National News Roundup: Week 44 (November 19–25)

By Florian Prischl (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Well folks, we managed a long stretch without an actual true Bad News Cycle, so I suppose we were about due — but that doesn’t make it suck less. Comfort food at the ready, y’all. This is a rough one.

Standard standing reminders 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. This week’s news contains some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise — I’m a lawyer, but not the merger kind! — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!

Constitutional Crisis Corners:

Not a lot happened on the Russia Collusion Investigation front this week, but there are a few rumors:

That said, the real news here at Constitutional Crisis Corner is movement on the Threat to Free Speech front:

Your “Normal” Weird:

  • Merger Management.* The Department of Justice filed to oppose a merger between ATT and Time Warner this week, which is commonly believed to be a retaliatory action motivated by the fact that Time Warner owns CNN. This is a really weird move, to say the least, and it will be very interesting to see what courts do with it.
  • Trump Foundational Issues.* The Donald J. Trump foundation made the news this week because it’s attempting to wind down after admitting to self-dealing last year. There’s just tiny flaw in this plan: It’s not allowed to do that, because it’s under investigation. In fact, since Trump first announced an intention to wind down the nonprofit after investigation had been announced, it seems pretty likely that the investigation is why it was winding down in the first place. So that’s not sketchy at all.
  • Trump TIME.* Trump tweeted that he turned down an offer of TIME’s Person of the Year for 2017, which was quickly discredited by TIME when they observed they don’t notify their choice until December 6. I honestly have no idea what motivates the most powerful man in America to lie about whether or not a magazine thinks he’s important, especially when he was already awarded the honor last year, so I’m not even gonna try to wrap my brain around it. It was weird, y’all.
  • Competing Commission Heads. In a surreal move I’m honestly surprised hasn’t happened before, Trump named current White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This was, however, a few hours after the departing director of the CFPB promoted his chief of staff to deputy director and said she would be the acting director. Under the law that created the bureau, Dodd-Frank (which Trump has been trying to neuter for half a year now), the director chooses their own interim replacement. But the Department of Justice is arguing that another law generally authorizes the President to fill interim federal positions, so CFPB-led pick Leandra English is suing to stop them. Either way, the whole thing is surreal and disturbing. Welcome to 2017, where the laws are made up and the cases don’t matter.
  • Haitian TPS News. In what I can only describe as an ambiguous move at best, the Department of Homeland Security announced this week that it will extend Haitian TPS for another year and a half, but then end it permanently in July 2019. This leaves about 57,000 Haitian nationals here in the United States scrambling to figure out a plan; since Haiti is still lacking a lot of infrastructure and having significant public health issues, many may not want to return immediately (if at all). The decision is particularly confusing because eighteen months is an unusually long time to wind down a TPS program — but it’s a common extension window. All in all, it’s a very mixed decision for relevant immigrant populations, and it adds tension to populations awaiting a TPS decision in the near future (such as people from Honduras and El Salvador).

The Bad:

The Good:

And that’s what I have this week — sorry, no take-backs. Here’s hoping you stay your preferred level of engaged and enraged until we meet again next week!

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