👋 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/ Students from more than 3,000 schools walked out today to demand stricter gun regulation, including bans on assault weapons and expanded background checks. The National School Walkout started at 10 a.m. ET and will continue across the country at 10 a.m. in each time zone, sparked by last month’s school shooting in Florida. The protests will last for 17 minutes to honor each of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School one month ago. Some school districts have said they will discipline students who participate in the walkouts. “Change never happens without backlash,” Pope High School senior Kara Litwin said. “This is a movement, this is not simply a moment, and this is only the first step in our long process.” (NPR / CNN / USA Today / New York Times)
2/ A teacher who is also a reserve police officer injured three students after accidentally firing a gun inside a California classroom during a class devoted to public safety. Immediately before the gun fired, Dennis Alexander told the class that he wanted to make sure the gun wasn’t loaded as he pointed it to the ceiling. “I think a lot of questions on parents’ minds are, why a teacher would be pointing a loaded firearm at the ceiling in front of students,” the district superintendent said. [Editor’s note: Why would a teacher be bringing a loaded firearm to school?] (KSBW / Washington Post)
3/ In a separate incident, a school resource officer with the Alexandria, Virginia, Police Department accidentally fired his weapon at George Washington Middle School. The officer was inside his office at the time, and a department representative declined to say whether the officer had taken his gun out of his holster. No one, including the officer, was injured. (WTOP / NBC Washington)
4/ The House of Representatives passed a school safety bill by a vote of 407-10 to help schools and local law enforcement prevent gun violence. The bill provides training for school officials and local law enforcement to respond to mental health crises, as well as money to develop systems for reporting threats. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. (Reuters / CNN)
5/ Democrat Conor Lamb is narrowly leading Republican Rick Saccone in a Pennsylvania special election that’s still too close to call. With 100% of votes counted, Lamb has a 627-vote lead over Saccone in a district that Trump won by nearly 20 percentage points and that was once considered an easy win for Republicans. The district will not exist in 2019, however, because the State Supreme Court ruled in January that Pennsylvania’s House map was gerrymandered unlawfully and district lines have been redrawn. Whoever wins will be forced to run in a new district in November. (New York Times / The Hill / Vox / FiveThirtyEight)
- Republicans don’t plan to concede in the contested special election in Pennsylvania. The National Republican Congressional Committee said it is “not ruling out a recount.” Democrat Conor Lamb holds a lead of less than 700 votes over Republican Rick Saccone. There are still about 203 absentee ballots and then additional provisional and military ballots left to be counted. (The Hill)
6/ Emails show Ben Carson and his wife selected the $31,000 furniture set for his Department of Housing and Urban Development dining room, undercutting claims by his spokesman that he had little or no involvement in the purchase. An August email, with the subject line “Secretary’s dining room set needed,” refers to “printouts of the furniture the Secretary and Mrs. Carson picked out.” (CNN)
7/ The family of a slain DNC staffer filed a lawsuit against Fox News, an investigative reporter, and one of the network’s frequent guests over a story about Seth Rich and their allegations that he was involved in a conspiracy. (ABC News)
8/ Trey Gowdy contradicted his own Republican-led House Intelligence Committee’s findings in the Russia probe. Gowdy said Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election was motivated in part “by a desire” to hurt Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. The committee disagreed with the intelligence community’s assessment “with respect to Putin’s supposed preference for candidate Trump.” (CNBC)
9/ Trump is open to a short-term DACA deal in exchange for border wall funding. One idea under consideration is a three-year extension of DACA in exchange for three years of wall funding. Trump canceled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in September. (Washington Post)
poll/ 51% of Trump voters think his alleged affair with Stormy Daniels was immoral, and 75% think the allegations are not relevant to Trump’s presidency. (HuffPost)
poll/ 41% of voters think Trump should meet with Kim Jong Un without preconditions. 36% want Trump to meet with Kim only if North Korea makes concessions regarding its nuclear program beforehand. (Politico)
Trump floated the idea of developing a “Space Force,” a new branch of the military that would operate outside of earth’s atmosphere. The Space Force apparently started as a joke, but Trump has since decided it’s “a great idea,” because “space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea.” (CNBC)
Jeff Sessions is reviewing a recommendation to fire former F.B.I. deputy director Andrew McCabe days before he retires on Sunday. Justice Department officials expect McCabe to be fired before Friday, which would jeopardize his pension as a 21-year F.B.I. veteran. (New York Times)
Rand Paul opposes Mike Pompeo’s nomination to replace Rex Tillerson, and is vowing to do everything he can to stop Pompeo from becoming secretary of state. (Politico)
Trump will name economist and CNBC senior contributor Larry Kudlow to head the White House’s National Economic Council. Kudlow will replace Gary Cohn, who resigned over disagreements with Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. (CNBC / CNN)
British Prime Minister Theresa May expelled 23 Russian “undeclared intelligence officers” following the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. May said there is “no alternative conclusion” other than Russia being responsible for their attempted murder. (Sky News)
Nikki Haley said U.S. believes Russia was responsible for the attempted assassination of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain. Haley told the U.N. Security Council it should hold the Kremlin “accountable.” (NBC News)
Melania Trump plans to meet with Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Snap next week to discuss cyberbullying and ways to combat online harassment and promote Internet safety. (Washington Post)
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