The Biggest Stories in American Politics This Week

The Biggest Stories in American Politics This Week

- in House of Representatives

From the tensions among President Trump and the United States’ closest allies to a series of court decisions, it was a busy week in American politics. Here are five of the biggest stories this week (and some links if you want to read further).

Defiant about his foreign policy and trade tactics, President Trump traveled to Canada for a series of meetings with American allies.

President Trump arriving Friday at a Canadian military base in Quebec for the Group of 7 summit meeting.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump, unusually isolated and at odds with his counterparts, arrived Friday in Canada for an annual summit meeting with some of the United States’ closest allies. Before he left Washington, he raised the prospect of welcoming Russia back into the Group of 7 and he vowed not to back down on tariffs.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump had skirmished with the leaders of France and Canada over trade, and later that night, he abruptly announced his decision to leave the summit meeting in Quebec early. Much of the tension stemmed from Mr. Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada called “insulting and totally unacceptable.”

Once Mr. Trump leaves Quebec, he will head to Singapore, where he is expected to meet next week with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea.

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In an extraordinary assertion of power, Mr. Trump declared that he has “the absolute right” to pardon himself.

President Trump in May in Nashville. This week he called the appointment of the special counsel “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL.”CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

Mr. Trump declared Monday on Twitter that he had “the absolute right” to pardon himself for any crime. The assertion came as his legal advisers continue to argue that as president, Mr. Trump is above obstruction statutes.

The president also declared on Twitter that the appointment of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel in the Russia investigation, was “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”

Later that day, Mr. Mueller accused Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, of trying to tamper with witnesses. And on Friday, the special counsel brought new obstruction charges against Mr. Manafort and one of Mr. Manafort’s associates.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump offered clemency to a woman serving life in prison for a nonviolent drug conviction, a case championed by Kim Kardashian West, and on Friday he said he was considering pardoning Muhammad Ali. (Mr. Ali’s conviction, however, was overturned nearly 50 years ago.)

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It was a busy week for the judicial system.

Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, leaving the Supreme Court in December. The court said on Monday that a Colorado panel’s decision against him had been infected by religious animus.CreditZach Gibson for The New York Times

The Supreme Court narrowly ruled on Monday in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The court also turned away a request from the Justice Department to discipline lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union for helping an undocumented teenager get an abortion.

On Thursday, a former Senate aide was arrested in an investigation of classified information leaks, where prosecutors also seized years’ worth of phone and email records from a New York Times reporter. The investigation was the first known instance of the Justice Department seeking a reporter’s data during the Trump administration, signaling that the aggressive tactics employed under President Barack Obama will probably continue.

Also Thursday, prosecutors from the Justice Department told a federal court that it would no longer defend provisions of the Affordable Care Act that protect consumers with pre-existing medical conditions. If that argument is accepted, insurers could again deny people coverage because of their medical conditions or history.

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California and seven other states held primaries for the midterm elections.

Katie Porter, right, a progressive California Democrat running for Congress, at her election night event on Tuesday in Irvine. She advanced to the general election.CreditEric Thayer for The New York Times

Primary elections dominated on Tuesday. In New Jersey and seven other states, Democrats enhanced their prospects for potentially taking control of the House. Their challengers include a former Navy pilot, a veteran White House national security adviser and a conservative pro-gun state senator.

Both major parties avoided worst-case scenarios in California: Democrats had candidates set to advance in seven of the most competitive districts, while Republicans avoided a shutout in the races for Senate and governor.

Also Tuesday, Senator Mitch McConnell announced that he was canceling the majority of the Senate’s August recess, which could keep vulnerable Democrats from leaving Washington to campaign.

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Scott Pruitt, the embattled head of the Environmental Protection Agency, faced more controversy over his apparent misuse of power.

A senior aide to Scott Pruitt, above, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, performed personal errands for him, according to a congressional transcript.CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, faced renewed backlash over the demands he made of his aides as new documents and congressional testimony were made public.

According to the new information, Mr. Pruitt used a top aide essentially as a personal assistant, having her try to procure a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel and to help search for an apartment for him. The aide, Millan Hupp, was also said to have helped him obtain tickets to last year’s Rose Bowl game. Ms. Hupp and another top aide in the agency both resigned this week.

Mr. Pruitt also tasked another aide with helping him seek a business opportunity for his wife with the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A, documents released Tuesday show.

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