the Ukrainian people are able to assemble and speak freely about their interests without fear of oppression.”

A truce was announced at midnight, but it would not last long. Protesters still took to the street and threw pavement and rocks at police, who responded by throwing Molotov cocktails. They wanted power transferred away from the president to the parliament. Vitali Klitschko announced that a new round of peace meeting would happen on the 20th. Meanwhile, Colonel General Volodymyr Zamana, part of the Ukrainian government’s anti-terrorism campaign, was replaced.”

The foreign minister of Ukraine told CNN that there were no orders for the military to attack the crowds. He stated, “Under no conditions will the Ukrainian arm … be used in resolving this political crisis.” Later that night, troops took up positions around bases and weapons depots, in an apparent effort to secure their own facilities.

European Council President Jose Manuel Barroso said that European officials will target those responsible for “violence and use of excessive force,” should the situation escalate again.

Meanwhile, the State Department did not allow the issuance of visas for twenty senior members of the Ukrainian government and others who were believed to responsible for the violence against protesters from the day before. Secretary of State John Kerry was also quoted as saying, “We are talking about the possibility of sanctions or other steps with our [European] friends and [friends] elsewhere in order to create the environment for compromise.”

February 20th. Snipers on the rooftops around Maidan opened fire on the crowd. Eighty people, later referred to as the “Heaven’s battalion,” were killed. The opposition medical services put this number at 100, while the Ukrainian government health ministry put the death total thus far at 77. 577 total were injured according to the ministry. Interior Minister Vitali Zakharchenko blamed the violence entirely on opposition leaders, but later said that the police had used firearms, but only to protected nearby, unarmed, police officers.

The parliament passed a resolution that security forces should stop using firearms, withdraw from Maidan, and denounce the “anti-terror” operation that was announced earlier in the day. The resolution did not need Yanukovych’s signature. Kiev’s mayor resigned from the ruling party and once again reopened the mass transit system. The European Union froze the assets of those who they believed were responsible for the violence.

John Kerry released a statement on the situation. “We unequivocally condemn the use of force against civilians by security forces, and urge that those forces be withdrawn immediately…there is no time for brinksmanship or gamesmanship. President Yanukovych must undertake serious negotiations with opposition leaders immediately.”

Russia was also now seeking to assert its influence in the region. Government officials painted the situation as a violent coup, and one that had no legitimacy, and one that was led by Western powers. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aleksandr Lukashevich stated, “The ongoing attempts to obtrusively intervene from outside, threat with sanctions or trying to influence the situation in any other ways are inappropriate and can’t lead to anything good but can only aggravate the confrontation.”

But the Western powers were determined to succeed. That night, Foreign Ministers of Germany, France, and Poland met with Yanukovych. According to the top Polish diplomat’s Twitter account, negotiations ended at 7:20 in the morning.

February 21st. The Ukrainian government and protesters, aided by the diplomatic efforts of Germany, Poland, and France, agreed to return to the 2004 constitution, which increased the powers of the Rada, while decreasing presidential power. Elections were set for December of 2014. Finally, an investigation would be launched into the violence that had killed hundreds of protesters.

An ultimatum was issued by the protesters, who were not entirely happy with the situation: if President Yanukovych did not leave office by February 22nd, they would evict him themselves. When the deal was announced to Maidan, opposition leader Vitali Klitschko took to the stage. He said that the government was trying to divide the protesters. The crowd reacted negatively. A different protester expressed disappointed and suggested that action should be taken to remove Yanukovych if he did not leave by 10 A.M. the following day. Yanukovych, in the meantime, left to eastern Ukraine. Coffins of the dead were also present on stage at Independence Square.

February 22nd. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was released from prison. Meanwhile, the former President Yanukovych, called his ouster a coup. At Maidan, Tymoshenko announced, to a cheering crowd, “Today, Ukraine has finished with this terrible dictator, Mr. Yanukovych.” She also called for justice for the protesters. From Russia, Yanukovych still proclaimed himself to be leader of Ukraine. The former president and his entourage and, later, the former interior minister, were forbidden from boarding a plane.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, condemned the meddling of Western powers. On his Twitter account, he posted, “Either they don’t understand the consequence of what they’re doing, or they’re engaged in a very provocative game of destabilizing Ukraine and therefore Eastern Europe.” He also accused the opposition of trying to take power by force, asserting, “if those so-called democratic opposition leaders come to power on the shoulders of thugs, that will not produce democracy in Ukraine.”

The old guard and the new guard were clashing with each other right out of the gate, and a new interim government hadn’t even been formed yet. It was a clash that would continue throughout the year.

February 23rd. Protesters in Kharkiv, the former Soviet capital of Ukraine, urged confrontation with NATO. The mayor of Sebastopol was overthrown by a crowd some 20,000 strong. A Russian citizen replaced the mayor.

Thousands gathered in Independence Square to mourn the dead. Uncertainty reigned in Ukraine. No one knew where Yanukovych had gone after the Rada had ousted him.  In a video statement, the parliamentary leader of Yanukovych’s own party condemned him for “robbery and deception.” Yanukovych himself took to the airwaves and still proclaimed that he was the President, asserting that he was forced to leave the country due to “vandalism, crime, and a coup.” Ministerial officials were fired, including those connected to the educational and foreign ministries. The Rada was cleaning house.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met about the situation in Ukraine. Kerry urged Russia to accept the outcome of the Rada’s decisions. He also urged Russia to work with the European Union and the United States to reform the country, and cautioned against using military force.

February 24th. President Viktor Yanukovych was not only missing; he was a wanted man. An arrest warrant had been issued for his arrest. His charge was for “mass killings” of civilians. Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko stated, “It’s a remarkable situation when the most sought-after character in the country is the President of Ukraine, who is hiding and doing everything to leave the country, to avoid responsibility.’

Meanwhile, the Rada continued forward with naming a new interim government. A new chief prosecutor had been named, as well as a security service chief and central bank head. Alexander Turchinov, Speaker of the Rada, an ally of the recently freed Tymoshenko, had already been named President. A new election was set for May 25th.

Russia, naturally, criticized the action. The Foreign Ministry released a statement, which said in part, “a course had been set for suppressing those who disagree in different regions of Ukraine with methods of dictatorship and terror.”

Interim Finance Minister of Ukraine, Yury Kolobov, proposed that an international donor conference should be held within two weeks. He estimated that Ukraine would need $35 billion in aid by the end of 2015.

While the United States supported the parliament’s decision, they were also wary of Russia and what it might do militarily. White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters, “We have been very clear that we support and independent and unified Ukraine and that the idea of separation or partition or division is not in the interest of the Ukrainian people, of the Ukrainian nation, of Europe, or Russia, or the United States.” He later added, “This is not a competition between East and West. This is not a restoration of the Cold War. This is about the Ukrainian people and their future.”

February 26th. The new interim cabinet was presented to Maidan. Protesters shouted “shame” when the speaker of the parliament, Alexander Turchinov, appeared on stage. Declaring the parliament as the “only legitimate power today,” he reassured the crowd that an election for a permanent government would be scheduled in May.  The controversial riot police were also disbanded later that day.

Pro-Russian demonstrators also clashed with Crimean Tartars. The Tartars wished to remain a part of Ukraine. In response, near the border, Russia began military exercises that caught the world by surprise.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, former leader of the revolution, was going to be the Prime Minister. Arsen Avakov would be the Interior Minister. Dmytro Bulatov, an activist, was put forth as sports minister.

The nomination of Arsen Avakov as interior minister was actually rejected by Maidan, with leader Vladimir Parasyuk asking the interim government to present a new nominee the following night. “As a citizen of Ukraine,” he said, “I won’t allow this. My conscience won’t let me.”

February 27th, Yanukovych again issued a statement declaring himself to be the true leader of Ukraine. The statement also asked Russia for shelter. It was granted and Yanukovych fled there.  This was the end of the coup, but the conquest was just beginning.

Kidnap. As Ukraine was undergoing regime change, Russian troops “invaded” Crimea. President Putin said that it was to protect ethnic Russians in the area. Putin’s fear of ethnic Russia’s being persecuted was perhaps correct. On February 24th, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law that removed Russia from the list of official languages in Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister and Commissioner on Human Rights, Konstantin Dolgov, said that this was an “attack on the Russian language in Ukraine [that] is a brutal violation of ethnic majority rights.”

However, many experts feared that Putin had always wanted to annex Crimea and bring it back to being part of Russia, and was just using the language law as an excuse. Putin, after all, was an ex-KGB agent and it was very well known that he missed the days of Russian supremacy in the region.

February 26th. Russian ordered surprise military drills along the Ukrainian border. Pro-Russian demonstrators clashed with Pro-EU protesters in the Crimean capital of Simferopol. Fights also broke out. A protester died in front of the Crimean Parliament of a heart attack, according to the Crimean Ministry of Health.

Russia denied that there was no sinister motive behind the drills. The foreign minister said that Russia would not intervene militarily in Ukraine while the Defense Minister said that the military exercises were planned to “check combat readiness of armed forces in western and central military districts as well as several branches of the armed forces.” The foreign minister was also disappointed that ethnic Russians were being left out of the reform process.

The White House Deputy Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, responded to the drills by saying, “We urge outside actions in the region to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and end provocative rhetoric and [take] actions to support democratically established  transitional government structures and use their influence in support of unity, peace and an inclusive path forward.”

The Crimean parliament convened an unscheduled session. The speaker of the Parliament, Volodimir Konstantinov, denied that this session was meant to discuss any extreme issues, such as separation from Ukraine.

February 27th. Armed gunmen seized government buildings of the Crimean regional government and raised the Russian flag. The Rada was still voting on establishing an interim government. The gunmen made no demands.

Russian forces also took over airports, government buildings, and broadcasters in Crimea. Military bases were blockaded. Local people celebrated. Russia had effectively occupied Crimea.

The move took the Ukrainian government by surprise and was caught unaware and unprepared. “All police in Ukraine have been ordered to be prepared,” interim Interior Minister Arsen Avakov offered on his Facebook page. “Orders have been issued to create a cordon around the Parliament in Crimea and to avoid shooting and violence.”

The Crimean parliament dismissed the sitting government via a vote of no confidence. The vote was led by pro-Russian parliament members. They also set a vote for May 25th and, if the motion passed, Crimea would be given more autonomy.  

Yanukovych was finally located and was found in Russia, one day before he was going to give a televised address from the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. The Ukrainian state news agency stated that Yanukovych is “no longer the President, he is the person under investigation and accused of crimes against humanity.”

The Russian military drills were concerning both U.S. and Ukrainian officials alike. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke before a meeting of defense ministers in Belgium and commented on the situation. “I’m closely watching Russia’s military exercises along the Ukrainian border,” he said “I expect Russia to be transparent about these activities, and I urge them not to take any steps that could be misinterpreted or lead to miscalculations.” US officials had earlier said that these drills were a sign that Russia was preparing to invade the Crimean peninsula. They would turn out to be correct.

Secretary of State John Kerry stated that the Russian military drills were actually pre-scheduled and were not related to Ukraine. This turned out to be a very naive position. At the time, he stated, “We believe that everybody now needs to step back and avoid any kind of provocations, and we want to see in the next days ahead obviously that the choices Russia makes conform to this affirmation that we received today…we are also making the same point about reducing tensions in the Crimea to the Ukrainians. It is very important that the process continue in a thoughtful and respectful way.”

Meanwhile, the Rada approved Arseniy Yatsenyuk of the Fatherland party and appointed him to be the Prime Minister. Yatsenyuk told the Rada that there was likely to be suffering in the short term as the Ukrainian government sought to right its financial situation. He also reiterated his stance that Ukraine should integrate with the European Union because “It means a visa-free regime for the Ukrainian citizens, and it means an agreement with the European Union on political and economic integration; agreement on a full fledged free trade zone. The future of Ukraine is in Europe, and Ukraine will be a member of the European Union.”

The International Monetary Fund chief, Christine Lagarde, said that the organization was ready to respond to an aid request from Ukraine. A fact-finding team would be dispatched to assess the full situation in Ukraine. She also said that she was in talks with other nations as to how to best aid Ukraine.

February 28th. Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations cautioned Russia against its continual violation of its territorial borders. The United States also warned Russia to leave the region, or else face consequences.

In televised comments, President Barack Obama stated, “We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside Ukraine…it would be a clear violation of Russia’s commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine and of international law” He further warned that any violations of independence and sovereignty, noting that it would be “deeply destabilizing” and said that “the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”  He was also debating boycotting the G8 summit in Sochi, Russia, which was the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Meanwhile, the US military and intelligence units were trying to assess the situation.  The United States State Department also warned American citizens to suspend travel plans to Ukraine “due to the potential for instability following the departure of former President Yanukovych and the establishment of a new government.”

John Kerry spoke with his counterpart and, while he was reassured that the Russians were simply honoring the base agreement they had with the Ukrainian government, noted that he “made it clear that” current military exercises inside of Ukraine could “be misinterpreted at the moment, and there are enough tensions that it is important for everybody to be extremely careful not to inflame the situation and send the wrong messages…we would overwhelmingly stress today that we urge all parties…to avoid any steps that could be misinterpreted or lead to miscalculation or do anything other than to work to bring peace and stability and peaceful transition within the governing process within Ukraine.”

Ukraine accused Russian Black Sea forces of trying to take over two airports in Crimea. The country also said that these attempts were rebuffed by security forces in the area. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that the airport was briefly under “armed invasion.”

The United Nations was also heavily involved. The Security council president called on armed groups to refrain from challenging Ukrainian sovereignty. The Ukrainian UN Ambassador, Yuriy Sergeyev, urged the UN to provide “moral and political support” for their government. “We still have a chance to stop the negative developments,” he said, and then said of the Russians, “this group is making a serious mistake challenging our territorial integrity.”

Russia, of course, denied that their troops were making moves to invade Crimea, with Vitaliy Churkin, United Nations ambassador to the UN, stating that rumors like these were “always not true.” Mr. Putin himself spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and the European Council President.

While these talks were going on, Russian lawmakers introduced two bills that would simplify annexing territories into the Russian Federation and streamline the process by which Ukrainians could become Russian citizens. Elsewhere, Russian takes were creeping ever-slower towards Simferopol, the Crimean regional capital. Ukraine also reported that the communications network between Crimea and Ukraine had been shut down due to the destruction of communications cables being destroyed and nodes being seized. Mr. Putin also received permission from the parliament to protect Russian citizens in Ukraine.

Former President Yanukovych himself weighed in on the situation by refusing to acknowledge that he had been stripped of his powers. “I intend to continue the fight for the future of Ukraine without those who, with fear and terror, are attempting to replace the power.” Speaking from the Russian city of Rostov-on-Done, he further stated, “nobody has overthrown me. I was compelled to leave Ukraine due to a direct threat to my life and my nearest and dearest.”

Ukraine was a mess since Yanukovych had been removed. The west of the country supported allying themselves with the new government and the European Union, which the east of the country preferred distancing themselves from the Ukrainian government, and instead preferred friendly relations with Russia. The people living in Crimea, in the far east portion of Ukraine, definitely preferred the latter.

March 1st. Fractures began showing as Rear Admiral Denis Berezovsky, appointed by the new interim President Oleksandr Turchynov, said that he would not listen to any orders coming from the national government. He was suspended and replaced by a different rear admiral.

The Russian parliament granted President Vladimir Putin the right to use military force in Ukraine. It was mainly a vote for show, but it nonetheless established the point that Putin was not fooling around and that his bluff should not be called.

March 2nd. Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev noted that the instability in Ukraine could result in bloodshed. On his official Facebook page, Mr. Medvedev posted, “Such a state of order will be extremely unstable. It will end with the new revolution. With new blood.”

Russian generals led marches towards three bases in Crimea, demanding forces give up and weapons be surrendered. By the end of the day, the Russian military had “complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula” according to a senior US administration official, and had roughly 6,000 troops, both naval and on the ground, in the Crimean region. Another U.S. senior administration noted, “there is no question that they are in an occupation position — flying in reinforcements and settling in.” Additionally, power had been cut off at the headquarters of the Ukrainian Navy in Crimea.

The new Ukrainian interim Prime Minister said in a televised address, “This is a red alert. This is not a threat. This is actually a declaration of war to my country.”  He also urged Mr. Putin to “pull back his military and stick to the international obligations” before further noting, “We are on the brink of the disaster.” He would later state, “Nobody will give Crimea away…there are no grounds for the use of force against civilians and Ukrainians, and for the entry of the Russian military contingent. Russia never had any grounds and never will.”

Secretary of State Kerry went on “Face the Nation,” a U.S. Sunday news program and stated that certain foreign powers were “prepared to go to the hilt in order to isolate Russia with respect to this invasion. They’re prepared to put sanctions in place, they’re prepared to isolate Russia economically.” Oddly, but unsurprising due to his history for doing such thing, Mr. Kerry also temporarily undermined his own position, stating at another point in the interview, “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext.” It seemed that John Kerry had forgotten about the Iraq War that he had voted for in 2003.

Mr. Sergeyev stated on “State of the Union,” another Sunday news program, that “we are to demonstrate that we have our own capacity to protect ourselves…and we are preparing to defend ourselves. And nationally, if aggravation is going on in that way, when the Russian troops…are enlarging their quantity with every coming hour…we will ask for military support and other kinds of support.”

He later spoke at an emergency UN Security Council meeting and asked for help. Citing the now 16,000 troops in Crimea, he stated, “So far, Ukrainian armed forces have exercised restraint and refrained from active resistance to the aggression, but they are in full operational readiness.” Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin countered his argument, stating that the troops were only there in case Russians’ lives in Ukraine were threatened. He also stated that Viktor Yanukovych was the true leader of Ukraine.

A letter, supposedly written by Yanukovych, was read to the Security Council. “People are being persecuted for language and political reasons. So in this regard, I would call on the President of Russia, Mr. Putin, asking him to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability and defending the people of Ukraine.” US Ambassador Samantha Powers countered the letter by stating, “Russian military action is not a human rights protection mission, it is a violation of international law.”

Meanwhile, in Belgium, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh stated in an emergency meeting that “What Russia is doing now in Ukraine violates the principles of the U.N. charter” and further accused Russia of violating international law.

Elsewhere, German Prime Minister Angela Merkel had secured an agreement with Mr. Putin to establish a “fact-finding mission” in Ukraine, while Mr. Ki-Moon dispatched a UN special envoy to Ukraine. The G7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) issued a joint statement in which they condemned the “clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” and also suspended planning for the G8 summit in Sochi.

The finance ministers of the G7 also stated, “We are also committed to mobilize rapid technical assistance to support Ukraine in addressing its macroeconomic, regulator, and anti-corruption challenges.”

March 3rd. Ukraine began mobilizing its army against what it perceived to be an invasion by Russia. The tensions were increased when a crowd of one thousand Yanukovych loyalists Russian separatists stormed the government administrative building in Crimea and nominated pro-Russian Pavel Gubarev to be governor of Crimea.

Meanwhile, economic impacts around the world were beginning to be felt. In America, according to CNNMoney, U.S. stock futures were down 1%. The Dow Jones rose slightly, but the NASDAQ was down. Finally, the S&P 500 was slightly down.

Indexes in Russia and Europe were also affected. The Russian MICEX index was down by 11%. Germany’s Dax index was down slightly more than 3%, France’s CAC 40 index was down 2.4%, and London’s FTSE 100 index was down by 2%. Asian stock markets were also down. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 1.5% at closing, and the Nikkei index in Tokyo was down 1.3%. The Chinese stock markets, however, moved higher.

Commodities were also affected. Gold rose 2%, Brent crude rose 1.5%. Chief European market strategist at JP Morgan, Stephanie Flanders, said, “Russia’s involvement clearly magnifies the scope for contagion and increases the possibility that global energy prices will be affected both directly and indirectly.” ATM withdrawals were also limited by UniCredit, owners of the fourth-largest bank in Ukraine.

Indeed, Ukraine was a pivotal country in the world’s economy. According to CNNMoney’s Mark Thompson and Gregory Wallace, it was an integral part of both Russia’s and Europe’s economy. Due to its strategic location, half of the oil that was pumped into Europe from Russia had to go through Ukraine. A half of Russia’s trade was with Europe. The world’s grain supply could be affected, as Ukraine provided a sizable amount of corn around the world. The Ukrainian government owed $13 billion in debt and was looking like it would default. Finally, banks in Russia would also be hurt as a result of the crisis.

March 4th. Ukrainian parliamentarian Petro Poroshenko told CNN that “today we [had] the first sign of contact between our minister of defense and Russia’s minister of defense…but it is not a negotiation, unfortunately. We try to do our best to use any opportunity for peaceful negotiation. But…we don’t have any sign of hope…from the Russian side.”  

UN ambassador Sergeyev now claimed that there were 16,000 on the Crimean peninsula, with disguised Russian troops putting military installation under siege.

Vladimir Putin again denied that his troops had any role in the conflict and told IRA Novosti, a state-run news organization, that he was not planning to seize Crimea. Further, he stated, if his troops did intervene, then it would “be legitimate and correspond to international law because we have a direct from a legitimate president and it corresponds to our interests in protecting people close to us.” At the time, Russia still recognized Viktor Yanukovych as the President of Ukraine. At the same time, he ordered 150,000 troops to return to their barracks since the military exercises were complete. Still, troops remained near the Ukrainian border, and Ukraine double its security presence at checkpoints.

100 Ukrainian troops tried to return to Belek air force base, only to have to cede power to the Russians. The troops had no arms, and 15 of the troops were let back in. 100 Russian troops near Simferopol dug trenches and showed signs of preparing for war while speaking politely to nearby Ukrainian troops.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s parliament ratified the deal that Yanukovych would have signed had he not signed his deal with the Russians. Ukraine would receive loans from the European Union worth $639 million.

John Kerry also visited Kiev, where he visited the families of slain protesters, who were laying flowers in the protesters’ memory. While there, he was asked about Putin’s statements. “Not a single piece of evidence,” he said, backed Russia up. “Russia has talked about Russian-speaking citizens being under siege. They’re not.” He later added that “Our partners will have absolutely no choice (but) to join us to continue to expand on steps we have taken in recent days to isolate Russia diplomatically, politically, and economically… The United States will stand by the Ukrainian people as they build the strong democratic country they deserve…we must step up and answer their call.”

Ms Merkel, in the meantime, sought to ensure that ethnic Russians’ rights were not violated, which provided a way for Putin to pull out of Crimea, if he wished to.  

NATO Secretary General Rasmussen said that “Russia continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and continues to violate its international commitments.” NATO was highly unlikely to militarily intervene; however, nations within NATO looked for non-military ways to punish Russia.

March 5th. Foreign ministers from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ukraine, and Russia, as well as United States Secretary of State John Kerry, met in Paris. John Kerry emerged from the talks with optimism. Though he was aware that finding a resolution to the Crimean crisis was difficult, he acknowledged that some progress had been made. Russia’s foreign ministry said it had reached an agreement with the United States over a transition of power agreement, but Mr. Kerry did not note this in his speech, instead calling on Russia to withdraw their troops and allow international observers into the Crimean Peninsula.

Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry met three times in Paris. There, Lavrov told the press, “We are all concerned at what is happening [in Ukraine]. We agreed to continue those discussions in the days to come to see how best we can help [normalize] the situation and overcome the crisis.

The United States, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine called for international observers to be deployed to Ukraine. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk stated, “We have just two options on the table. The first one is a political option, and the other one is military. I believe that the right one is to use all diplomatic and political tools to tackle the crisis and to stop the invasion.”

The new Prime Minister of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, disagreed with the Western powers’ assertion that Russia was going to use their troops to invade. He stated, “I think somebody is just overestimating the situation. People of Crimea are controlling the situation themselves.” He also added that the troops in the region were legal and being used for self-defense. He was not overly concerned about the troop presence, adding, “Today in almost all of our cities, there is an active military selection to the future arm of Autonomous Republic of Crimea. So it is not excluded that there may be some Russian military personnel that theoretically could sign up. We are not checking passports and don’t know where all the people there belong to…it’s not a situation of chaos or disorder. In fact, outside of those areas around military bases, it’s amazing how normal life appears to be.”

Meanwhile, NATO said it was re-evaluating its relationship with Russia. The first NATO-Russia joint mission was suspended. NATO announced that it was pivoting away from Russia and to Ukraine, which would include joint training exercises and being more inclusive of Ukraine in multinational projects.

Russian Ambassador Alexander Grushko responded to NATO’s moves, stating, “We are very much disappointed by the outcome of the meeting we had today [with NATO]. The Russian delegation arrived assuming that we are going to have discussions to exchange our points of view. This meeting proved that NATO still has a double-standards policy and still Cold War stereotypes are applied to the Russian Federation.”

The European Commission announced an economic aid package for Ukraine. The move happened prior to an emergency EU summit scheduled to happen the day after. The United States Congress announced a $1 billion aid package to Ukraine as well. It was clear that the Western powers involved wanted to prop up Ukraine as much as possible.

March 6th. Lawmakers in Crimea voted to become part of Russia. In ten days, it would be put up to a regional vote. The act drew condemnation from all sides (except, predictably, Russia). Mr. Yatsenyuk called the vote “an illegitimate decision,” and further added, “Crimea was, is, and will be an integral part of Ukraine.” Other world leaders called the move a violation of international law.

President Obama weighed in on the move, stating, “Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.”  Yatsenyuk also joined emergency talks with the leaders of European Union in Belgium.

Things were not going so well for the former President of Ukraine and the pro-Russian movement. The leaders of the EU and the United States froze the assets of Viktor Yanukovych. Interpol was looking into arresting Yanukovych for abuse of power and murder, the charges of which stemmed back to the revolution in February. In Donetsk, self-proclaimed governor and leader of a pro-Russian movement Pavlo Gubarev, was arrested.

Meanwhile, diplomatic talks continued. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, met face-to-face. They both agreed to find a solution to the crisis. Presidents Obama and Putin spoke over the phone for an hour, the outcome of which “revealed differences in approaches and assessments of the causes of the crisis and the current situation,” and surprised no one who was well-informed of the situation.

The European Union announced that bilateral talks with Russia on visas matters would be suspended. There were also threats made of travel bans, asset freezes, and cancelling the upcoming EU-Russia summit. In a joint statement, the EU leaders said, “Any further steps by the Russian Federation to destabilize the situation in Ukraine would lead to additional and far reaching consequences for relations in a broad range of economic areas.” The threats, by now, seemed hollow.

At the same time, Russian began an air defense drill in an area that was 280 miles from Ukraine’s borders. A military spokesman was quoted by state-run media as saying that the drill was the “largest-ever exercise held by air defense units” near the area. Concurrently, there was a NATO mission nearby.

In Ukraine, in the city of Odessa, pro-Russia protesters called for deeper ties with Russia. In Crimea, the newly-installed government was clearly pro-Russia. The management of a hotel in the regional capital asked CNN to stop broadcasting from their hotel. Other media outlets were asked similar requests. By the end of March 6th, Crimea had been, as a headline from the Economist put it, “kidnapped by the Kremlin.”


Trump-Ed #2: Can Donald Trump be Like George Washington?

This is Part One of our 12-part-series of “Trump-Eds,” or Trump Editorials. This series draws largely from the Great Courses Series, “Great American Presidents,” by Professor Allan Lichtman, who has been interviewed many times by news media outlets about Trump’s potential.


Character defined our first President, George Washington. He sought the approval of the people, He sought the approval of the people by being a man of service, sacrifice, and integrity. He was a man who sought fame and glory. He was skilled at math and became a surveyor.

His life was not entirely full of what Americans of modern times would consider “pure” character, flirting with Sally Fairfax, a married woman, behind her husband’s back. He owned land, but was mired in debt in his early life.

He believed in the Rules of Civility, which included, among many other rules (he copied 100 “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior” down in his own writings), that one ought not interrupt another when they speak. He was diligent in following these rules (historians today believe that he followed those one hundred rules to the best of his ability) and driven by respect for others.

When President, above all else, he sought the “Great American Ideal,” which was to leave a legacy that left the country better off than when he became its steward.

Trump Analysis: Mr. Trump embodies many of the more negative aspects of George Washington. He is a land-owning magnate, yet has suffered several bankruptcies in his career. He’s definitely flirted with women and is driven by approval via fame and glory. Our President-Elect is not marked by service and sacrifice, and personal integrity is lacking by modern-day standards. Above all, he does not follow the rule of civility of not interrupting others. Though the President-Elect does believe that taxation has gotten out of hand, as did our first President, this is probably one of the only “positive” similarities between Mr. Trump and President Washington.

Trump-Ed #1: Make America (Potentially) Significant Again

This is Part One of our 12-part-series of “Trump-Eds,” or Trump Editorials. This series draws largely from the Great Courses Series, “Great American Presidents,” by Professor Allan Lichtman, who has been interviewed many times by news media outlets about Trump’s potential.

What is “greatness?” “Greatness” is a subjective term. For instance, if Donald Trump (R-NY) returned the country, as Democrats believe, back to the 1950s era and attitudes, then it would be “great” for American businessmen, but not so “great” for American women. Thus, a better word to use is “significant.”

The President governs at the “consent of the people,” something that Donald Trump needs to wary of, especially since he lost the popular vote – though he played by the rules and won the Presidency according to the system currently in play (the electoral college).

The American Presidency was founded on “audacity,” which Trump has plenty of. What has made this position significant is that they often come in with a vision. Donald Trump does have a vision. It is markedly limited, mainly that of making “America Great Again,” and actually does have a vision for what the wall along the Mexican border (which he’s promised to build) would look like, and who would pay for it. Beyond this vision, it’s never been articulated in specific, and it is vague by design. As far as an overall “doctrine,” Trump’s seems to be one of more delegation and trusting those with more knowledge than him to make decisions.

A new Presidency is always marked by a “peaceful transition of power.” While President Barack Obama (D-IL) and Trump have feuded over a vision to a country as the transition continues, there has been no military interference nor other violent obstacles that have affected the transition.

Sex and power come into play with several of the significant Presidents. We can point to Thomas Jefferson and John F. Kennedy are good examples of this. Donald Trump has had this throughout his entire adult life, whether from the rather lewd sexual discussion that took place on the set of Access Hollywood, or to being a CEO with the ability to fire any employee.

This brings us to the final element, which is that when President have been significant, it’s been at the “pivot point of world history,” according to Professor Allan Lichtman. With Russian (and other outside) interference, an underdog victory that very few media outlets saw coming, and a communication style unique for the 21st century, Donald Trump certainly has become President at a pivot point of some sort. Donald Trump’s decisions, like or not, have the power to influence US History.

Our conclusion is that Donald Trump embodies several factors that have made up prior significant Presidents. However, he (currently) is deficient on having a vision or doctrine. This is perhaps the most significant, glaring problem with his potential to be a significant President. As we inch closer to January 20th, if President-Elect Trump wants to be truly significant President, then he must have a concrete vision, and he must be able to articulate this vision, if not to the American people, then to his advisors. If he cannot do this, then he will not be a significant President.