👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
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1/ Trump fired James Comey on the recommendation of Jeff Sessions. In a letter dated Tuesday to Comey, Trump concurred “with the judgment of the Department of Justice that [Comey is not] able to effectively lead the bureau.”
Earlier today, the FBI notified Congress that Comey misstated key findings involving the Clinton email investigation during testimony, saying that only a “small number” of emails had been forwarded to disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner, not the “hundreds and thousands” he’d claimed in his testimony.
The move sweeps away the man who is responsible for the investigation into whether members of Trump’s campaign team colluded with Russia in its interference in last year’s election.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein laid out the reasons for Comey’s firing, arguing that the handling of his investigation into Clinton’s private server, his decision not to recommend charges be filed, and the news conference he held to explain his reasoning were the cause of his dismissal.
Democrats reacted with shock and alarm, accusing Trump of ousting the FBI director to escape scrutiny over his campaign’s Russia ties.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged deputy Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor for the federal probe into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russian officials — warning that failing to do so will lead the public to “rightly suspect” that Comey’s surprise firing “was part of a cover-up.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Politico)
- “Today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” Trump says in a statement. (Politico)
- At the Pentagon, the news of Comey’s firing was met with shock and a sense of foreboding that similar sudden change could befall their agency or department. (BuzzFeed News)
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommended Comey’s removal. (CNBC News)
- The attorney general will likely name an interim FBI Director in the coming days while the search is on for a permanent replacement. The acting FBI Director is Andrew McCabe, who was Comey’s deputy prior to his firing. (ABC News)
- A timeline of James Comey’s consequential final months as FBI director. (CNBC News)
- Here’s how unusual it is for an FBI director to be fired. (Washington Post)
2/ Trump is preparing a certified letter attesting he has no ties to Russia. Senator Lindsey Graham said he wants to explore possible ties between Trump’s businesses and Russia. US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the election in attempt to help Trump. (Bloomberg)
3/ James Comey’s testimony on Huma Abedin forwarding thousands of emails was inaccurate. The FBI hasn’t decided how to correct the director’s false claim. Abedin forwarded a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing — not the “hundreds and thousands” cited by Comey. (ProPublica)
- Comey overstated key findings involving the Hillary Clinton email investigation during testimony to Congress last week. None of the forwarded emails were marked classified, but a small number contained information that was later judged to contain classified information. (Washington Post)
4/ Trump pointed the finger at Obama for failing to vet Flynn. At the time Flynn was fired, he had an interim clearance in order to allow him to do his job while he waited for his CIA clearance. The concerns about Flynn came after US intelligence realized he was discussing sanctions with the Russians and then misleading US officials about the nature of his conversations. He didn’t disclose his payment from RT to government officials until after he was fired by Trump. (Washington Post)
- Sean Spicer weighed in, suggesting that Obama’s advice was taken with a grain of salt because Flynn “was an outspoken critic of President Obama’s shortcomings.” (Washington Post)
- Obama warned then-President-elect Trump in November against hiring Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. (WTF Just Happened Today: Day 109)
- How the White House explained waiting 18 days to fire Flynn. Here are the various explanations he and other administration officials have given in the past. (New York Times)
5/ Sean Spicer downplayed Sally Yates’ warnings about former Michael Flynn, calling her little more than a Democratic appointee with an agenda against Trump. Yates testified yesterday that the Justice Department believed Flynn had been “compromised” and was susceptible to blackmail after misleading Mike Pence about his discussions with the Russian ambassador to the US. (Politico)
6/ Wisconsin’s voter-ID law suppressed 200,000 votes in the 2016 election. Trump won by 22,748 votes. A new study by Priorities USA shows that strict voter-ID laws, in Wisconsin and other states, led to a significant reduction in voter turnout in 2016, with a disproportionate impact on African-American and Democratic-leaning voters. (The Nation)
7/ The US is poised to expand military efforts against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Trump’s most senior military and foreign policy advisers have proposed a major shift in strategy in Afghanistan that would effectively put the United States back on a war footing with the Taliban. The plan would add at least 3,000 troops to the existing force of about 8,400. The US force would also be bolstered by requests for matching troops from NATO nations. (Washington Post)
- The US weighs sending as many as 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Trump, however, is still deciding on a variety of options being presented to him by military leaders. The current force in Afghanistan is about 8,400. (NBC News)
8/ Trump authorized limited arming of Syrian Kurds to help in the fight against ISIS and includes small arms, machine guns and armored vehicles. The move that has long been under consideration at the Pentagon but has been delayed due to strong opposition from American NATO ally Turkey. (CNN / NBC News)
9/ White House advisers postponed their meeting to decide US participation in the Paris Climate Agreement. Trump’s key advisers are divided over whether he should keep his campaign promise to pull the United States out of the Paris agreement, which won the backing of 195 nations in 2015. Trump is expected to make a final decision on whether to withdraw sometime this month. (Reuters / Politico)
10/ An Iowa congressman abruptly ended a TV interview and then walked into an angry town hall meeting. He was unhappy with questions about who would be allowed into the series of town hall events he is holding this week in his district. A few hours later, he showed up at his town hall meeting where most of the prescreened audience screamed at him because of his vote on the House Obamacare repeal bill. (Politico / Washington Post)
11/ The Trump administration cited a segregation-era ruling to defend its travel ban. In 1971, the Supreme Court decided that courts shouldn’t investigate the motivations of officials who closed public pools in Jackson, Mississippi, rather than integrate them. (HuffPost)
12/ Trump Photoshopped a tweet denying collusion with Russia into his Twitter header. During Senate testimony yesterday, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he was not aware of any evidence that proves there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump has since changed his Twitter header to a picture without the Photoshopped tweet. (New York Magazine / The Guardian)
13/ Mitch McConnell stacks the Senate Republican working group on health care with 13 conservative men – but no women. The working group includes the party’s top leaders, as well as three committee chairmen and two of the most conservative senators, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. (New York Times / Los Angeles Times)
14/ Trump’s review of Dodd-Frank will not be completed by early June as originally targeted. Instead, officials will report findings piece-by-piece, with priority given to banking regulations. In February, Trump ordered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to review the law and report back within 120 days, saying his administration expected to be cutting large parts of it. (Reuters)
15/ Trump’s team marks its 6-month election anniversary by vowing to air video of the Clinton campaign’s concession call. The White House director of social media tweeted a screen grab of the late night phone call where Hillary Clinton conceded to Trump and promised to share video of the conversation. (Yahoo)
16/ Republicans are struggling to recruit Senate challengers in states where Trump won. In Wisconsin and Michigan, Republicans have passed on challenging Democrats due to Trump’s approval ratings. (ABC News)
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