The president's flexing his Trump cards

Ashley Shaffer, USA TODAY

President Donald Trump is flexing his veto and pardon powers. USA TODAY has found mishandled investigations of sexual misconduct in cheerleading. And after another unarmed Black man was shot by police in Ohio Tuesday, a governor speaks out: "The community is exhausted."

It's Ashley with the news to know.

But first, lions and tigers and zombie minks, oh my: Lions and penguins roamed free. Mink appeared to rise from graves. Spotted lanternflies prompted quarantines. Let's recap how weird nature was this year.

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Trump vetoes National Defense bill, but Congress has votes to override

President Donald Trump vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act on Wednesday, a $741 billion national security package that would raise troops' pay, direct the purchase of weapons and set military policies because it does not include provisions that he wanted, like stripping social media companies (like Facebook and Twitter) from protections against being sued by anyone claiming to be harmed by a post. This was a surprise to no one: Trump had tweeted his intention to veto multiple times. What's next? Well, the move is unlikely to stop the NDAA from being enacted, as it's expected to retain veto-proof support.

So, um, how about that COVID-19 relief bill?

Congress has passed a COVID-19 relief bill that would provide a second round of stimulus checks to millions of Americans as soon as next week – but on Tuesday, Trump denounced the package, calling it a "disgrace" and urging congressional leaders to make several changes to the bill including increasing direct payments for Americans. However, the president did stop short of saying he would veto the bipartisan legislation. And so, we continue to watch and wait.

What everyone’s talking about

People have *opinions* about Trump’s pardons

Like many of his predecessors, Trump is using his final days in the White House to increase his use of pardons and commutations, including some that may prove controversial. Here’s the thing: Trump’s pardons have sparked a ton of controversy, but have been the fewest in more than 100 years. That being said, they’ve also included service members charged with murder and an adviser accused of lying to the FBI. So do with that information what you may. To date, Trump has announced 65 acts of clemency. He issued 15 pardons and five commutations on Tuesday, including a full pardon to George Papadopoulos, a former campaign aide, and lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, both of whom admitted lying to the FBI in the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The people Trump has pardoned range from a women’s suffrage leader to service members charged with murder to his ex-national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
The people Trump has pardoned range from a women’s suffrage leader to service members charged with murder to his ex-national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Cheerleading’s governing body has mishandled sexual misconduct

Frustrations are growing over the cheerleading industry’s mishandling of sexual misconduct cases. A USA TODAY investigation found that USASF, the national governing body of competitive cheerleading, has an inherently flawed process for investigating complaints — one with critical gaps that have repeatedly allowed adults accused or even convicted of sexual misconduct to remain around children. USA TODAY found multiple examples in which complaints stalled as the USASF paused its process for law enforcement to investigate, taking no steps to warn the cheer community or public.

Jesse Mora is a 21-year-old man who at age 17 exchanged nude photos with one of his coaches, Leonard Lewis. Cheerleading coach Lenny Lewis was convicted in 2012 of possessing child pornography, and he was required to register as a sex offender. In 2017, the owner of the gym where Lewis was employed at the time of his arrest, Kim Kawachi, told USASF that Lewis was working as a cheerleading coach again in a different gym. In fact, he was a USASF member. She said USASF took months to address the situation.
Jesse Mora is a 21-year-old man who at age 17 exchanged nude photos with one of his coaches, Leonard Lewis. Cheerleading coach Lenny Lewis was convicted in 2012 of possessing child pornography, and he was required to register as a sex offender. In 2017, the owner of the gym where Lewis was employed at the time of his arrest, Kim Kawachi, told USASF that Lewis was working as a cheerleading coach again in a different gym. In fact, he was a USASF member. She said USASF took months to address the situation.

Best of 2020: Life & Entertainment

USA TODAY editors came together to select the best stories of 2020. (Trust us, it wasn't easy.) Every day until we ring in 2021, I'll be rounding up some of the year's most powerful stories:

Columbus officer who fatally shot Black man has history of misconduct

An Ohio police officer shot and killed an unarmed Black man while responding to a non-emergency call Tuesday in Columbus, and hours later, a furious Mayor Andrew J. Ginther called for the officer's badge and gun. "The community is exhausted," Ginther said. The officer who fired his weapon, Adam Coy, has a history of complaints and issues with excessive force. According to previous reporting, nine complaints were filed against Coy in 2003. The officers involved in the incident did not turn on their body cameras until immediately after the shooting, but it was recorded because the camera captures 60 seconds of footage before it is turned on. The shooting comes less than three weeks after a deputy in Columbus shot Casey Goodson Jr., a 23-year-old Black man, prompting protests and demands for justice.

An Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent arrives at the scene of an officer-involved shooting on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio.
An Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent arrives at the scene of an officer-involved shooting on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio.

A break from the news

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump vetoes National Defense bill but hasn't vetoed relief package — yet: Wednesday's news