The news was surprisingly merciful this week, for the most part–outside of health news, there’s way less than usual that will make you want to stare at walls. I think we all know better than to expect this to stay the norm, but we might as well enjoy a partial reprieve while it lasts. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled dystopia soon enough.
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 subpoena!–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:
On the Election Rejection front, we’re back to a full-blown three ring circus again. Here’s what I have for you:
- Election Rejection: Jan 6 Stuff. The House panel held its ninth public hearing on Thursday, which will probably also be its last one–though they did vote unanimously to subpoena Donald Trump, so who knows what will end up televised from that. In addition to the subpoena vote, they also aired several video and audio clips illustrating the severity of the day’s events, Trump’s knowledge of the election results, and premeditation to declare victory regardless of the actual election results. It’s likely we’ll see further action on this, but it’s hard to predict what form it will take–I’ll keep folks posted.
- Insurrection Update: FBI Tour of Mar-A-Lago. A whole lot happened in this ring over the past week. Trump’s appeal to the Supreme Court to consider the special master case was summarily denied, which in turn prompted the Department of Justice to ask to end the special master review. Meanwhile, a Trump lawyer admitted to the DOJ that she attested to a Mar-A-Lago search she hadn’t been around for (and which of course never actually happened). Finally, a Trump employee told the FBI that Trump ordered staff to move various boxes of records around shortly after he received a subpoena for the materials in the summer–which was then confirmed with security footage of Mar-A-Lago.
- Insurrection Update: Other Trump Charges. Trump also had a lot of sketchy business news this past week, much of which relates back to the New York civil fraud investigation. The same day the lawsuit was filed, Trump’s lawyers attempted to incorporate–and I can’t believe I’m not making this up–the Trump Organization II. Needless to say, Letitia Jones was not amused, and has moved to freeze transfer of assets while her case is pending. On top of that, just today the House Oversight and Reform Committee published a nine-page letter to the Secret Service regarding an investigation into Trump’s illegal self-dealing. More specifically, the panel noted that Trump repeatedly charged five times the government rate when forcing Secret Service agents to stay at his hotel as President. Though we’ve known about this self-dealing a long time, the public letter to Secret Service suggests the potential beginning of another formal investigation within the House.
On the Biden Rebuilding front, there’s a lot going on as well for another week. Here’s what has happened:
- Biden Miscellany. The Biden administration had a lot of odds and ends this week, but most of them were relatively positive. The administration announced a significant and unusual 8.7% cost of living adjustment for folks receiving Social Security benefits, which will help with the rampant inflation we are experiencing but is by no means a full fix. The administration also began implementing its federal student debt cancellation plan today, and will accept applications until December 31, 2023. That said, it’s a good idea to get your application in sooner if you think you might qualify, because there’s currently a pending lawsuit and that judge may implement an injunction.
Your New Normal:
- Contagion Corner. COVID news is very mixed this week. In the positive column, bivalent boosters are now available for children ages 5 and up. That said, this is particularly good because numbers are beginning to rise again–it’s looking likely that omicron variants have created another superstrain. If we continue to follow the trends first seen in Europe, as we have done for much of the pandemic, we’ll probably see an autumn surge similar to Delta just like last year. I’ll definitely keep folks posted on this.
- Out of Adderall. This week, the FDA acknowledged a nationwide shortage of Adderall, which is a drug many Americans take to treat ADHD. This is the second medical shortage with serious pediatric implications in the past year, and the infant formula shortage that began in February took many months to fix. Officials believe that this shortage may take months to fix as well, which will negatively impact the mental health of millions of Americans.
- Recent Court Resilience. After a lengthy judicial process, jurors on the consolidated Alex Jones defamation cases reached Damages o’Clock this past Wednesday. It’s hard to imagine a less sympathetic defendant, but the compensatory damages awarded of nearly $1B are nonetheless truly incredible–this total does not even reflect the punitive damages, which will be awarded next month. Especially for compensatory damages, that’s a truly unprecedented amount. For contrast, the infamous “McDonald’s case” from 1994 awarded only $160,000 in compensation; even the highest tort damages that I’m aware of for a single case in American history, awarded in Anderson v. GM in 1999, totaled $107M in compensatory damages. The $1B award is definitely more money than Jones has, though how much money he actually has is an open question at the moment. It’s certainly a strong message, at any rate.
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 these cuddle friends 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 recommendations of shows you like!