👋 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/ Trump called Kim Jong Un a “madman with nuclear weapons,” days before stating publicly that he would be “honored” to meet with Kim. In an April 29 call with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Trump asked for his input on whether Kim is “stable or not stable.” Duterte has been accused of presiding over the extrajudicial killing of thousands of drug dealers and users. (Washington Post)
2/ The US has two nuclear submarines off the coast of North Korea, Trump told Duterte during last month’s call. He revealed that “we have a lot of firepower over there. We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all.” (New York Times)
3/ The Pentagon is in shock that Trump told Duterte about the submarines. The Pentagon never talks about the location of submarines on the belief that stealth is key to their mission. (BuzzFeed News)
4/ Trump congratulated Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job” in his war on drugs, where the government has allowed extrajudicial killing for drug dealers and users. “You are a good man,” Trump told Duterte. “Keep up the good work.” The State Department’s human rights report calls the Philippines “disregard for human rights and due process” one of the “most significant human rights problems.” (The Intercept / Politico)
- Transcript: Trump’s call with Duterte. (DocumentCloud)
5/ Pope Francis urged Trump to meet US commitments on climate change. He gave Trump copy of his 2015 encyclical (a type of papal document used for significant or important issues) calling for urgent, drastic cuts in fossil-fuel emissions. Trump has called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. (Bloomberg)
6/ Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance. Sessions met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least twice last year, but didn’t failed to note those interactions on the security clearance form. (CNN)
7/ The House Intelligence Committee will subpoena Michael Flynn after he declined to appear before the panel. Flynn already rejected requests from the Senate Intelligence Committee for a list of his contacts with Russian officials, invoking his Fifth Amendments rights against self-incrimination. (Reuters / Associated Press / Politico)
- Flynn hit with two Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenas and risks being held in contempt of Congress if he doesn’t comply. (ABC News)
8/ Trump lawyers up and retains Marc Kasowitz for the Russia investigation. Related, former Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman joined Kasowitz’ law firm in 2013 and was Trump’s top choice for the FBI director job. The administration hit the reset button on the search today, wanting to see a broader list of candidates. (NBC News / CNN)
9/ Trump’s hotels are failing to track payments received from foreign governments despite his promise to donate all profits back to the Treasury. A Trump Organization policy suggests that it is up to foreign governments, not Trump hotels, to determine whether they self-report their business. (NBC News)
10/ The House health care bill would leave 23 million more uninsured by 2026, the Congressional Budget Office projected. If passed, 14 million people would lose insurance next year and would make coverage less comprehensive than it is now for those still insured. The Senate has already said it will make substantial changes to the measure passed by the House. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg)
11/ Mitch McConnell on Obamacare: “I don’t know how we get to 50 (votes).” The Senate Majority Leader has not asked the White House for input on the legislation being crafted to dismantle Obamacare. McConnell has promised to undo Obamacare “root and branch,” but Congress and the White House have struggled to come up with a consensus plan despite controlling both branches of government. (Reuters)
12/ Ben Carson called poverty “a state of mind.” He said he believes that government can provide a “helping hand” for people to climb out of poverty, but warned against programs that are “sustaining them in a position of poverty.” (Washington Post)
13/ Democrats flipped seats in two districts that voted for Trump. The new legislature seats in New York and New Hampshire won’t change the balance of power, but may signal a change in the country’s political climate. (HuffPost)
Poll/ 65% of voters believe there is a lot of fake news in the mainstream media. 84% of voters said it’s hard to know what news to believe online. (Editor’s Suggestion: Get the fuck off Facebook.) (The Hill)
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