👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ Kushner to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of their inquiry into ties between Trump and Russia. The Committee wants to question Kushner about previously undisclosed meetings he arranged with the Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak. The Senate’s decision to question Kushner would make him the closest person to Trump to be called upon in any of the investigations, and the only one currently serving in the White House. (New York Times)
2/ Nunes says he was on White House grounds the day before revealing Trump surveillance information. He was not in the White House itself that day and nobody from the White House even knew he was there. Nunes said he went to the White House grounds for additional meetings “to confirm what I already knew” and needed a secure area to view the information he has received. (CNN)
- Devin Nunes explains his White House visit. Nunes went off the grid to view dozens of intelligence reports the night before announcing that the “intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.” After briefing reporters the next day, Nunes then went back to the White House to inform Trump. (Bloomberg)
3/ Democrats delay the vote on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. At least 19 Democrats have come out in opposition to Gorsuch and Chuck Schumer has said that he will filibuster the nominee. Republicans hold 52 seats, which means they will need at least eight Democrats to vote with them to end the filibuster and send Gorsuch forward for a final confirmation vote that would then require a simple majority. Republicans have the extreme option of employing the “nuclear” option – changing Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. (NBC News)
4/ Trump taps Kushner to lead a new White House office aimed at fixing government using business ideas. The White House Office of American Innovation will operate as its own power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. The office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington and float above the daily political grind. (Washington Post)
5/ Republicans set their sights on tax reform after the bruising collapse of their health care plan. The failure also makes the tax overhaul more politically complex. If Republicans use a procedure called budget reconciliation to have the Senate pass tax legislation with a simple majority, their plans cannot add to deficits over a period of 10 years. Eliminating the $1 trillion of Affordable Care Act taxes and the federal spending associated with that law would have made this easier. (New York Times)
6/ Sessions says grants to be withheld from sanctuary cities. Compliance with federal immigration laws will be a prerequisite for states and localities that want to receive grants from the department’s Office of Justice Programs that provide billions of dollars in funding to help criminal justice programs across the country. (The Hill)
7/ Stocks sank on worries that the Trump White House may not be able to help businesses as much as once thought. Many of the trends that have been in place since Election Day went into sharp reverse: The dollar’s value sank against other currencies, as did bank stocks, while prices jumped for Treasury bonds. (ABC News)
8/ US economy expected to grow slower than Trump pledged. According to 50 economists, the economy will grow 2.3% this year and 2.5% in 2018. Those rates would be up from 2016’s 1.6%, but below the 3% to 4% growth Trump has promised to bring through steep corporate and individual tax cuts and more spending on roads, airports and tunnels. (Associated Press)
9/ Russians take to the streets in nationwide anti-government protest. The Kremlin dismissed the protests as “provocation” by anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny. Thousands of Russians turned out to protest corruption under Putin. More than 1,000 people taken into custody by police. (NPR)
10/ White House denies report that Trump handed Merkel a bill for NATO services. The Times, a U.K.-based publication, cited unnamed sources that claimed Trump handed Merkel a bill for the US’s services to the alliance when the two met recently in Washington. (CNBC)
11/ Carl Icahn’s role dual role as investor and Trump advisor raises ethics flags. Ichan has been busy working behind the scenes to try to revamp an obscure Environmental Protection Agency rule that governs the way corn-based ethanol is mixed into gasoline nationwide. The issue: Icahn is a majority investor in an oil refinery that would have saved $205.9 million last year had the regulatory fix he is pushing been in place. (New York Times)
poll/ Trump’s approval rating drops to new low of 36%. Trump’s three-day reading prior to the failed effort to pass a new health care bill was 41%. (Gallup)
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