👋 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/ The House Oversight Committee asked the White House for information about the use of private emails for government duties by Jared Kushner and five other current and former senior aides. At least six of Trump’s closest advisers, including Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Gary Cohn, Stephen Miller, and Ivanka Trump have used private email addresses to discuss White House matters. Elijah Cummings said the committee would examine whether administration officials were “deliberately trying to circumvent (federal) laws by using personal, private, or alias email addresses to conduct official government business.” Hillary Clinton called the revelation “the height of hypocrisy.” It is not illegal for White House officials to use private email accounts so long as they forward work-related messages to their government accounts so the records can be preserved. (Reuters / New York Times / ABC News)
2/ The Senate will not vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal Obamacare, Mitch McConnell told Republicans in a closed-door meeting. Opposition by Susan Collins, John McCain, and Rand Paul was enough to sink the legislation. McConnell said Republicans are not giving up on a health care bill, but will pivot to tax reform in search of a legislative victory. (CNN / Bloomberg / Politico / New York Times)
3/ Senate Republicans are discussing whether to merge another Obamacare repeal effort into tax reform. They would use budget reconciliation, which would allow them pass legislation with just 50 votes. Republicans have two options: attempt to pass both health care and tax reform for the 2018 fiscal year budget, or take up a budget for the 2019 fiscal year early next year and address an Obamacare repeal in that budget. Doing so would put health care back in the spotlight during the 2018 midterm elections. The CBO said the latest Senate health bill would cause millions of people to lose “comprehensive health insurance” over the next decade. (Politico / Axios / Forbes)
4/ Roger Stone rejected all allegations of collusion between Trump’s associates and Russia during the 2016 election. In a closed House of Representatives Intelligence Committee hearing, Trump’s longtime ally denied he had any contact with Russian operatives during the campaign. Stone also denied that he had any advance knowledge that emails of Clinton’s campaign chairman would be hacked and his emails released by WikiLeaks, despite tweeting days before that John Podesta’s “time in the barrel” would soon be coming. (Reuters / Washington Post)
5/ Robert Mueller could start interviewing current and former White House staff as soon as this week. On Mueller’s short list are Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Hope Hicks, Don McGahn, Josh Raffel, and James Burnham. Related, Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has said he’s been informed by Mueller that he will be indicted as part of the FBI’s Russia probe. Mueller has been looking at Manafort’s possible financial and tax crimes, his contacts with Russian officials, and his work as a foreign agent with links to the Kremlin and Ukraine’s pro-Russia Party of Regions. A Democratic senator said he’s “99% sure” Michael Flynn will also be indicted. (CNN / Yahoo / Business Insider / Politico)
6/ The IRS Criminal Investigation division is sharing information with Robert Mueller about Trump’s campaign associates, including Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. IRS agents had been working before the election with the FBI to investigate Manafort in a similar probe that centered on possible money laundering and tax fraud issues. It’s unclear if the special counsel has asked for or has obtained Trump’s tax returns. (CNN)
7/ Wisconsin’s strict voter ID laws kept nearly 17,000 registered voters from the polls in the November election. The November turnout in Wisconsin, 69.4% of eligible voters, was the lowest in a presidential election year since 2000. Trump defeated Clinton by 22,748 votes. (New York Times)
8/ Trump will travel to Puerto Rico next week to survey damage from Hurricane Maria after tweeting that the Caribbean island was “broken” and in “deep trouble” because of its outdated infrastructure and large debt. San Juan’s mayor responded to Trump, saying “you don’t put debt above people, you put people above debt.” Puerto Rico’s governor said the island was on the brink of a “humanitarian crisis,” stressing that the United States commonwealth deserved the same treatment as hurricane-ravaged states. (Bloomberg / CNN / New York Times / The Hill)
poll/ Only 54% of Americans know that Puerto Ricans are US citizens. Puerto Rico is not a state and does not vote in presidential elections, but they do send one nonvoting representative to Congress. (New York Times)
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