The phenomenon has been a staple of the political world for many years: those who are releasing bad news or announcing controversial decisions wait until late on a Friday to make their move. It's known as the "Friday night news dump" and it often has the intended effect: developments that unfold shortly before a weekend tend to get less attention.
Donald Trump may not have invented the move, but he's embraced it with great enthusiasm. Indeed, it's been a staple of his presidency. I'm reminded of this August 2017 report from the Washington Post, as the nation's attention was focused on a hurricane targeting the Gulf Coast on a Friday night.
President Trump, in the space of four hours, made official a ban on transgender people serving in the military, pardoned a controversial sheriff accused of racial profiling and parted ways with polarizing aide and conservative media darling Sebastian Gorka. The announcements were made in the evening hours as the nation focused on Hurricane Harvey, which threatened catastrophic damage to areas along the Gulf Coast, giving new meaning to the Friday night news dump strategy that has long been a staple for Washington politicians looking to bury controversial decisions.
It was part of an unfortunate pattern. In just his first year, Trump, among other things, launched his first Muslim ban, fired dozens of U.S. Attorneys, and replaced top White House aides, all on Friday nights.
One of my personal favorites came in November 2018 when the White House was required to release a 1,656-page assessment on the likely devastating effects of the climate crisis. It was supposed to reach the public in December, but Team Trump moved up the release date to the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 23 -- which was the day after Thanksgiving.
In early February of this year, the Trump administration made a late-Friday-night court filing acknowledging dozens of emails about the president's thinking about withholding military aid to Ukraine. The disclosure came soon after Senate Republicans voted against hearing new evidence against Trump in the chamber's impeachment trial.
A month later, the president waited until late on a Friday night to announce that he was replacing his White House chief of staff.
Meanwhile, seven days ago, Trump waited until Friday night to announce that he was appointing one of his own White House lawyers to oversee the $2.2 trillion economic aid package. A little later in the evening, the president fired Michael Atkinson as the inspector general for the intelligence community.
I mention all of this because apparently today is Friday. What's more, it's a holiday weekend. If you're thinking it seems like a likely time for another round of presidential mischief, you're not the only one.