👋 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/ Russian hackers penetrated voter registration rolls in several U.S. states before the 2016 presidential election. A Homeland Security Department official said that of the 21 states that were targeted, a “small number” were successfully penetrated. Officials maintain that there is no evidence that voter rolls were altered. (NBC News)
- George W. Bush: “Clear evidence that the Russians meddled” in the 2016 presidential election. Intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia meddled in the presidential election, but Trump has consistently disputed allegations that members of his campaign team in any way “colluded” with Moscow. (USA Today)
2/ The Trump administration may target immigrants who use certain taxpayer-funded benefits to make it harder for them to gain permanent residency. The Department of Homeland Security has drafted rules that could weigh against an applicant if they received non-cash benefits, such as government food assistance programs or preschool programs – even if they were for the immigrant’s U.S. citizen children. (Reuters)
3/ Scott Pruitt suggested that climate change could benefit humans, despite scientific evidence to the contrary. The EPA administrator said: “I think there’s assumptions made that because the climate is warming, that that necessarily is a bad thing. Do we really know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100?” The National Climate Assessment concluded that “climate change presents a global public health problem, with serious health impacts predicted to manifest in varying ways in different parts of the world.” NASA’s consensus is that humans are the primary drivers of climate-warming trends, which are “proceeding at a rate unprecedented over decades to millennia.” (CNN)
4/ House Democrats are targeting 101 Republican-held congressional districts in the November midterm elections. Polling by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee shows Trump trailing not just in the 23 GOP-held districts Hillary Clinton won, but also in more than 60 districts Trump won, and 11 others where retirements have left the seat open. (NBC News)
5/ Members of Congress from both parties are calling Trump’s request for a military parade a waste of money that would break with democratic traditions. Defense Secretary James Mattis told a White House news briefing that preparations for a celebration are underway. (Politico)
6/ The House and Senate are expected to vote tonight on a budget deal that would increase federal spending by more than $300 billion over two years and avert another shutdown. The Senate is expected to pass its bill, which the House will then vote on. Conservative House Republicans, however, currently oppose the deal over its increase in spending, while some House Democrats are threatening to vote against the deal because it doesn’t address protections for Dreamers. The current temporary funding measure is set to expire tonight at midnight. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)
poll/ 57% of Americans believe Russia will try to influence this year’s midterm elections and 55% believe the federal government isn’t doing enough to prevent it. (NBC News)
The Dow dropped more than 1,000 points, closing down 4.15%. The S&P 500 closed at 3.75% down – a two-month low – erasing its gain for the year and putting it on track for its worst week since the financial crisis. (Bloomberg)
Trump has decided to focus on opioid law enforcement instead of opioid treatment. “People form blue ribbon committees,” Trump said earlier this week during a speech in Cincinnati. “They do everything they can. And frankly, I have a different take on it. My take is you have to get really, really tough, really mean with the drug pushers and the drug dealers.” (NPR)
Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter of California has been accused of misusing campaign funds. A grand jury in San Diego is in the process of questioning several former aides to find out whether Rep. Hunter diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars from his campaign and spent the money on his family and friends. (Politico)
Senior Trump aides knew for months about the allegations of domestic abuse against top White House staffer Rob Porter by his two ex-wives. Porter continues to deny the allegations and the White House continues to defend Porter, even after his resignation on Wednesday. Democrats have requested an investigation into the White House’s “apparent low and inconsistent threshold” for granting security clearances. (CNN / The Hill)
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