👋 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/ CIA Director Mike Pompeo continued to brief Michael Flynn on national intelligence despite concerns Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail. The FBI, the CIA, the Justice Department, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence all concluded that Flynn had become susceptible to blackmail. Pompeo never raised these concerns with Trump. “Either Director Pompeo had no idea what people in the CIA reportedly knew about Michael Flynn, or he knew about the Justice Department’s concerns and continued to discuss America’s secrets with a man vulnerable to blackmail,” Senator Ron Wyden said in a statement. “I believe Director Pompeo owes the public an explanation.” (New York Times)
2/ Trump is expected to reveal whether tapes of conversations with Comey exist this week. After firing Comey in May, Trump tweeted that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.” Trump and aides have since refused to clarify the ambiguous warning. The House intelligence committee wants the White House to provide an answer about the tapes by Friday. Under a post-Watergate law, destroying recordings would be a crime. (Associated Press)
3/ Jeff Sessions hired a personal lawyer amid the expanding Russia investigation. The Attorney General’s longtime friend Charles Cooper has been providing counsel to Sessions, both for his Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last week, as well as during his January confirmation hearing. Sessions recused himself from the FBI’s investigation into Russia meddling and whether any Trump associates colluded in that effort. Special counsel Robert Mueller could seek information from Sessions about the circumstances surrounding the firing of James Comey. (Bloomberg / USA Today / National Law Journal)
4/ The Congressional Black Caucus will reject an invitation to meet with Trump. Members say the caucus-wide meeting would amount to little more than a photo op that Trump could use to bolster his standing among African-Americans. “No one wants to be a co-star on the reality show,” said one aide. (Politico)
5/ Queen Elizabeth didn’t mention Trump’s planned visit to the UK during her speech at the opening of Parliament. Trump’s visit was already in doubt after he insisted on a gold‑plated welcome in the Queen’s royal carriage and started a feud with London’s mayor on Twitter after the terrorist attack. The London mayor previously said Trump should be denied a state visit because of his “cruel” policies on immigration. The Queen’s speech is used to set the government’s legislative agenda for the next two years and announce planned state visits. (BBC / CNN / The Telegraph)
6/ Trump will hold a “Make America Great Again” rally to get a boost from outside of Washington. 8,600 political supporters will join Trump in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where he’s expected to repeat his campaign rhetoric at a time when he has the lowest job approval rating of any president in modern history at this point in his tenure. (Washington Post / AOL News)
- Trump has only held one solo press conference since becoming president, lagging behind his predecessors. Obama had held six solo press conferences by this point in his presidency, George W. Bush had held three, and Clinton seven. Trump’s last press conference was four months ago, where he delivered a series of raw and personal attacks on the media in a news conference for the ages. (NBC News)
7/ Michael Bloomberg tells Trump to “stop tweeting and focus on running the government.” The former mayor of New York City added that Trump’s refusal to acknowledge that climate change is real is an embarrassment. “No reputable person or scientist doubts that we are creating an environmental and a climate change problem,” he said. (CNN)
Bloomberg: Trump not saying climate change is real is "embarrassing" https://t.co/HewjgcEEIs— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) June 21, 2017
8/ The EPA plans to buy out more than 1,200 employees this summer as part of a push by the administration to shrink the agency Trump once promised to eliminate “in almost every form.” It would be about an 8% reduction of the current 15,000-person EPA workforce. The administration has also proposed a 31% cut to the EPA budget. (Washington Post)
9/ Trump’s budget seeks to cut funding for programs that shelter the poor and combat homelessness, except for a federal housing subsidy that earns him millions of dollars a year. (Washington Post)
10/ The Pentagon spent $28 million on uniforms for Afghan soldiers, which were appropriate for just 2.1% of Afghanistan. In 2007, the Afghan Defense Ministry decided the army needed a “new and distinctive uniform” to set is apart. He chose woodland camouflage. (USA Today)
11/ Russian-linked hackers targeted election-related computer systems in 21 states. Systems involved in vote counting were not affected. The hackers appeared to be scanning for vulnerabilities. In May, it was reported that Russian hackers had hit election systems in 39 states, accessing software used by poll workers on Election Day. The 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 days before the election. (Washington Post / CNN)
12/ Republican Karen Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s special election for a House seat. Trump tweeted his excitement: “Well, the Special Elections are over and those that want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are 5 and O! All the Fake News, all the money spent = 0.” The Georgia race was the most expensive House race in history, with candidates spending roughly $55 million combined. (CNN / New York Times / Politico)
poll/ 35% of voters approve of the Republican health care bill passed by the House last month. 49% disapprove of the bill. (Politico)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.