👋 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/ Congressional Democrats told special counsel Robert Mueller that Michael Flynn failed to disclose a summer 2015 Middle East trip to broker a Saudi–Russian nuclear power deal. Upon returning to the States, the Democrats say, Flynn omitted his contacts with foreign nationals during his reapplication for security clearance, which includes paperwork and an FBI interview. (CNN)
Flynn has again refused to appear as a witness before the Senate intelligence committee. He first declined to speak with the committee following a subpoena in May, claiming Fifth Amendment rights. (CNN)
2/ The U.S. government has banned the use of Kaspersky Lab software over concerns of Russian cyberespionage. Federal agencies will have three months to remove the software. Homeland Security called the risk that Russia could “capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products” a national security threat. Kaspersky Lab denies any wrongdoing and claims it is “caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight.” (Washington Post)
3/ Congress unanimously passed a joint resolution calling on Trump to denounce hate groups. The measure, which now heads to Trump’s desk in search of a signature, explicitly condemns “White nationalists, White supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other hate groups.” It is nonbinding. (New York Times)
4/ The Trump administration is mulling lowering the refugee quota to its lowest level since at least 1980. Trump has already reduced the resettlement cap to 50,000. Now, some White House officials, including Stephen Miller, are pressing for a lower ceiling. (New York Times)
5/ The Supreme Court blocked two rulings that would have forced Texas to redraw congressional and state districts. The lower court had ruled Texas had intentionally tried to weaken Hispanic voters’ political power via its district maps. The districts in question will likely be used in 2018. (The Hill / Bloomberg)
6/ The Department of Justice is blocking the Senate judiciary committee from interviewing two FBI officials over the firing of James Comey. DOJ cited the appointment of Mueller and “related matters” as the reasoning behind their stonewalling of Senate investigators. (CNN)
7/ The Department of Justice won’t bring civil rights charges against the Baltimore police officers who arrested Freddie Gray. Gray died of spinal cord injuries in April 2015 after the officers failed to secure him in a police van. In a statement, DOJ called his in-custody death “undeniably tragic.” (AP)
8/ Bernie Sanders introduced a universal health care bill with the support of at least 15 Democratic senators. Sanders argues “Medicare for All” is the only way to fix “a dysfunctional, wasteful, bureaucratic system.” The bill will not pass a Republican-led Congress. (Washington Post)
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