👋 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/ Russian hackers stole NSA data about US cyber defense after an employee removed the highly classified material, put it on his home computer, and used an antivirus app made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab. The US government had previously banned the use of Kaspersky Lab software over concerns of Russian cyberespionage. The stolen material includes details about how the NSA penetrates foreign computer networks, the code it uses, and how it defends networks inside the US. (Wall Street Journal)
Russian propaganda may have been shared hundreds of millions of times on Facebook, new research shows. From the 470 Facebook accounts that have been made public, the content had been “shared” 340 million times. (Washington Post)
The three Russians named in the Trump dossier are suing Fusion GPS for libel. Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan claim that their reputations have been unfairly ruined by the dossier. (Politico)
FBI deputy director on Russian hacking: We “should have seen this coming.” Speaking at the Cambridge Cyber Summit, Andrew McCabe implied that Russian meddling hasn’t stopped, either: “The experience in the 2016 elections allowed us to diagnose the problem. Have we cured it yet? Absolutely not.” (CNN)
2/ Two former CIA chiefs said Russia needed help targeting US voters and districts in the 2016 presidential campaign. “It is not intuitively obvious that they could have done this themselves,” former CIA director Michael Hayden said. Russia either needed someone to help give it information on who to microtarget or it stole the necessary information through hacking. (Bloomberg)
3/ Senate Judiciary Chairman said there is “no way of avoiding” a public hearing for Trump Jr., who has come under scrutiny from multiple committees in Congress for meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016. “Before this is over with,” Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr said, “we will know everything about the Don Jr. meeting.” (CNN)
4/ Trump criticized the Senate Intelligence Committee for continuing its investigation into possible collusion between Russia and his campaign, tweeting: “Why Isn’t the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!” Trump tweeted. The tweet comes in response to yesterday’s news that the committee is still investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential race. (The Hill / ABC News)
5/ Jeff Sessions rescinded a policy that protects transgender workers from discrimination. The Obama-era policy argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protected employees from being discriminated against due to an “individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Sessions said that “Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.” (ABC News / CNN / BuzzFeed News)
6/ Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, and Steven Mnuchin have a “suicide pact,” where all three cabinet secretaries will leave in the event that Trump fires one of them. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Tillerson, Mattis, as well as Chief of Staff John Kelly “help separate the country from chaos” – meaning Trump. He added that “I hope they stay because they’re valuable to the national security of our nation.” Yesterday, Tillerson refuted reports that he’d been persuaded to stay on in his role over the summer by Mike Pence. He did not, however, address questions about whether he had called Trump a “fucking moron” or not. (BuzzFeed News / Politico)
The details about a “suicide pact” have not been confirmed by other, reputable news outlets.
7/ Trump will “decertify” the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is not in the best interest of the US. Congress would have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Tehran under the agreement. Trump has long criticized the nuclear pact with Iran. (Reuters / Washington Post)
8/ With the GOP agenda at a standstill, some donors are closing their wallets and threatening to deprive Republicans of resources ahead of the 2018 midterms. Fundraisers say they’re having an unusually hard time setting up meetings with major contributors. An email from a sought-after donor to a GOP fundraiser read: “The GOP leaders should know, no movement on remaining agenda: tax reform, infrastructure, deregulation, etc. means no funding from supporters like me. No meetings, calls, contributions until we see progress.” (Politico)
9/ The House GOP passed its budget today, which calls for more than $5 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade. The budget plan promises deep cuts to social programs while paving the way for a GOP drive to rewrite the tax code later this year using budget reconciliation – a key procedural hurdle that would allow Republicans to pass tax reform without the threat of a filibuster by Senate Democrats. (Associated Press / Politico)
10/ The House Homeland Security Committee approved $10 billion for a border wall as part of a border security bill. The legislation will head to the House floor, which Democrats have criticized as a political stunt to appease Trump. The bill is expected to pass the House, but unlikely to clear the Senate, where it needs a 60-vote majority. (The Hill)
11/ Democrats introduced a bill to ban “bump stocks,” a gun conversion kit that turns semiautomatic weapons into weapons capable of firing a continuous stream of bullets. Top congressional Republicans signaled they would be open to considering legislation on bump stocks, which the Las Vegas gunman used on his rifles. The legislation would ban the sale, manufacture and possession of bump stocks and other devices that increase a firearm’s rate of fire. (New York Times / NBC News)
The NRA called for a additional regulation on “bump stocks,” but stopped short of calling for legislation. Instead, they urged lawmakers to pass “National Right-to-Carry reciprocity,” which would allow gun owners to travel between states with concealed weapons – even when traveling to states with laws restricting concealed weapons. (The Hill)
The NRA doesn’t allow bump stock firing systems at their shooting range. Bump stocks increase the rate bullets are fired, causing the entire weapon to move back and forth in the shooter’s grip and decreasing accuracy. (Politico)
poll/ 62% of voters have an unfavorable view of the GOP. 43% of voters are looking to congressional Democrats to protect families when it comes to health care, compared to 15% who trust Trump on health care. Less than 10% say the Republican Party should lead the way. (Suffolk University)
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