👋 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’s personal attorney received leaked witness testimony from within the House Intelligence Committee. The lawyer representing Michael Cohen contacted the lawyer of a former John McCain staffer after someone from the House Committee told Cohen’s lawyer that the former staffer had information about the Steele dossier that could help Cohen. The information came from closed-door, committee-sensitive testimony. The dossier alleges that Cohen met with Kremlin officials, which Cohen denies. The conversation was reported to the House Intelligence Committee. Robert Mueller, meanwhile, has requested documents and interviewed witnesses about two or more episodes involving Russian interests and Cohen’s involvement. (The Daily Beast / Washington Post)
2/ Gary Cohn will resign over Trump’s plan to impose large tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, although officials insist there was no single factor behind the departure. Trump’s top economic advisor had been working to stop the tariffs that threaten to cause a global trade war, which Paul Ryan said he was “extremely worried about.” Cohn is expected to leave in the coming weeks. (New York Times)
3/ Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act on two occasions, the Office of Special Counsel said as it referred its findings to Trump “for appropriate disciplinary action.” In her official capacity, Conway endorsed and advocated against political candidates during two television appearances in 2017. The Hatch Act prohibits government employees from engaging in political activities. The OSC is not affiliated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. (The Hill / ABC News)
4/ Trump tweets “there is no chaos” in the White House, but there are “some people that I want to change” because he is “always seeking perfection.” The tweet comes a week after Trump called Jeff Sessions “disgraceful,” Hope Hicks resigned, and Jared Kushner’s security clearance was downgraded. (Washington Post / CNBC)
5/ Sam Nunberg says he’ll probably cooperate with Robert Mueller’s subpoena after all. Yesterday, the former Trump aide appeared on multiple cable news programs to announce his plans to defy the special prosecutor’s demands. Nunberg conceded that he’ll likely find a way to comply with the requests for testimony and documents. “I’m going to end up cooperating with them,” Nunberg said. (Associated Press / Axios)
6/ The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee wants to interview Nunberg as part of its Russia investigation. Adam Schiff said Nunberg’s assertion that Trump knew about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting before it occurred is an area that the committee needs to explore. Nunberg said he would be willing to testify. “I would go there, sure.” (CNN / The Hill)
7/ Kim Jong-un may be willing to negotiate with the U.S. on abandoning its nuclear arsenal in exchange for security guarantees, according to South Korean president Moon Jae-in. North Korea would suspend all nuclear and missile tests while the negotiations are in progress. It’s the first time North Korea has indicated that it’s willing to negotiate away its nuclear weapons. Trump tweeted: “We will see what happens!” Later, Trump attributed the progress to his administration’s sanctions against North Korea, but warned that he is “prepared to go whichever path is necessary.” (New York Times / Politico)
8/ The Trump administration will allow hunters to import elephant trophies on a “case-by-case” basis, breaking Trump’s earlier pledge to maintain the Obama-era protections. The Fish and Wildlife Service issued a memorandum last week withdrawing its 2007 Endangered Species Act findings for elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia, saying that “the findings are no longer effective for making individual permit determinations for imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies.” Trump previously called trophy hunting a “horror show.” (The Hill)
9/ A White House report shows that the benefits from “major” federal regulations between 2006 and 2016 outweighed the costs. The Office of Management and Budget report, released late last Friday, estimates that the aggregate annual benefit from the Obama-era regulations was between $287 and $911 billion, while the estimated aggregate annual costs were between $78 and $115 billion, as reported in 2015 dollars. The regulations offered a net benefit of up to $833 billion. (Vox)
poll/ 64% of American disagree with Trump’s stance that a trade war would be good for the U.S. and easy to win. 28% said they agreed with Trump’s position. (Quinnipiac)
Michael Flynn is selling his house to pay his legal bills after pleading guilty last year to lying to the FBI. The house went on the market in December and is listed at $895,000. Flynn’s brother, Joe, says Flynn will use the money to pay for his legal defense. (ABC News)
House Democrats are calling for an ethics investigation into the practice of lawmakers sleeping in their offices. They argue it’s an abuse of taxpayer funds. (Politico)
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry resigned after pleading guilty to felony theft of more than $10,000 related to her affair with her former police bodyguard. Barry agreed to reimburse the city. (The Tennessean)
West Virginia lawmakers reached a deal intended to end a teachers’ strike by raising their pay by 5%. The strike has canceled nine consecutive school days across the state. (CNN)
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