👋 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/ George W. Bush all but called Trump a threat to democracy, saying “bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.” He called bigotry “blasphemy against the American creed” and that the “identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation.” He did not mention Trump by name. (Politico / New York Times)
2/ Trump suggested that the Democratic Party, the FBI, or the Kremlin paid for the dossier alleging ties between him and the Russian government. “Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th,” Trump tweeted. “Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?” Two officials from Fusion GPS, the firm behind the dossier, invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee yesterday. (Politico)
3/ CIA Director Mike Pompeo falsely claimed Russian meddling didn’t affect the election results. A US intelligence report released in January concluded that Moscow’s aims were to undermine the democratic process and help elect Trump. It did not reach a conclusion about whether meddling had altered the outcome, because the question was considered out of the scope of the report. (Washington Post / NBC News)
4/ Trump’s former campaign manager met with the Senate Intelligence Committee for a closed-door interview. Corey Lewandowski said earlier this year that he did not have any contact with Russian officials, but if there was contact, it was made by Manafort or others on the campaign and Trump didn’t know about it. (CNN)
- Jeff Sessions declined to answer questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee about his conversations with Trump before he fired James Comey. As with his June testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sessions cited Trump’s executive privilege for his refusal to answer questions. (New York Times)
5/ On November 1st, the general counsel for both Facebook and Twitter will testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees on Russia’s use of technology to try to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. Google, which was also invited, has not said if it will send a representative to testify. (NBC News / The Hill)
- The Internet Research Agency used Russian trolls to co-opt unwitting American activists to stoke fear and influence the election. Two online groups — BlackMattersUS and BlackFist — were among those used by Russian operators to encourage activists to help organize rallies, train in self-defense, and create music videos. In some cases, those activists even received financial support. (ABC News)
6/ John McCain and two Democratic senators will introduce a bill requiring Facebook, Google, and other internet companies to disclose who is purchasing political ads to the election commission. The tech industry has resisted previous efforts to mandate advertising disclosures, saying the ads on their platforms were too small to fit the disclaimers. (New York Times)
7/ Senate Republicans are set to pass their $4 trillion budget plan, which would serve as a vehicle for tax reform later this year without Democratic support. Trump endorsed the plan, tweeting that it is the “first step toward massive tax cuts” but suggested he’s not confident of the measure’s passage. “I think we have the votes, but who knows?” (ABC News / Fox News)
8/ John Kelly didn’t know Trump would publicize that Obama didn’t call when his son died. Kelly and the White House were caught off-guard by Trump using the death of Kelly’s son to defend his handling of four soldiers killed in Niger. Kelly also defended Trump’s condolence call to the widow of a fallen soldier where Trump said the solider “knew what he signed up for.” (CNN / New York Times)
9/ Trump sent the $25,000 check to the fallen soldier’s family the same day it was reported that he never did. The Washington Post reported that Trump had promised the soldier’s father a personal donation during a June condolence call but had never followed through. (CNN)
10/ Trump gives himself 10/10 for his response to Puerto Rico, which he called “worse than Katrina.” He said his administration has done “a really great job.” 30% of the island doesn’t have access to drinking water and 80% are still without power. (ABC News / HuffPost)
poll/ 42% of Americans think Trump will be remembered as one of worst presidents in history. 16% think Trump will be remembered as a below average leader. (Marist)
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