👋 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/ In a tweet, Trump threatened to cancel all future press briefings for the “sake of accuracy,” saying it’s “not possible” to always tell the truth. While the White House can’t get its story straight about the firing of FBI director James Comey, Trump has offered his solution: cancel all press briefings. Spicer declined to say whether Trump had decided to stop holding daily news briefings, saying that Trump is “a little dismayed” about the unwillingness of reporters to focus on the policy actions of his administration. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)
2/ In a tweet, Trump warned James Comey against leaking to the press, suggesting there are “tapes” of their private conversations. It’s unclear if any tapes exist. Regardless, Comey is “not worried about any tapes,” a CNN source said, adding that “if there is a tape, there’s nothing [Comey] is worried about” that could be on it. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)
3/ Trump asked for Comey to pledge his loyalty at a private dinner seven days after the inauguration. Comey declined to make the pledge, but instead told Trump that he would always give him “honesty.” Trump pressed him on whether it would be “honest loyalty.” Comey agreed. Trump claims Comey assured him “three times” that he was not under FBI investigation. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN)
4/ Comey declined to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The panel is investigating Russia’s election meddling and allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Testifying would have provided Comey a chance to discuss with lawmakers the circumstances of his firing. (Politico)
5/ Sean Spicer won’t say if Trump is taping conversations in the Oval Office. The White House won’t deny Trump taped meetings with Comey — or that Trump may be recording conversations in the Oval Office. “The president has nothing further to add on that,” Spicer said, repeating the answer or some variation of it several more times as reporters pressed. (NBC News / New York Times)
6/ Trump shifts his reason for firing Comey to “this Russia thing” being a “made-up story.” He labeled it “an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.” (New York Times)
- Comey’s reportedly furious by the lack of respect the White House showed him. Trump called Comey a “showboat” and “a grandstander,” and even suggested he was not “competent.” (ABC News)
7/ Jeff Sessions directed prosecutors to seek the toughest drug charges for offenders. The new sentencing guidelines roll back an Obama-era policy of avoiding charging nonviolent, less-serious drug offenders with long, mandatory-minimum sentences, and instead revives a Bush-era policy that tasked federal prosecutors with charging “the most serious readily provable offense.” (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / CNN)
8/ The lawyers who said Trump has no ties to Russia was named Russian law firm of 2016. Morgan Lewis tax partners said that a review of Trump’s last 10 years of tax returns don’t show “any income of any type from Russian sources.” Except for some income from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant that was held in Moscow as well as a property sold to a Russian billionaire in 2008 for $95 million. The attorneys did not release copies of Trump’s tax returns. (The Guardian / Associated Press / Reuters)
9/ The EPA may allow a massive gold and copper mine at the headwaters of one of Alaska’s salmon fisheries. The Trump administration will allow a Canadian-owned company to seek a federal permit to build a mine near Bristol Bay. In 2014, the EPA released a study that concluded large-scale mining in the bay posed significant risk to salmon and could adversely affect Alaska Natives in the region. (Associated Press)
10/ Rex Tillerson signed a declaration acknowledging climate change. The move is at odds with the Trump administration’s skepticism of climate change and comes at a time when he is weighing a potential withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. The Fairbanks Declaration acknowledges the threat posed by climate change to the Arctic and the need for action to curb its impact on the region. (The Hill)
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