👋 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/ The Senate passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill late last night, avoiding another government shutdown with less than a day before the deadline. The bill funds the federal government through the end of September and includes $700 billion for the military ($66 billion more than last year) and $591 billion for domestic agencies ($52 billion more than last year). (Washington Post / NBC News)
2/ Trump threatened to veto the spending package because it didn’t provide funding for his border wall, but he signed it anyway. He was “unhappy” about it. The bill also doesn’t address the fate of young undocumented immigrants and bill adds nearly $1.6 billion for border security, including $641 million for about 33 miles of fencing. In a tweet, Trump said he is “considering a VETO” because the budget doesn’t include the $25 billion needed to build his wall or protections for young undocumented immigrants. Trump, who has tried to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, wanted to trade long-term wall funding for protections for some young immigrants. (New York Times / CNBC / Bloomberg / Washington Post)
3/ Another Trump lawyer is expected to step down later this year, contingent on Trump finding a replacement. White House counsel Don McGahn has told associates he’d like to leave the White House by the summer, but his departure might be put on hold through the 2018 midterms. Trump personal lawyer John Dowd resigned on Thursday. Trump wants to have in place a new White House counsel with whom he’s comfortable before McGahn exits. (Politico)
- Who Has Left The Trump Administration: A timeline of all the departures so far.
4/ Trump will replace H. R. McMaster with John Bolton as his national security adviser. Bolton is a Fox News commentator and a former United States ambassador to the United Nations. McMaster had reportedly been discussing his departure with Trump for several weeks. “The two have been discussing this for some time. The timeline was expedited as they both felt it was important to have the new team in place, instead of constant speculation,” a White House official said. “This was not related to any one moment or incident, rather it was the result of ongoing conversations between the two.” McMaster, a three-star Army general, also announced that he would retire from the military. Bolton will be Trump’s third national security adviser in 14 months. Bolton was also passed over for a State Department job last year, because Trump didn’t like his mustache. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)
5/ Trump’s tweet firing McMaster disrupted John Kelly’s plan to announce multiple administration departures at once. The White House has been waiting for an inspector general report on Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who have both been accused of misspending taxpayer money. The McMaster announcement was not expected to be made for at least another week. (Politico)
6/ Trump has reportedly considered firing and not replacing John Kelly, leaving Trump to essentially serve as his own chief of staff. Trump has discussed the possibility of having a handful of aides report directly to him, instead of going through a chief of staff. Steve Bannon said he doesn’t expect Trump to replace Kelly if he leaves. “I’ve actually argued that if General Kelly at any time does decide to leave — (or) the president decides it’s time for him to move on — I don’t believe there will be another chief of staff,” Bannon said. “I think there will be five or six direct reports like there was in Trump Tower.” (NBC News / The Hill)
7/ Steve Bannon oversaw Cambridge Analytica’s early efforts to collect Facebook data as part of a program to build detailed profiles of millions of American voters. The 2014 effort was part of a form of voter persuasion touted by the company, which Bannon used to identify and test anti-establishment messages that later would be used in Trump’s campaign speeches. Among the messages tested were “drain the swamp” and “deep state.” (Washington Post)
The political action committee founded by John Bolton was one of the earliest customers of Cambridge Analytica. Bolton, of course, is Trump’s incoming national security adviser. (New York Times)
The blueprint for how Cambridge Analytica claims it won the White House for Trump has been leaked. The 27-page presentation, produced by the Cambridge Analytica officials who worked closely on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, shows how they used Google, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. (The Guardian)
8/ Former Playboy model Karen McDougal said Trump once offered to pay her after they had sex. “After we had been intimate,” McDougal told CNN, “he tried to pay me, and I actually didn’t know how to take that.” McDougal said Trump tried to hand her money immediately after their first sexual encounter more than a decade ago and that they were together “many dozens of times.” (CNN / New York Times)
9/ Stormy Daniels’ attorney implied that he has hard evidence of Trump’s affair with the porn star, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford. Michael Avenatti tweeted a photo of what appears to be a CD in a safe, with the caption: “If ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ how many words is this worth?????” The White House has denied that Trump ever had an affair with Daniels, who was paid $130,000 by Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, in 2016, weeks before the presidential election. The payment, Daniels says, was intended to buy her silence on the alleged affair. (The Hill)
10/ The “lone hacker” known as Guccifer 2.0 is actually a Russian intelligence officer. Guccifer claimed responsibility for the breach of the Democratic National Committee and the data dump of the stolen DNC emails. He publicly portrayed himself as the “lone hacker” who was able to penetrate the DNC, but a team of investigators identified him as an officer of Russia’s military intelligence directorate, or GRU, after he failed to turn on the virtual private network (VPN) that he used to disguise his IP address. As a result, he left a real, Moscow-based IP address in the server logs of an American social media company. (The Daily Beast)
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