👋 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 ranted, rambled, and went on a rampage during his campaign-style rally in Arizona last night. Ignoring the message on his Teleprompter, Trump threatened to shut down the government over border wall funding, blaming “obstructionist Democrats” for standing in his way. He called for ending the filibuster in the Senate, a move that Republican leaders have refused to embrace. Trump suggested that “we’ll probably end up terminating NAFTA” despite the renegotiation just getting underway. He also signaled that he would pardon former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt for ignoring a judge’s order to stop detaining people because he suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. And, he attacked John McCain for his vote against repealing and replacing Obamacare: “One vote away, I will not mention any names.” (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico)
On his Charlottesville comments: Trump defended his responses to the Charlottesville violence while omitting his reference to “many sides” or “both sides.” He added that “I hit ’em with neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything. I got the white supremacists, the neo-Nazi. I got them all in there. Let’s see. K.K.K., we have K.K.K..”
On removing Confederate monuments: “They’re trying to take away our culture. They’re trying to take away our history,” Trump said, blaming “weak, weak people” for allowing the removal of statues commemorating the Confederacy.
On pardoning former sheriff Joe Arpaio: “I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy. I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine.”
On the news media: “It’s time to expose the crooked media deceptions. They’re very dishonest people. The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself and the fake news.”
2/ James Clapper called Trump’s speech “downright scary and disturbing.” The former national intelligence director questioned Trump’s fitness for office and is worried about his access to the nuclear codes. “I also am beginning to wonder about his motivation for it,” Clapper said. “Maybe he is looking for a way out.” (Washington Post / CNN)
James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, says he questions President Trump's fitness for office https://t.co/IRRXg7paZM— CNN (@CNN) August 23, 2017
3/ The White House has prepared the paperwork for Trump to pardon former sheriff Joe Arpaio. One of the talking points is that Arpaio served his country for 50 years and that it is not appropriate to send him to prison for “enforcing the law” and “working to keep people safe.” Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for disregarding a court order in a racial profiling case. (CNN)
4/ Trump followed up his threat to shut down the government if Congress didn’t fund his wall by going after Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona. Trump tweeted “I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime and border!” Flake is one of two Republican senators up for re-election next year and was among a handful of GOP lawmakers who did not endorse Trump for president. Flake has been skeptical of building a border wall between the US and Mexico. (Politico / New York Times)
5/ The United Nations issued an “early warning” to the US over its “alarming” racism, urging the Trump administration to “unequivocally and unconditionally” reject discrimination. The only other countries to be issued an early warning were Burundi, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria. (The Guardian)
6/ There are 3,500 additional troops in Afghanistan than the Pentagon has publicly disclosed. The Pentagon has acknowledged that about 8,400 troops are in Afghanistan, but this doesn’t include the approximately 3,500 troops there on temporary assignment, which brings the total number of troops above 12,000. The Pentagon is expected to send up to another 3,900 troops under the new Afghanistan strategy, for a total of about 16,000 troops. (Wall Street Journal / NBC News)
7/ The Secret Service agreed to stop erasing White House visitor log data while a lawsuit demanding public access to some of the information goes forward. Records held by federal agencies like the Secret Service are subject to Freedom of Information Act requests. (Politico)
8/ The editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal criticized his staff over their coverage of Trump’s rally in Phoenix, describing their reporting as overly opinionated. The Wall Street Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who speaks regularly with Trump and recently dined with the president at the White House. (New York Times)
poll/ 62% of voters say Trump is doing more to divide the country, while 31% say he is doing more to unite the country. (Quinnipiac)
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