The big news for the week:
Laura Monterrosa was released from the Hutto immigrant detention center in Taylor. And Democrat Conor Lamb won a close victory in a special election for a vacated House seat in PA—in a district Donald carried by 20 points. (See how that compares to Austin districts.)
Massive student walkouts—more than a million students at thousands of schools across the country—on March 14, one month after the Parkland shooting, honored the students killed at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school. Join the student-organized March for Our Lives March 24—find the Austin branch info here—to add your voice to theirs in protesting government inaction on legislating gun safety laws and speaking out against asinine “solutions” like arming teachers. (In related news, a teachertrained in gun safety as a reserve police officer accidentally fired his weapon inside a school classroom.)
More chaos in the White House: In the Department of State, Rex Tillerson’s out—to his own shock (he found out via Twitter). Mike Pompeo is in—despite having warned America against Donald during the 2016 election as someone who would be an “authoritarian president.” Rumors swirl that head of national security McMaster and chief of staff John Kelly may be next, as Donald continues purging anyone who doesn’t entirely agree with him all of the time.
The ICE spokesperson quit, citing falsehoods he was told and instructed to perpetuate by attorney general Jeff Sessions and the acting director of ICE, one of which included that hundreds of “criminal aliens” evaded ICE during a Northern California raid in February thanks to warnings by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
At least half a dozen of Donald’s current or former cabinet members are under federal investigation for various ethics violations and misuses of office.
Heat rises on Russia—British prime minister Teresa May expelled 23 Russian diplomats after the poisoning of two Russian former spies living in Britain (Russia immediately retaliated with similar measures). Germany and France almost immediately joined in, condemning Russia for as the likely culprit on the poisonings, as did Donald’s own Sec of State (at the time…and perhaps part of the reason for his firing), Rex Tillerson, and Nikki Haley, his U.S. ambassador to the U.N., the latter calling it an “atrocious crime.” Donald finally enforced (weak) sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 election.
In his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, Mueller has subpoenaed records pertaining to Donald’s businesses. Former Donald campaign adviser Paul Manafort, facing a more than 300-year prison term if convicted of charges including tax evasion and bank fraud, has asked that the court dismiss some of the foreign lobbying charges against him because Mueller overstepped his authority. Despite fervent denials by Donald and his former close adviser Roger Stone, evidence has surfaced indicating Stone did indeed know Wikileaks’ Julian Assange during the 2016 campaign and had contact with him, including advance knowledge of the DNC hack.
Donald appears to be panicking as Mueller clearly closes in, judging by his firing of Andrew McCabe (one day before he would be eligible to collect his full retirement for 21 years of federal service—though several Democratic lawmakers have offered to hire McCabe for a single day so that he can collect the pension he’s earned), who corroborates Comey’s accounts of Donald’s meetings with him. In Donny’s latest tweetstorm tantrums he attacked McCabe and Comey, and demanded that the DOJ end the Russia investigation immediately.
The puppets among the GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee obediently ended their investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion, to no one’s surprise citing no evidence that Russia interfered to help Donald win the election (and including no findings or input from the Democrat members of the committee). Individual GOP legislators, including the leader of the House committee, almost immediately started walking back that conclusion.
The Republican senate majority leader in Iowa resigned last week after being caught on tape macking on a lobbyist at a bar, entirely extramaritally. Again brought to you by the “family-values” party.
The Penn law professor who told her students that black students don’t perform as well as whites will no longer be teaching core curriculum classes in her field.
As we approach crisis point, things are moving fast and Donald is getting desperate. Expect to see a lot more flashy distractions, Twitter tantrums, firings, and attacks…. But despite his attempts to weaken our democratic norms and operate as an autocrat, and even despite the many GOP lawmakers abetting him, our democracy is strong and has weathered attacks on it before. Stay in the game and keep speaking up and speaking out and we will win.