👋 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/ Rudy Giuliani to Stormy Daniels: “I don’t respect a porn star the way I respect a career woman or a woman of substance.” He added that being a porn star “entitles you to no degree of giving your credibility any weight.” Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, called Giuliani an “absolute, disgusting pig” and demanded Trump fire him “immediately.” He added that “it doesn’t matter what a woman’s profession is. It has nothing to do with their credibility or whether they should be respected.” Giuliani defended his statement, saying: “I don’t have to undermine her credibility. She’s done it by lying.” (NBC News / ABC News / CNN)
- Trump has appeared in three softcore porn videos. (CNN)
2/ The Justice Department will brief lawmakers next week about the FBI’s use of an informant in connection with its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The new offer is a concession to Republican demands for more information about the probe. The Justice Department and FBI “are prepared to brief members on certain questions specifically raised by the speaker and other members” and allow lawmakers “to review certain supporting documents that were made available during the prior briefing.” Democrats are concerned that the briefings could allow Trump’s legal team access to sensitive details of the investigation. (Washington Post / CNBC)
Paul Ryan insisted that there was “no evidence of collusion” between Trump’s campaign and Russia, but that there is “more digging to do.” (Associated Press)
The classified briefing comes a day after Paul Ryan disputed Trump’s assertion that FBI “spies” had infiltrated his campaign, saying evidence suggested the Bureau had acted appropriately. (Wall Street Journal)
Officials from the Justice Department and the FBI will brief the Republican and Democratic “Gang of Eight” leaders from the House and Senate and the intelligence committees. The documents won’t be shared with other lawmakers. (Bloomberg)
3/ Adam Schiff called on Republicans to release the House Intelligence Committee interview transcripts related to the Russia investigation, saying they could shed “additional light on the issues of collusion and obstruction of justice.” Schiff said some witnesses “may have testified untruthfully” and that Robert Mueller and his team “should consider whether perjury charges are warranted.” (NBC News)
4/ Sean Hannity suggested that witnesses in Robert Mueller’s probe “follow Hillary Clinton’s lead” by destroying their personal phones before handing them over to prosecutors. Hannity told witnesses to “delete all your emails and then acid-wash your emails and hard drives on the phones, then take your phones and bash them with a hammer to little itsy bitsy pieces.” Hand them over to Mueller, Hannity continued, “and say, Hillary Rodham Clinton, this is equal justice under the law.” Hannity later insisted that he was kidding. (The Hill / Business Insider)
- George Papadopoulos’ Russian contact called him “unprofessional” and “unprepared,” adding that “we did not close the door to the guy, but we did not take it seriously.” (CNN)
5/ Colin Kaepernick’s lawyers plan to subpoena Trump and Pence as part of his collusion case against the NFL in an attempt to gain information about Trump’s political involvement with NFL owners. One of Kaepernick’s attorneys recently claimed that an unnamed NFL owner admitted under oath during a deposition that he decided not to offer Kaepernick a contract after Trump called for the firing of players who refused to stand for the national anthem. (Yahoo! Sports / USA Today / Axios)
6/ France and Germany won’t sign the joint G7 statement without major concessions from the U.S. on tariffs, the Iran nuclear deal, and the Paris climate accord. The joint statement details a range of policy issues that all leaders of the G7 group agree on. French president Emmanuel Macron urged the other members of the G7 to stand up to the U.S. over Trump’s decision to impose steel and aluminum tariffs against the European Union, Canada, and Mexico. The G7 summit is scheduled for June 8-9 in Quebec. (Bloomberg / Politico)
A White House analysis concluded that Trump’s tariffs will hurt economic growth. Top White House officials, however, insist that Trump’s trade approach will be “massively good for the U.S. economy.” (New York Times)
U.S. renewable energy companies shelved more than $2.5 billion in renewable energy projects following Trump’s tariff on imported solar panels. (Reuters)
7/ Trump complained to aides about having to spend two days in Canada for the G7 summit, saying the Friday trip is a distraction from his upcoming meeting with North Korea. White House staff has discussed sending Pence to Canada instead of Trump. (Washington Post)
8/ Trump’s new national security adviser has not had a Cabinet-level National Security Council meeting on North Korea in his two months on the job. In April, Trump blamed John Bolton for derailing the upcoming summit with North Korea after Bolton said the U.S. would make no concessions unless North Korea denuclearized. Trump instead has driven the preparation for the summit almost exclusively on his own, consulting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Politico)
poll/ 48% of voters say they’re more likely to back a congressional candidate who promises to serve as a check on Trump. 53% say they’re less likely to vote for a candidate who supports Trump on most issues. (NBC News)
🐊 Dept. of Swamp Things.
Mick Mulvaney fired all 25 members of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s advisory board days after some of the members criticized his leadership as acting director of the watchdog agency. The CFPB plans to revamp the Consumer Advisory Board in the fall by hiring all new members. “The outspoken members of the Consumer Advisory Board seem more concerned about protecting their taxpayer funded junkets to Washington, D.C., and being wined and dined by the Bureau than protecting consumers,” said a spokesperson for the agency. (Washington Post)
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says the U.S. has signed a deal with Chinese telecom giant ZTE to end the crippling sanctions against the company. The deal includes a $1 billion penalty against ZTE and requires that U.S.-chosen compliance officers be placed inside the company. ZTE will also be required to change its board of directors and executive team within 30 days. (CNBC)
The Trump administration will scale back how the federal government evaluates hundreds of potentially toxic chemicals. Instead of assessing the risk of potential chemical exposure in the air, ground or water, the EPA will focus on possible harm caused by direct contact. (New York Times)
The White House asked Scott Pruitt to stop visiting a West Wing restaurant. Pruitt has complained that EPA doesn’t have a cafeteria of its own or private dining quarters. (Politico)
Pruitt had his 24/7 security detail pick up his dry cleaning and help him find his favorite moisturizing lotion. The protective detail cost taxpayers nearly $3.5 million during Pruitt’s first year on the job. (Washington Post)
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