👋 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/ Russian hackers hit election systems in 39 states, accessing software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day. The scope and sophistication was so concerning that the Obama administration complained directly to Moscow, detailing Russia’s role in the election meddling and warned that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict. (Bloomberg)
2/ Senate leaders agree on bipartisan sanctions to punish Russia for election meddling, placing the White House in an uncomfortable position. The agreement would impose sanctions on “corrupt Russian actors” and people conducting “malicious cyberactivity on behalf of the Russian government,” and “provide for a mandated congressional review” if the White House sought to waive or ease existing sanctions unilaterally. “I’d be very, very surprised if the president vetoes this bill,” the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee said. (New York Times / Politico)
3/ The House Intelligence Committee is adding funding and staff to its Russia probe. A lack of resources has been an issue for the House investigation, due in part to Devin Nunes,the panel’s chairman, being forced to recuse himself over allegations that he was openly colluding with the White House. (The Daily Beast)
4/ Trump is considering firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible ties between his campaign and Russian officials. Trump was “considering, perhaps, terminating the special counsel,” Trump’s friend Christopher Ruddy said. To do so, Trump would have to order Rod Rosenstein to rescind department regulations protecting a special counsel from being fired and then to fire Mueller. If Rosenstein refused, Trump could fire him, too. Trump is being counseled to steer clear of such a dramatic move like firing the special counsel. (New York Times / CNN)
- Republicans tell Trump not to mess with Mueller. Mueller’s investigation is considered the most threatening to Trump’s presidency and is largely out of his control. (Politico)
5/ Rod Rosenstein: Only I have the power to fire the special counsel on Russia. During testimony before the appropriations committee, Rosenstein said he would only comply with “lawful and appropriate” requests. Rosenstein added that there’s no cause to fire Mueller and that he’s “confident” the special counsel has full independence. (Washington Post / USA Today / Wall Street Journal)
6/ Jeff Sessions declined to answer questions about his conversations with Trump, including whether he spoke to Trump about Comey’s handling of the Russia investigation. Sessions cited Trump’s executive privilege to not answer questions about his confidential talks with the president despite Trump not having invoked executive privilege. Sessions called any suggestion that he colluded with Russians during the campaign an “an appalling and detestable lie.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)
- Key moments from Jeff Sessions’ Russia testimony. (Politico)
7/ Senate Republicans are trying to rein in expectations for their Obamacare repeal effort, worried they’ll blow their July 4th deadline or fall short of 50 votes. Senators continue to raise doubts about coming to an agreement, even though McConnell has said that “failure is not an option.” (Politico)
- Senate Democrats plan offensive to try to save Obamacare and potentially even delay a June vote to force the GOP to endure a July recess when Democratic allies will mobilize in their states. (Politico)
8/ Trump called the House health care bill “mean” and that the Senate version should be “more generous.” Trump told the lawmakers that the House bill didn’t go far enough in protecting individuals in the marketplace – and appeared to use that as his rationale for why he has ambiguously called twice for the Senate to “add more money” to the bill. (CNN / Associated Press)
9/ Trump’s personal lawyer told colleagues that he got Preet Bharara fired. Bharara was asked to stay in his job as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York when the two met in November at Trump Tower. But, in March Trump reversed himself and fired Bharara, who was investigating Trump’s secretary of health and human services at the time. (ProPublica)
10/ Senate Republicans barred reporters from filming senators in the Capitol hallways without special permission and breaking with years of precedent allowing videotaping and audio recording in the public areas of the House and Senate office buildings. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted, “Press access should never be restricted unfairly, particularly not when one party is trying to sneak a major bill through Congress.” (CNN Money / The Hill)
- Senate Republicans back off their proposed restrictions on the media. (The Hill)
Press access should never be restricted unfairly, particularly not when one party is trying to sneak a major bill through Congress.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 13, 2017
11/ Shocker: Trump criticized the latest court ruling against his travel ban. The three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Trump’s revised travel ban, using his own tweets against him in making their decision. (CNN)
12/ Jeff Sessions asked congressional leaders to undo federal medical marijuana protections so he could prosecute providers. Research strongly suggests that cracking down on medical marijuana laws could make the opiate epidemic even worse. (Washington Post)
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