👋 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 Senate approved its budget by a 51 to 49 vote. The spending blueprint will allow Republicans to use a procedural maneuver to pass tax reform in the Senate with just 50 votes while avoiding a Democratic filibuster. The House and Senate need to pass identical budgets in order for Republicans to sidestep the Senate’s typical 60-vote threshold for passage. Trump tweeted: “We got ZERO Democrat votes with only Rand Paul (he will vote for Tax Cuts) voting against. This now allows for the passage of large scale Tax Cuts (and Reform), which will be the biggest in the history of our country!” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)
2/ Trump falsely attributed a spike in UK crime to a “spread of Radical Islamic terror,” tweeting that the 13% year-over-year increase in crime was “not good, we must keep America safe!” A report by the UK Office for National Statistics made no link between rising crime and terrorism, but instead showed a double-digit increases in violent crimes, such as gun crime, knife crime, and sexual offenses. (The Guardian)
3/ Putin called on Americans to respect Trump. “Inside the country, disrespect is shown for him. This is a regrettable negative component of the U.S. political system,” Putin said. He continued, saying that “Trump was elected by the American people. And at least for this reason, it is necessary to show respect for him, even if you do not agree with some of his positions.” Putin’s comments came the same day that U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley accused the Russian government of committing “warfare” against the United States. (The Hill)
4/ A federal judge refused to void Joe Arpaio’s conviction despite Trump’s pardon. U.S. District Judge Susan Ritchie Bolton said Trump’s pardon does not “revise the historical facts” of his case and that she will not vacate her ruling. Arpaio had been found guilty of criminal contempt of a federal court order for his failure to stop detaining individuals on the basis of their suspected immigration status. (NPR / Washington Post)
5/ The EPA removed from its website climate change resources that local governments used to address climate change, curb emissions, and devise strategies for adapting to weather extremes. An EPA spokesman said the resources have been archived and are available by searching through the agency’s archive. (New York Times)
6/ The FBI has joined the investigation into the ambush that left four Green Berets dead after the 12-member team was attacked by 50 ISIS fighters in Niger two weeks ago. Investigators are questioning whether US forces had adequate resources for what Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called an “unlikely” attack. A senior congressional aide characterized the ambush as a “massive intelligence failure.”
The troops were engaged in a firefight for 30 minutes and relied on French military for air support, which made low-pass flyovers in an attempt to disperse the attackers. It did not have permission to drop bombs.
Private contractors used helicopters to evacuate the injured and dead, but Army Sgt. La David Johnson was somehow left behind for almost two days before his remains were found.
Trump waited nearly two weeks before mentioning the Niger incident, even though his staff had drafted a statement of condolence for him on October 5th. Some have asked if this is Trump’s Benghazi.
7/ Trump called a congresswoman “wacky” and said she told a “total lie” about his call to the widow of a solider killed in Niger. “The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!” Trump tweeted. Frederica Wilson said Trump told the widow her husband “knew what he signed up for” in a condolence call. (Politico)
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