Well readers, I was banking on a rapid news cycle to justify the return to our normal schedule, and I sure wasn’t disappointed! Thankfully, most of this week’s news was gentler than last week’s horrorshow, but don’t let that lull you back to sleep–we’re not out of the woods just yet.
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 landscaping company!–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 Corner:
We mostly saw some disturbing Presidential election things that landed in this section, but we also saw more Original Flavor Disregard of Governing Norms.Here’s what I have for you:
- Concession Cancelation. Early Saturday morning, election data began to suggest a conclusive victory for Joe Biden; by mid-afternoon, the Associated Press declared Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 election. A huge chunk of the country began celebrating in the streets, and under a normal administration, this would be the whole story–but it’s the Trump Administration, so nobody’s shocked that this somehow leads to a Constitutional Crisis Corner. Trump is still moving forward on his bogus lawsuits as I type this, refusing to acknowledge the lack of evidence of his claimed voter fraud as he makes it extremely clear that he will not be conceding in this or any other lifetime. To punctuate the point, his person at the General Services Administration flat-out refuses to officially affirm the election results, a necessary step for beginning the transition process. Meanwhile, a numberof Republicans are backing his play, and the Department of Justice has authorized a probe of the 2020 election–again, despite the utter lack of evidence to suggest voter fraud was a thing. Needless to say, though Saturday gave us a bit of a breather, we need to be watching election news very, very carefully.
- Post Office Election Sketchiness. I said I would keep folks posted on the court case where the U.S. Postal Service failed to sweep USPS locations for ballots left behind, and I do have more updates. Most notably, in addition to the USPS total failure to comply with the order, it became clear by Friday that the U.S. Postal Service processed 150,000 ballots after Election Day, and more than 12,000 were in swing states Trump is suing over. Unsurprisingly, the judge was not impressed, and hinted that he may hold officials in contempt of court.
- White House Revolving Door Still Spins. Trump may be a lame duck, but that hasn’t stopped him from venting his spleen by firing people. News began filtering down by Friday that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was preparing a resignation letter because he expected to be fired after the election. And Esper was absolutely correct, because Trump fired him today, making him the fourth official fired in the past week. Esper’s firing is particularly disturbing because it’s believed he was let go in part due to his reluctance to deploy U.S. troops in domestic cities, which has potential implications for the two paragraphs above.
Your “Normal” Weird:
- Other Election Updates. Obviously I led with the biggest stuff, but there is still more election news to know, ranging from “unusual result” to “just plain weird”. Both GA senate races are definitely going to a runoff, which will be held on January 5, and it’s honestly an open question who will hold the Senate majority as a result–an unusual result to cap an unusual year. We also still lack conclusive Presidential tallies in several states, though Biden definitely has enough electoral college votes to win. Of course, the lack of finality didn’t stop people from celebrating en masse, and even other countries congratulated us, which seems like something of a referendum abroad. Nonetheless, House Democrats are already fighting about why they didn’t perform better, though they look likely to retain their majority as I type this. And in hilarious weird news, Team Trump held a press conference outside of Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia, right between a sex shop and a crematorium–which, as Ali Davis put it, is where we all are, metaphorically speaking. (One presumes that the team tried to book the Four Seasons Hotel and missed.)
- Et Tu, Fox News? One incredible consequence of the past week has been absolutely no media tolerance for Trump nonsense, even in corners of traditional support. Several networks straight-up cut away from his remarks on Wednesday or called his statements ‘lies’ or ‘falsehoods,’ which is a substantial shift in tone. Even Fox News, frustrated by the administration’s criticism, blatantly cut away from the White House Press Secretary mid-sentence today. “I just think we have to be very clear that she’s charging [that] the other side is welcoming fraud and welcoming illegal voting,” said Fox anchor Neil Cavuto as he cut the feed. “Unless she has more details to back that up, I can’t in good countenance continue showing you this.”
- State of the COVID-19. As I noted last week, COVID numbers look really bad–case numbers are continuing to set new records, and hospitalizations are rising quickly too. The White House continues to have high-profile infections: Chief of Staff Mark Meadows tested positive sometime last week, apparently asking people not to disclose this fact, and as of today Ben Carson tested positive as well. The stimulus legislation is also going nowhere as I type this, though that might change in the coming weeks. Nonetheless, we have more positive news on this front than we’ve had in a long time, because Pfizer announced their early vaccine data suggests 90% effectiveness. (Unsurprisingly, the stock market loved this news.) President-Elect Biden also announced his COVID-19 advisory board today, which is full of very qualified medical professionals.
- Au Revoir, Paris Agreement. The United States officially left the Paris Agreement this week, formalizing a Trump decision that has been several years in the making. Of the 200 countries that signed this agreement, we are the only ones to walk away, making the whole thing even more painful. President-Elect Biden has signaled that he will rejoin the agreement as soon as possible, but it may take time for this to occur.
- Promising Biden Beginnings. Despite not taking office until January at the earliest, President-Elect Biden is already moving forward on several key issues. As I mentioned above, he announced a COVID-19 task force today, and speaking as a health law professional I am very reassured by its members. He also signaled he will issue executive orders to undo damage on several critical issues upon assuming office, such as rejoining the Paris Agreement, undoing the Muslim ban, and revoking the global gag rule. Not everything can be undone by executive action, but given his extensive political experience I do trust President-Elect Biden to know exactly what can be remedied quickly.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I think we can agree that it’s more than enough. For making it through, you deserve this compilation of election memes 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 photos of your pets again!