👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
Send your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints to:
1/ Michael Cohen will “put family and country first,” saying his “first loyalty” isn’t to Trump. “I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone’s defense strategy,” Cohen said. “I am not a villain of this story, and I will not allow others to try to depict me that way.” Cohen, signaling his willingness to cooperate with Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, said his decision to cooperate will not be based on loyalty to Trump, but rather his attorney’s legal advice. Guy Petrillo, who is expected to take over as Cohen’s lead counsel this week, once led the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, which is the office currently investigating Cohen. (ABC News / Washington Post)
Paul Manafort’s personal assistant gave the FBI access to his storage locker in Virginia. The judge rejected Manafort’s argument that Robert Mueller had been improperly appointed and lacked authority to prosecute him. (Reuters)
Konstantin Kilimnik helped strategize Paul Manafort’s lobbying to clients in Russia and Ukraine. Robert Mueller’s team has alleged that Kilimnik’s ties to Russian intelligence remained active through the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, which Kilimnik has denied. Among Manafort’s clients was Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and other wealthy Russians with close ties to Putin. (Associated Press)
Robert Mueller’s team has likely already gained access to the NRA’s tax filings and so-called “dark money” donors list, who financed $21 million of the group’s $30 million-plus pro-Trump spending. The NRA’s nonprofit status allowed it to hide those donors’ names from the public, but not the IRS. Mueller’s team is reportedly looking into NRA donors with links to Russia and whether they used the organization to illegally funnel foreign money to Trump’s campaign. (McClatchy DC)
2/ Susan Collins will not support a Supreme Court nominee who has displayed “hostility” toward Roe v. Wade. “A candidate for this important position who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me,” Collins said, “because that would indicate an activist agenda that I don’t want to see a judge have.” Collins said she views Roe v. Wade as a precedent that should not be overturned. Trump, meanwhile, will not ask possible nominees for Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat whether they would overturn Roe v. Wade. (New York Times / ABC News / Reuters)
Trump wants to replace Justice Kennedy with someone who has a portfolio of academic writing — but he doesn’t want to read any of it himself. Trump also said it’s essential that his nominee be “not weak” and that they “interpret the Constitution the way the framers meant it to be.” (Washington Post)
Trump will temporarily reorganize his White House staff to focus on confirming a Supreme Court nominee. Don McGahn, the White House counsel, will lead the process with Raj Shah, deputy press secretary, focusing on coordinating Trump’s message. (New York Times)
3/ North Korea has increased its production of enriched uranium for nuclear weapons in recent months, leading U.S. intelligence officials to conclude that North Korea does not intend to surrender its nuclear stockpile and that it is trying to conceal the number of weapons and production facilities it has. Satellite imagery also shows that North Korea is finalizing the expansion of a ballistic missile manufacturing site; the expansion started after Kim Jong-un’s summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in but before he met Trump. (NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)
Trump’s national security adviser believes North Korea could dismantle all of its nuclear weapons “in a year,” despite signs of increased nuclear fuel production. John Bolton’s timeline is at odds with what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined to Congress recently. Pompeo said North Korean denuclearization could happen within two and a half years – or around the time Trump’s first term ends. (New York Times / Reuters)
Trump may hold a second summit with Kim Jong-un in New York in September, when world leaders are in town for the U.N. General Assembly. (Axios)
4/ The Trump administration drafted a bill that would abandon America’s commitment to the World Trade Organization. The bill, called the “United States Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act,” is affectionately referred to as the FART Act on Twitter and would allow Trump to unilaterally raise tariffs without congressional consent. The source described the bill as “insane.” (Axios / Business Insider / The Guardian)
- Trump’s commerce secretary said Trump won’t change his trade policy even if the stock market keeps falling. “There’s no bright line level of the stock market that’s going to change policy,” Wilbur Ross said. Stocks slipped lower during the first trading day of the third quarter with markets concerned about Trump’s tariffs. (CNBC)
5/ Trump said he’s not happy with the revised NAFTA deal with Canada and Mexico and he won’t sign it until after the midterm elections. “NAFTA, I could sign it tomorrow, but I’m not happy with it,” Trump said. “I want to make it more fair, okay? I want to wait until after the election.” (Washington Post)
6/ Canada imposed new tariffs on $12.5 billion worth of American exports and goods. The new tariffs are meant to be a proportional response to Trump’s recent steel and aluminum tariffs. Some U.S. products, mostly steel and iron, will face 25% tariffs, and other imports, like ketchup, pizza, and dishwasher detergent, will face a 10% tariff. (CNN Money / Associated Press)
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will launch a campaign to oppose Trump’s trade tariff policies. The business lobbying giant is using a state-by-state analysis to argue that Trump is risking a global trade war that will affect the wallets of U.S. consumers. (Reuters)
7/ Trump tried to pretend that he never urged House Republicans to vote for an immigration bill — even though he tweeted that exact thing just three days earlier. On Saturday, Trump tweeted: “I never pushed the Republicans in the House to vote for the Immigration Bill, either GOODLATTE 1 or 2, because it could never have gotten enough Democrats as long as there is the 60 vote threshold.” From Wednesday: “HOUSE REPUBLICANS SHOULD PASS THE STRONG BUT FAIR IMMIGRATION BILL, KNOWN AS GOODLATTE II, IN THEIR AFTERNOON VOTE TODAY, EVEN THOUGH THE DEMS WON’T LET IT PASS IN THE SENATE.” (Politico / Slate)
HOUSE REPUBLICANS SHOULD PASS THE STRONG BUT FAIR IMMIGRATION BILL, KNOWN AS GOODLATTE II, IN THEIR AFTERNOON VOTE TODAY, EVEN THOUGH THE DEMS WON’T LET IT PASS IN THE SENATE. PASSAGE WILL SHOW THAT WE WANT STRONG BORDERS & SECURITY WHILE THE DEMS WANT OPEN BORDERS = CRIME. WIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2018
I never pushed the Republicans in the House to vote for the Immigration Bill, either GOODLATTE 1 or 2, because it could never have gotten enough Democrats as long as there is the 60 vote threshold. I released many prior to the vote knowing we need more Republicans to win in Nov.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2018
poll/ 63% of voters overall support the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade. Among Republicans, 58% disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision. (Quinnipiac)
poll/ 47% of U.S. adults say they are “extremely proud” to be American – the lowest share since Gallup started asking that question nearly two decades ago. In particular, 32% of Democrats say they are “extremely proud” to be American — down from 56% in 2013. 74% of Republicans, meanwhile, say they’re extremely proud to be Americans – up from 71% in 2013. (Gallup)
Senior Border Patrol official Ronald D. Vitiello will replace Thomas D. Homan and serve as the new acting director of ICE. Vitiello currently serves as acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection; he previously served as the chief of the Border Patrol. Homan retired last month after serving as the acting head of ICE. The Senate must now approve a full-time director for ICE, and Vitiello is considered the leading candidate. (New York Times)
The White House is walking back Trump’s call for Saudi Arabia to “increase oil production, maybe up to 2,000,000 barrels” per day, to make up for decreases in production by Iran and Venezuela. Trump claimed that he had spoken to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz and that Salman had agreed to Trump’s request. The White House later issued a statement saying that, while Saudi Arabia has the capacity to increase production if necessary, the Saudis will use it “prudently” and only “if and when necessary to ensure market balance and stability, and in coordination with its producer partners, to respond to any eventuality.” (HuffPost)
A podcast host tricked Trump into calling him from Air Force One by telling the White House switchboard operator that he had Sen. Bob Menendez on the line for him. The radio shock jock claimed to represent the Democratic senator from New Jersey and said he had an urgent legislative matter to discuss. The result was a six-minute phone conversation between Stuttering John and the President of the United States aboard Air Force One, during which they talked about immigration and the Supreme Court. The White House has since launched an internal investigation into how the comedian was able to get through to Trump so easily. (New York Times / Stuttering John Podcast / The Hill)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.