The U.S. at a glance ...
Boston, New York City, Chicago, Denver, and Seattle
Anti-sharia marches: Flag-waving protesters gathered in about two dozen cities across the country last week to denounce Islamic law, as part of a nationwide grassroots event billed as the “March Against Sharia.” The demonstrations were organized by ACT for America, a pro-Trump lobbyist organization that describes itself as “the NRA of national security.” ACT has labeled Islam a homophobic, misogynistic “cancer.” Activists carried signs reading “No More Muslims” and “I Don’t Take Orders From Mohammed.” A group of antigovernment law-enforcement officers known as the Oath Keepers provided security for some of the marches, which attracted equally large groups of counterprotesters who chanted slogans like “No hate! No fear! Muslims are welcome here!” Several were “anti-fascist,” or “antifa,” activists dressed in black masks and hoods who scuffled with protesters.
Travel ban rejected: President Trump’s revised travel ban suffered another legal setback this week, as a second federal appeals court ruled against his executive order limiting travel to the U.S. from six predominantly Muslim countries. A three-judge panel from the San Francisco–based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the order lacked a sufficient national security justification and violated immigration law. Trump “exceeded the authority delegated to him by Congress,” the judges said. The unanimous decision follows a similar ruling last month by a federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., which cited the First Amendment’s prohibition of government establishment of religion in refusing to reinstate the order. In a tweet, Trump blasted the 9th Circuit for ruling against him “at such a dangerous time in the history of our country.”
New Russia sanctions: The Senate this week overwhelmingly approved new financial sanctions on Russia for meddling in the 2016 election, and restricted President Trump from lifting the penalties without consulting lawmakers. The measure, which passed 97-2, toughens existing sanctions and places new ones on Russian firms and individuals that engage in “malicious cyberactivity” or funnel weapons to the Syrian government. It also gives Congress the ability to prevent the president from easing any penalties. “We are ensuring that the United States continues to punish President [Vladimir] Putin for his reckless and destabilizing actions,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. The new sanctions come amid revelations that Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system was much broader than previously reported and included incursions into voter databases and software systems in 39 states.
Emoluments suits: The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia sued President Trump in federal court this week, claiming that foreign payments to his businesses violate the Constitution. Two days later, nearly 200 Democratic lawmakers filed their own lawsuit involving the emoluments clause, which bars the president and other government officials from accepting gifts and payments from foreign governments without congressional approval. “We’re concerned that foreign governments are coming to the Trump businesses with a single purpose of currying special favor,” D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said. His lawsuit also alleges that the president’s hotels unfairly draw money away from local businesses. The Trump Organization has vowed to donate profits from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury, though it won’t require customers to identify themselves. The White House said “partisan politics” were behind the lawsuits.
Cosby trial: Jurors in the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial began deliberations this week, after the defense team rested its case after a mere six minutes. Cosby, 79, is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and molesting former Temple University basketball staffer Andrea Constand at his Pennsylvania home in 2004. Facing up to 10 years in prison on each count, the comedian, who maintains the encounter was consensual, has pleaded not guilty to all charges. During the trial, jurors heard from a deposition Cosby gave more than a decade ago, when Constand sued him and settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. He admitted giving Quaaludes and other pills to women before having sex with them, calling himself “a dirty old man.’’ Cosby appeared relaxed after closing arguments, performing his trademark Fat Albert impression—“Hey, hey, hey!”—for the crowd outside the courthouse.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
51st state? Puerto Ricans decisively backed U.S. statehood in a nonbinding referendum this week— though turnout for the poll was just 23 percent amid a boycott by several opposition parties. The vote was the fifth time the territory has gone to the polls over its relationship with the U.S., and came amid a debt crisis that has crippled the island’s public services and led to a “brain drain” to the mainland. About 97 percent of voters opted for statehood, prompting Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to declare that he would create a commission to pressure Congress to accept the poll’s results. Opposition parties cried foul, pointing out that participation was the lowest in any Puerto Rican election since 1967. Many politicians favor independence over statehood and refused to take part in the poll, arguing it was rigged in favor of statehood. “The scant participation... sends a clear message,” said one member of Puerto Rico’s main opposition party.