👋 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/ Ivanka Trump won approval from the Chinese government for three new trademarks the same night she dined with the president of China at Mar-a-Lago. Criminal conflict of interest law prohibits federal officials, like Ivanka and Kushner, from participating in government matters that could impact their own financial interest or that of their spouse. (Associated Press)
2/ Spicer argued that more public disclosures are unnecessary and harmful to Trump’s ability to govern. He defended Trump’s reversal of Obama’s practice of periodically releasing visitor logs, and suggested that doing so would discourage outsiders who require anonymity to offer frank advice to the president and his top advisers. (New York Times)
- Elijah Cummings on Trump’s transparency: “If you want privacy, don’t go into politics.” Cummings knocked the White House’s public disclosure practices, saying that Trump needs to learn there’s little privacy in politics. (The Hill)
3/ The promise to enact a sweeping overhaul of the tax code is in jeopardy nearly 100 days into Trump’s tenure. His refusal to release his own tax returns is emerging as a central hurdle to tax reform as Democrats pledge not to cooperate on any rewriting of the tax code unless they know specifically how revisions would benefit the billionaire president and his family. (New York Times)
- Tax reform will be delayed because of Trumpcare failure. (New York Magazine)
4/ Democrats aim to “make Trump furious” in Georgia election. Today’s special election lumps all 18 candidates on one ballot and is expected to be more competitive than Republicans’ single-digit victory in Kansas last week. Unless one candidate captures a full 50% of the vote, there will be a runoff between the top two finishers, on June 20th. Democrats are hoping Jon Ossoff can pull off a major upset in the conservative Georgia congressional district. (ABC News)
5/ Georgia voting machines were stolen just days before the polls open for a special election. The Cobb County Elections waited two days to tell the Secretary of State about the theft of four ExpressPoll machines. (WSBTV)
6/ In an upcoming executive order, Trump will have the Department of Homeland Security review how H-1B visas are awarded. The agency will be instructed to suggest reforms to move away from the current lottery system and to a merit-based system so that visas only land in the hands of highly paid, specially skilled applicants. (Record)
- Trump’s executive order is aimed at making it harder for technology companies to recruit low-wage workers from foreign countries and undercut Americans looking for jobs. (New York Times)
7/ The South Korea-US free trade agreement will be reviewed. Pence said the US trade deficit has more than doubled in the five years since the agreement began and there are too many barriers for US businesses in the country. (Reuters)
8/ Theresa May stunned the UK political world by calling for an early general election in order to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations. May became PM by default last year in the days after the Brexit vote and David Cameron’s resignation. (CNN)
9/ Trump called Erdogan to congratulate him on his contested, controversial referendum, which changed Turkey from a parliamentary democracy to one led by an executive president with strong central powers. It passed by a slim margin, 51.3% to 48.7%. The State Department urged Turkey to respect the basic rights of its citizens and noted election irregularities witnessed by monitors with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. (Washington Post)
10/ Trump on North Korea: Obama and Clinton were “outplayed by this gentleman.” He must be confused. Kim Jong Un has only been the leader of North Korea since 2012. His late father, Kim Jong Il, was the dictator who ruled from 1994 to 2011. (The Daily Beast)
11/ Critics of the Department of Homeland Security should “shut up” and assume the agency is acting appropriately, Secretary John F. Kelly said in a speech. The problem, Kelly said, is not the federal agents enforcing immigration laws, but the political games that have been played. He called criticism of the agency’s work misguided and based on inaccurate reporting. (Washington Post)
12/ US warships are now on a northerly course for the Korean Peninsula after sailing in the opposite direction. The Navy posted a photo of the U.S.S. Carl Vinson sailing in the Sundra Strait off the coast of Indonesia on Saturday - 3,500 miles southwest of the Korean Peninsula. The picture was taken four days after Sean Spicer described the warship’s mission in the Sea of Japan. (New York Times)
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