Year 3, Week 52 (January 12-18)


This week marks the pomp and circumstance leading into the Senate trial, and tomorrow we see the beginning of the Senate trial itself. I’m still not sure what kind of ride we will see, but we’re watching the GOP set up a circus and the House set up a courtroom, so there’s bound to be some clashing genres and a whole lot of inanity.

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 a manager!–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:

At the time that I type this, Whistleblowing Ukraine Biden Bingo is transitioning into the trial stage of proceedings, which is going about as well as you might expect.  Here’s a quick summary of the uncertainty:


We still have some Iran updates this week under Disregard of Governing Norms, but there are some new contenders as well.  These are the updates:


Your “Normal” Weird:

  • Fraught Russia With Love.*  Current Russian President and all-around scary guy Vladimir Putin made some significant changes to how Russian politics work this week–namely, he replaced his resigning Prime Minister as he simultaneously changed the Russian Constitution to allow him to stay in power instead of running into a term limit in 2024. Some outlets are calling the one-two combination a January revolution, as it might allow Putin to remain in power for life, and nobody’s quite sure what his game is. That said, it definitely means nothing good for the United States.

The Bad:

  • Administration Attempts Governing.  The administration did do some actual governing this week, and most of it was no great shakes. The biggest news as I type this is that Trump signed a partial trade deal with China, which doesn’t do everything he wanted but he’s calling it “a monumental step” anyway because the man literally lies fifteen times a day. (It does relax some sanctions, though several remain in place, and hopefully it will provide some relief for farmers and the manufacturing sector.)  The administration also proposed relaxing rules about nutrition in school menus, Michelle Obama’s most significant achievement, so that fewer vegetables were required and more fast food was permitted.  They did this on this past Friday, which just so happens to also be Michelle Obama’s birthday, because apparently we’re being governed by middle schoolers.

The Good:

  • Recent Court Resilience.The Fifth Circuit declined to hear a case that would have reopened the question of whether fifteen-week abortions are legal in the state of Mississippi, which means the decision to strike down the law in the lower courts stands (at least for now). It’s not clear why the court declined to hear the case, but the outcome is a win, so I’m counting it nonetheless.

So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m sure next week will be bonkers. For making it through, you deserve this elephant’s impromptu gentle hotel tour 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 good health for our household!

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