👋 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 cast doubt on the accusations that Roy Moore initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old when he was 32. “Like most Americans, the president believes that we cannot allow a mere allegation – in this case, one from many years ago – to destroy a person’s life,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.” (Washington Post / ABC News)
2/ Roy Moore called the allegations against him “completely false and misleading” and that he would remain in the race for the Alabama Senate seat. Senate Republicans are trying to block their candidate, having discussed fielding a write-in candidate, delaying the December 12th special election, and possibly not seating Moore at all if he is elected. (CNN / New York Times)
3/ The Republican Party’s Senate campaign committee ended its fundraising agreement with Roy Moore. The joint fundraising committee involving Moore’s campaign, the Alabama Republican Party, the Republican National Committee, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee allowed Moore to raise $80,500 at a time from individual contributors. (Politico / The Daily Beast)
4/ Robert Mueller is investigating Michael Flynn’s role in a plan to extradite a Muslim cleric in the US and deliver him to Turkey in return for $15 million. Investigators are looking into the role Flynn and his son may have played in the alleged proposal to deliver Fethullah Gülen to the Turkish government. Erdoğan views Fethullah Gülen as a political enemy and has repeatedly pressed the US to extradite him. Flynn is facing military, congressional, and criminal investigations for concealing his financial ties to Turkey and Russia, and whether the ties played a role in his decisions as Trump’s national security adviser. Any deal where a government official is bribed to act on behalf of a foreign government would involve multiple federal crimes. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)
5/ Mueller’s team is investigating a meeting between Michael Flynn and a pro-Russia congressman. The meeting between Dana Rohrabacher and Flynn took place in Washington on September 20th, 2016, while Flynn was an adviser to Trump’s campaign. Rohrabacher has pushed for better relations with Russia, traveled to Moscow to meet with officials, and advocated for overturning the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 bill that froze the assets of Russian investigators and prosecutors. It’s the first known time that Mueller’s investigation has touched a member of Congress. (NBC News)
6/ George Papadopoulos initially lied to the FBI out of loyalty to Trump. Papadopoulos has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, while Trump has tried to distance himself from Papadopoulos, tweeting that “few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar.” (ABC News)
7/ The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a Trump nominee for a federal judgeship who has never tried a case. Brett Talley, 36, was unanimously rated as “not qualified” by the American Bar Association. Talley has practiced law for three years. As a blogger he denounced “Hillary Rotten Clinton” and pledged support for the National Rifle Association. He has been approved for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. (Los Angeles Times)
8/ Five states have asked a federal judge to halt the rollback of the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate. California, New York, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia filed the motion for a preliminary injunction, arguing that the policy change is unconstitutional and discriminatory. In October, Trump rolled back the federal requirement for employers to include birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, citing moral and religious grounds. (The Hill)
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