👋 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/ Flynn offers to testify in exchange for immunity. The former national security adviser tells FBI, the House and Senate intelligence committees he’s willing to be interviewed in exchange for a grant of immunity from prosecution. (Wall Street Journal)
2/ The Energy Department’s climate office banned the use of the phrase “climate change.” It’s also the only office with the word “climate” in its name. Staff were told not to use “emissions reduction” or the “Paris Agreement” in written memos or briefings. (Politico)
- The Vatican urged Trump to reconsider climate change position and listen to “dissenting voices.” The US could be passed by China as the leader in environmental protection, which is investing heavily in the export of clean energy products such as solar panels and wind turbines. (Reuters)
- The House voted to restrict the kind of scientific studies and data that the EPA can use to justify new regulations. The Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act passed 228-194 and prohibits the EPA from writing any regulation that uses science that is not publicly available. (The Hill)
3/ EPA chief Scott Pruitt rejected the agency’s scientific conclusion to permanently ban one of the most widely used insecticides at farms nationwide. The agency’s own chemical safety experts said that exposure to chlorpyrifos potentially causes learning and memory declines. The insecticide was banned in 2000 for use in most household settings, but is still used at about 40,000 farms on about 50 different types of crops, ranging from almonds to apples. (New York Times)
4/ Trump declared war on the House Freedom Caucus, tweeting “we must fight them” in the 2018 midterm elections. The group of hard-line conservative Republicans blocked the health care bill. (Washington Post)
- Ryan warned Republican holdouts they need to unify or risk Trump cutting a deal with Democrats. Republicans appear uncomfortable with the harsh new tone coming from Ryan. (Bloomberg)
- Paul Ryan said the health care bill is going through a “growing pain.” He’s been encouraging members to keep talking to each other until they figure out “how we get to yes.” (CBS News)
5/ A pair of White House officials provided intelligence reports to Devin Nunes that showed Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies. Nunes has been faulted by his colleagues for sharing the information with Trump before consulting with the intelligence committee. (New York Times)
6/ Putin called Russia election meddling claims “fictional, illusory, provocations and lies.” When asked if Russia interfered in the election, Putin responded: “Read my lips: No.” He also downplayed the meeting between Kushner and Russian banker and says US-Russian relations have reached the “point of absurdity.” (CNN)
- The House and Senate probes on Russia are headed down different paths. The House Intelligence Committee has been publicly marred by controversy by Chairman Devin Nunes. The Senate Intelligence Committee has presented a united front as they shared details of their ongoing inquiry, including possible collusion, and vowed to “get to the bottom of this.” (ABC News)
7/ North Carolina reached an agreement to repeal the restrictive transgender bathroom law. Gay rights advocates raised objections, arguing that the compromise would continue to allow discrimination. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people would have no statewide anti-discrimination ordinance or ability to seek protections from local government for several years. (New York Times)
8/ The city of Seattle sued the Trump administration over its executive order to withhold federal funds from “sanctuary cities.” Seattle argued it amounted to unconstitutional federal coercion and the mayor called the Trump administration a “bully.” (Reuters)
9/ The Trump administration signaled it would seek only modest changes to NAFTA, including a government-procurement section that could open up door for more “Buy American” policies. Trump called the North American Free Trade Agreement a “disaster” during the campaign. (Wall Street Journal)
10/ Pence breaks tie in Senate vote on Planned Parenthood funding. The Senate can now debate on a resolution that would reverse a proposed Obama administration action that bans states from blocking Title X family planning grants to Planned Parenthood and other health care providers that offer abortion. Title X funding covers services such as contraception, STD screenings and treatments but cannot be used to pay for abortion services. (Politico)
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