👋 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/ Paul Manafort owed $10 million to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who was sanctioned by the U.S. in April 2018. The unsealed search warrant application from July 2017 shows that Deripaska financially backed Manafort’s consulting work in Ukraine when it started in 2005-06. Robert Mueller also indicted Konstantin Kilimnik, a political operative who served as an intermediary between Manafort and Deripaska, as well as allegedly having ties to Russian spy agencies. The search warrant also confirmed that Mueller has been investigating Manafort’s role in the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer. (Reuters)
- Several billionaires with Kremlin ties attended exclusive, invitation-only receptions during Trump’s inauguration festivities – events typically reserved for top donors and close political allies. Robert Mueller’s team has expressed interest in the Russian guests who had no obvious place in Trump’s diplomatic orbit (ABC News)
2/ Trump and Putin will meet on July 16 in Helsinki to discuss a “range of national security issues,” as well as “further development of Russian-American relations.” Before the summit meeting was announced, Trump reported via Twitter that “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” He added: “Why isn’t Hillary/Russia being looked at?” The Helsinki talks will follow a NATO meeting in Brussels on July 11 and 12. Trump told leaders at the recent G7 summit in Canada that “NATO is as bad as NAFTA,” stoking fears that Trump plans to undercut the alliance’s values and commitments. (New York Times / Washington Post / Axios)
- Mike Pompeo: Trump will warn Putin that it is “completely unacceptable” to interfere in U.S. elections. “I’m confident that when the president meets with Vladimir Putin he will make clear that meddling in our elections is completely unacceptable,” the secretary of state said. (Politico)
3/ Immigrant children as young as three are being ordered to appear in court for their own deportation hearings without legal representation. The children are being served with notices to appear in court, but they are not entitled to an attorney. Instead, they are given a list of legal services organizations that might help them. Requiring unaccompanied minors to go through deportation alone is not new, but the number of children who are affected by this process has gone up during the Trump presidency. (Texas Tribune)
4/ Federal officials have launched two reviews into Trump’s handling of families at the border. The Government Accountability Office and the Health and Human Services inspector general both launched reviews. The GAO will audit the systems and processes used to track families as they were separated, while the HHS inspector general announced that it will review the safety and health protections in the agency’s shelters for migrant children. (Politico)
5/ The Pentagon said the Department of Homeland Security requested that it help “house and care for an alien family population of up to 12,000 people.” The Pentagon has been asked to “identify any available facilities that could be used for that purpose,” and “identify available DoD land and construct semi-separate, soft-sided camp facilities capable of sheltering up to 4,000 people, at three separate locations.” (CNN)
6/ Trump is considering Utah Senator Mike Lee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Lee has publicly denounced Roe v. Wade. Mitch McConnell said Senate Republicans plan to hold a confirmation vote before November’s midterms, when the party is at risk of losing its 51-to-49 majority. (Bloomberg / Washington Post)
Who’s on Trump’s short list to replace Supreme Court Justice Kennedy? Trump will replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy with one of 25 people from a previously released list. “We have to pick one that’s going to be there for 40 years, 45 years,” Trump said. (Politico / NBC News)
The fate of the Supreme Court could hinge on Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. Republicans control the Senate by one seat and with Arizona Senator John McCain’s absence the two moderate Republicans hold enormous sway over Trump’s Supreme Court pick. (Politico)
poll/ 54% of Republicans think it’s “very likely” that social media platforms intentionally censor political views they consider “objectionable.” 64% of those surveyed believe tech companies support liberal views over conservative ones. (Axios)
A former aide to Roger Stone was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury in Robert Mueller’s investigation and to hand over documents. Andrew Miller worked for Stone during the campaign and plans to argue that Mueller’s appointment “was unconstitutional.” (New York Times)
The House passed a resolution demanding that the Justice Department turn over documents related to the Russia investigation, potentially setting up Rod Rosenstein for impeachment if he doesn’t comply within seven days. During a separate House Judiciary Committee meeting, Republicans accused Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray of withholding details about surveillance tactics during the Russia investigation. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)
A former ICE spokesman turned whistleblower was interrupted at his home by Homeland Security officials during a television interview. James Schwab was explaining why he quit in March following pressure from the Trump administration “to flat-out lie” when DHS unexpectedly interrupted the interview. (CBS News)
Lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill to make Puerto Rico the nation’s 51st state by 2021. The Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2018 was authored by Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner, Jennifer González-Colón, a Republican nonvoting member of Congress. The bill is cosponsored by 22 Republicans and 14 Democrats, and calls for the creation of a task force of nine members of Congress to look into the changes necessary to incorporate Puerto Rico as a state. (NBC News)
Trump’s pick to run the IRS owns properties at the Trump International Hotel Waikiki and Tower in Hawaii. Chuck Rettig had previously disclosed his 50% stake in a pair of Honolulu rental units, but he did not specify their location. Rettig is scheduled to testify in front of the Senate Finance Committee today, where his ownership of the Trump-branded hotel properties is expected to come up during questioning. (Politico)
Nearly 600 protesters were arrested by Capitol Police for unlawfully demonstrating against Trump’s immigration policies inside the Hart Senate Office Building. Chanting “WE CARE” and “ABOLISH ICE,” the protesters demanded that Congress end Trump’s policies that criminalize and detain undocumented immigrants and separate detained families. (ABC News)
Two days ago, former Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos encouraged “vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight.” Today, at least five people were killed and several others “gravely injured” in a shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. (The Observer / Capital Gazette / New York Times / Baltimore Sun)
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