👋 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.
Send your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints to:
1/ Trump scolded Al Franken on Twitter for his sexual misconduct. “The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words,” Trump tweeted, adding that last week Franken was “lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women.” During Trump’s presidential campaign, 11 women accused him of unwanted touching or kissing over several decades. Trump called the allegations “pure fiction” and “fake news” and referred to the women as “horrible, horrible liars.” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House position is that the women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment are lying. Franken, meanwhile, apologized for his behavior and encouraged a Senate Ethics Committee review of his actions. (Washington Post)
2/ Trump has repeatedly declined to call on Roy Moore to quit Alabama’s Senate race despite several women accusing Moore of sexually assaulting them when they were teenagers. Trump has not publicly condemned Moore’s actions, or pulled his endorsement of the Republican candidate, even as Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have called for Moore to drop out of the race. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “The president believes that these allegations are very troubling” but that “the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be.” (New York Times / Associated Press)
3/ Kellyanne Conway justified Trump’s silence on Roy Moore by saying the Al Franken story was a “brand new news story.” Conway told Fox News that “the Roy Moore story is eight days old and the president put out a statement,” which said Moore should step aside “if these allegations are true.” (Politico)
4/ Robert Mueller issued a subpoena to Trump’s campaign for Russia-related documents from more than a dozen officials. The subpoena, issued in mid-October, is the first time Trump’s campaign has been ordered to turn over information. It does not compel any officials to testify but it surprised the campaign, which had been voluntarily complying with Mueller’s requests for information. (Wall Street Journal)
George Papadopoulos claimed that Trump gave him a “blank check” to choose a senior Trump administration job and was authorized to represent the candidate in overseas meetings with foreign leaders. Papadopoulos also claimed that Trump called him last year to discuss his role as a foreign policy adviser and that the two had at least one personal introductory meeting that the White House has not acknowledged. (Politico)
Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak said he won’t name all the Trump officials he’s met with because “the list is so long” and that it would take him more than 20 minutes to do so. Kislyak made the remarks during an interview with Russia-1, a state-owned Russian TV channel. (CNBC)
The British publicist who helped set up the Trump Tower meeting will talk with Robert Mueller’s office. Rob Goldstone has been living in Bangkok, Thailand and is expected to travel to the US at some point “in the near future” to discuss the meeting between Trump Jr. and a group of Russians in June 2016. (NBC News)
Jared Kushner is working with an interim security clearance 10 months into Trump’s administration. Kushner’s interim clearance allows him to view sensitive material, and that it is valid unless revoked. (Politico)
5/ The Republican Party is no longer paying Trump’s personal legal bills related to the Russia probe. Trump is working with the Office of Government Ethics and tax firm to use his personal funds to help current and former White House staffers caught up in the Justice Department’s special counsel investigation with their legal costs. The RNC had previously paid out more than $230,000 for Trump’s legal bills. (Bloomberg / CNN)
6/ The FCC voted to loosen media ownership rules. The 3-2 vote rolls back a 1970s rule intended to ensure a diversity of voices and opinions could be heard on the air or in print, and makes it easier for media companies to be bought and sold. Critics of the FCC repeal say that the decision will result in less diversity in local news media and lead to inferior phone and broadband services in some areas. The FCC also voted to limit spending on the Lifeline program, which provides discounted internet and phone service to low-income homes. (Washington Post / CNET / The Verge)
7/ The Senate Finance Committee approved the $1.5 trillion Republican tax overhaul, but not without an angry shouting match between Republicans and Democrats after nearly 12 hours of talk about taxes. Sherrod Brown and Orrin Hatch sparred over Republican talking points about trickle-down economics with the Ohio Democrat charging “that whole thing about higher wages, well, it’s a good selling point.” Hatch replied: “I really resent anybody saying I’m just doing it for the rich.” The committee voted along party lines, 14-12, to forward the proposal on to the full Senate, where the Senate is expected to take action after the Thanksgiving break. (CNN / New York Times / Politico)
8/ Of Trump’s 58 judicial nominees, 74% are white men. About 19% are women while 2% are both female and non-white. In total, 53 of Trump’s judicial nominees are white, three are Asian-American, one is Hispanic, and one is African-American. He has nominated 47 men and 11 women. (Associated Press)
poll/ Obama is more popular in Alabama than Trump. 52% of likely voters in the state have a favorable opinion of Obama vs. 49% for Trump. (The Hill)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.