Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, were heckled by several protesters last week while eating at a popular Cuban restaurant. One woman approached their booth and called McConnell a “traitor,” prompting Chao to tell the hecklers to “leave them alone.” A man later came over, took McConnell’s to-go box, and dumped the food on the sidewalk. A spokesman for McConnell, who has been confronted at restaurants multiple times this year, said McConnell and Chao “hope other patrons weren’t too inconvenienced by left-wing tantrums.” Earlier last week, protesters shouted obscenities at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as she arrived at a campaign event in Coral Gables, Fla. “You don’t belong here, you f---ing communist f---,” one person yelled. After Pelosi wordlessly entered a building, the small crowd began chanting “Socialism sucks!”
Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced this week that she is stepping away from public life because of a progressing case of dementia. O’Connor, 88, said in a letter released by the court that the diagnosis came “some time ago” and is “probably Alzheimer’s disease.” She became the first woman to sit on the court in 1981, after being appointed by Ronald Reagan, and retired in 2006 to care for her husband, John, who suffered from Alzheimer’s and died in 2009. A moderate Republican who had previously served in Arizona state government, O’Connor became the most influential judge on the Supreme Court, thanks to her swing vote in 5-4 decisions. Those included Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, which upheld affirmative action in college admissions, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, which reaffirmed a constitutional right to abortion.
New York and Washington, D.C.
Packages were intercepted this week containing homemade pipe bombs addressed to former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CNN, and several other frequent targets of President Trump’s vitriol. Nobody was harmed, and authorities had named no suspects when The Week went to press. In mail screenings, the Secret Service discovered manila envelopes sent to Obama’s and Clinton’s homes, each containing a roughly 6-inch pipe filled with explosive powder, which officials described as “live.” Days earlier, a bomb was found in a mailbox at the Bedford, N.Y., home of George Soros, a billionaire and major Democratic donor who is vilified by conservatives in the U.S. and abroad. Authorities said the three bombs were likely linked.
CNN’s office in midtown Manhattan was evacuated after a package was found containing a pipe bomb and an unidentified white substance addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, an outspoken critic of Trump who actually works for NBC. Authorities said that package was delivered by a courier. A bomb was also mailed to former Attorney General Eric Holder, but was delivered to the package’s return address, the Florida office of Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who authorities said was not involved. CNN President Jeff Zucker said, “There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about their continued attacks on the media.” The bombs were quickly described as “terrorism” by both parties, with President Trump promising to “bring those responsible for these despicable acts to justice.” Speaking at a prescheduled event in Florida, Clinton said, “It’s a troubling time, isn’t it?”
Sowing midterm mayhem
Russia has launched a robust campaign to influence the midterm elections, the Justice Department said last week. In a criminal complaint, federal prosecutors said Russia has spent $35 million on activists, social media advertising, and promoting news posts on Facebook and Twitter. The operation was allegedly backed by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, a onetime restaurateur often called Vladimir Putin’s “chef.” Russian national Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova was charged with working as chief accountant of that operation, which prosecutors say deliberately “inflamed passions” on immigration, gun control, LGBT issues, the Confederate flag, race, the Women’s March, and the debate over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. U.S. Cyber Command this week began sending direct messages to Russian operatives that the American military is tracking their activities.
Cutting transgender protections
The Trump administration is preparing to narrow the definition of gender under Title IX, stripping transgender people of numerous legal protections, The New York Times reported this week. The proposal would define sex as “immutable” and determined by a person’s genitalia at birth, reversing changes under the Obama administration that let people choose how they identify under federal rules. Title IX prohibits sex-based discrimination in education and the definition will influence other federal programs. “I want to protect the country,” Trump said in defense of the proposal, which ignited protests under the slogan #WontBeErased. Dr. Lisa Hollier, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, urged the White House “to keep discrimination and political interference out of our nation’s health.” An estimated 1.4 million Americans identify as transgender. ■