White House officials have warned Trump against pardoning himself.

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President Donald Trump walks to the Oval Office while arriving back at the White House on December 31, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

By Daniel Politi

President Donald Trump is finalizing the details on one of his last acts as president when he will pardon or commute the sentences of more than 100 people before he leaves the White House. CNN says the pardons and commutations will come Tuesday, his final full day in office while the Washington Post reports it could be Monday or Tuesday. This latest batch of pardons and commutations is expected to include a mix of people, including “white collar criminals, high-profile rappers, and others,” according to CNN.

Trump met on Sunday with his daughter Ivanka and his son in law, Jared Kushner, to finalize the details of the pardons, according to the Post. Trump is personally involved in the details of the pardons and those who know him say it makes sense considering that he’s likely to take clemency actions that could benefit him once he’s no longer president. “Everything is a transaction. He likes pardons because it is unilateral. And he likes doing favors for people he thinks will owe him,” a source told CNN. Earlier, the New York Times had reported that Trump allies were making lots of money lobbying for pardons. …


The decline was largely due to Republicans.

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President Donald Trump walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on January 12, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

By Daniel Politi

President Donald Trump had low approval ratings throughout his time in office. He was, after all, the first president in the history of Gallup polling to never receive a positive rating from a majority of Americans. And now as he is getting ready to leave the White House, his approval ratings are getting even lower. Trump will be leaving office with an approval rating of 29 percent, which is the lowest of his presidency, according to the latest Pew Research Center poll. That marks a nine-point decline from August and is lower than his previous record low approval rating of 36 percent in the poll that was registered in August, 2017. …


The executive branch embarked upon a mad dash to kill death row inmates before Biden’s inauguration.

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Justice Sonia Sotomayor in 2016. Leigh Vogel/Getty Images

By Mark Joseph Stern

On Friday night, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority bent a series of bedrock rules to ensure the immediate execution of Dustin Higgs. Several hours later, Higgs became the thirteenth victim of the Trump administration’s quest to revive the federal death penalty after a moratorium of nearly two decades. All three liberal justices dissented, and Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor each wrote to express their disgust with the conservative majority for facilitating Trump’s rush to kill as many prisoners as possible before Jan. 20.

Friday’s decision in U.S. v. Higgs appears to be unprecedented. A district court had halted Higgs’ killing, finding that it may be illegal. Federal law requires a federal death sentence to be implemented “in the manner prescribed” by the state in which it was imposed. But Higgs was sentenced by a federal court in Maryland, which abolished capital punishment in 2013, so there is no “manner prescribed” for Higgs’ execution. An appeals court upheld the district court’s stay, setting oral arguments for Jan. 27. On Jan. 11, Trump’s Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to clear away these roadblocks. In a stunning move, the court agreed: It issued a summary decision on the merits of the case, short-circuiting the traditional appeals process. The court directed the government to kill Higgs using the execution protocol in Indiana, where he was imprisoned. It did not explain its reasoning. …


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Crowds at Disneyland on March 12, just a few days before the park closed down. Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

By Dan Kois

For decades, Disney superfans have taken advantage of the company’s Disneyland Annual Pass, which allowed passholders to visit California’s Disneyland theme park as often as they wanted. The company ended that Thursday. When the park eventually reopens — it’s been closed since last March — the annual passes will be replaced by some other loyalty program yet to be determined, according to the park’s president, Ken Potrock. How are the estimated one million annual passholders responding? Why would Disney eliminate such a lucrative program? And do park staff really call annual passholders “passholes”? I talked to Scott Renshaw, the author of Happy Place: Living the Disney Parks Life. …


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The true extent of the threat posed by the pro-Trump rioters is becoming more and more clear. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

By Elliot Hannon

Our collective understanding of the scale and scope of the assault on the Capitol grows by the day, with each new video, every unearthed selfie, and revelation after revelation about the participants’ dark pasts. The Department of Justice, in a court filing late Thursday, laid out the goal of the attack in uniquely stark terms, saying that there was “strong evidence” that “the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States government.” Eyewitness accounts and videos from the scene on Jan. …


This is a piece of legislation that meets the demands of the moment.

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Joe Biden. Alex Wong/Getty Images

By Jordan Weissmann

Joe Biden does indeed want to go big. The president-elect is presenting a propose a new, $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Thursday night as the first item on his to-do list in office, a plan aimed at speeding up the vaccination rollout while providing vast amounts of financial support to households as well as state and local governments.

Of course, the proposal includes checks. Biden would top off the last round of cash payments Congress approved in December with an extra $1,400, bringing the total to $2,000 per individual (the payments still phase down and eventually disappear for higher earners). He would also bump the federal unemployment insurance supplement from $300 to $400 per week, and extend it all the way to September, instead of allowing it to expire in March. There’s an additional $130 billion for schools, and $350 billion in emergency funding for state and local governments, with more for transit systems. There is additional money for small businesses, child care, emergency paid leave, rent relief, and utility bill relief. …


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Jared and Ivanka with their proprietary toilets. Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Alex Wong/Getty Images and Stockbyte via Getty Images Plus.

By Ben Mathis-Lilly

The Washington Post has Thursday’s biggest toilet news. It concerns the house that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have been renting in the District of Columbia:

Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job, according to neighbors and law enforcement officials. …


Even after almost dying, they are screaming about their right to blather while in the act of blathering.

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) wears a protective mask reading “CENSORED” at the U.S. Capitol on January 13, 2021. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

By Dahlia Lithwick

One of the persistent mysteries of the past week is what leads Republican House members — some of whom had to crouch on the floor of the chamber while the Capitol was under attack while others were whisked into unidentified locations for their own safety — to refuse to accept who was to blame for the insurrection. With the exception of the 10 Republican House members who voted alongside the Democrats to impeach the president, and a smattering of Republicans who acknowledged that the events of last week could easily have ended their lives but wanted to convene a commission to investigate matters, a non-trivial number of Republicans took to the floor on Wednesday to insist that the real injury of January 6, 2021 was to their own free speech rights. This was perhaps best embodied in the galactically stupid visual of Rep. …


If McConnell ends up doing the right thing, let’s not confuse it with valor.

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Mitch McConnell in a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, after the Capitol riot. Saul Loeb/Getty Images

By Elliot Hannon

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is reported to be “furious” and “done” with President Donald Trump. McConnell, the emerging thinking goes, is an institutionalist, and seeing the institution he presides over literally come under attack at the direction of his political ally, he’s at long last had enough. “If you’re McConnell, you want to be remembered for defending the Senate and the institution,” a Republican in McConnell’s circle told Axios. Being remembered for defending the Senate, of course, isn’t quite the same as actually defending the Senate. As we’ve seen over the last weeks (and years), collective American understanding and memory of an event doesn’t always reflect what actually took place. …


Wednesday’s siege further entrenched the Republican Party as the party of male entitlement.

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Donald Trump supporters storm the building on January 6. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

By Christina Cauterucci

Among the insurrectionist mob that attempted an overthrow of the U.S. government on Wednesday was Richard “Bigo” Barnett, a 60-year-old Donald Trump supporter who’d traveled to D.C. from Arkansas for the rally-turned-riot. He soon became one of the attack’s most recognizable faces: After the rioters broke windows, beat down doors, and assaulted law enforcement officers to get into the Capitol building, Barnett installed himself behind a desk in the office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. There, he rested his foot on the desk and gleefully posed for photos.

What else did Barnett do during the Capitol siege? “I wrote [Pelosi] a nasty note” — “Nancy, Bigo was here you bitch,” the note said — “and scratched my balls,” he told a New York Times reporter. …

Slate

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