👋 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 Jr. cited attorney-client privilege and refused to discuss a phone call he had with his father about how to handle the fallout from his June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer. He told the House Intelligence Committee that a lawyer was in the room during the call. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, told reporters: “I don’t believe you can shield communications between individuals merely by having an attorney present,” adding “that’s not the purpose of attorney-client privilege” and that “the presence of counsel does not make communications between father and son a privilege.” (Politico / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)
Trump Jr.‘s initial response was that the meeting focused on the issue of adoption. It was later revealed that Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort also attended the meeting after receiving an email stating that a Russian government lawyer would provide incriminating facts about Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” No damaging information was delivered.
2/ World leaders called Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel a “dangerous” and an “irresponsible and unwarranted step.” White House officials acknowledged that the move could temporarily derail the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Several advisers said Trump didn’t seem to have a full understanding of the issue and was focused on simply “seeming pro-Israel” and “making a deal.” Israel, meanwhile, thanked Trump for his “courageous and just” decision. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post)
3/ The House passed a two-week stopgap spending bill. The measure would fund the government through December 22nd, but still needs to be approved by the Senate and Trump by Friday at midnight in order to avoid a government shutdown. The legislation passed in a 235-193 vote. Fourteen Democrats voted for the measure and 18 Republicans voted “no.” (New York Times / Politico)
4/ Al Franken announced his resignation from the Senate. The announcement comes a day after nearly all of the Senate’s Democratic women called for Franken to resign following the report of a sixth woman who charged that he had made an improper advance. Franken told colleagues: “I of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.” (New York Times / Washington Post)
Paul Ryan called on Roy Moore to drop out of Alabama US Senate race over allegations of sexual assault and misconduct. (The Hill)
Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump treats women with the “highest level of respect” after Al Franken said it’s ironic that he is resigning from the Senate while Trump has “bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault” yet remains in office. (The Hill)
poll/ 70% of Americans think Congress should investigate sexual harassment allegations against Trump. 63% disapprove of the way Trump is handling sexual harassment and sexual assault. (Quinnipiac)
poll/ 59% of Americans think the Trump team “definitely” or “probably” had improper contacts with Russia during last year’s presidential campaign. 56% are very or somewhat confident Robert Mueller will conduct his probe fairly. (Pew Research Center)
poll/ 53% of Americans disapprove of the Republican tax plan, 41% expect their taxes to go up, and most expect businesses (76%) and wealthy Americans (69%) to benefit the most. 64% of Republicans think the GOP tax plan shows that Trump is keeping a campaign promise. (CBS News)
FBI Director Christopher Wray defended the bureau’s integrity during his House Judiciary Committee testimony three days after Trump tweeted that the bureau’s reputation is “in tatters.” (Washington Post / Politico)
The British publicist who arranged the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting encouraged Dan Scavino to make a page for candidate Trump on the Russian social networking site VK, telling him that “Don and Paul” were on board with the idea. Don and Paul, of course, refer to Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort. The previously undisclosed emails from Rob Goldstone to a Russian participant and a member of Trump’s inner circle later that summer raise new questions for congressional investigators about what was discussed at the meeting. Scavino is now the White House director of social media. (CNN)
The House approved a bill that would ease restrictions on carrying concealed firearms across state lines. The bill, which was supported by the National Rifle Association, now goes to the Senate, where it is likely to encounter a much tougher battle. (NPR)
Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee put KT McFarland’s nomination on hold until she answers questions about her knowledge of communications between Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. (CNN)
Devin Nunes met with Blackwater founder Erik Prince earlier this year despite his recusal from the Russia probe. Nunes discussed with Prince the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the unmasking of Americans’ identities in intelligence reports. (Business Insider)
Representative Trent Franks is expected to resign from Congress. It’s unclear why Franks is stepping down, but one Arizona Republican said there had been rumors of inappropriate behavior. (Roll Call)
The Senate voted to begin the process of reconciling its tax bill with the House version, though several big issues, including the size of the corporate tax cut, remain. (New York Times)
Trump will undergo a physical examination early next year and allow doctors to release details of his medical evaluation. (CNN)
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