👋 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/ Mitch McConnell and Trump met for lunch today after Steve Bannon called for a “season of war” against the Senate majority leader and the rest of the GOP establishment. Bannon compared McConnell to Julius Caesar and vowed to challenge any Senate Republican who doesn’t publicly condemn attacks on Trump. “Yeah, Mitch, the donors are not happy. They’ve all left you. We’ve cut your oxygen off,” Bannon said. (Politico / The Guardian / CNN)
2/ After his meeting with McConnell, Trump said they are “closer than ever before.” Trump also said he would try to talk Bannon out of declaring war on “some” of his primary targets saying, “I’m going to see if we can talk him out of that, because I think they’re great people.” (Axios / CNN)
3/ Rex Tillerson refused to answer whether he called Trump a “moron,” dismissing the question as the “petty stuff” of Washington. Meanwhile, Trump tweeted that Tillerson “is wasting his time” trying to talk with North Korea, and Bob Corker charged that Trump had “publicly castrate[d]” him. “I checked,” Tillerson said, “I’m fully intact.” (Washington Post / NBC News)
- The next CIA director could be Tom Cotton if Trump replaces Tillerson with current CIA Director Mike Pompeo. (Axios)
4/ Robert Mueller’s team interviewed Reince Priebus. The former chief of staff was present for many key moments, including Trump’s efforts to limit questions about Russian meddling in the election and the discussions that led to James Comey’s firing. (Washington Post)
5/ Paul Manafort’s financial ties to a Russian oligarch total around $60 million over the past decade. Previously unreported documents revealed a $26 million loan between a Manafort-linked company and Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin. (NBC News)
6/ Trump said that Pence “wants to hang” all gay people. The comment, an apparent joke, came after a legal scholar told the two that if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, many states would legalize abortion on their own. “You see? You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway,” Trump said to Pence. The conversation then turned to gay rights and Trump motioned toward Pence and said, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!” (The New Yorker)
- Jeff Sessions sent a federal hate crimes lawyer to help prosecute a man charged with murdering a transgender high school student. Sessions has spoken out against same-sex marriage, voted against expanding federal hate crimes laws to protect transgender people, directed the Justice Department to no longer protects gay or transgender people from workplace discrimination, and reversed a policy encouraging schools to let transgender students use bathrooms that fit their gender identities. (New York Times)
7/ Trump’s top allies aren’t sure if he realizes his feuds with Republicans and lack of legislative wins are putting his presidency at risk. Top White House aides, lawmakers, donors, and political consultants have privately wondered if Trump grasps that losing the House next year could bring on new subpoenas, an intense focus on the Russia investigation, and possible impeachment proceedings. (CNN)
8/ Eighteen states sued the Trump administration to stop him from scrapping subsidies to insurers that help millions of low-income people pay medical expenses. Trump said he would dismantle the Affordable Care Act “step by step,” which prompted Adam Schiff to tweet that “Trump is the worst President in modern history,” accusing him of “deliberately undermining people’s health care out of spite.” The 18 states and District of Columbia are asking the court to force Trump to make the next payment, but legal experts say they face an uphill battle in court. (Reuters / The Hill)
Latest reason why President Trump is the worst President in modern history: Deliberately undermining people’s health care out of spite. https://t.co/mh9JXLYJp7— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) October 13, 2017
- poll/ 66% think it is more important for Trump and Congress to work to improve the ACA marketplaces rather than continue their efforts to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law. (Kaiser Health Tracking Poll)
9/ Steven Mnuchin: repealing the estate tax “disproportionately helps rich people.” The Treasury secretary’s concession contradicts what Trump said about the estate tax last month: “To protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer, we are finally ending the crushing, the horrible, the unfair estate tax, or as it is often referred to, the death tax.” (New York Times)
9/ A woman who said Trump groped her has subpoenaed his campaign for documents about “any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately.” Trump has denied her accusations and is fighting the subpoena, calling the accusations “lies, lies, lies.” Trump’s lawyers have sought to have the suit by the former “The Apprentice” contestant dismissed or at least delayed until he is out of office. (BuzzFeed News / NBC News)
10/ The firm behind the Trump dossier is objecting to subpoenas issued by the House Intelligence Committee to the partners who run Fusion GPS and questioned whether Chairman Devin Nunes, who recused himself from the investigation earlier this year, was authorized to issue them. The firm claims the subpoenas violate the First Amendment and would “chill” future opposition research. A lawyer for Fusion GPS called the subpoenas “a clear abuse of power” that were “designed to obfuscate the facts and conjure up rank conspiracy theories at the behest of the president and his most obsequious allies in Congress.” (Bloomberg)
11/ Trump will declare a national opioid crisis next week and will be “looking into” his drug czar nominee after it was reported that Tom Marino helped guide legislation that weakened the DEA’s ability to go after drug distributors, even as opioid-related deaths continued to rise. The law makes it very difficult for the DEA to stop suspicious drug distribution companies supplying doctors and pharmacists who sell narcotics to the black market. The drug industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns. (Washington Post)
poll/ 58% of Americans believe the current reforms being discussed would favor the rich, while 18% think they would favor the middle class and 19% feel the changes would treat all equally. (CBS News)
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