👋 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/ Robert Mueller issued a subpoena for the banking records of people affiliated with Trump. The move forced Deutsche Bank – Trump’s biggest lender – to turn over documents related to certain credit transactions and the $300 million Trump owes the lender. Legal experts said it showed Mueller was “following the money” in search of links between the campaign and the Kremlin since Deutsche Bank may have sold some of Trump’s mortgage or loans to Russian-owned banks, which could potentially give Russia leverage over Trump. Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, denied that a subpoena had been issued. Since 1998, Deutsche has helped loan at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Trump, which he used to build or purchase highest-profile projects in Washington, New York, Chicago and Florida. (The Guardian / Bloomberg / Reuters / Wall Street Journal)
- Trump Jr. asked if the Russian lawyer had evidence of illegal donations to the Clinton Foundation during the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. Natalia Veselnitskaya told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Trump Jr. lost interest after she said she did not have meaningful information about Clinton. (NBC News)
2/ Paul Manafort was ghostwriting an op-ed with a longtime colleague “based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service” while out on bail last month. The editorial was related to Manafort’s political work for Ukraine. Robert Mueller’s investigators argue that Manafort’s $10 million unsecured bail agreement should be revisited because it was written while he was on house arrest facing several felony charges, which would have violated a court order to not publicly discuss the case and “casts doubt on Manafort’s willingness to comply with court orders.” If the court sides with Mueller, Manafort could remain under house arrest until his trial sometime next year. (New York Times / The Guardian / Washington Post / Associated Press)
3/ Trump’s former deputy national security advisor may have contradicted herself during Senate testimony about Michael Flynn’s contacts with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. In July, K.T. McFarland told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she did not discuss or have any knowledge of Flynn’s contact with Kislyak. A December 29th email exchange, however, shows McFarland wrote a colleague that Flynn would be speaking with Kislyak later that day. (New York Times)
4/ House Republicans are prepared to block the legislative promises Mitch McConnell made to Susan Collins and Jeff Flake in exchange for their votes on the Senate bill. Collins and Flake were assured the Senate would consider legislation to offset the negative effects from repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, as well as permanent protections for so-called “Dreamers.” A conservative bloc in the House sharply opposes both measures. (The Daily Beast)
- Senate Republicans accidentally stripped from their tax bill research and development tax credits companies use to encourage innovation. The change gave money for lawmakers’ other priorities, but could force many companies to lose tax breaks the bill’s authors intended to protect. (Wall Street Journal)
5/ Trump is considering plans to create a global, private spy network to circumvent the US intelligence agencies to counter the alleged “deep state” in the intelligence community, which he believes is attempting to undermine his presidency. Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a retired CIA officer submitted proposals to CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the White House to utilize an army of spies that report directly Trump and Pompeo. The intelligence gathered would not be shared with the rest of the CIA or the larger intelligence community. (The Intercept / BuzzFeed News)
6/ The Republican National Committee resumed its financial support of Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore after Trump endorsed Moore yesterday. The RNC initially cut ties with Moore after at least five women accused him of sexual assault and unwanted sexual advances as teenage girls decades ago. A senior RNC official said: “The RNC is the political arm of the president and we support the President.” (CNN)
poll/ Roy Moore trails Doug Jones by 4 points in the Alabama U.S. Senate race. 44% of voters support Moore, while 48% support Jones. (The Hill)
poll/ 64% of Americans believe the Republican tax plan will benefit the wealthy the most and 53% disapprove of the plan. 61% say the tax plan favors the rich at the expense of the middle class. (Quinnipiac)
poll/ 31% of Republicans want somebody other than Trump to be the GOP nominee in the next presidential election, while 63% are content with Trump running for reelection. (NBC News)
poll/ 15% of Americans say they approve of Trump and that “there is almost nothing he could do to lose their support.” 33%, meanwhile, say that they disapprove of Trump and that “there is almost nothing he could do to win their support.” (NPR)
Representative John Conyers will retire from Congress today amid allegations of sexual misconduct leveled by multiple women. (NPR)
Obama had three of the top 10 most retweeted posts of 2017. None of Trump’s tweets from 2017 were among the top 10 most retweeted. (Politico)
Pence’s aides maintain he doesn’t know anything about Russia and the Trump campaign. (Politico)
FEMA employees who worked too much may have to repay some of their overtime. FEMA said the year of hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters may force it to claw back employee compensation when it hits an annual pay cap. (Bloomberg)
Patagonia will sue Trump for shrinking two national monuments in Utah, saying “the president stole your land.” (CNN Money)
Germany sees Trump as a bigger challenge than North Korea or Russia. (Reuters)
Trump will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite Arab and European leaders warning that the move could derail the security and stability in the region. (New York Times)
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