Year 3, Week 39 (October 13–19)
Well folks, by this point the shark has gone home, having performed several weeks of jumping support and concluded he’s not making enough overtime. But there is some new badness to know, and impeachment remains a persistent, high-stakes tug-of-war we all have to keep watching. So here we all are.
Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m mostly summarizing the news within my area of expertise. NNR summaries often contain some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise — I’m a lawyer, not Pierre Delecto! — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. And, of course, for the things that are within my lane, I’m offering context that shouldn’t be considered legal advice. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!
Constitutional Crisis Corners:
With everything else going on, Whistleblowing Ukraine Biden Bingo took a bit of a backseat compared to the past few weeks, but there was still plenty of bananas news nonetheless. Here are the latest updates:
- Impeachment Inquiry Updates.* This was a very active week for the House, y’all. After intense testimony from an aide about John Bolton’s disgust with the whole Ukraine business, House Democrats are considering bringing him in to get the story straight from the subpoenaed horse’s mouth. In the meantime, they spoke with Mike Pompeo’s adviser Michael McKinley, who confirmed that Pompeo resigned over the Ukraine shenanigans too — pushing a few Republicans to begin muttering impeachment support sentiment. Also, yet another Giuliani associate was arrested in an airport. And exiting Secretary of Energy Rick Perry joined Rudy Giuliani, Mike Pence, and half the OMB in the Refusing Subpoenas Club, which probably has seven yachts and won’t let Ben Carson in.
- Administrative Anger Synopsis. White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney just went ahead and said the quiet part out loud in a press conference this week, straight-up telling reporters that the White House withheld aid to Ukraine until they agreed to investigate the hacking of DNC servers in 2016, but to “get over it” because “there is going to be political influence in foreign policy.” He later walked back his incredible remarks, but given that we all watched him open the bag and unceremoniously dump the cat out on camera, I doubt it will be very effective. Apparently Trump agrees, because he started pressing Republicans anew a few days later.
Between Syria and the G-7 scandal that unfolded in real time, Disregard of Governing Norms had another miserably active week as well. Here’s what I have for you:
- Shameful Withdrawal from Syria (cont).* News involving Syria continues for a third week and also continues to be awful. As news trickled in about war crimes committed by Turkey during the aggression, Trump defended the actions with ethnic cleansing rhetoric at a Dallas rally. We also learned that a few weeks ago, Trump sent a negotiation letter to Turkey that was so bad that people thought it was fake, and one author staged a dramatic reading with his cat. We did see marginally more success from Mike Pence’s negotiations, which resulted in a ‘ceasefire’ that Turkey claims is no such thing ordering Kurdish forces to leave the region or face consequences. While Kurdish sources report that Turkey is already violating the agreement, whatever you choose to call it, the White House is withdrawing threat of sanctions despite Senate opposition to the move on the theory that the cease-fire has the situation covered. An unimpressed Congress passed a resolution condemning the withdrawal of troops, and Dems who tried to meet with the White House on the issue ended up walking out in disgust before the meeting even ended.
- Impressive Emoluments Attempt. In the most blatant emoluments violation we’ve seen to date, Trump tried to award himself the 2020 G-7 contract this past week, announcing that the international summit would be hosted at his own resort. He did eventually walk this back amid bipartisan backlash, but I seriously cannot overstress what a big deal it is that he even tried. Seriously y’all, back in the 1970s Jimmy Carter had to give up his family peanut farm to be President — this type of personal enrichment is not normal or acceptable, regardless of Trump’s gaslighting tweets otherwise.
Your “Normal” Weird:
- Pierre Flagrante Delecto. An intrepid reporter at the Atlantic this week managed to track down Mitt Romney’s secret twitter account, which he…mostly used to read about politics and occasionally respond to tweets as a relatively polite Internet rando. Given how benign this story is, it’s a bit fascinating that Twitter went totally bonkers over it — though to be fair, ‘Pierre Delecto’ is a pretty excellent nom de tweet.
- Black Lives Still Matter. Twenty-eight-year-old Fort Worth denizen Atatiana Jefferson was fatally shot by police in her own home while she was playing video games with her nephew, continuing a disturbing trend of police shootings during wellness checks. The shooting also occurred only a few weeks after a cop in nearby Dallas was convicted of murder for shooting a neighbor in his home while off-duty. The police officer in this case has been charged with murder as well, and has resigned from the force, but we need to be taking more proactive steps to address these completely preventable atrocities.
- Losing Elijah Cummings. This week also saw the passing of twelve-term Congressional rep Elijah Cummings, who led the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Despite the health issues which ultimately took his life, Cummings apparently spent his last hours signing subpoenas for an investigation into ICE practices from his hospital bed, which seems very in keeping with the congressman’s legacy. We lost a compassionate legislator with true integrity this week, and much of the country mourns with Maryland.
- Recent Court Resilience. We did see one promising court case this week, specifically about the ongoing modern poll tax fight in Florida between Republican legislators and civil rights advocates. A federal judge ruled that while the case is pending, people convicted of felonies must be allowed to vote even if they owe court fees — poverty is not supposed to be a bar to civic engagement. The attempted legislation impacts nearly 1.5 million disenfranchised people, so this is a pretty big deal even though the case is still pending.
- One Giant Step for Womankind. NASA saw its first all-female spacewalk this week, which is pretty exciting! Women have been strolling through space since 1984, and there have been fifteen total female spacewalkers in modern history — contrary to Trump’s apparent belief — but we didn’t have the equipment for simultaneous trips until very recently. (Fourteen of those women have been American, by the way, so that’s a nice thing about our country we can hold onto while we stare at the rest of 2019.)
So that’s what I have for this week, and I think we can all agree that it’s more than enough. For making it through, you deserve a visit from this desert tortoise and an eventual better government. I’ll be back next week with more (and hopefully better) news, and I hope you will be back as well — but in the meantime, feel free to ping the National News Roundup ask box, which is there for your constructive comments. Send me questions! Send me feedback! Send me fewer accidental naps!