👋 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/ British spies spotted the link between Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives in late 2015. The GCHQ alerted their counterparts in Washington of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and Russian agents. As part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets, agencies began to see a pattern of connections emerge. (The Guardian)
- Trump on Russia: “Things will work out fine.” Despite candidate Trump’s repeated praise of Putin, the US has had a rocky relationship with Moscow under his administration. “We may be at an all-time low in terms of our relationship with Russia.” (Politico)
2/ The US dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan. The Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb – or MOAB – targeted an ISIS tunnel and cave complex. The bomb is more commonly known as the “mother of all bombs,” since it’s a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition with a one mile blast radius. (CNN)
- Trump: I don’t know if using the “mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan will send a message to North Korea. He’s not worried though, saying “the problem” with that country “will be taken care of,” regardless. (Politico)
3/ An airstrike by the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State mistakenly killed 18 Syrian fighters allied with the US. The strike was the third time in a month that American-led airstrikes may have killed civilians or allies. The military called the episode “tragic.” Central Command said the airstrike was “misdirected.” (New York Times)
4/ Assad called the alleged chemical attack a “100 percent fabrication” in order to justify a US military strike. He denied any use of chemical weapons. Moscow said the deaths where the result of a conventional strike hitting a rebel arms depot containing “toxic substances”. (Agence France Presse)
5/ Satellite photos show a North Korean nuclear site is “primed and ready” for a sixth nuclear test. Activity at the site over the past six weeks suggests they’re in the final preparations for a test. North Korea marks the “Day of the Sun” this Saturday, which has typically been marked by displays of military strength. (CNN)
- Trump threatens action on North Korea, but expressed “great confidence” in how China would deal with the North. He added the US would step in if needed. (Politico)
- Trump says he offered China better trade terms in exchange for help on North Korea. He also said his administration won’t label China a currency manipulator in despite his campaign promise to do so. (Wall Street Journal)
6/ Kim Jong Un’s rockets are getting a boost from China. A North Korean booster rocket recovered by South Korea’s navy show that many of the key components were acquired from businesses based in China. (Washington Post)
7/ Trump privately signed a bill aimed at cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood and other groups that perform abortions. The bill allows states to withhold federal money from organizations that provide abortion services, whether or not these facilities also provide other family planning and medical services. Planned Parenthood says 3% of the services it provides are abortions. (CNN)
8/ Scott Pruitt will receive around-the-clock security detail as the EPA budget shrinks by 31%. The proposed budget would double the agency’s infrastructure and operations staff as it gets slashed from $8.1 billion to $5.7 billion, eliminating a quarter of the agency’s 15,000 jobs. (New York Times)
9/ On the same day that Paul Manafort left Trump’s campaign he borrowed $13 million from Trump-connected businesses. Manafort’s ties to Ukraine and Russia have come under scrutiny as federal officials investigate Russian meddling in the American presidential election. (New York Times)
10/ Portland joins Seattle in suing the Trump administration over its order to withhold federal grants from “sanctuary cities”. (The Oregonian)
11/ Sanders: Trump will be a one-term president. Bernie promises to “expose the Republican Party for what it is” during a nationwide tour to rally Democrats that launches next week. (Detroit News)
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