👋 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 fired Steve Bannon. The White House issued a statement saying, “White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day. We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.” A person close to Bannon insists that it was his idea to part ways and that he submitted his resignation on August 7th, but it was delayed in the wake of Charlottesville. A White House official said Bannon and then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus were supposed to be fired at same time, but the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus urged Trump to keep Bannon on board. (New York Times / CNN / Politico / Washington Post)
2/ Bannon will return to Breitbart News as executive chairman and will be “going to war” for Trump, vowing to intensify the fight from the outside. “Steve is now unchained,” a source close to Bannon said. “Fully unchained.” Another added that “He’s going nuclear. You have no idea. This is gonna be really fucking bad.” Earlier this week Bannon met with billionaire Republican donor Bob Mercer for five hours to plot out their political and media strategy. (New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico)
3/ Robert Mueller is focusing on Trump Jr.’s intent when he met with the Russian lawyer as prosecutors investigate possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Trump Jr. has acknowledged that he was looking for negative information about Hillary Clinton, but he claimed he didn’t receive anything useful. Prosecutors are trying to determine what information was provided. (BuzzFeed News)
4/ Mitt Romney called on Trump to apologize for his Charlottesville comments. Romney warned of “an unraveling of our national fabric” if Trump doesn’t take “remedial action in the extreme.” He added that “whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn.” (Washington Post / New York Times)
5/ Billionaire investor Carl Icahn stepped down as a special adviser to Trump. Unlike other executives who quit Trump’s advisory councils in protest over his refusal to condemn white supremacists, Icahn quit because he didn’t want to be subject to questions of potential conflicts of interests over his role. (Financial Times / Bloomberg)
6/ The remaining members of Trump’s arts commission resigned in protest over his comments on the violence in Charlottesville. The presidential arts and humanities panel, whose members are from Broadway, Hollywood, and the broader arts and entertainment community, said in a letter to Trump that “Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.” (Washington Post)
- Members of the digital economy council have resigned in protest. The committee’s aim is to “provide recommendations on ways to advance economic growth and opportunity in the digital age.” It’s the third advisory council to see resignations this week following Trump’s remarks that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the Charlottesville violence. (Vice News)
7/ House Democrats have introduced a measure to censure Trump for his response to the violent white supremacist march in Charlottesville. At least 79 Democratic colleagues have signed on, including Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Nadler, Bonnie Watson, and Pramila Jayapal. A censure is a formal condemnation from Congress that’s rarely used, but is the preliminary step before introducing impeachment. (Politico / ABC News)
8/ Five charities are cancelling planned fundraising events at Mar-a-Lago. The American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Susan G. Komen foundation, the Cleveland Clinic, American Cancer Society, and the American Friends of Magen David Adom all said they wouldn’t hold their 2018 galas at the resort. (CNN Money / Washington Post)
9/ James Murdoch pledged to donate $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League in a rebuke of Trump and his response to Charlottesville. James, the son of Rupert Murdoch, is the CEO of 21st Century Fox and an informal adviser to Trump. “Standing up to Nazis is essential,” the younger Murdoch said in a statement. “There are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so.” (New York Times)
10/ Pence praised Trump as the modern reincarnation of Theodore Roosevelt. “Just as President Roosevelt exhorted his fellow Americans to ‘dare to be great,’” Pence said, “President Donald Trump has dared our nation to ‘make America great again,’ and we’ll do it with all of our friends in the world.” (Washington Post)
11/ Neil Gorsuch will speak at the Trump International Hotel in Washington next month, raising questions about his impartiality and ethics concerns. The speaking engagement is for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Fund for American Studies group and is scheduled just days before the Supreme Court’s next term begins. (CNN)
12/ Trump reorganized the military’s Cyber Command, putting it on the same level as other combatant commands. The move will help the US bolster its cyber weapons so it can match Russia’s capabilities in addition to giving it some operational independence. The head of Cyber Command will eventually report directly to the secretary of defense. (CNN / Axios / Vox)
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