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Andrew Harnik / AP

We try very hard here to simply explain the Trump White House, and not join the pile-on. To us, the Trump world doesn't need more noise — it needs more explanation and illumination. But there are moments when it's important to remind even our staunchest pro-Trump readers that this often isn't anything approximating normal:

  • In 18 years of covering presidents, we have never seen a Cabinet meeting like the one yesterday. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, taking his turn to genuflect for a beaming Trump, said: "On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you've given us to serve your agenda and the American people." (N.Y. Times front-page headline: "Flatterers First, Then President Praises Himself'" ... CNN chyron: "TRUMP'S WEIRD CABINET MEETING.")
  • Going back to the Clintons, we have never seen a president and his family work so hard to promote or appear on a program like the Trumps' trumpet, "Fox & Friends." From yesterday's show: "Hey, look! It's Ivanka Trump." ... "I join you almost every morning, just not on the couch!" This came after Trump himself promoted the friendly show on Twitter, which he regularly does.
  • In 228 years of presidents, none has canned the FBI director, then allowed his own Justice Department to appoint a special counsel — who within weeks his friends and allies would openly muse about firing.
  • In modern presidential history, there is nothing comparable to the personal and public attacks on James Comey by the president and his eldest son. In the last few days alone, they have called Comey — a guy who most elected Republican officials in town like and trust — a liar, a coward, a criminal leaker, and "a dishonest man of bad character."

Be smart: Remember that we're living through history that will be studied and debated until the end of time. Many Trump backers, both the eager and reluctant ones, enjoy the destruction of norms and bemoan the highly critical coverage of this presidency. But we should never lose sight that we are experiencing a daily display of unprecedented actions and behaviors.

P.S. Quote du jour — Ivanka Trump on "Fox & Friends": "There is a level of viciousness that I was not expecting. I was not expecting the intensity of this experience. But this isn't supposed to be easy. ... [S]ome of the distractions and some of the ferocity, ... I was a little blindsided by."

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Go deeper

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters rallied outside fortified statehouses over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.