Answer: They were all on President Donald Trump's mind this week.
Trump in Afghanistan
Trump traveled to Afghanistan in secret on Thanksgiving to visit the troops on what would be his first trip to Afghanistan. No cell phones were allowed on Air Force One; the lights were out, and the windows were black. This is Trump's second visit to a combat zone so far.
Speaking to the troops, Trump brought up negotiations with the Taliban: "The Taliban wants to make a deal. We'll see if they want to make a deal. It's got to be a real deal, but we'll see." 13,000 troops are still in Afghanistan, though the Trump Administration would like to see that number drop to 8,600 or less. "Because of new weaponry, we're able to do more with fewer troops" Trump told reporters.
Trump on Hong Kong
Meanwhile, protesters in Hong Kong waved American flags throughout the city after Trump signed a bill in support of the protests. The announcement that the bill was signed was made on the night before Thanksgiving in an effort to minimize media coverage. In response, China says they will have firm countermeasures.
Trump on "Terrorist" Mexican Cartels
Trump made a splash on Tuesday when he suggested that he is "well into [the] process" of designating drug cartels as terrorist organizations. This would allow the U.S. Treasury Department to place sanctions on anyone aiding or working with cartels. The problem is that it's not always clear who is cooperating with the cartels and who is being extorted by them. We also already sanction many of those cartel associates. There is also some concern that this may take counterterrorism resources away from other areas where they are needed more.
Mexico was taken by surprise and was not happy with this announcement. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said yes to cooperation but no to intervention in his daily press conference. The biggest fear for Mexico is that this will serve as justification for unilateral military action on Mexican soil. The U.S. has previously offered to send military aid into Mexico, but Mexico never agreed to it. In the same Tuesday interview, Trump said he had asked the Mexican President to "Let us go in and clear it out."
Trump on War Crimes
Also this week, former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was fired after he spoke out in opposition to the President. After he was fired, Spencer wrote a letter to Trump condemning the President's decision to make sure Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, a navy seal who was acquitted of murder, would get to keep his gold Trident insignia signifying his status as a member of the SEALs as well as his position in the elite commando corps. Spencer wrote, "The rule of law is what sets us apart from our adversaries."
Since his firing, Richard Spencer published an op-ed in the Washington Post about the events that led up to that firing and what he had learned from it. Spencer wrote "the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules." Trump, on the other hand, tweeted his displeasure with the way Gallagher's case was handled as well as the "cost overruns from past administration's... procedures".
Impeachment and Ukraine Update
Trump's (possibly former) personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is in hot water this week after it came to light that he was attempting to get paid by Ukranian prosecutors while he was in the country to dig up political dirt for the President. Yuri Lutsenko, Ukraine's then-prosecutor general, wanted Giuliani's help to return illegally embezzled Ukranian assets to Ukraine; in return, Giuliani wanted a six figure paycheck.
This connection was found in the form of several drafted contracts between Giuliani and Lutsenko. Later, Guiliani was dropped from the contracts in exchange for two conservative attorneys he worked with closely: Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova, familiar names for any FOX viewers. These lawyers were later hired by Ukranian oligarch Dmitry Firtash at the suggestion of Rudy Giuliani
In exchange, Firtash's legal team helped get an affidavit from former prosecutor general Viktor Shokin, in which he claimed he had been investigating Burisma at the time of his ouster and that he blamed the Bidens for this. Viktor Shokin was fired at the recommendation of the developed world after it was discovered that he was in fact under prosecuting companies for corruption.
It is important to note that this deal was never carried out; Giuliani never got paid. Giuliani attempted to profit off of his closeness to the government, an act very similar to the one Giuliani accused Hunter Biden of doing with the energy company Barisma and his father's position at the time.
Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) have already indicted two of Giuliani's associates, and have also been seeking information on Giuliani's business and finances. While those investigations have been heightening, Trump has been distancing himself from Giuliani saying he wasn't sure if Giuliani was in Ukraine for any reasons related to the President himself. This despite the testimony of many witnesses that state Trump repeatedly told people to "talk to Rudy" to get information on Ukraine policy.
Some of the information Congress has received regarding Giuliani and his business in Ukraine comes from Giuliani's associate Lev Parnas. Parnas has given recordings and photos of President Trump and Giuliani to Congress and has now implicated Rep. Devin Nunes, and both he and his partner Igor Fruman have been subpoenaed for documents by the Intelligence Committee. Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff told Jake Tapper on State of the Union that they "may go beyond those documentary requests" after they've finished analyzing the documents.
Lev Parnas has also implicated Representative Devin Nunes in his description of the efforts in Ukraine to secure political dirt on Democrats. Nunes, of course, serves as the ranking Republican member on the Intelligence Committee in charge of investigating the efforts in Ukraine and the President's role in them.
On Wednesday the House Judiciary Committee will begin hearings to draft articles of impeachment. Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler wrote in a letter addressed to the Commander-in-Chief that he is "hopeful that you and your counsel will... participate in the Committee's hearing." Trump himself told FOX and Friends that he "wants a trial" in the Senate.
Based on data from a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, half of Americans agree. Half of the country supports the impeachment inquiry, and views about whether or not the President should be removed from office are also split. There could be a full vote on the floor of the House to impeach before Christmas.
Trump's legal aid is still trying to block any close Trump advisers from being called as witnesses despite a ruling from federal court released on Monday declaring that Former Whitehouse Counsel Don McGahn, and in extension other Whitehouse aids, must comply with Congressional subpoenas, stating, "Presidents are not kings." The Administration appealed the decision, and in response the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit granted a stay. In the meantime, Trump tweeted that he would "love to have Mike Pompeo, Rick Perry, Mick Mulvaney and many others testify about the phony impeachment hoax."