👋 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/ Hope Hicks allegedly told Trump that the emails involving Trump Jr. and the Trump Tower meeting “will never get out” because only a few people have access to them. The White House communications director’s comment was in response to Mark Corallo, who served as the spokesman for Trump’s legal team, saying the statement they drafted aboard Air Force One would backfire when documents surface that the meeting was setup to get political dirt about Hillary Clinton from the Russians – and not about Russian adoptions. Corallo believed Hicks’ comment indicated that she could be contemplating obstructing justice. Corallo will tell Robert Mueller about the previously undisclosed conference call with Trump and Hicks when he meets with the special counsel’s team sometime in the next two weeks. Corallo resigned from Trump’s legal team in July. (New York Times / CNN)
2/ The White House is worried that FBI Director Christopher Wray will quit if The Memo™ is released. Wray has “grave concerns” that “material omissions of fact” make the document inaccurate. Trump is expected to approve the release of the memo on Friday, which alleges surveillance abuse by the FBI, without the bureau’s requested redactions. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)
3/ Trump Jr. tweeted that Andrew McCabe was “fired” because of the contents of The Memo™. Trump Jr. claimed that the information in the memo was “good enough” for the administration to “fire McCabe.” On Monday, the White House specifically denied involvement in McCabe’s decision to resign. (The Hill)
It was good enough to fire McCabe, no one argues its factually inaccurate, but now days later they want to protect the names of those involved in a scandal that was big enough to fire a senior official a month before retirement? They don’t deserve a pass on that!— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 1, 2018
4/ Adam Schiff accused Devin Nunes of giving Trump a “secretly altered” version of The Memo™ which contained “substantive” changes that had not been approved by the House Intelligence Committee. A spokesperson for Nunes denied Schiff’s allegations, referring to them as another “strange attempt to thwart publication of the memo.” (The Hill)
5/ Trump is telling friends that The Memo™ is a way of discrediting the Russia investigation. He believes it would expose bias at the FBI and that the bureau is prejudiced against him. (CNN)
- A top Republican senator urged House Republicans to consider the FBI’s “grave concerns” before making the memo public. John Thune also said the Senate Intelligence Committee should be allowed to see the document before its release. (New York Times)
6/ Trump falsely claimed that his State of the Union address had “the highest number in history” in terms of viewers. Nielsen reported that 45.6 million people watched Trump’s address. In 2002, 51.7 million people watched George W. Bush’s address, 48 million watched Obama’s first address, and 46.8 million tuned in for Bill Clinton’s first SOTU speech. (Associated Press)
7/ The Trump administration took away enforcement power from a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau office that pursued lending discrimination cases that imposed interest rates on minorities higher than those for whites. Mick Mulvaney said staffers will now be focused on “advocacy, coordination and education,” rather than enforcement and oversight of companies. (Washington Post)
8/ Three attorneys representing Rick Gates abruptly withdrew as counsel for the former Trump campaign aide. Lawyers Shanlon Wu, Walter Mack, and Annemarie McAvoy said the reasons for quitting is currently under seal, but added that “The document speaks for itself.” Gates recently added Tom Green, a prominent white-collar attorney, to his defense team. (Politico / CNN)
poll/ 71% of Americans think Trump should agree to an interview with Robert Mueller if asked. 82% think the interview should be under oath. (Politico)
Trump sacked this year’s traditional pre-Super Bowl interview, rejecting requests to appear on NBC this Sunday. (CNN)
Mike Pence is launching a nationwide campaign tour to raise money for Republican candidates running in the 2018 midterms. Pence believes Republicans could expand their majority in both chambers. (Politico)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will cut its epidemic prevention activities by 80% because it’s running out of money. (Washington Post)
Robert Mueller’s office isn’t ready to schedule a sentencing hearing for Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in December to lying to the FBI. George Papadopolous’ case was also delayed, signaling that Mueller doesn’t plan on wrapping up his investigation before the spring. (CNN)
Carter Page was on the radar of U.S. intelligence agencies several years before he became a member of Trump’s campaign. Page had his first brush with a U.S. intelligence official back in 2013, when he was interviewed by FBI counterintelligence agent Gregory Monaghan about his contacts with Victor Podobnyy, who was serving as a junior attaché at the Russian consulate in New York City at the time. (Wall Street Journal)
A Republican candidate for U.S. Senate blamed human trafficking on the sexual revolution of the 1960s and ’70s. Josh Hawley told a Christian political group in Missouri that “We’re living now with the terrible aftereffects of this so-called revolution. […] The sexual revolution has led to exploitation of women on a scale that we would never have imagined.” (Washington Post)
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