👋 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/ Trump and Putin met for nearly an hour in a second, previously undisclosed meeting during a dinner for G20 leaders. The White House called the meeting “brief” and said Trump spoke with Putin through Russia’s translator. No other American officials other than Trump were present for the meeting. (CNN / New York Times / Reuters)
2/ In response to the news of the meeting, Trump tweeted that the “Fake News” story about his “secret dinner with Putin is “‘sick.’” He added that “the Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest” and makes his previously undisclosed meeting with Putin “look sinister!” (Twitter)
3/ A Republican congressman attempted to alter Russian sanctions after receiving a confidential document while in Moscow. Dana Rohrabacher tried to set up a virtual “show trial” last June, around the same time that Trump Jr. met with the Russian lawyer, in an attempt to undermine a set of sanctions placed on Russia. The document contends that the US – and the rest of the world – was “duped by a fake $230 million scandal that resulted in sanctions being imposed on 44 Russians linked to murder, corruption, or cover-ups.” During a congressional hearing, Rohrabacher wanted to present “a feature-length pro-Kremlin propaganda movie” made by the “Prosecutor General’s office in Moscow, which is run by Yuri Chaika, a close associate of President Vladimir Putin.” (The Daily Beast)
4/ Trump is threatening to gut the Obamacare markets, repeatedly telling aides and advisers that he wants to end the subsidy payments. The deadline for sending out the monthly Affordable Care Act subsidies to health plans is Thursday. Trump has the discretion to decide unilaterally whether the payments continue while a lawsuit House Republicans won in 2014 is being appealed. (Politico)
5/ Senate Republicans who opposed the health care bill are meeting tonight to try and revive the repeal and replacement bill after being told by Trump that they need to get a deal done before the August recess. Mitch McConnell wants vote next week for the procedural motion to take up the bill and start debate. Trump told senators that “inaction is not an option” and that “any senator who votes against starting debate is really telling America that you’re fine with Obamacare.” (Politico / Axios / New York Times / CNN)
6/ The CBO estimates that the Senate “repeal only” bill would leave 32 million more uninsured and double premiums over a decade. The legislation is on track to reach the Senate floor early next week, where it would likely fail. (Politico)
7/ The Supreme Court allows the “grandparent” exemption to Trump’s travel ban. The court upheld parts of a lower court order that temporarily exempts grandparents and other relatives from the travel ban. Now grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, and cousins are considered “close family.” (NPR / CNN / Washington Post)
8/ More than 20 members of Congress want the FBI to review Ivanka Trump’s security clearance. The group sent a letter to acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe asking him to “conduct a review of a potentially serious issue” involving Ivanka and whether she properly filled out her SF-86 form, which is the security clearance required for federal officials. (Yahoo)
9/ The Russian lawyer said she’s willing to testify to Congress about what she called “mass hysteria” regarding her meeting with Trump Jr. Natalia Veselnitskaya told Russia’s Kremlin-backed RT TV channel that she never obtained damaging information about Clinton and that she has no ties with the Kremlin. (Reuters)
10/ The military is paying $130,000 a month to lease space in Trump Tower for offices that support the White House despite Trump not spending a night there since becoming president. The military’s lease in Trump Tower is far above market rate for similarly sized apartments in the luxury high rise market, making it one of the most expensive residential rentals in Manhattan. (Wall Street Journal)
11/ Trump sanctioned Iran a day after certifying its compliance with the nuclear deal. The sanctions targeted 18 people and entities that were involved in missile development, weapons procurement, and software theft. (CNN / New York Times)
12/ Jeff Sessions rolled back an Obama directive that prevented police from seizing cash and property from people suspected of crimes but not charged. The technique has been linked to civil rights abuses where people lose their cash, cars, and homes without any proven link to illegal activity. (NBC News / Washington Post)
13/ Trump Jr. is reportedly “miserable” and wants “these four years to be over.” PEOPLE, who talked to “a source who knows the family well,” said that “Don can’t do any deals, because he’ll be overly scrutinized. He just goes to work every day and is miserable.” (People)
poll/ 32% of Trump voters don’t believe Trump Jr. had a meeting with the Russian lawyer about information that might be harmful to Hillary Clinton. 45% believe the meeting happened and 24% say they’re not sure despite Trump Jr. confirming the meeting took place and tweeting out the email chain used to setup the meeting with the Russian lawyer. (Public Policy Polling)
poll/ 53% of Americans say they want to see Democrats take control of Congress in 2018 “to act as a check on Trump,” versus 35% who’d like to see the GOP retain control in order “to support Trump’s agenda.” (ABC News)
poll/ 65% of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents say they are likely to vote next year, compared to 57% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. “The survey results suggest … Democrats have not been able to capitalize yet on voter antipathy toward Trump. For one thing, Americans who strongly disapprove of Trump do not appear to be any more motivated to vote than the average American.” (Washington Post)
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