National News Roundup: Year 2, Week 34 (September 9–15)


Last week, on the As the Country Turns: Oh, let’s be honest, none of us even want to remember. But it’s another week of your favorite (okay, least favorite) governmental soap opera! And actually, we’ve seen worse episodes, because there’s a double-cross this week that’s pretty satisfying.

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, not a confirmation hearing! — 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:

We only saw a couple of instances of Casual Disregard of Governing Norms this week, but all of them were pretty major and majorly strange. Here are the main things to know:

The Russia Investigation was absolutely bonkers this week. Here are the main things to know:

  • Manafort Flips. I don’t even have a snarky headline for this one, that’s how excited I am about this! After multiple deals that fell through, Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice this past Friday. His plea deal included a promise of ‘broad cooperation,’ including potentially testifying in any further proceedings. Needless to say, it’s a safe bet that they’ll be taking a closer look at the lobbyists he recruited after this, at absolute minimum, and obviously Manafort knows a great deal about the 2016 Trump campaign and its inner workings during crucial periods. Characteristically, Mueller isn’t sharing next steps, but it’s obvious that he has them, and I’m excited to find out what they are! (At this point, he could announce his next step is to do the Chicken Dance in front of the Lincoln Memorial and I would spend half the afternoon trying to figure out why that’s brilliant prosecution.)
  • Declassification of Russia Investigation Docs.* In what is either a crafty-like-a-fox move or a very public meltdown, and I’m honestly not sure which, Trump ordered the declassification of a whole passel of Russia investigation docs earlier tonight. Since the individuals he targeted — former FBI officials James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, and Lisa Page, as well as sitting Justice Department attorney Bruce Ohr — were all people he dislikes, I would imagine there’s some embarrassing dirty laundry somewhere in there. But this is Trump, so it’s even odds whether he’s releasing enough rope to hang them or just wants the world to know that James Comey once texted about some indigestion. He’s also declassifying the entire FISA application for Carter Page, and his beef with Ohr appears directly related to the pee tape dossier, so I’m sort of leaning towards the “sundowning temper tantrum” theory of events for now.

Your “Normal” Weird:

The Bad:

The Good:

  • Clean Power Palate Cleanser. If you’re mad about the EPA news (as am I), it might help to know that green things are still happening somewhere on the planet! This past week, Germany rolled out two hydrogen-powered trains that emit no CO2 emissions whatsoever, and the science behind them sounds honestly really cool. And here in the U.S, California finalized a bill this wee that mandates 100% clean power throughout the state by 2045. It’s an ambitious and likely unprecedented plan, but made easier by the fact that California present gets about 40% of its energy through clean sources. The announcement comes just ahead of a massive Global Climate Change Action Summit, hosted by California’s governor (among others).

So that’s what I have for this week, and it’s more than enough! For making it through all of that, you deserve hilarious wildlife ‘furtography’ and an eventual better government. I’ll be back next week with more 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 Bongo Cat memes!

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