Speed Reads

Government Shutdown

The government shutdown is a mixed bag for Trump's legal problems

As the partial government shutdown nears the two-week mark with no resolution in sight, the fallout is starting to spread to shuttered Smithsonian museums, trash-strewn and feces-infested national parks, and other visible signs of the standoff in Washington. Some 800,000 federal employees and scores of government contractors are furloughed or working without pay. Washington, D.C., isn't issuing marriage licenses. Oddly, the Old Post Office Tower, a federal landmark that shares a site with the Trump International Hotel, is being reopened with federal funding after initially being shuttered, E&E News reports.

The Justice Department is one of nine Cabinet-level departments deprived of funding during the shutdown, and that has given President Trump a respite from several civil lawsuits filed against him. But Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office "does not rely on congressional action for funding, so its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has continued unimpeded," The New York Times reports.

The federal courts are using fees and other funds to stay operational through Jan. 11, but then they will run out of money and have to decide which judges, lawyers, staffers would be deemed essential and have to work, even without pay. ("Due to a constitutional prohibition against cutting judicial pay, judges and Supreme Court justices would keep collecting paychecks," PolitiFact notes.) You can read more about what's affected by the shutdown at Politico.