👋 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/ A top-secret NSA report shows Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one US voting software supplier last year, sending spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before the election. The report indicates that Russian hacking penetrated further into voting systems than was previously understood and states unequivocally that it was Russian military intelligence that conducted the attacks. The NSA report is at odds with Putin’s denial that Russia had interfered in foreign elections: “We never engaged in that on a state level, and have no intention of doing so.” (The Intercept)
2/ Putin denied having compromising information on Trump. During an interview with Megyn Kelly, Putin called the dossier of unverified information “just another load of nonsense.” He added: “I haven’t seen, even once, any direct proof of Russian interference in the presidential election in the United States.” Seventeen US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered with the election. (Politico / The Daily Beast)
3/ Even Trump’s national security team was blindsided by his NATO speech. National security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had all urged Trump to explicitly reaffirm America’s commitment to the NATO mutual defense clause (known as Article 5) in his speech. Instead, Trump, along with Steve Bannon and policy aide Stephen Miller, made a last-minute decision to remove the commitment reference without consulting or informing McMaster, Mattis, or Tillerson. (Politico)
4/ Trump won’t invoke his executive privilege to prevent Comey from testifying to Congress. Comey is scheduled to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, testifying about conversations where Trump encouraged him to stop investigating Michael Flynn, as well as asking Comey to pledge his loyalty, which he declined to do. Legal experts said Trump had a weak case to invoke executive privilege, because he has publicly addressed his conversations with Comey, and any such move would carry serious political risks. (New York Times)
5/ Trump doubled down on his original travel ban, attacking the Justice Department for the “watered down” version now headed to the Supreme Court. Trump’s latest tweets undercut his own staff, who’ve insisted the order is not a travel ban. The administration rewrote his original order, which was thrown out by the courts, in an effort to pass legal muster. The second version was also rejected, but the administration appealed has since appealed it to the Supreme Court. Trump’s called for the end to political correctness, saying terrorism “will only get worse” if the US doesn’t “get smart” and reinstate his travel ban. Legal analysts said Trump is undermining his own case. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)
- Trump ramps up his push for a “TRAVEL BAN!” as opposition emerges from Republican and Democratic lawmakers. In a series of tweets, Trump circled back on his push for the travel ban in the wake of Saturday’s terrorist attack in London. (Washington Post)
6/ While world leaders called for unity after the London attack, Trump tweeted the complete opposite. Before London police had linked the attack to terrorism, or released any information on the identities, ethnicities or nationalities of the suspects, Trump retweeted an unsourced blurb from Drudge – “Fears of new terror attack after van ‘mows down 20 people’ on London Bridge” – and then started promoting his travel ban. (Washington Post)
- Trump’s tweets strain foreign ties, as he wasted little time defending his travel ban and attacking the mayor of London as not being tough on terrorism. (New York Times)
- Trump can’t be counted on to give accurate information to Americans when violent acts are unfolding abroad. A look at some of his weekend tweets about the London attack and rhetoric that came from the president and his aides about climate change and more last week. (Associated Press)
- Conway’s husband rips Trump for “travel ban” tweets. (The Hill)
7/ A Louisiana Congressman proposed an extreme solution to the London terror attacks: kill any suspected radical Muslim. Representative Clay Higgins wrote on his Facebook page that “all of Christendom… is at war with Islamic horror” and that “not a single radicalized Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter” and their “entry to the American homeland should be summarily denied. Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identity them, and kill them.” He concluded that the only appropriate solution was to “Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.” (Facebook / Mother Jones)
8/ Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein never told Comey they were uneasy with his “deeply troubling” and “serious mistakes” before they fired him. The former FBI director is “angry” they failed to flag their concerns and he wants the public to understand why when he testifies publicly this week about his axing, and alleged collusion between Trump associates and the Russian government. (ABC News)
- Conservatives question Comey’s credibility ahead of his Senate hearing. “I don’t know that he’s credible with facts. He hasn’t been credible so far.” (McClatchy DC)
- The Comey hearing consumes Washington ahead of his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday and speculation grows on whether the ousted FBI director’s remarks could further damage Trump. (Politico)
9/ The Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee asked to unmask organizations and individuals related to Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The requests came last year and required sign-off by Nunes, who’s the chairman of the committee. Both Nunes and Trump have called unmasking an abuse of surveillance powers by the Obama administration. (Washington Post)
poll/ Nearly 6 in 10 oppose Trump’s scrapping of the Paris agreement. 59% of Americans oppose the decision to withdraw, saying the move will damage the United States’ global leadership, while 28% in support the decision. (Washington Post)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.