👋 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/ A federal judge revoked Paul Manafort’s bail and sent him to jail while he awaits trial after Robert Mueller accused Trump’s former campaign chief of witness tampering. “I cannot turn a blind eye to this,” Judge Amy Berman Jackson said. Manafort had posted a $10 million bond to remain at home while awaiting his September trial on charges that include money laundering and false statements. He will now remain in pretrial detention until his trial. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)
2/ Rudy Giuliani on Mueller’s investigation: “When the whole thing is over, things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons.” The comment came shortly after Manafort was sent to jail and his bail revoked following an attempt to tamper with two witnesses in the Russia investigation. Giuliani claimed he had seen no evidence to warrant Manafort being sent to jail. (New York Daily News / Axios)
3/ Giuliani called on Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein to “redeem themselves” by suspending the Robert Mueller investigation today. Giuliani also called for Peter Strzok to be put in jail over a series of text messages he exchanged with fellow FBI agent Lisa Page during the 2016 election campaign. “Mueller should be suspended and honest people should be brought in, impartial people to investigate these people like Strzok,” Giuliani said. “Strzok should be in jail by the end of next week.” (Politico)
4/ A federal judge refused to grant Michael Cohen a restraining order against Michael Avenatti to stop him from speaking to the media about the Stormy Daniels case. Cohen argued that Avenatti’s “publicity tour” of more that 100 television interviews since March is unethical, and harms Cohen’s ability to have a fair trial by turning the case into a “media circus.” U.S. District Judge James Otero said Cohen had not shown he would suffer “immediate, irreparable injury.” (Politico / CNN / Reuters)
5/ Federal prosecutors have pieced together 16 pages of shredded documents seized from Michael Cohen and recovered 731 pages of encrypted text messages during the FBI’s April raids of his home, office, and hotel room. Cohen has argued that most of the material is subject to attorney-client privilege. (New York Daily News / Business Insider / BuzzFeed News)
Michael Cohen has told family and friends that he is willing to cooperate with federal investigators. The treatment from Trump and Rudy Giuliani has left Cohen feeling isolated, angry, and more open to cooperating. Cohen has not met with prosecutors to discuss any potential deal and is currently looking for a new legal team. (CNN)
Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Cohen violated federal disclosure laws as part of his consulting deals, including whether he lobbied for domestic or foreign clients without properly registering. (Wall Street Journal)
6/ Trump “certainly wouldn’t sign” the Republican immigration proposal that would protect young undocumented migrants and end the policy of separating families at the southern border. Paul Ryan plans to bring up two immigration measures for a vote next week: a hard-line conservative bill, which will likely fail, and “a very good compromise” bill. Trump said he “wouldn’t sign the more moderate one.” The White House, meanwhile, tried to walk back the comments, saying Trump “misunderstood the question.” (Reuters / New York Times / The Guardian / Washington Post / The Hill)
7/ Homeland Security has separated at least 2,000 children from parents at the border since the Justice Department implemented its “zero tolerance” policy. Under its new policy, the Justice Department charges every adult caught crossing the border illegally with federal crimes and separates them from their children, as opposed to referring those with children to immigration courts. (Associated Press / CNN)
8/ The Trump administration announced a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports as Trump vowed to respond to what he called China’s unfair trade practices. China retaliated with $50 billion worth of tariffs with “equal scale, equal intensity” on U.S. imports, calling Trump “fickle” and “provoking a trade war.” The Dow fell 250 points in response to rising trade tensions. (Associated Press / Bloomberg / CNBC)
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel hinted of an escalation in the trade dispute between the U.S. and the European Union. Merkel warned that Europe’s strategic interests are tied to the future of the car industry shortly after Trump cited national security concerns as a reason to place tariffs on German cars. “We should think about the strategic significance of the auto industry for the European Union,” Merkel said, “so we can prepare an exchange with the U.S.” (Reuters)
9/ Trump held an interview with “Fox and Friends” on the White House lawn after musing on Twitter that “maybe I’ll have to make an unannounced trip down to see them” and live-tweeting segments from the show. Trump called James Comey a criminal, said the FBI is a “den of thieves,” blamed Democrats for the separation of families at the US border, said it’s “great to give” Kim Jong-un credibility, and again blamed Obama for Russia’s annexation of Crimea. (New York Times / CNN / Vox / The Hill)
Trump called a CBS News reporter “so obnoxious” and told her to be “quiet at least five times.” CBS correspondent Weijia Jiang tried to ask Trump “why he declared the nuclear threat from North Korea was already ‘over.’” (The Hill)
Trump said he wants “my people” to “sit up at attention” like the North Koreans do when Kim Jong Un speaks. When asked by reporters to clarify what he meant by “my people,” he replied: “You don’t understand sarcasm.” (The Hill / CNN)
EPA senior staffers said they frequently felt pressured by Scott Pruitt to help in personal matters and obtain special favors for his family. The officials said Pruitt “had a clear sense of entitlement.” (New York Times)
Trump took credit for winning the bid to host the 2026 World Cup with Canada and Mexico. “Thank you for all of the compliments on getting the World Cup to come to the U.S.A., Mexico and Canada,” Trump tweeted. “I worked hard on this, along with a Great Team of talented people.” (Politico)
The Trump administration is expected to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council due to “chronic anti-Israel bias.” (Reuters)
A U.S. District Court judge ruled that a Russian company is not entitled to review grand jury materials. Concord Management and Consulting LLC has been charged with meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Reuters)
Trump’s 2020 re-election is working with a company run by former Cambridge Analytica officials. At least four former Cambridge Analytica employees are affiliated with Data Propria, which specializes in voter and consumer targeting similar to Cambridge Analytica. (Associated Press)
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