👋 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/ Scott Pruitt’s lease of a D.C. apartment cost him $50 a night but only when he slept there. Vicki Hart, the healthcare lobbyist who co-owns the building the apartment is in, is the wife of J. Steven Hart, an energy industry lobbyist. The EPA administrator worked directly with Hart to set up the $50-a-night rental room in a prime Capitol Hill building. The arrangement required him to pay rent for just a single bedroom, even though the other bedrooms in the unit were unoccupied. Hart’s firm represents clients in the industries that are regulated by the EPA. (Bloomberg / ABC News)
2/ Pruitt’s 24-hour security in Washington extended to personal trips to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl game, as well as trips home to Tulsa, Oklahoma. House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy recently made Pruitt turn over all of his travel records for his first year. The EPA’s inspector general is also investigating Pruitt’s 2017 travel. (CNN)
- Scott Pruitt’s protective detail broke down the door at the Capitol Hill condo where he was living last year, believing he was unconscious and unresponsive and needed rescue. The incident occurred in the late afternoon on March 29, 2017. The EPA agreed to reimburse the condo owner for the damage to the door. (ABC News)
3/ The EPA is expected to roll back greenhouse gas emission and fuel economy standards for automobiles. Pruitt and the Trump administration plan to frame the initiative as eliminating a regulatory burden on automakers in order to make more affordable trucks, vans and SUVs available for buyers. (New York Times)
4/ The White House office responsible for recruiting and vetting political appointees is inexperienced and understaffed, with less than a third of the staffing than in previous administrations. The Presidential Personnel Office is led by a college dropout with arrests for drunken driving and bouncing checks, and a lance corporal in the Marine Corps reserves with arrests for assault, disorderly conduct, fleeing an officer and underage drinking. On the campaign trail, Trump pledged to surround himself with “only with the best and most serious people.” (Washington Post)
5/ A federal judge ruled that a lawsuit seeking to preserve DACA can continue, citing Trump’s “racially charged language.” The order, by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, rejected a motion to dismiss the case, saying that Trump’s “racial slurs” and “epithets” as a candidate and as president are enough to warrant a “plausible inference” that the decision to end DACA would be a violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. (New York Times)
6/ Trump told White House aides not to publicly discuss a plan to provide new U.S. weapons to Ukraine to help the country fight back against Russian-backed separatists. Officials said Trump was concerned that doing so might agitate Putin. “He doesn’t want us to bring it up,” said one White House official. “It is not something he wants to talk about.” (NBC News)
7/ Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. can’t remember a period of worse relations between Washington and Moscow. Anatoly Antonov also said it’s “impossible to imagine” that the Kremlin was responsible for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, adding that “there is great mistrust between the United States and Russia” at present. (NBC News)
8/ The FBI detained Ted Malloch and issued him a subpoena to testify before Robert Mueller about potential collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. FBI asked Malloch about his relationship with Roger Stone and if he had ever visited the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange resides. Malloch is reportedly close to Trump, Steve Bannon, UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, and Stone. (The Guardian / NBC News)
poll/ 60% of Americans between the ages of 15 and 34 describe Trump as “mentally unfit,” 62% call him “generally dishonest,” and 63% say he “is a racist.” 33% approve of Trump’s job performance – 9 points lower than all adults. (Associated Press)
poll/ 57% of Americans say they are upset enough about an issue that they would carry a protest sign for a day. Among Democrats, 69% feel passionate enough about an issue to carry a protest sign, compared to 50% of Republicans and 43% of independents. (NBC News)
Czech officials have extradited a Russian hacker to the U.S. to face charges that he hacked into LinkedIn, Dropbox, and other American companies. Yevgeniy Nikulin, who denies that he is a hacker, was arrested by Czech officials in Prague in cooperation with the FBI in October 2016. (Associated Press)
Trump wants the U.S. to end its military presence in Syria “very soon.” The comment comes hours after the Pentagon highlighted the need for US troops to remain in the country for the immediate future. (Politico / CNN)
The Trump administration will require nearly all visa applicants to submit five years of social media history. The move will affect nearly 15 million would-be immigrants to the U.S. (CNN)
Congress is investigating an August 2016 flight from Moscow to New Jersey in connection with a meeting between Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik. The jet, which is linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties with the Kremlin, landed in the U.S. shortly before Manafort and Kilimnik met in Manhattan. Kilimnik is the unnamed person with “ties to Russian intelligence” in Robert Mueller’s indictment of Rick Gates. (Vice News)
More than 10,000 people have donated more than $460,000 to Andrew McCabe’s legal defense fund. The original goal was $150,000. (ABC News)
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