👋 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/ Two intelligence chiefs repeatedly refused to say whether Trump asked them to intervene in the Russia probe during their public Senate intelligence committee testimony. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers declined to discuss the specifics of private conversations they had with Trump and whether they had been asked to push back against an FBI probe into collusion between the campaign and the Russian government. Both hinted that they would share more information with senators privately. (CNN / Washington Post / Politico)
- Democrats are furious at the evasive answers by Coats and Rogers during their Senate intelligence committee testimony. The two intelligence chiefs repeatedly said it wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss their conversations with Trump in a public setting. Both indicated they might be more forthcoming in a classified setting, however. (CNN)
- Senator tells the NSA chief: “What you feel isn’t relevant, admiral.” Angus King became visibly frustrated after Mike Rogers repeatedly refused to answer questions about whether Trump tried to interfere in the FBI’s investigation before snapping. (The Hill)
2/ In March, Trump asked Dan Coats if he could get Comey to back off his investigation into Michael Flynn. The director of national intelligence chose not to step in, citing Trump’s prodding as inappropriate. CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who was also present for Trump’s request, declined to comment on the closed-door discussion. Trump had asked Comey to drop his investigation before he was fired in May. (Washington Post)
3/ Trump told Comey “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty” at a private White House dinner in January, according to Comey’s prepared remarks, which were released ahead of his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony tomorrow. Comey said he thought the encounter was designed to “create some part of patronage relationship.” Later, in March, Trump pressured Comey to “lift the cloud” put over the administration from the ongoing investigation and repeatedly asked Comey to announce that he was not personally under investigation. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)
- Comey’s opening statement. (Senate.gov)
- Comey’s seven-page written statement is the “most shocking single document compiled about the official conduct of the public duties of any President since the release of the Watergate tapes.” Comey’s statement makes no allegations and expresses no opinions, but instead recounts the set of facts Comey is prepared to testify on tomorrow. (Lawfare)
4/ Comey told Jeff Sessions he did not want to be left alone with Trump after the president pressured him to end his investigation into Michael Flynn. Comey confronted Sessions after the encounter, believing that the Justice Department should protect the FBI from White House influence, which it typically does to avoid the appearance of political meddling in law enforcement. (New York Times)
5/ Comey’s role in the Russia probe has Trump “infuriated at a deep-gut, personal level,” Newt Gingrich said. “He’s not going to let some guy like that smear him without punching him as hard as he can.” Trump’s lawyers and aides have been urging him to resist engaging on Twitter, but are bracing for a worst-case scenario tomorrow: he ignores their advice and tweets his mind anyway. (Washington Post)
6/ Jeff Sessions offered to resign after a series of heated exchanges with Trump. Sessions wanted the freedom to do his job and is upset by Trump’s tweets and comments about the Justice Department. Trump is still frustrated with Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe, viewing the decision as a sign of weakness. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)
7/ James Clapper: Watergate “pales” in comparison to the Trump-Russia scandal. The former US director of national intelligence added that Trump sharing intelligence with Putin was “very problematic” and said firing James Comey was “egregious and inexcusable.” (The Guardian)
8/ Eric Trump says Democrats are “not even people” in
an interview tirade with Sean Hannity. “I’ve never seen hatred like this. To me, they’re not even people. It’s so, so sad. Morality’s just gone, morals have flown out the window, and we deserve so much better than this as a country. You see the Democratic Party, they’re imploding. They’re imploding. They became obstructionists because they have no message of their own,” he said before added that the head of the Democratic National Committee a “total whack job.” (The Hill)
9/ Texas Democrat Al Green is drafting articles of impeachment against Trump, saying the president should be forced from office for firing James Comey in the middle of the bureau’s ongoing Russia investigation. (Politico)
10/ Trump’s pick for FBI director blindsided White House staff and Congress, leaving much of his senior staff out of the loop before announcing he’d picked Christopher Wray on Twitter. At least six White House and senior officials said that they weren’t aware of Trump’s decision before his early morning tweet. Wray acted as Chris Christie’s personal attorney during the Bridgegate scandal. Trump called him a “man of impeccable credentials.” (The Daily Beast / New York Times / NBC News / Politico)
11/ US investigators believe Russian hackers planted a fake news report in Qatar’s state news agency. The Qatar News Agency attributed false remarks to the nation’s ruler that appeared friendly to Iran and Israel and questioned whether Trump would last in office. In reaction, Qatar’s neighbors, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, cut off economic and political ties, causing a broader crisis. (CNN)
12/ Fox News host to Trump: “Fake news media” isn’t the issue. “It’s you.” Neil Cavuto hit Trump for his criticism of how the media has covered his Twitter habits, saying “Mr. President, it’s not the fake news media that’s your problem. It’s you. It’s not just your tweeting, it’s your scapegoating. It’s your refusal to see that sometimes you’re the one who’s feeding your own beast and acting beastly with your own guys. Look at the critiques you’re now hearing from usually friendly and supportive allies as sort of like an intervention. Because firing off these angry missives and tweets risks your political discussion.” (The Hill)
13/ North Korea condemned Trump’s decision to pull out of Paris accord, calling it “the height of egotism” and a “shortsighted and silly decision.” Despite its international isolation, even North Korea signed the Paris agreement. (Washington Post)
poll/ 61% say Trump fired Comey to protect himself and most think Trump is trying to interfere with official investigations of possible Russian influence in the 2016 election. (ABC News)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.