👋 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/ The Pentagon warned Flynn in 2014 against accepting foreign payments without prior approval. He’s now under investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general to determine whether he failed to get permission to receive payments, as he was explicitly told to do. Flynn received $45,000 from RT for a 2015 speech, which was not disclosed at the time, and belatedly he filed paperwork as a foreign agent for his work lobbying on behalf of Turkey. He was paid more than $500,000. (New York Times)
- The Pentagon will try to determine whether Flynn “failed to obtain required approval prior to receiving” foreign payments. Retiring officers are advised that they may be subject to the Constitution’s rarely enforced emoluments clause, which prohibits top officials from receiving payments or favors from foreign governments. (Washington Post)
- Spicer blames Obama for Flynn’s security clearance, brushing aside the notion that Trump has regrets over hiring Flynn. (The Hill)
2/ Trump said he will either renegotiate NAFTA or terminate it. Yesterday, the White House had drafted an executive order to withdraw the US from NAFTA. After hearing “pleas” from Canada and Mexico not to withdraw immediately, Trump warned he would pull out if he could not negotiate a better deal. (New York Times)
- Trump says no plan to pull out of NAFTA “at this time.” (Washington Post)
- Republicans tell Trump that a NAFTA withdrawal would be a “disaster.” (Politico)
3/ Congress aims to vote on a short-term spending bill Friday in order to avoid a shutdown. The bill would keep the government running through May 5. The White House has also backed off its threat to withhold payments that help lower-income Americans pay their medical bills, as well as its demand for money for Trump’s border wall. (Associated Press)
4/ The GOP is still divided over the latest healthcare plan. While the Freedom Caucus has endorsed the latest version, moderate conservatives are now holding out. A Friday vote appears less likely now that the Republicans are still shy of the 216 votes needed. (Axios)
- The race for votes on health care is on again. GOP leadership is setting the groundwork to move quickly if it becomes clear they can pass the bill. (CNN)
- Trump is unlikely to get his healthcare vote this week as House Republican leaders search for the votes needed. Republicans are confident they can win over moderates for a new Obamacare repeal plan, but they’re not there yet. (Politico)
5/ Democrats threaten to oppose short-term funding bill to prevent a shutdown if the healthcare vote happens this week. The House Rules Committee passed a rule that allows any legislation to be brought up between now and Saturday, including a vote on the latest healthcare plan. No vote has been scheduled. Paul Ryan said he was “confident” the government would keep running, but placed the threat of a shutdown on Democrats for “dragging their feet.” (CNN)
6/ Steve Mnuchin can’t guarantee the middle class won’t pay more under his new tax plan. He said the “objective” of the plan is to ensure no absolute tax cuts for the wealthy, but declined to say how the plan would affect Trump himself. (ABC News)
- Economists fear Trump’s tax plan will only heighten a “mountain of debt.” The proposed tax overhaul calls for steep tax cuts with only modest offsetting revenue increases. Economists estimate it would add trillions to the national debt over the next decade. (New York Times)
7/ Ivanka Trump says the US should consider admitting Syrian refugees. If you haven’t been paying attention, this is a significant break from her father, who is so against the idea that both failed versions of his travel ban have included temporary suspensions of all refugee resettlement. (New York Magazine)
8/ Homeland security unveils Trump’s controversial immigrant crime office set up to support the victims of crimes committed solely by undocumented migrants. Critics warn that the office is misguided and is a device for “scapegoating immigrants” by advocates who pointed to numerous studies showing immigrants are significantly less likely to commit crime. (The Guardian)
9/ The White House says Ivanka will have “no authority” over the World Bank fund to invest in women-owned businesses. The idea is under consideration at the World Bank – inspired by Ivanka – but has raised legal and ethical questions due to her formal role as “assistant to the president.” By rule, she would be prohibited from using her official position to solicit money. (Washington Post)
10/ Sessions vows to press legal fight on sanctuary cities despite a court order barring federal officials from targeting localities that decline to cooperate with enforcement of immigration laws. (Politico)
poll/ Trump’s first 100 days get “mixed reviews.” 45% approve of the job he’s doing, below Obama’s 62% approval and Bush W’s 63% approval at this same point. More than 50% think Trump is failing in bringing real change to Washington, and 52% say the US is less respected now compared to a year ago. (Fox News)
poll/ 44% approve of Trump’s handling of the presidency, which is last among approval ratings for newly-elected presidents at the 100-day point. (CNN)
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