👋 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/ Steve Bannon called the Trump Tower meeting with Russians “treasonous,” “unpatriotic,” and “bad shit.” He added: “The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower … with no lawyers … You should have called the FBI immediately.” Bannon’s comments come from forthcoming book the Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff. (The Guardian)
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2/ Trump responds: “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” Trump’s statement added: “Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books.” (Bloomberg / Politico)
JUST IN: President Trump statement on Steve Bannon: "When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind." pic.twitter.com/LxZoBI5Ng4— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 3, 2018
3/ Paul Manafort sued Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein, and the Justice Department. The lawsuit challenges the authority given to Mueller by Rosenstein, and argues that Mueller’s decision to charge Manafort with alleged money laundering crimes had nothing to do with the 2016 campaign and went too far. (CNN / New York Times)
4/ Trump taunts North Korea: My “Nuclear Button” is “much bigger and more powerful” than Kim Jong-un’s – and “my Button works!” Trump’s tweet came after Kim said he has a “nuclear button on the desk in my office” and “all of the mainland United States is within the range of our nuclear strike.” (New York Times / The Hill)
The “Nuclear Button” explained: There is no button. (New York Times)
A House Democrat called on lawmakers to pass a measure restricting Trump’s ability to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on North Korea without congressional approval. (The Hill)
5/ Fusion GPS defended the dossier of alleged Trump-Russia ties and called on Republicans to release the firm’s testimony. “The attack on our firm,” the Fusion GPS founders wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed, “is a diversionary tactic by Republicans who don’t want to investigate Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.” Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch write they hired Christopher Steele to investigate Trump’s repeated efforts “to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun.” They added: “As we told the Senate Judiciary Committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the [FBI] had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp,” referring to a drunk George Papadopoulos, who bragged about Russia having political dirt on Hillary Clinton to one of Australia’s top diplomats. (New York Times)
6/ Trump tweets that the “corrupt media awards” will be presented to the “fake news media” next week. In November, Trump suggested there should be a contest among news networks, except for Fox News, for a “Fake News Trophy.” A Rasmussen poll conducted after Trump’s suggestion found that most Americans would award Fox News the trophy. “THE MOST DISHONEST AND CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR” will be presented Monday at 5:00 pm ET. (The Hill)
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In 2017 US manufacturing had its strongest year since 2004. (Bloomberg)
Trump’s pick to run Immigration and Customs Enforcement called for politicians in sanctuary cities to be charged with crimes. Thomas Homan said the Department of Justice needs “to file charges against the sanctuary cities” and “hold back their funding,” and the politicians enforcing sanctuary city policies need to be held “personally accountable.” (The Hill)
Rupert Murdoch called Trump a “fucking idiot” after a conversation about immigration. “Murdoch suggested [in a Dec. 2016 phone call] that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America’s doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders. But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, ‘We’ll figure it out.’ ‘What a fucking idiot,’ said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.” (New York Magazine)
Democrats Doug Jones and Tina Smith will both be sworn into the Senate today, narrowing the GOP majority. (NPR)
North Korea and South Korea established contact on a hotline that’s been dormant for almost two years. (CNN)
Sheriff David Clarke was temporarily blocked from tweeting after Twitter users complained that three of his messages violated the terms of service. Clarke was placed in read-only mode until he deleted three tweets that called for violence against members of the media. (CNN)
The National Security Agency is losing its top talent because of low pay, slumping morale, and unpopular reorganization. (Washington Post)
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