National News Roundup: Week 6 (February 26-March 4)

This week, ho boy, where do I even start. Everybody doubled down like they were eating fried food at KFC — literally everybody. The Trump administration. The Democrats. The free press. The dog. (Admittedly, that last one might be just me; we had some Rabbit Adventures in Dogsitting.) This is definitely a weird week news cycle, y’all.

Standard disclaimers still apply; I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m only summarizing the news within my area of expertise. I may touch on news I think folks should know that is outside my area as a legal generalist, but if we undertake any offroad adventures I’ll do my best to signal that for you upfront by giving that headline an asterisk. Let’s get this show on the road.

The Weird

The Bad

  • Autocratic State of the Nation. As always, here is the link to Amy Siskind’s weekly authoritarianism watch review. Some, but not all, of her work is reproduced here, and I recommend checking out her list.
  • Sessions Breaking Bad. Sessions was in the news a lot this week, and almost none of it was anything good. First in a move I can only professionally describe as “not very nice,” he withdrew official AG support from the plaintiffs of a Texas voter suppression case the day before the scheduled argument, instead throwing his support behind the defendant state government. Then on Wednesday, it came out that Sessions had met with a Russian envoy twice during the campaign, despite making statements in his confirmation hearings to the contrary under oath. That kicked up a giant storm about whether Sessions had committed perjury, with multiple Democrats and a few Republicans calling for his resignation. The one silver lining in all of this is that he finally recused himself from the Russia investigation as a result of it all, though that’s a far cry from the resignation being discussed.
  • Checking the Cabinet. More cabinet positions were filled in this week, with Secretaries of HUD, Interior, and Energy all now confirmed — with Ben Carson, Ryan Zinke, and Rick Perry respectively (and God help us on that last one). I admit I’m not looking forward to Ben Carson serving as Secretary of HUD either, though that might be a more localized issue.
  • This Week in ICE Atrocity. A DREAMer was arrested at a press conference this past week in Mississippi, despite the Department of Homeland Security indicating that this population was not supposed to be targeted; at least one source is reporting that ICE is pursuing immediate deportation without a hearing on her case. On a larger scale, the current administration is also considering a new policy that would separate mothers and children upon apprehension at the border. The proposed policy, which would release children to state custody but hold parents, might be related to a class action suit approved this week that claims ICE forces adult detainees into unpaid labor while they are held — after all, that’s presumably harder to do if the detainee has children in tow. I plan to write more about the lawsuit, which touches upon several different areas of my expertise, in the near future; for now, suffice to say that this lawsuit is A Big Deal.
  • Bomb Threats Keep Coming. As noted above, we’re now up to 121 total bomb threats at Jewish community centers and three instances of mass grave desecration in St Louis, Philadelphia, and Rochester.
  • But Their Emails. Pence and Pruitt are both in the hotseat right now over email controversies — Pence apparently used an AOL account for official gubernatorial business when he was governor of Indiana, and Pruitt apparently lied in his confirmation hearings as well (though on the topic of personal email, rather than Russia). Probably nothing will come of it, but it’s fascinating nonetheless.

The Good

  • Moonlight Makes History. The Oscars did have a lot of cool history this week! As noted above, Moonlight was the first movie with an all-black cast to ever win Best Picture. It was also the first time a Muslim actor has ever won an Oscar at all (Mahershala Ali, who won best supporting actor for his work on the same movie).
  • Police Chief Objections. There was one glimmer of positivity regarding immigration this week; over sixty police enforcement heads signed a letter registering complaint about the idea of police being deputized as ICE agents.
  • Changes at the National Security Council. Flynn’s successor is rolling back several of the changes Flynn made, which might include Bannon’s position on the council — though we’ll need to wait and see on that last part.
  • Travel Ban Postponed Again. Though there were two executive orders signed this week, neither of them were the oft-referenced new travel ban document. They can just keep pushing this one back another four years, as far as I’m concerned, though I doubt anybody will follow my advice on that one.

And that’s all the news that’s fit to print today!



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