What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential newsletter. Logging the daily shock and awe in national politics. Read in moderation.
Curated by @matt_kiser

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Day 246: Dotard.

1/ Following Trump's United Nations speech, North Korea threatened to detonate a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific. Kim Jong Un in a statement said Trump would "pay dearly" for his words and that North Korea would enact the "highest level of hardline countermeasure in history." The North Korean foreign minister clarified this phrase, suggesting it could refer to an H-bomb. (Financial Times / New York Times)

  • Trump signed an executive order authorizing sanctions on companies and individuals who conduct business with North Korea. The move comes after China's central bank "told their other banks … to immediately stop doing business" with the country. (NBC News)

2/ After Paul Manafort left the Trump campaign in 2016, the United States placed him under surveillance as part of its early investigation into Russian election interference. The monitoring did not include listening to real-time phone conversations. It is currently unclear when the surveillance was suspended. (Wall Street Journal)

3/ Facebook agreed to turn over to Congress details of ads sold to Russia-linked accounts during the 2016 election. The decision represents a reversal of the company's previous position. Facebook has already provided the ads and information to special counsel Robert Mueller's team. On Twitter, Trump dismissed potential nefarious Russian use of the social media platform as a "hoax." (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Russia denied having leveraged Facebook to sway the election. Speaking to reporters, a Kremlin spokesman said Russia does "not know … how to place an advert on Facebook. We have never done this, and the Russian side has never been involved in it." (Reuters)

4/ Trump's travel ban is set to expire on Sunday, and he is expected to broaden the order. Early reports suggest a new order may include additional countries and not specify an end date. On September 15, Trump tweeted the ban ought to be "far larger, tougher and more specific." (Reuters / Bloomberg)

5/ Mueller requested phone records related to the statement coordinated aboard Air Force One about the Trump Tower meeting organized by Donald Trump Jr. Mueller also seeks documents related to a May 3 press briefing in which Sean Spicer claimed Trump had full confidence in James Comey. (Comey was fired on May 9.) (Politico)

6/ Trump will roll back existing limits on drone strikes outside conventional battlefields. The move encompasses commando raids, as well. National security advisors are also proposing dismantling a rule that limits kill missions to top militants, instead relaxing the constraint to cover foot soldiers. (New York Times)

7/ In defiance of Trump's United Nations speech, Iran announced it will continue to strengthen its ballistic missile capabilities. Speaking at a military parade, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran will increase its "military power as a deterrent" and that it "will not seek permission from anyone to defend" itself. (Reuters)

8/ HHS Secretary Tom Price has chartered at least 24 private flights since early May for a total estimated cost of $300,000. While officials have suggested Price only flies private when commercial air travel is not feasible, an analysis of flight data suggests commercial flights that accommodated Price's schedule were often available. (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ Less than a quarter of Americans support the latest push to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. 54 percent support Obamacare. (Vox)

Day 245: Innocuous.

1/ Writing through an intermediary, Paul Manafort offered to give private briefings to a Russian billionaire during the 2016 campaign. Oleg Deripaska is an aluminum magnate and former business associate of Manafort's with close ties to the Kremlin. It is unclear if Deripaska received or acted on the offer. (Washington Post)

  • Manafort also used his Trump campaign email account to communicate with Ukrainian political operative Konstantin Kilimnik, seeking payment for previous consulting work in Ukraine. Kilimnik is suspected to have ties to Russian intelligence operations. Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said it is "no secret" Manafort "was owed money by past clients." (Politico)

  • The Department of Justice is seeking documents related to a New York law firm's handling of a 2012 draft report commissioned by Manafort on Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom's report was used by the president's allies to justify the imprisonment of a Yanukovych rival. The document request may or may not be part of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe. (New York Times)

2/ Trump is reportedly leaning toward decertifying Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal reached in 2015. Doing so would force Congress to decide whether the United States will pull out of the agreement. Trump faces international pressure not to withdraw. (NBC News)

3/ Trump pledged to impose new sanctions on North Korea, but did not offer further details. In New York, he met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In his United Nations address, Moon called for resolving the nuclear crisis in a "stable manner." (Bloomberg)

4/ Nicaragua plans to join the Paris Agreement "soon," leaving the United States and Syria as the only two countries outside the climate pact. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega had previously refused to enter the agreement because it did not go far enough in combatting climate change and was "not very strict with the richest nations of the planet." (Bloomberg / CleanTechnica)

5/ Trump appointed several campaign staffers with no agriculture or policy experience to Department of Agriculture posts. An analysis of documents also suggests some appointees lack the relevant credentials required for their governmental salary levels. In a statement, USDA defended the hires, writing that all “appointees have skills that are applicable to the roles they fill.” (Politico)

6/ In a speech to African leaders at the United Nations, Trump twice mispronounced Namibia as "Nambia" as he praised the country's health care system. Before later White House clarification, it was unclear if Trump was referring to Namibia, Zambia, or Gambia. In the same speech, Trump said Africa has "tremendous business potential" and that he has "so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich." (CNN)

poll/ More than 70 percent of Americans support Trump's recent deal with Democrats. Less than a quarter support his handling of race relations and the violence in Charlottesville. (NBC News/Wall Street Journal)

Day 244: Nothing there.

1/ Paul Manafort's spokesman responded to reports of Manafort's wiretapping, arguing "it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant." Jason Maloni said DOJ should "immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous administration's effort to surveil a political opponent." The original FISA warrant was granted before Trump declared his candidacy. (CBS News)

2/ Special counsel Robert Mueller sent a document to the White House requesting details on Trump's behavior in office. The request encompasses Trump's Oval Office meeting with Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak the day after the firing of James Comey, as well as documents concerning the firing of Mike Flynn and the administration's response to news of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting organized by Donald Trump Jr. (New York Times)

3/ Mueller interviewed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about the Comey firing. The interview occurred in June or July. Since Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, Rosenstein is ultimately in charge of overseeing the Russia probe. (Wall Street Journal)

4/ The Senate will likely begin voting on the latest bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act next Wednesday. The Graham-Cassidy plan has received pushback from a variety of legislators, as well as from a bipartisan group of 10 governors. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray continue to negotiate for a bipartisan approach to health care reform. (Axios / Washinton Post)

5/ The Trump administration is shifting oversight of international gun sales from State to the Commerce Department. The move will make it easier to sell non-military firearms to foreign buyers. An administration official, noting the increased flexibility, said, "You could really turn the spigot on if you do it the right way." (Reuters)

6/ Erdoğan said Trump apologized to him for the indictment of Turkish security personnel following their clash with anti-Erdoğan protestors in Washington in May. The Turkish president also said Trump told him "he was going to follow up on this issue when we come to the United States within the framework of an official visit." The White House denied the apology had occurred. (The Guardian)

7/ Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price reportedly spent tens of thousands of dollars on private flights last week, breaking with his predecessors. Price did not comment on the expenditures, but a spokesman said charter flights are acceptable when "commercial aircraft cannot reasonably accommodate travel requirements." Price flew to Maine, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. (Politico)

8/ Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called Trump "the new Hitler" following Trump's speech at the United Nations. Trump has openly criticized the Maduro regime for weeks, citing the decline of democracy in the Latin American country. Said Maduro: "Nobody threatens Venezuela and nobody owns Venezuela." (NBC News)

9/ At a United Nations luncheon, Melania Trump condemned bullying. Her speech follows a previous pledge to launch a White House anti-bullying initiative. In her speech, Trump argued that children should never "feel hungry, stalked, frightened, terrorized, bullied, isolated or afraid, with nowhere to turn." (Politico)

poll/ Nearly half of voters support "a single-payer health care system, where all Americans would get their health insurance from one government plan." Only 35 percent of voters oppose such a plan. (Politico/Morning Consult)

Day 243: Wiretapped.

1/ Paul Manafort was wiretapped following an FBI investigation in 2014, and the surveillance continued through this year (albeit interrupted). A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant was originally granted for Manafort's work for the former Ukrainian government and later discontinued due to lack of evidence. A second FISA warrant—concerning the Russia investigation—was obtained at some point last year. The details of the recorded communications have been provided to special counsel Robert Mueller. (CNN)

2/ Federal agents raided Manafort's Virginia home in July, and Mueller's prosecutors told Manafort they planned to indict him. Agents picked Manafort's lock, took binders and copied computer files, and photographed his belongings. The scope of the investigation also includes questions of money-laundering and foreign lobbying. Mueller's team has subpoenaed several Manafort associates. (New York Times)

3/ Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Trump said the United States may have to "totally destroy" North Korea if the country refuses to back down from its nuclear rhetoric. "Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime," said Trump. In his 41-minute speech, he also called out Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba. (Reuters)

4/ Trump is paying legal fees related to the Russia investigation with RNC and reelection campaign funds. Under the FEC, the move is legal, but Trump is the first president in modern history to use campaign funding in this manner. Trump lawyer John Dowd told reporters the question of financing Trump's legal bills was "none of your business.” (Reuters)

5/ The Trump administration rejected a Department of Health and Human Services study demonstrating the positive economic impact of refugees. The draft report said refugees "contributed an estimated $269.1 billion in revenues to all levels of government" over the past decade, amounting to a net gain of $63 billion. The White House is seeking a rationale for reducing the number of refugees the country accepts. (New York Times)

6/ Trump said the United States is "prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists." Speaking at a United Nations dinner in New York, Trump argued the United States must "take important steps to hold the regime accountable," referencing the erosion of democracy under President Nicolás Maduro. (Politico)

7/ Trump Jr. and Kellyanne Conway are dropping their Secret Service detail. The two cases are unrelated: Trump Jr. seeks more privacy, and Conway was only temporarily covered due to threats she received earlier this year. (New York Times)

8/ The Senate Intelligence Committee canceled an interview with former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Cohen was set to deny he'd ever "engaged with, been paid by, paid for or conversed with" Russia to interfere with the election. Cohen's lawyer said they look forward to "voluntarily cooperating with the House committee and with anyone else who has an inquiry in this area." (Washington Post)

poll/ Most voters are happy with the ideological positions of their political parties. Despite the pervasive idea that parties are embroiled in internal wars, 60 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of Republicans believe their party is "about right." (Morning Consult/Politico)

Day 242: Rocket man.

1/ Overheard in a Washington steakhouse, a White House counsel discussed the extent to which the administration should cooperate with the Russia investigation. Ty Cobb supports prompt turnover of all relevant emails and documents to special counsel Robert Mueller; Trump lawyer Don McGahn is concerned doing so might weaken the White House's future position. (New York Times)

2/ Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly, calling it out for "mismanagement" and claiming it had not reached "its full potential." In his opening remarks, he also praised Trump World Tower, a "successful project" located "right across the street" from the United Nations. Trump's rhetoric toward North Korea escalated over the weekend. (CNBC / The Week)

3/ Republican senators are pushing for a last-minute vote on the latest bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Led by Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, the effort to pass the bill in question has not currently garnered enough votes. John McCain continues to advocate for putting the bill through committee. (New York Times)

4/ Mike Flynn's family established a legal defense fund, citing a "tremendous financial burden" stemming from the Russia investigation. In a public statement, Flynn's siblings emphasized that the legal fees required of former Trump aides "far exceed their ability to pay." The Trump administration recently legalized anonymous donations to legal defense funds. (ABC News)

5/ The Trump administration confirmed it is indeed pulling out of the Paris Agreement despite reports to the contrary. Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that top officials were considering remaining a party to the agreement. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster called the article "a false report." The United States cannot formally withdraw from the deal until 2020. (Washington Post)

6/ The Department of the Interior recommended cutting, scaling back, or otherwise changing the boundaries of seven national monuments. An Interior report recommends, for example, reducing the size of Bear Ears in Utah and opening protected ocean waters for commercial fishing. The White House has not yet acted on the report's recommendations. (Wall Street Journal)

7/ The Trump administration is considering closing the U.S. embassy in Cuba. Rex Tillerson attributed the potential move to "the harm that certain individuals have suffered" at the embassy from unexplained "health attacks." The Havana diplomatic compound reopened in 2015. (AP)

Day 239: Sick and demented.

1/ In response to a London subway attack, Trump touted his travel ban and claimed Scotland Yard had failed to be "proactive." British officials called Trump's tweets about "loser terrorists" unproductive. Said Theresa May: "I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation." The train bomb injured 22 people. (Politico)

2/ North Korea launched another missile over Japan, further escalating the Pacific crisis. The missile—the latest of more than a dozen in 2017—had the range to reach Guam. Trump will meet with other world leaders at the United Nations next week to discuss Pyongyang. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg)

3/ A spokesman for Paul Manafort testified before a federal grand jury. Jason Maloni has worked for Manafort since early 2017. Sources suggest Maloni is not a target of the investigation. (Politico)

  • Roger Stone will testify before the House Intelligence Committee later in September. Despite the political operative's claim that he "called for an open public hearing in the interest of full transparency," he will meet with the panel behind closed doors. Stone corresponded with Guccifer 2.0 in 2016. (The Hill)

4/ The Senate Judiciary Committee will take steps to ensure Trump cannot fire Robert Mueller. Two bills in development come after concerns that Trump was considering dismissing special counsel Mueller in his frustration about the Russia probe, despite White House claims to the contrary. House Judiciary Committee heads met with Mueller on Thursday. (CNN)

5/ The Department of Justice declined to release visitor logs for Mar-a-Lago despite a federal court ordering the Secret Service to do so. Earlier this year, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the National Security Archive, and the Knight First Amendment Institute sued the administration for the Mar-a-Lago logs, as well as those for the White House and Trump Tower. The Department of Homeland Security had previously denied the groups' Freedom of Information Act requests. (New York Times / CNN)

6/ The Trump administration will cut funding for Affordable Care Act enrollment groups by up to 92%. Known as navigators, the grassroots organizations help people sign up for ACA health insurance during the open enrollment period. Under Trump, the Department of Health and Human Services has repeatedly questioned their value. (Washington Post)

7/ The State Department held off on further sanctions on Iran while it decides to continue with the Iran nuclear deal. The administration will decide next month if Iran has met its commitments under the deal. An official said the Trump administration "seeks to bring a change in Iran's behavior." (Washington Post)

8/ Trump signed a congressional joint resolution condemning white supremacists. In a statement, he said Americans denounce "the recent violence in Charlottesville and oppose hatred, bigotry, and racism in all forms." (NBC News)

  • Aboard Air Force One, Trump also resurrected his "both sides" argument, stating "you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also." The statement came one day after meeting with Tim Scott, who addressed the president directly about his false equivalence rhetoric. (New York Times)

9/ Trump visited Florida, where he praised recovery efforts and contradicted his previous comments on hurricanes. In Naples, he and Melania passed out sandwiches. When asked about climate change, Trump said "we've had bigger storms than this." He'd previously called Hurricane Irma "of epic proportion, perhaps bigger than we have ever seen." (Orlando Sentinel / CNN)

10/ The California State Assembly passed a bill requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns. The Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act now heads to the state Senate. (The Hill)

poll/ Repealing the Affordable Care Act remains GOP voters' top priority. More than half of Republican respondents said repealing and replacing Obamacare is an "extremely important priority," and 26 percent said it is "very important." (Politico/Harvard)

Day 238: Betrayed.

1/ Top Democrats announced they had struck a deal with Trump to save DREAMers from deportation. After a White House dinner, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi reported they would pursue a legislative option for DACA that included provisions for border security—excluding building a wall. In response to criticism from right-wing media and his base, Trump tweeted that "no deal" had been struck and that the wall "will continue to be built." (Washington Post / AP)

2/ Flynn promoted a Middle East nuclear power plant deal while serving in the White House. The project, reported yesterday, originally involved several Russian companies, along with a group of former U.S. military officers with whom Flynn had worked on the potential deal. The deal would erect dozens of nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East. (Wall Street Journal)

3/ In a policy reversal, the Office of Government Ethics will now allow anonymous donations to White House legal defense funds. The anonymity frees up lobbyists and others "with business before the government" to step in and pay White House aides' legal fees, including those related to the Russia probe. (Politico)

4/ Tim Scott, the sole black Republican in the Senate, sat down with Trump to rebut the president's claim that "both sides" were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville. Scott said he shared his thoughts on "the affirmation of hate groups" and "the last three centuries of challenges from white supremacists, white nationalists, KKK, Nazis." The White House described the meeting as indicative of Trump's commitment to "positive race relations." (New York Times)

5/ National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster wrote a memo outlining a new anti-leak program that encompasses unclassified information. The memo suggested "every Federal Government department and agency" hold trainings on the dangers and consequences of leaks. The memo subsequently leaked to reporters. (Buzzfeed News)

6/ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin requested use of a U.S. Air Force jet for his and Louise Linton's European honeymoon this summer. The jet costs $25,000 per hour to operate. Mnuchin's request was ultimately denied. (ABC News)

7/ Russia reduced the number of parking spots available to U.S. diplomats at their consulates. The move represents the latest in a series of U.S.–Russian diplomatic expulsions and denials. The parking spots were painted over with a pedestrian crossing. (AP)