👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
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1/ Moscow blames anti-Russian hysteria in the U.S. for Sessions’s plight, saying “fake news” and a “witch hunt” are intended to head off better relations. (Washington Post)
2/ Trump cries “total witch hunt” as questions about Russia pile up as to why so many people had so many meetings with Russians that they all forgot about. (NBC News)
3/ Trump’s blaming the Democrats for Cabinet delays that are normal — and his own fault. It is true that, at one time, Senate Democrats were dragging their heels on Trump’s Cabinet picks. Two of the main problems are that Trump’s pick for Secretary of Labor withdrew last month and his pick to run the Department of Agriculture hasn’t been sent to the Senate yet. (Washington Post)
4/ The White House looks to slash the budget of NOAA by 17%. The cuts to one of the government’s premier climate science agencies would reduce funding for research and satellite programs used for weather forecasts. The proposal would also eliminate funding for a variety of smaller programs, including external research, coastal management, estuary reserves and “coastal resilience,” which seeks to bolster the ability of coastal areas to withstand major storms and rising seas. (Washington Post)
5/ Photo contradicts Pelosi’s statement about not meeting Russian ambassador Kislyak. The Democratic House leader sat with the Russian ambassador in 2010. (Politico)
6/ Sessions used campaign funds for RNC trip, where he met Russian ambassador for “official” reasons. Records show the attorney general used campaign account for travel expenses to Cleveland, where he met the Russian envoy and spoke about Trump’s campaign at the event. (Wall Street Journal)
7/ Lawyers say Sessions could face legal ordeal over testimony if a special counsel takes over Trump-Russia probe even if he didn’t commit perjury. “It is, at best, very misleading testimony,” said Richard Painter, formerly the top ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush’s White House. “I don’t go so far as to say that it’s perjury, but there is a lesser charge of failing to provide accurate information to Congress.” (Politico)
8/ Trump’s advisers are urging him to purge the government of Obama appointees. Frustrated by the gush of leaks, the president’s allies say it’s time to take action and install people who are loyal to him, amid a cascade of damaging stories that have put his nascent administration in seemingly constant crisis-control mode. (Politico)
- Trump’s latest attempt to stop the damaging leaks coming from the White House has been leaked to the press. The White House has limited access to its classified computer systems in an effort to reduce leaks to the media. (The Hill)
9/ NC man accused of committing anti-gay attack: “You live in Trump country now.” A man on a rented scooter harassed two men riding bicycles together in Key West, striking the back tire of one of the cyclists knocking him to the ground. He accused them of voting for Clinton. He was then arrested on an extraditable warrant for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon with evidence of prejudice. (Fox 8)
10/ The GOP’s bold prediction: Obamacare repeal will pass this month. Trump is reportedly on board, which suggests the House is poised to steamroll conservative opposition by daring their constituents to vote against an Obamacare repeal. (Politico)
- New details in of the GOP Obamacare replacement leak. The latest plan still includes a new tax credits for individuals based on age, which hardline conservatives have derided as “Obamacare lite.” (Politico)
11/ A St. Louis man was arrested for making at least eight threats against Jewish community centers. The man allegedly made threatening calls to Jewish groups in his name or the name of his ex-lover. Federal prosecutors called it a “campaign to harass and intimidate.” (ABC News)
12/ Trump tried Twitter discipline this week. He decided it’s totally overrated. For precisely four days, eight hours and five minutes, Trump refrained from tweeting anything inflammatory. He finally succumbed Thursday night to the urge to vent his anger and reverted to form, tweeting Democrats “have lost their grip on reality,” he railed against a “witch hunt,” and insisted yet again that the “real story” is leaks. He was back on Friday morning, airing another grievance about another subject: accusing Democrats for not approving his full Cabinet. (Washington Post)
13/ Breitbart editor slams mainstream media in Pulitzer Hall, calling out mainstream media bias and inaccuracy while accepting no similar responsibility for the misleading and at times incendiary work. (Columbia Journalism Review)
14/ Rex Tillerson skips the State Department’s annual announcement on human rights, alarming advocates that the Trump administration places a low priority on advancing human rights. (Washington Post)
15/ Planned EPA cuts will hit black and Hispanic communities the hardest, which already suffer disproportionately from toxic pollution. (The Guardian)
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