👋 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 legal team recently turned over documents to Robert Mueller in hopes of limiting the scope of a possible presidential interview and minimizing Trump’s exposure to the special counsel. The documents include summaries of internal White House memos and communication about key moments, including the firings of Michael Flynn and James Comey. (Washington Post)
2/ Trump hired a lawyer who promoted the theory that the FBI and Justice Department framed Trump in order to keep him from becoming president. On Fox News in January, Joseph diGenova said: “There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime.” He added, “Make no mistake about it: A group of FBI and DOJ people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.” (New York Times)
3/ Jeff Sessions fired Andrew McCabe 24 hours before he was set to retire. Sessions announced the decision to fire the now-former deputy director of the FBI just before 10 pm ET on Friday, saying McCabe was fired because he “made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions.” In an interview, McCabe defended himself. “The idea that I was dishonest is just wrong,” he said. McCabe added: “This is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness” and to undermine Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign. (New York Times / Washington Post)
4/ Three sources contradicted Jeff Sessions’ claims that he “pushed back” against a George Papadopoulos proposal for Trump’s campaign to meet with Russians in 2016. Some Democrats think the discrepancies in Sessions’ testimony suggest the attorney general may have committed perjury. (Reuters)
5/ Trump’s personal lawyer wants Rod Rosenstein to end Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. “I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” John Dowd wrote in an email comment about McCabe’s firing. Dowd initially said he was speaking on behalf of Trump “as his counsel,” but later said he was not speaking on the president’s behalf. (The Daily Beast)
6/ McCabe met with Mueller and turned over memos detailing his interactions with Trump, similar to the notes compiled by James Comey. The memos apparently include corroborating details about the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. It’s unclear when McCabe’s interview took place. (Axios / Associated Press / CNN)
7/ Trump attacked Mueller by name for the first time on Twitter, calling the special counsel’s investigation a “WITCH HUNT!” in a tweet. Trump also charged that the memos written by James Comey and Andrew McCabe were “Fake Memos” because he “spent very little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with me.” In one tweet, Trump also complained that Mueller’s team is partisan with “13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans?” Mueller and Rosenstein are both Republicans. (Washington Post / New York Times)
8/ Republican senators warned Trump not to fire Robert Mueller and to let federal investigators do their jobs. Lindsey Graham said if Trump were to dismiss Mueller, it would mark “the beginning of the end of his presidency.” Trey Gowdy, meanwhile, said if Trump is innocent, he should “act like it” and leave Mueller alone. Paul Ryan issued a statement advising Trump that “Mueller and his team should be able to do their job.” Mitch McConnell, however, had no comment. Following the pushback, White House lawyer Ty Cobb issued a statement on Sunday night saying Trump was not considering firing Mueller. (Reuters / Politico)
poll/ 74% of Americans feel that a “deep state” of unelected government officials is probably manipulating national policy. 27% believe a deep state definitely exists, 47% think it probably exists, 21% don’t believe a deep state exists, and 5% don’t know. 31% of Republicans and 33% of Independents said they definitely believe in the existence of a deep state. 19% of Democrats, meanwhile, said the deep state definitely exists. (Monmouth)
Jared Kushner’s family real estate company routinely filed false documents with the New York City housing department. Kushner Companies claimed that it had zero rent-regulated tenants, even though there were actually hundreds of such tenants living in dozens of buildings it owned throughout the city. The move allowed the company to circumvent rules that would have prevented developers from pushing low-rent tenants out of the buildings. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he is “very concerned about the allegations” and plans to meet with tenant representatives in the coming days. (Associated Press / Bloomberg)
The DACA-border wall deal fell apart after the White House refused to provide a pathway to citizenship to 1.8 million young immigrants eligible under the DACA program. Trump wants $25 billion for his border wall in exchange for extending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program through fall of 2020. (Politico)
The Supreme Court declined to take up a Republican challenge to the redrawn Pennsylvania congressional map ahead of the 2018 elections. Republicans drew a gerrymandered map in 2011 that resulted in a 13-5 congressional district advantage. (NPR)
Senior White House officials are considering whether to re-hire Trump’s personal aide John McEntee, days after he was abruptly fired and escorted off the property. The reasons for McEntee’s firing are still unclear, but they are believed to be related to his gambling habits. (Politico)
Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, and Trump
*There’s a huge story here, but I haven’t had time to make sense of it. Here’s a few of the stories making the rounds. I’ll have a summary update tomorrow. *
How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions (New York Times)
50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach (The Guardian)
Cambridge Analytica, Trump-Tied Political Firm, Offered to Entrap Politicians (New York Times)
Ted Cruz under fire in Cambridge Analytica scandal (Dallas News)
Facebook’s value plunges $37 billion on data controversy (CNN Money)
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