👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
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1/ Stormy Daniels is suing Trump for failing to sign the non-disclosure agreement that prevented her from discussing their “intimate” relationship. Both Daniels and Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen signed the agreement, but Trump never did. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, filed a civil suit with the Los Angeles Superior Court Tuesday night seeking to void the 2016 “hush agreement,” as it’s referred to in the suit. (NBC News)
2/ Michael Cohen, meanwhile, obtained a restraining order to prevent Stormy Daniels from speaking out about her affair with Trump. Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that Trump’s lawyer had won an arbitration proceeding against the actress, Stephanie Clifford. Trump and Cohen have been trying to keep the affair and payoff involving the porn star quiet for well over a year. (New York Times)
3/ George Nader, former Trump aide and adviser to the United Arab Emirates, is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller is looking at how foreign money may have influenced Trump’s political activities and whether Nader funneled money from the UAE to support Trump’s political efforts. Nader testified last week to a grand jury. (New York Times)
4/ Robert Mueller has evidence about an effort to establish a back-channel between the incoming Trump administration and the Kremlin. Erik Prince, the founder of the private military company Blackwater, met with a Russian official close to Putin in January, 2017. Prince described the meeting to congressional investigators as a chance encounter. A cooperating witness told Mueller’s investigators that the meeting was set up in advance so that a representative of the Trump transition could meet with an emissary from Moscow to discuss future relations between the two countries. (Washington Post)
5/ Hope Hicks told the House Intelligence Committee last week that one of her email accounts had been hacked and that she could no longer access it and another account. It’s unclear which email account she was referring to: her personal account or the one she used during Trump’s campaign. (NBC News)
6/ The Trump administration is suing California over the state’s so-called sanctuary laws. The Justice Department claims California’s immigration policies are unconstitutional and make it impossible for federal immigration authorities to do their jobs, which include deporting criminals who are in the U.S. illegally. Justice Department officials have asked a judge to block California’s sanctuary laws. (New York Times)
7/ The Florida House approved gun control legislation that would impose a 3-day waiting period on most gun purchases, raise the minimum age to 21, and create a “school marshal” program to arm some classroom teachers. The bipartisan vote passed 67-50. The Hillsborough County School Board in Florida on Tuesday unanimously opposed a motion to arm school employees. (Washington Post / USA Today / Tampa Bay Times)
- Trump plans to meet with the video game industry to discuss how violent imagery in games desensitizes young people to firearms. Industry leaders said they had not been invited to the meeting. (The Daily Beast)
8/ Trump is expected to sign a presidential proclamation establishing the tariffs on steel and aluminum tomorrow. On Monday, Trump said that Canada and Mexico would only be excluded after the successful renegotiation of NAFTA. European Union officials have pledged to place tariffs on an array of American-made goods if Trump follows through on his plan to impose 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% tariffs on aluminum imports. (Reuters / New York Times)
- 107 House Republicans sent a letter to Trump “urging” him not to impose broad tariffs on steel and aluminum. In the letter, Republicans warned that “adding new taxes in the form of broad tariffs would undermine this remarkable progress” on tax reform. (CNBC)
poll/ Trump trails a generic Democratic candidate in 2020 by 8 points, 44% to 36%. (Politico)
Democrats unveiled a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that would be financed by reversing two-thirds of the GOP tax bill and reinstating a top income tax rate of 39.6%. The plan includes $140 billion for roads and bridges, $115 billion for water and sewer infrastructure and $50 billion to rebuild schools. (Washington Post)
Trump tweet-blamed presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama for the U.S. trade deficits and the loss of manufacturing jobs over the last 30 years. “From Bush 1 to present,” Trump tweeted, “our Country has lost more than 55,000 factories, 6,000,000 manufacturing jobs and accumulated Trade Deficits of more than 12 Trillion Dollars.” (Politico)
Ben Carson removed the promise of inclusive and discrimination-free communities from the Housing and Urban Development’s mission statement. A HUD staffer explained that the statement is being updated “in an effort to align HUD’s mission with the Secretary’s priorities and that of the Administration.” (HuffPost)
Several White House staffers have been terminated or reassigned for issues related to their security clearances. Several more are under consideration for possible termination or reassignment in the coming days. (ABC News)
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