👋 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.
Send your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints to:
1/ Michael Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination as he notifies the Senate Intelligence committee that he will not comply with a subpoena seeking documents. His decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment right puts him at risk of being held in contempt of Congress, which can also result in a criminal charge. After Flynn rejected the subpoena, Elijah Cummings released a letter saying Flynn misled Pentagon investigators about his income from Russian companies when he applied for a top-secret security clearance last year. Separately, he also failed to properly register as a foreign agent while advising the Trump campaign. Both are felonies. (Associated Press / New York Times)
- Chris Christie weighs in on Flynn: “I wouldn’t let General Flynn in the White House, let alone give him a job.” The New Jersey governor said he repeatedly recommended that Trump not give Flynn the job while on the campaign and as President-elect. (Washington Post)
2/ Trump asked two of the top intelligence chiefs to push back against the FBI investigation into possible collusion after Comey revealed its existence. Trump asked the director of national intelligence and the director of the National Security Agency to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election. Both refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate. (Washington Post)
3/ Trump: “I never mentioned the word or the name Israel” to the Russians. It was an off-script effort to push back and refute the damage he did to Israeli intelligence capabilities after revealing highly classified information to Russian operatives earlier this month. To add further insult to injury, he also told a room of Israelis that he “just got back from the Middle East.” (CNN / Slate)
4/ Trump’s budget is expected to cut $1.7 trillion from Medicaid and anti-poverty programs over the next 10 years. Assuming the GOP health care bill becomes law, the budget proposal will cut $800 billion from Medicaid leaving an estimated 10 million people without benefits. SNAP, the modern version of food stamps, will be reduced by $193 billion – about a quarter. During the campaign, Trump promised not to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNN)
5/ Comey believes that Donald Trump was trying to influence his judgment on the Russia probe. He initially thought he could teach Trump and the White House what was appropriate during their communications, despite noting that the new President was not following normal protocols during their interactions. (CNN)
6/ Trump is assembling outside counsel to help him navigate the Russian investigation now that Robert Mueller has begun work on the possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. The outside legal team would be separate from the White House Counsel’s Office, which is led by Donald McGahn, who served as the Trump campaign’s lawyer. (Washington Post)
- Priebus and Bannon returned to Washington after Saudi visit. Major issues await Trump back home, including the possible hiring of outside legal counsel in the Russia probe, the selection of a new FBI director, and the effort to pivot his domestic agenda. (CNN)
7/ The White House is trying to block the disclosure of ethics waivers granted to former lobbyists who work in the administration or federal agencies. Ethics watchdogs are concerned that former lobbyists are taking high-ranking political jobs working on the exact topics they had previously handled on behalf of private-sector clients — including oil and gas companies and Wall Street banks. The Office of Government Ethics was created in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal to oversee compliance with federal ethics standards. The administration is challenging the legal authority to demand the information. (New York times)
8/ Sheriff David Clarke plagiarized portions of his master’s thesis on homeland security. Clarke will be joining Trump’s administration as assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security. He denied the report, calling the journalist a “sleaze bag.” (CNN / Reuters)
9/ Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said he was pleased that there were no protesters with “a bad placard” during his trip to Saudi Arabia. American-style protest is illegal in Saudi Arabia and can result in a death sentence. (Washington Post)
10/ McMaster won’t say if Trump confronted Russian officials about election interference during the meeting at the White House. He said “there already was too much that’s been leaked from those meetings,” but wouldn’t deny that Trump called Comey “crazy, a real nut job.” (ABC News)
11/ The White House plans to ask a federal court for another 90-day delay in a lawsuit over Obamacare insurance subsidies, leaving the future of the health care marketplaces in limbo through late August. The suit centers on Obamacare’s cost-sharing program, which reimburses health insurers to help low-income people make co-payments at the doctor or hospital. House Republicans say the program was never legally funded in Obamacare and Trump has argued that the markets are fatally flawed and will collapse no matter what his administration does. (Politico)
12/ Students walked out of the Notre Dame commencement ceremony in protest of Mike Pence’s policies that “have marginalized our vulnerable sisters and brothers for their religion, skin color, or sexual orientation.” (NPR)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.