👋 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/ Trump spent yesterday “seething” as he watched the Mueller probe unfold on TV. The indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates weren’t a surprise to Trump, but the guilty plea by George Papadopoulos for making false statements to the FBI was not expected. “The walls are closing in,” said a senior Republican in close contact with top Trump staffers. “Everyone is freaking out.” (Washington Post / CNN)
2/ Team Trump dismissed Papadopoulos as a “liar,” their “coffee boy,” and just a “young, low level volunteer” after the former foreign policy adviser cut a plea deal with prosecutors yesterday. In a morning tweet, Trump cast the Manafort charges as a sort of vindication for the campaign, but belittled Papadopoulos as a proven liar, despite having called him “an excellent guy” in March 2016. On CNN’s “New Day,” Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign aide, reduced Papadopoulos to a “coffee boy” that “never did anything” for the campaign. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)
Despite audio of Trump praising Papadopoulos, Caputo says "he never did anything" with the campaign https://t.co/uywdZDRDTP— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 31, 2017
3/ Court documents show that Papadopoulos shared his Russian outreach with several senior Trump campaign officials. Here’s the breakdown:
“The Campaign Supervisor” named in the documents is Sam Clovis, who served as Trump’s national campaign co-chairman. Clovis urged Papadopoulos to organize an “off the record” meeting with Russian officials.
The “High-Ranking Campaign Official” named is campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Papadopoulos wrote to Lewandowski several times to let him know that the Russians were interested in forging a relationship with the campaign, including an email about discussing “Russia’s interest in hosting Mr. Trump.”
“Another high-ranking campaign official” is Paul Manafort, who Papadopoulos sent an email to with the subject line “Request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump.” Manafort forwarded the email to another campaign official, stating: “We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips,” referring to a trip to Russia. “It should be someone low level in the campaign so as not to send any signal.” (Washington Post / US v. George Papadopoulos)
- Carter Page admitted that Russia “may have come up” in his Trump campaign emails, but “nothing major” was discussed. Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser is scheduled to testify behind closed doors before a House Intelligence Committee panel on Thursday. (CNN / Politico)
4/ Sam Clovis was questioned by Robert Mueller’s team last week and testified before the investigating grand jury. Clovis supervised George Papadopoulos during the campaign. The former co-chair and policy adviser to Trump’s campaign was also interviewed recently by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. He was described as “a fully cooperative witness.” Clovis is Trump’s pick to be the Department of Agriculture’s chief scientist and is awaiting Senate confirmation. He is not a scientist. (NBC News / Politico)
5/ Hope Hicks will meet with Robert Mueller in mid-November. The White House communications director, and longtime Trump aide, has been at the president’s side and in the room since before he launched his presidential campaign. The White House currently expects Mueller to wrap up his interviews by Thanksgiving. (Politico)
6/ Steve Bannon advised Trump to find new lawyers, because he believes that Ty Cobb and John Dowd, the top two attorneys on Trump’s legal team, “are asleep at the wheel.” Bannon is also pushing Trump to take action against Robert Mueller, urging him to defund the investigation – a move that would curtail Mueller without having to formally fire him. (The Daily Beast /Politico)
7/ Facebook, Twitter, and Google appeared before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee today for the first of three public hearings. Facebook told members that Russians bought 3,000 Facebook ads, which had the potential reach of 126 million users – equivalent to more than half of the total U.S. voting population. Google found 1,108 videos with 43 hours of content related to the Russian effort on YouTube. And Twitter identified 2,752 accounts controlled by Russian operatives and more than 36,000 bots that tweeted 1.4 million times during the election campaign. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)
- What You Should Know about the Senate Judiciary Sub-Committee Hearing on Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online - Working with Tech to Find Solutions.
8/ House Republicans are rushing to finalize their tax bill before tomorrow’s anticipated release. Many key details of the bill, which has been drafted behind closed-doors, have not been finalized and some are worried that the unveiling may have to be postponed. Trump said he wants “the House to pass a bill by Thanksgiving. I want all the people standing by my side when we sign by Christmas.” (New York Times / The Hill / Politico)
poll/ 49% of voters support impeaching Trump, to 41% who are opposed to doing so. Of Trump voters, 79% think he should remain in office even if collusion is proven, and 75% claim the entire Russia story is “fake news.” (Public Policy Polling)
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