👋 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/ Robert Mueller filed witness tampering criminal charges against Paul Manafort and Russian national Konstantin Kilimnik. The superseding indictment charges the two men with obstructing justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and witness tampering. Kilimnik was indicted as part of the existing money laundering case against Manafort, who is also accused of illegal foreign lobbying and lying to federal officials. It’s the first time Kilimnik was named, who was referred to as “Person A” and described as having links to Russian spy agencies in previous court filings. (CNBC / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Reuters)
2/ A former Senate Intelligence Committee aide was arrested and charged with lying to the FBI about contacts with three reporters as part of an investigation into leaks of classified information. James Wolfe repeatedly denied contacts with the reporters despite having been in a three-year relationship with New York Times reporter Ali Watkins. The Justice Department seized Watkins’ phone and email records, which news media advocates consider to be an intrusion of First Amendment freedoms. (New York Times / NPR / NBC News)
3/ Trump called on the G7 to reinstate Russia after it was kicked out for annexing Crimea four years ago, putting him at odds with world leaders who have insisted that Moscow remain ostracized. “Russia should be in this meeting,” Trump said. “Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting? … Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run.” Trump also threatened to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, and is now engaged in a series of trade wars with numerous countries in Europe, North America and Asia. Trump will leave the G7 summit early. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico)
4/ The Trump administration will not defend the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate from a legal challenge to its constitutionality brought by Texas and 19 other states. The Justice Department said the ACA provision requiring most Americans to buy health insurance has become unconstitutional. The Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate in 2012 as the government’s power to tax. The Justice Department argues that since Congress repealed the tax last year, the mandate and the law’s consumer protections are no longer justified. California and 15 other states have filed a brief defending the law and its consumer protections. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Axios)
5/ Stormy Daniels’ former attorney filed a defamation claim against her and Michael Avenatti. Keith Davidson’s lawsuit against Daniels and Avenatti is in response to Daniels’ accusation that he colluded with Michael Cohen to help Trump. Davidson filed a separate claim against Cohen for allegedly illegally recording their phone calls. (CNN)
6/ Rudy Giuliani claimed Melania Trump “believes her husband, and she knows it’s untrue [that Trump had an affair with Stormy Daniels].” Melania’s office responded: “I don’t believe Mrs. Trump has ever discussed her thoughts on anything with Mr. Giuliani.” (ABC News / New York Times)
- Robert Mueller sees Giuliani as more of a spokesman than a lawyer with legal authority due to his haphazard approach to making demands and then changing what he wants. (Bloomberg)
poll/ 48% of voters favor the Democratic candidate in their congressional district while 39% favor the Republican. The 9-point lead is up from a 5-point edge Democrats held in March (46-41%). (Fox News)
poll/ 67% of voters say the country would be better off if more women were elected to political office. 24% of voters disagree. 87% of Democrats and 49% of Republicans say the country would be better off with more women in office. (NBC News)
Immigration and Customs Enforcement is temporarily sending about 1,600 detainees to five federal prisons while they await civil immigration court hearings. It’s the first large-scale use of federal prisons to hold detainees. (Reuters)
Trump said he is considering posthumously pardoning boxer Muhammad Ali, who was convicted in 1967 after refusing military service in Vietnam. Ali’s attorney called it “unnecessary.” Ali is one of 3,000 individuals Trump is considering pardoning. (CNN)
Trump wants to ask NFL players and other athletes who kneel during the National Anthem to recommend people they think he should pardon due to unfair treatment by the justice system. (CNN)
Trump said he likely will support a congressional effort to end the federal ban on marijuana, putting him at odds with Jeff Sessions on the issue. (Los Angeles Times)
Scott Pruitt had aides frequently fetch him protein bars, sweets, cookies, and Greek yogurt. Pruitt would often direct an aide to brew him pour-over coffee. (Daily Beast)
After both the Warriors and the Cavaliers said they don’t want to be invited to the White House after the NBA finals, Trump says the Warriors and the Cavaliers won’t be invited to the White House. (CNBC)
Mitt Romney predicted that Trump will win reelection in 2020, citing an improving economy and the likelihood that Democrats will choose an outside-the-mainstream candidate. (Politico)
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