👋 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/ Scott Pruitt resigned from the EPA following months of controversies regarding his spending, ethics and management at the agency. Andrew Wheeler will take over as acting administrator. In his resignation letter, Pruitt blamed “unrelenting attacks” on himself and his family. (New York Times / Washington Post / The Hill / Vox)
I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this. The Senate confirmed Deputy at EPA, Andrew Wheeler, will on Monday assume duties as the acting Administrator of the EPA. I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda. We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright! –TRUMP
One of Scott Pruitt’s aides was fired last summer for questioning the practice of retroactively deleting meetings from the official calendar. Madeline Morris was Pruitt’s senior scheduler and was fired after she raised objections about the deletions, which she believed were illegal. (New York Times)
How Andrew Wheeler differs from Scott Pruitt. Wheeler is viewed as a Washington insider who avoids the limelight and has spent years effectively navigating the rules. Wheeler is also a veteran coal lobbyist for Murray Energy, whose chief executive, Robert Murray, has been a supporter and adviser of Trump’s. (New York Times)
2/ Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer urged Trump to nominate federal Judge Merrick Garland to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy in a private phone call last week. Garland, Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, was blocked by Senate Republicans in 2016. The conversation lasted less than five minutes. (Washington Post)
3/ Trump narrowed his Supreme Court shortlist to Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Raymond Kethledge and will announce his nominee on Monday, July 9, at 8 pm Eastern time. Aides, however, said they wouldn’t be surprised if Trump announced his nominee ahead of the scheduled prime-time event. (ABC News / Axios / Vox)
- Trump wants the whole package in a Supreme Court nominee, with the search process playing out like a political campaign as he considers a candidate’s appearance as well as the look and feel of his or her family. (Politico)
4/ Trump asked his advisers last August why the U.S. couldn’t invade Venezuela. Trump’s aides, including then-national security adviser H. R. McMaster and then-secretary of state Rex Tillerson, warned against an invasion. One official said Trump was simply thinking “out loud.” Trump, however, raised the issue three more times last year, including in September at a private dinner with the leaders from four Latin American countries during the U.N. General Assembly. Despite being briefed not to raise the possibility of an invasion at the dinner, the first thing Trump said was: “My staff told me not to say this.” (Associated Press / CNN)
5/ Trump hired former Fox News executive Bill Shine to lead his communications team. Shine was forced to resign from Fox News in May 2017 over his mishandling of sexual harassment claims at the company. Shine will take over for Hope Hicks, who left in March. (Politico / CNBC / BuzzFeed News)
6/ Trump’s first tariffs will hit $34 billion of Chinese imports starting tomorrow. China accused the United States of “opening fire” on the world with the tariffs and vowed to respond the moment the duties on Chinese goods kick in. (Washington Post / Reuters)
- Mexico imposed the second part of their $3 billion retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods in response to Trump’s duties on Mexican steel and aluminum exports to the United States. (Politico)
7/ The owner of a Chinese factory says it has been hired to make flags for Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign. The factory has reportedly made flags for the campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016. “We also make flags for Trump for 2020,” the factory owner said. “It seems like he has another campaign going on in 2020. Isn’t that right?” It is unclear whether the official Trump reelection organization is the one who ordered the flags. (The Hill / Business Insider)
Trump said he would decide by July 4th if he would sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller’s team. Rudy Giuliani said there was “no decision” to announce. (CBS News)
Michael Cohen dropped the reference “personal attorney to President Donald J. Trump” from his social media accounts. His bio is now blank on Twitter with an image of an American flag. (CNN)
A federal judge rejected a Trump administration request to block three California sanctuary laws, allowing the state to counter Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration by limiting the kinds of immigration-related information state and local law enforcement can share with federal officials. (Politico / Associated Press)
Trump lied when he tweeted that Obama granted citizenship to 2,500 Iranians in an attempt to sweeten the Iran nuclear deal. Trump provided no evidence to support his tweet, but three senior Obama administration officials who were involved in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiations pushed back on the claim, which seems to have originated with a hard-line cleric in Iran’s parliament. (Washington Post)
Trump’s co-author for The Art of the Deal tweeted that Trump “is incapable of reading a book, much less writing one.” The Twitter criticism came after Trump bragged about “my ability to write” and having “many best selling books.” (HuffPost)
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