The January 6 hearings have started, and so far the theme of both of them has been “You knew it was bad, but you probably didn’t know it was this bad.” Needless to say, that’s not the light reading I was hoping for last week. Nonetheless, it’s better to know this stuff than to be bitten by it later, so the NNR is here to ruin your Monday again. (You’re welcome.)
Standard standing reminders still apply: I guess after six years I’m conceding that I’m a journalist, but I summarize news within my areas of expertise. NNR summaries often contain some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise–I’m a lawyer, not a hearing!–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!
Cleanup in Aisle 45:
Basically half the news this week is January 6 hearings on the Election Rejection front. Here’s what I have for you:
- Insurrection Update: The Hearing Hoopla. Appropriately, there was indeed a lot of sturm und drang leading up to the first hearing. News outlets put out lots of materials on how to watch and what to expect (the short version: insurrection), except of course for Fox News and miscellaneous MAGA Internet, which opted to ignore the hearings and complain about them respectively. There were also a number of stories about Trump at the top of the week, particularly regarding 1) his children agreeing to testify in the NY investigation of the family business and 2) super shady emails regarding his big plan to use fake electors in Georgia.
- Insurrection Update: The First Hearings. At the time that I type this, we’ve completed the first two publicly-televised hearings, and so far the main theme is “yeah, this was really bad.” There are a lot of pieces out there already summarizing the key takeaways from the first hearing, and a few from the second one that happened earlier today already as well, which I recommend reading. That said, descriptions of “carnage” aside, here’s what stands out to me most so far: 1) Basically all of the people testifying are either nonpartisan witnesses or are Trump’s own people; 2) Everyone seems pretty clear that Trump knew what was going to happen and also knew there was no voter fraud, but nonetheless actively encouraged the insurrection; and 3) Witness narratives increasingly depict Trump as unable or unwilling to accept the reality in front of him regarding his November 2020 loss. (I think that last one is a very important distinction, though with 45 it can be genuinely hard to tell which one has occurred.) The next hearing is on Wednesday, and we’ll have more updates by this time next week.
In light of his instructions on this issue last week, I’m going to go ahead and consider the current Congressional work on responsible gun legislation to be part of Biden Rebuilding. Here’s what has happened:
- Responsible Gun Laws. This week saw actor Matthew McConaughey speaking in front of Congress about his hometown of Uvalde and responsible gun ownership, and thousands participated in the March for Our Lives on the National Mall this weekend as well. With all of that high-profile pressure, perhaps it’s not surprising that we’ve also seen incremental legislative movement in both the House and the Senate. At the time that I type this, the House has passed a package largely along party lines, and the Senate has brokered a bipartisan deal among 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats. The Senate deal is actually pretty substantive, and includes a lot of important provisions that would make it the most meaningful gun legislation in decades–it’s truly noteworthy that this deal even happened. I would be remiss if I did not note, however, that those ten Republicans still potentially do not constitute enough votes to move us past a filibuster in the Senate if even one or two Democrats defect.
Your New Normal:
- State of the COVID-19. We did indeed stop making airlines test people before they fly to other countries this week, which we knew was coming but it still sucks. In slightly better COVID news, Moderna is seeking authorization for an omicron-specific booster that it says outperforms existing vaccines. Meanwhile, the FDA voted to authorize a more traditional vaccine based on proteins instead of messenger RNA technology, which will create more options for people who can’t take the current vaccines. We’re still waiting for a pediatric vaccine for children under 5, but the FDA has signaled that it may approve Moderna and Pfizer’s submissions in the near future. Finally, the White House is redirecting remaining COVID funds to vaccination and therapeutics rather than testing, a move which reflects the reduced funding available after Congress didn’t authorize more.
- Insurrection Update: Primaries Edition. While all of the January 6 hearings are happening, we’re also still holding primary elections, which wouldn’t be bad news except that they’re more related to January 6 than we would prefer. First off, Michigan’s gubernatorial candidate was arrested for January 6 insurrection this week, but he’s still running–making him the first active candidate charged but probably not the last. And just to top that off, former Trump aide and notable governmental embezzler Ryan Zinke is now officially the GOP candidate for Montana House rep. I suppose there’s technically nothing that precludes either of these things from happening, so obviously they’re just going to go ahead and happen, but it would be cool if there were literally any consequences for candidates.
- Recent Medical Advancements. There was a cancer drug trial that was in the news this week because, incredibly, 100% of subjects went into remission after the drug was administered. Obviously this is still early, but I can’t overstate how amazing that is! I look forward to reading more about this drug as trials continue.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m sorry, there are no news refunds. For making it through, you deserve this judgy doggo and a more functional government. I’ll be back next week with more restructured and improved 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 in the day!