👋 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/ House Republicans are making a new bid to repeal Obamacare. The current proposal gives states more flexibility to opt out of major Obamacare provisions, while preserving popular protections like banning discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. The text of a new bill is likely to circulate by the weekend with intentions to have a vote by midweek before the president reaches his 100-day mark. (Politico)
- Congress may have to choose between keeping the government open and voting to repeal Obamacare. Trump thinks they can do both. The current resolution funding the government expires on April 28. (CNBC)
2/ North Korea warns of a “super-mighty preemptive strike” after Rex Tillerson said the US was looking to put pressure on the country over its nuclear program. (Reuters)
- Satellites spot unexpected activity at North Korean nuclear test site: volleyball. The games were probably intended to send a message, but what meaning the North wanted to convey is unclear. (New York Times)
3/ The CIA and FBI are searching for the leaker who gave top-secret documents to WikiLeaks. The leak exposed thousands of top-secret documents that described CIA tools used to penetrate smartphones, smart TVs, and computers. (CBS News)
4/ Tillerson accused Iran of “alarming ongoing provocations” aimed at destabilizing the Middle East and undermining American interests. Iran’s foreign minister dismissed Mr Tillerson’s criticism as “worn out.” (BBC)
5/ Carter Page’s trip to Russia last July became the catalyst for an FBI investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. In 2013, a Russian spy was trying to recruit Trump’s former foreign policy adviser, and his 2016 trip further stirs the agency’s interest in the businessman. It is unclear what about Page’s visit drew the FBI’s interest: meetings, intercepted communications, or something else. (New York Times)
- The FBI used the unverified dossier detailing Trump’s ties to Russia in order to bolster its Trump-Russia investigation and win approval to secretly monitor Carter Page. The FISA court approved the monitoring of Page’s communications, who advised Trump on national security last year. (CNN)
6/ A Russian think tank controlled by Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 US presidential election. Two confidential documents provide the framework and rationale for what intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort to undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system. (Reuters)
7/ The judge Trump denigrated for his Mexican heritage last year will hear deported DREAMer case. Trump claimed that US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not impartially hear a lawsuit against Trump University last year because of Curiel’s background and Trump’s own hardline immigration policies. Curiel will now oversee a lawsuit where a California resident was deported despite being approved for the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides protective status for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. (CNN)
8/ Trump blows his own deadline for developing an anti-hacking plan within 90 days of taking office. Yesterday was the 90-day mark. There is no team, there is no plan, and there is no clear answer from the White House on who would even be working on what. Trump has repeatedly promised to get to the bottom of Russian election hacking. (Politico)
- Trump claims that “no administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days.” So far he hasn’t taken action on 60% of the 60 promises he said he would fulfill in his first 100 days. Trump’s also broken five of them, such as his promise to label China as a currency manipulator. (Washington Post)
9/ Chaffetz is considering an early departure from Congress. Chaffetz stunned Washington yesterday with an announcement that he is not running for reelection. Now he might not even finish his term. Chaffetz cited a desire to spend more time with his family in Utah and return to the private sector. (The Hill)
- Why is Jason Chaffetz running away? A rising Republican star doesn’t just retire from Congress for nothing. (Salon)
10/ The Trump administration launches national security investigation into steel imports and whether the way other countries sell steel compromises US security. The review would consider how much steel the US needs to defend itself, and whether current domestic capacity meets those requirements. (Los Angeles Times)
11/ The White House sidewalk will be closed to public permanently. The closure will “lessen the possibility of individuals illegally accessing the White House grounds.” (Reuters)
12/ The Justice Department is weighing whether to bring criminal charges against members of WikiLeaks. Prosecutors are examining the 2010 leak of cables and military documents, as well as the more recent revelation of sensitive CIA cyber-tools used to convert cellphones, televisions, and other ordinary devices into implements of espionage. (Washington Post)
poll/ Trump gets an “A” on his performance from 16% of voters. He received an “F” grade from 24% of voters. (Politico)
poll/ 63% of Democrats say they’re “very excited” about voting in the 2018 election, compared to only 52% of Republicans. (Public Policy Polling)
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