👋 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1/ Trump rescinded DACA and called on Congress to replace the policy before it expires on March 5, 2018. The Department of Homeland Security will no longer accept new applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which has provided renewable, two-year work permits to nearly 800,000 dreamers. Jeff Sessions formally announced the shift of responsibility, saying DACA “was implemented unilaterally, to great controversy and legal concern.” He called the Obama-era policy an “open-ended circumvention of immigration laws” and an unconstitutional use of executive authority. “The executive branch through DACA deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)
- Transcript: Jeff Sessions on Trump ending DACA program. (Politico)
2/ Obama called Trump’s decision to end DACA “cruel” and “self-defeating.” In a Facebook post, Obama added that “to target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong.” (CNN / Politico)
3/ The Department of Homeland Security will be able to use DACA recipients’ personal information to deport them. DACA recipients gave DHS information proving they are undocumented so they could get relief from the threat of deportation, including where they live, work, and go to school. DHS said it won’t proactively provide immigration officers with a list with the names and addresses of DACA recipients, but if ICE officers ask for it, the agency will provide it. (The Daily Beast)
4/ North Korea “is begging for war,” Nikki Haley told the Security Council. The US ambassador to the United Nations’ remark came a day after the North successfully tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb capable of fitting on an intercontinental ballistic missile, and hours after South Korea said they might be preparing to launch another ICBM. Defense Secretary James Mattis warned of a “massive military response” and the “total annihilation” of North Korea if it threatens to attack the US and its allies. Trump accused South Korea of “appeasement” toward North Korea and warned that the US could halt trade with North Korea’s trade partners – an almost impossible threat given American dependence on Chinese imports. (New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg)
Trump offered to sell Japan and South Korea more “sophisticated military equipment” after Pyongyang said it tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb that could be placed on an intercontinental ballistic missile. (The Hill)
5/ The House and Senate intelligence committees are expected to conduct closed-door interviews with Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort and Trump Jr. in the coming weeks now that Congress has returned from the August recess. The two panels could possibly hold public hearings this fall. In addition, Trump Jr. is set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The three committees are competing for information and witnesses with little coordination between them and Mueller’s investigation, leading to conflicts over how they can share information. (Politico / CNN)
6/ The Justice Department said that it has no evidence to support Trump’s claim that Obama wiretapped the phones in Trump Tower. The DOJ made the statement in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the watchdog group American Oversight. “Both FBI and NSD confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets,” the department’s motion reads. On March 4, Trump, citing no evidence, tweeted: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism! How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate.” (CNN / Politico)
7/ The EPA hasn’t visited 13 of the 41 Superfund sites in Texas that are “experiencing possible damage” because they had “not been accessible by response personnel.” The Associated Press, however, accessed 12 of the sites by vehicle or on foot, and used a boat to reach that last Houston-area Superfund site that was flooded. The EPA, citing Breitbart, labeled the Associated Press’ reporting as “misleading” but did not dispute any of the facts of the story. (Associated Press / New York Magazine)
8/ GOP leaders are expected to attach raising the debt ceiling to the Harvey relief package, because members are likely reluctant to vote against disaster relief. The House would pass the $7.85 billion disaster relief bill on Wednesday, and the Senate would then attach a debt ceiling increase and send it back to the House for approval by the end of the week. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that relief funding for Texas could be delayed if Congress doesn’t act quickly to increase the government’s debt limit. A number of Republicans have expressed reservations about combining the two bills. (Politico / NBC News / Reuters)
- Trump joked that his hands were “too big” while putting on plastic gloves to serve food to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston. (The Hill)
9/ FEMA is expected to run out of money this week as Hurricane Irma approaches. The Disaster Relief Fund has just $1.01 billion on hand, less than half of the $2.14 billion that was there last Thursday morning – a spend rate of $9.3 million an hour. (Bloomberg)
10/ Trump’s pick to lead NASA doesn’t believe that humans are causing climate change. Representative Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma would be the first elected official to hold the job and will need to be confirmed by the Senate. The two senators who represent Florida’s Space Coast have publicly objected to the choice of a politician as head of the space agency. (NPR/ New York Times)
Poll/ 58% of voters oppose deporting Dreamers and think they should be allowed to stay and become citizens if they meet certain requirements. (Politico)
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