What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential guide to the daily shock and awe in national politics.
Curated by @matt_kiser

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Day 330: Shame.

What's in the GOP health care bill.

  1. Top income tax rate drops to 37% from 39.6%

  2. Corporate tax rate cut to 21% from 35%

  3. Eliminates the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate that requires most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty

  4. The estate tax would remain but the exemption from it would be doubled.

  5. The seven individual income tax brackets will remain, but at different rates: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%.

  6. Latest Senate version will cost $1.5 trillion over 10 years

  7. The child tax credit will double

  8. The standard deduction will increase to $12,000 for an individual or $24,000 for a family

  9. The Senate is expected to vote Monday and House is expected to vote Tuesday


1/ Marco Rubio and Bob Corker will vote "yes" on the GOP tax bill, giving Republicans the votes needed to pass the measure in the Senate. Rubio announced his support after Republican leaders agreed to expand the Child Tax Credit for low and middle-income families. Corker called the bill a "once-in-a-generation opportunity." Republicans will release the bill's text today and will vote on it next week. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ Cambridge Analytica handed over employees' emails to Robert Mueller's team as part of the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The firm provided the Trump campaign with data, polling, and research services during the race. The emails had previously been voluntarily turned over to the House Intelligence Committee. (Wall Street Journal)

  1. 🇷🇺 What you need to know about the Trump-Russia investigation.

3/ Trump called the FBI a "shame" shortly before speaking at the FBI's National Academy. He told the graduating class of law enforcement managers that he has their "back 100%." Trump promised "to rebuild the FBI" and make it "bigger and better than ever." He called himself a "true friend and loyal champion" of law enforcement – "more loyal than anyone else can be" – but also said "people are very angry" with the FBI and Justice Department. Last week Trump said the FBI was in "tatters." (NPR / Axios)

4/ Trump won't rule out the idea of pardoning Michael Flynn. "I don't want to talk about pardons with Michael Flynn yet," Trump told reporters. "We'll see what happens, let's see." (CNN)

5/ Trump's lawyers will meet with Robert Mueller's team next week. John Dowd and Jay Sekulow are hoping for signs that Mueller's investigation is nearing its end, or at least the part that has to do with Trump. The meeting comes after Mueller's team completed interviews of White House personnel. (CNN)

6/ Jared Kushner's legal team is trying to hire a crisis public relations firm. Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, has called at least two firms "to handle the time-consuming incoming inquiries on the cases in which I am working that receive media attention." (Washington Post)

7/ Trump spoke with Rupert Murdoch "to make sure [he] wasn't selling Fox News" as part of the Disney deal. He also congratulated Murdoch for the $52.4 billion deal to sell a portion of 21st Century Fox. (CNN / Bloomberg)

8/ One of Trump's judicial nominees struggled to answer basic questions about the law during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. Matthew Petersen is a member of the Federal Election Commission and a lawyer with no trial experience. During an uncomfortable five minutes of quizzing on the basics of trial procedure by Senator John Neely Kennedy, Petersen said, "I understand the challenge that would be ahead of me." (Washington Post / NPR)

9/ Funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program lapsed three months ago. CHIP covers 9 million poor and middle-class children with health care. No state has had to kick a child off its CHIP so far, but the Trump administration did send emergency funding to several states to bridge the gaps. (Politico)

9/ A federal judge temporarily blocked Trump's order allowing employers to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage if they have religious or moral objections. Judge Wendy Beetlestone of the Federal District Court in Philadelphia said the rule contradicts the text of the Affordable Care Act. (New York Times)

poll/ 54% of voters think Robert Mueller's "relationship" with James Comey represents a conflict of interest because he is "the former head of the FBI and a friend of James Comey." (Harvard CAPS-Harris)

poll/ 30% of Americans believe the US is heading in the right direction, and 52% think the country is worse off since Trump became president. (Associated Press)


Notables.

  1. The EPA hired an opposition research firm to track and shape press coverage using taxpayer money. Scott Pruitt's office signed the no-bid $120,000 contract with Definers Corp. (Mother Jones)

  2. Betsy DeVos was hit with two lawsuits in one day over the letting more than 50,000 student debt relief claims pile up. (Washington Post)

  3. Trump Jr. called Ajit Pai "Obama's FCC chairman" in a tweet attacking the "outrage" over the agency's repeal of net 'neutality.' Obama appointed Pai to the commission. Trump made him chairman. (USA Today)

  4. A Wall Street Journal op-ed urging "everybody calm down about net neutrality" was written by a former Comcast attorney. (The Intercept)

  5. Internet traffic sent to and from Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft was briefly routed through a previously unknown Russian Internet provider on Wednesday. Researchers called it suspicious and intentional. (Ars Technica)

Day 329: Break the internet.

1/ The FCC voted to repeal net neutrality, which required internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. The measure passed 3-2 with the Republican appointees supporting repeal and the Democratic appointees opposing. 83% of Americans supported the rules that are in place. Internet providers are now free to speed up services for some apps and websites, while blocking or slowing down others. In Ajit Pai's first 11 months as FCC chairman, he's lifted media ownership limits, eased caps on how much broadband providers can charge business customers, and cut back on a low-income broadband program that was supposed to be expanded. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • In a letter to FCC chairman Ajit Pai, 18 attorneys general asked the commission to delay the net neutrality vote pending an investigation into fake comments. Of the 22 million public comments filed with the FCC, 94% of them "were submitted multiple times, and in some cases those comments were submitted many hundreds of thousands of times." (The Hill / NPR)

  • The New York attorney general said the net neutrality public comment process was corrupted by more than two million comments that used stolen identities. Eric Schneiderman called on the FCC to delay the vote and cooperate with his investigation into illegal criminal impersonation under New York law. (New York State Office of the Attorney General)

2/ Trump's pick to regulate toxic chemicals at the EPA has withdrawn his nomination due to his ties to the chemical industry. Michael Dourson spent decades conducting research that chemical manufacturers used to downplay the risks of hazardous substances. (NBC News)

3/ Paul Ryan is considering retirement. Three dozen fellow lawmakers, congressional and administration aides, conservative intellectuals and Republican lobbyists all said they believe Ryan will leave Congress after the 2018 midterm elections – and possibly even sooner than that. (Politico)

4/ Marco Rubio will vote against the Republicans' $1.5 trillion tax plan unless it includes a larger expansion of a child tax credit. Republicans control 52 seats in the Senate and need 50 votes in order to pass their bill. Bob Corker already opposes the plan. (Washington Post)

5/ Omarosa Manigault: There "were a lot of things that I observed during the last year that I was very unhappy with" and "made me uncomfortable." The former "Apprentice" contestant reportedly tried to enter the White House residence after a confrontation yesterday with John Kelly, who told her that her employment in the administration would end on January 20th. Manigault was then escorted off the White House grounds. (ABC News)

6/ Trump's daily intelligence briefings are often structured to avoid upsetting him. Russia-related intelligence, specifically, is usually only included in the written assessment and not addressed orally. When it is, the CIA analyst leading the briefing will adjust the presentation's structure in order to soften the impact (Washington Post)

poll/ 53% of voters think Trump should resign over the allegations of sexual harassment. 42% think he should remain in office. 53% of voters believe the women who have accused Trump of harassment compared to 31% who think they aren’t telling the truth. (Public Policy Polling)


Notables.

  1. Congressman Blake Farenthold will not seek re-election following reports that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint by a former staffer, who was fired after she confronted him about his behavior. (ABC 25)

  2. Kentucky State Rep. Dan Johnson died from a single gunshot wound to the head. He was under investigation for alleged sexual molestation. (WDRB)

  3. A congressional ethics official overseeing the investigations into misconduct by lawmakers is being sued of verbally abusing and physically assaulting women and using his federal position to influence local law enforcement. (Foreign Policy)

  4. Mike Pence delayed his visit to Israel as Congress prepares to vote on tax reform. Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate and Pence holds the tie-breaking vote. (CNN)

  5. Trump Jr. testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday, spending nine hours answering questions from the panel. (Reuters)

  6. Lindsey Graham said there is a 30% chance Trump attacks North Korea, because "time is running out." (The Atlantic)

Day 328: "I was right."

1/ Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore in the Alabama U.S. Senate race, buoyed by 96% of the African American vote, which represented 29% of overall voter turnout. Jones won 49.9% of the vote to Moore's 48.4%. The victory cuts the GOP's Senate majority to 51-49. (New York Times / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

2/ Roy Moore hasn't conceded the race, saying he will "wait on God and let this process play out." The Alabama Republican Party said it would not support Moore's push for a recount. Moore trails Jones by more than 20,000 votes. (USA Today / Washington Post)

3/ Trump tweets: "I was right" that Roy Moore would "not be able to win" in Alabama because "the deck was stacked against him!" Trump, however, endorsed Moore after his preferred candidate, Luther Strange, lost in the primary, recording a robocall on Moore's behalf, and holding a campaign-style rally just across the state line in Florida last week. (CNN / Politico / New York Times)

4/ Senate Democrats called on Republicans to wait until Doug Jones is seated to vote on the tax bill. GOP lawmakers expect the two chambers to reach a deal in the coming days with a final vote early next week. The soonest Jones could be seated is December 26th or 27th. The Senate passed the tax bill early this month by a 51 to 49 margin. (Washington Post)

5/ House and Senate Republicans reached an agreement on their joint tax bill. The House and Senate are expected to vote next week. The agreement would set the top individual tax rate at 37%, down from today’s 39.6%. The corporate rate would drop to 21% from 37% and would take effect in 2018, rather than 2019. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

6/ Trump pulled two of his judicial nominees after the Senate Judiciary Committee said the candidates would not be confirmed. Earlier this week Chuck Grassley urged the White House to withdraw the nominations of Brett Talley, who has never tried a case, and to reconsider Jeff Mateer, who has called transgender children part of "Satan's plan." (Politico / Washington Post)

7/ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended Robert Mueller's investigation during a House Judiciary Committee hearing, saying he hasn't seen "good cause" to fire Mueller. Republicans used the hearing to raise doubts about Mueller's motives after it was discovered that an FBI agent assigned to the investigation sent anti-Trump texts to another FBI official during the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Peter Strzok was removed from the investigation after the texts were discovered. Republicans want a second special counsel to be appointed to investigate how the FBI handled the Clinton investigation. (Bloomberg / CBS News)

  • The Justice Department gave the House Judiciary Committee Peter Strzok's text message conversations with FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Among many other comments, the two called Trump a "a loathsome human," "an idiot," and an "enormous d*uche." (Washington Post)

poll/ 50% of voters think the sexual misconduct allegations against Trump are credible, while 29% don't think they're credible and 21% are not sure if they're credible. (Politico)

poll/ 56% of voters disapprove of Trump's job performance while 32% approve. (Monmouth University)


Notables.

  1. USA Today editorial called Trump unfit to clean toilets in Obama's presidential library. Trump tweeted that "more than 90% of Fake News Media coverage of me is negative." (USA Today)

  2. Trump Jr. asked the House Intelligence Committee to investigate the leaked information from his closed-door interview with the committee last week. (New York Times)

  3. Chuck Schumer was the victim of a fake news hit and turned over to Capitol Police a document purporting sexual harassment accusations by a former staffer. (Axios)

  4. John McCain is in the hospital for treatment related to his cancer therapy. McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma in July, an aggressive form of brain cancer. (The Hill)

  5. Omarosa Manigault Newman plans to leave the White House next month. (CNN)

  6. The Federal Reserve increased interest rates and raised their forecast for economic growth in 2018. (Bloomberg)

  7. Minnesota governor Mark Dayton appointed Lt. Gov. Tina F. Smith to fill Al Franken's seat in the U.S. Senate. Smith would become the 22nd woman to serve in the Senate. (Washington Post)