After weeks of nonstop raging dumpster fire, this week feels like a bit of a breather — it’s not full of especially great news, but nor is it especially fetid. I’ll keep watching for dropping shoes, but in the meantime we appear to have… caught a bit of a break? I know, I’m as shocked as you are (but I’ll take it).
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 subpoena! — 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 do still have some Russia Investigation news, mostly about who is complying with what subpoena. Here’s what I have for you:
- Subpoena Cooperation.* As has become his pattern over the past few weeks, Trump ordered former communications director Hope Hicks not to comply with the House documents subpoena she was recently issued. She agreed to hand some documents over anyway, though whether they were helpful remains to be seen. In the meantime, committee chairman Jerry Nadler is deciding whether to subpoena former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, since he believes it’s still possible Mueller will testify willingly. I’ll keep folks posted on what happens there.
- Subpoena Subordination.* This week, the House Rules Committee put forward a resolution that would allow the House to sue William Barr to enforce the subpoenas he’s been ignoring for two months, and also planned a vote on Tuesday to hold him in contempt. But just today, they apparently negotiated a deal for documents successfully, making the whole thing go on pause. Since contempt would be enforced by the Department of Justice, it’s very possible that Barr hasn’t truly been scared into anything, and the documents won’t be anything useful. But we’ll have to see what happens.
We continue to see Disregard of Governing Norms each week, but this week, not all of them came from Trump. Here’s what happened:
- The DREAM and Promise Act Prelude.* The House passed the DREAM and Promise Act this past week, which is an immigration reform bill that creates many opportunities for Dreamers that Mitch McConnell is gonna refuse to vote on. It says a lot about the strange times we live in that this bill is unlikely to even hit the Senate floor — it’s literally just about two moderate ideas: 1) canceling removal proceedings for a probationary period for people who arrived here as kids; and 2) DHS giving Congress reasons why when it ends existing programs.
- Pelosi Impeachment Baiting (Again). Nancy Pelosi is continuing to fight with Dems about impeachment proceedings, saying that she would “[rather see Trump] in prison” and that “an impeachment is an indictment.” Given that Mueller has been extremely clear in his position that a sitting President cannot be indicted, and therefore impeachment must occur in order for him to go to prison, I’m not really sure I understand her argument here? But you do you, Nancy, it’s not like the rest of us have to live with the consequences.
Your “Normal” Weird:
- Trump’s Trip to England.* Trump took a trip to England this past week, and it sure was weird! Among the circus: Trump insulting the mayor of London as soon as he landed; a truly impressive protest game put forward by British citizens throughout his trip; a 45 gaffe about NHS; an improbable amount of American focus on his formal attire at the state dinner; pointed comments about a wall in Ireland; weird quotes about Vietnam; and a rumor that the Queen was throwing shade with her tiara while meeting him.
- Joe Biden’s Hyde and Seek. Joe Biden had the distinction of coming out both for and against the Hyde Amendment this week. Though he initially stated that he supports the amendment, which limits federal funding to clinics that provide abortions, by the end of the week he had changed his mind. It seems likely that his reversal was related to fierce backlash he experienced, because the Democratic party doesn’t take kindly to forced birth rhetoric — particularly right on the heels of a zillion state heartbeat bills.
- Tariff Trade-offs. After a week of ticking clock anxiety, Trump did reach a deal with Mexico over the weekend that made him call off the threat of tariffs. Predictably, the deal is bad news for immigrants; it contains terms about sending the National Guard to the southern border of Mexico and sending asylum seekers back to Mexico to await a decision. That said, the New York Times reported that Mexico had already agreed to most of the final terms that got him to back down, and these provisions also aren’t likely to really drive down immigration rates. So it’s unclear whether the whole thing was a show of force, or foreshadowing, or what, and 45 has already moved on to threaten new tariffs against China. So these tea leaves really might say anything.
- Other Ill-Advised Immigration Updates.* There were a handful of other immigration stories this week, and all of them are kind of brain-bleedy. News broke that CBP was relaxing its standards further at the tent cities housing migrant children, cutting education, recreation, and legal services available to kids housed there. This is a likely violation of the Flores settlement and therefore illegal — not that illegality ever stops this administration — and there will likely be another court case. Meanwhile, 45 has military troops stationed at the border to paint the wall there for the next month to “improve its aesthetic appearance,” which I’m sure isn’t a cover for other misuses of military force at all. And ICE was in the news for illegally deporting U.S. veterans, because nothing celebrates D-Day quite like arresting and expelling our own former troops.
- Disaster Spending Finally Finalized. This week, the House did pass the disaster spending bill that would create relief for natural disaster zones and kept getting stalled last week, and Trump has signed it into law and everything (so it’s definitely happening). It’s embarrassing that this was even a partisan issue, but hopefully this will result in actual disaster relief for places like Puerto Rico, which is still hurting two years after Hurricane Maria.
- Proud Pride Moments. June is LGBT Pride month, and though this is a rough time we’ve seen some some encouraging moments in there too. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid, and the commissioner of the New York police department publicly acknowledged the oppressive action of the NYPD in a formal apology for the event this week. (Disturbingly, this is literally the first time that anybody on the NYPD has apologized since the event occurred fifty years ago.) And though the Trump administration has rejected requests to fly the pride flag at U.S. embassies, some diplomats are doing it anyway.
- Racial Disparity Reduction. Some recent research released on the Affordable Care Act has shown that racial disparities in cancer care have dramatically decreased since the act was passed and Medicaid was expanded, and that in particular early access to treatment has substantially improved for people of color. This is a really big deal, because America has huge issues with racial health disparities across many health issues, and these studies can potentially be used to decrease disparities in other areas as well.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m sure it won’t stay this manageable for long! For making it through, you deserve this story about superhero love and an eventual better government. I’ll be back next week with more (and probably worse, sorry) 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 more hours of sleep!