👋 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/ Rachel Brand quit the Justice Department in part over fears that she’d have to take over the Russia investigation if Trump fired Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The Justice Department’s No. 3 attorney had been unhappy with her job for months, telling friends that she felt overwhelmed and unsupported in her job, primarily because four of the 13 divisions she oversaw as the associate attorney general remained unfilled. (NBC News)
2/ The White House proposed a $4.4 trillion federal budget that would add $7 trillion to the deficit over ten years. The plan calls for cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and other social programs in favor of higher spending on a “ready, larger, and more lethal military,” $23 billion for border security and immigration enforcement, and $200 billion over the next decade for infrastructure spending. The State Department budget would be cut by 27% and the EPA would be cut by 34%. The budget will likely be ignored by Congress, which passed its own two-year spending plan last week. (Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post)
Here are the 22 agencies and programs Trump’s budget would eliminate. (The Hill)
The Trump budget falls short of the longtime Republican goal of eliminating the federal deficit. The administration has reportedly conceded that the recent federal tax cuts and new spending increases have made eliminating the deficit an unattainable goal. (Washington Post)
3/ Trump’s infrastructure plan will provide up to $200 billion in federal funding to encourage cities and states to invest in roads, bridges, and other building projects. The goal is to incentivize $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending over the next 10 years without investing significant federal funding, while also reducing the time required to obtain environmental permits for the projects. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)
- Read the full text of Trump’s infrastructure plan. (CNBC)
4/ The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau dropped a lawsuit against a lender that allegedly charged people up to 950% interest rates. Led by Trump appointee Mick Mulvaney, the CFPB will operate for the years 2018 through 2022 under a “revised mission and vision of the bureau” that will call upon the agency to “fulfill its statutory responsibilities but go no further.” (NPR / CNBC)
5/ Scott Pruitt often uses taxpayer funds to fly first-class and stay at luxury hotels, using unspecified security concerns as justification. The Environmental Protection Agency administrator typically brings a large group of aides with him on trips and usually flies with Delta, even though the government has contracts with specific airlines for specific routes. (Washington Post / CNN)
6/ The Education Department won’t investigate or take action on any complaints filed by transgender students who are banned from restrooms that match their gender identity. The Education and Justice Departments withdrew the Obama-era guidance on transgender restroom access in February 2017. (BuzzFeed News)
- U.S. figure skater Adam Rippon said he would boycott a visit to the White House. Rippon also refused a meeting with Pence before the competition, citing the Trump administration’s values and Pence’s support of “gay conversion therapy.” (The Hill)
7/ Jeff Sessions called sheriffs a “critical part” of the “Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement” during a speech at the National Sheriffs’ Association. “We must never erode this historic office,” Sessions continued. The “Anglo-American” phrase was not in the prepared remarks released by the Justice Department early Monday before his speech. (NBC News / CNN)
The U.S. and South Korea have agreed on terms of further engagement with North Korea – first by the South Koreans and then by the U.S. The U.S. will not stop imposing sanctions on Pyongyang until it begins denuclearization, but the Trump administration is now willing to sit down and talk with the regime. (Washington Post)
Trump’s inaugural committee won’t reveal what it’s doing with tens of millions of dollars it pledged to charity last year. The committee raised about $107 million, but only spent about half of it. The rest, it said, would go to charity. (The Daily Beast)
Trump’s pick to run the 2020 census withdrew from consideration after Democrats in Congress pushed back against the appointment. Thomas Brunell is a political science professor who has defended Republican redistricting efforts in more than a dozen states. (Mother Jones)
Trump Jr.’s wife was taken to the hospital after opening a letter containing an unidentified white powder that was later determined to be non-hazardous. (Reuters)
Devin Nunes’ “news” site went down after a distributed denial of service attack. The Nunes campaign has paid roughly $8,000 to a communications consultant since July to create “The California Republican,” which is listed as a “Media/News Company” on Facebook and claims to deliver “the best of US, California, and Central Valley news, sports, and analysis.” (The Hill / Politico)
Kirsten Gillibrand wants Congress to hold Trump accountable for the allegations of sexual misconduct against him. “I think he should resign, and if he’s unwilling to do that, which is what I assume, then Congress should hold him accountable. We’re obligated to have hearings,” Gillibrand said in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes.” (The Hill)
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