👋 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/ Robert Mueller is now investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, marking a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation. The obstruction of justice investigation into the president began days after Comey was fired on May 9 with the team actively pursuing potential witnesses inside and outside the government. The White House is referring all questions about the Russia investigation to Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz. (Washington Post)
2/ Almost 200 congressional Democrats will sue Trump over foreign business ties. They contend that Trump has ignored the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts from foreign powers without congressional approval. The case is one of at least four pending lawsuits alleging that by retaining interests in a global business empire, Trump has violated the foreign emoluments clause. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)
3/ China preliminary approved six new trademarks for the Trump brand as it relates to veterinary services and construction sectors. The new marks brings his total to at least 123 registered and provisionally approved trademarks in China. (New York Times)
4/ The majority of Trump’s real estate sales are to secretive shell companies, which obscure the buyers’ identities. Since winning the Republican nomination, about 70% of buyers of Trump properties were LLCs, compared with about 4% of buyers in the two years before. Since the election, Trump’s businesses have sold 28 properties for $33 million. (USA Today)
5/ Trump gave the Pentagon authority to unilaterally send new troops to Afghanistan. The Pentagon is weighing plans to send 3,000 to 5,000 troops after years of reductions in hopes that Kabul could handle threats on its own. There is fewer than 9,000 troops currently in Afghanistan. (Wall Street Journal)
6/ Trump blocked a veterans group on Twitter that was critical of him. While on the campaign trail, Trump praised veterans as “amazing,” “distinguished” and “tremendous.” Today, he blocked them on Twitter for criticizing his tweet about the “Fake News Media.” (Talking Points Memo / Newsweek / The Hill)
7/ A Trump business partner is in the running for a $1.7 billion contract to build the new FBI headquarters. Vornado Realty Trust is a partial owner with the Trump Organization in two buildings and a major investor in a Kushner Cos. skyscraper. (Associated Press)
8/ Tomorrow’s congressional hearing to debate gun legislation has been canceled until further notice in the wake of today’s shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice. The panel was suppose to debate the “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act,” which would make it easier to purchase silencers, transport guns across state lines, and ease restrictions on armor-piercing bullets. The bill’s sponsor was at the baseball practice. (CNN)
9/ Not a single state supports the House health care bill. Even in the most supportive states, like Oklahoma, Florida, and Texas, only 38%, 35%, and 34% of voters, respectively, support the law, compared to 45%, 48%, and 49% who oppose it. (New York Times)
10/ The Senate approved new bipartisan sanctions against Russia, which establishes a congressional review of any changes the Trump administration wants to make to the current penalties. Senators voted 97-2, but its future in the GOP-controlled House is unclear, as is whether Trump would even sign the bill. (Politico)
11/ Robert Mueller met with the Senate intelligence committee to plot a path forward on their investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The two sides discussed to share information and not step on each others’ toes. (CNN)
poll/ Trump’s job disapproval rating hits 60%. When does the winning start? (Gallup)
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