The week started badly for President Donald Trump – even worse for his former campaign manager Paul Manafort – then got more complicated and difficult for everyone.
Manafort, a New Britain native, and fellow campaign official Rick Gates on Monday were the first people to be indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential elections.
The arrests consumed the nation’s headlines and sent political shock waves around the world. Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal reacted to them by calling for additional protection for Mueller, who some fear Trump may try to fire.
Blumenthal was also one of several senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee grilling Twitter and Facebook executives about the efforts of Russian trolls and bots to spread disinformation and propaganda during the presidential elections.
Connecticut’s other senator, Chris Murphy, meanwhile, citing the president’s “belligerent tone,” introduced a resolution that would make it harder for the U.S. to launch a pre-emptive strike against North Korea.
No sooner had the uproar over Mueller’s probe gotten going when came the apparent terrorist attack in Manhattan, killing eight people and injuring many others.
The attack — and the president’s angry rhetoric after it — took some of the steam out of the eventual unveiling of the Republicans’ tax proposal on Thursday, the most comprehensive revision in years. As all such measures do, the plan would create some winners and losers, but one of the provisions would work against people living in high-income states like Connecticut.
By the weekend, the drama of Trump’s complaints about the American justice system and his demands that it investigate his political adversaries threatened to distract from his trip to Asia to discuss, among other things, North Korea.
Back at the State Capitol, at least Connecticut’s months-long budget crisis was winding down – for now?
Gov. Dannel Malloy on Wednesday signed into law the $41.3 billion measure approved last week by the state legislature. The ink was hardly dry on the document when the nonpartisan state Office of Fiscal Analysis reported that on the current course, the state will run $1.9 billion and $2.7 billion in the red in fiscal years 2019-20 and 2020-2021.
In addition to that news, the effects of the new budget on various programs was just beginning to be felt. Some 68,000 low-income and disabled Connecticut residents using the Medicare Savings Program will lose some or all of their benefits come Jan. 1.
CT-N, Connecticut’s Public Affairs Network, meanwhile, was figuratively hanging by a thread as it tried to figure out how to operate with only half as much money as the state budgeted before. The task ultimately proved impossible, both financially and philosophically. For the time being, anyway, the legislature is going to cover itself.
The new budget also carried some non-monetary items that might not have survived a stand-alone vote, including campaign finance measures that will mainly benefit the legislators themselves.
Last week brought lots of change to Connecticut’s judiciary, as well, with the confirmation of three nominees for appointment to the State Supreme Court and Appellate Court… the announcement by State Supreme Court Justice Chase Rogers that she will be retiring in February… And the naming of John H. Durham, an apolitical career prosecutor, as the next U.S. attorney for Connecticut.
Nothing is moving in the plan for construction of a casino in East Windsor, however, though lawyers for the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations say the federal government has no choice but to approve the project.
The effect of Hurricane Maria on Connecticut is becoming more obvious in the state’s schools, where some 500 children displaced from Puerto Rico by the storm have showed up in local schools — mostly in the lowest-performing urban districts.