👋 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.
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1/ The U.S. and Mexico reached an agreement to end the North American Free Trade Agreement and replace it with the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement. Trump called the new name for the trade deal “elegant,” because the NAFTA name had “a bad connotation” and was a job-killing “disaster” for the U.S. The preliminary agreement excludes Canada, as Trump has repeatedly criticized the country’s trade practices. Canadian leaders have insisted they will not sign a deal that does not work in their favor. The preliminary deal will last for 16 years and be reviewed every six years. (New York Times / Reuters / Associated Press / CNBC)
2/ A former doorman at Trump World Tower is now free to discuss “information regarding Donald Trump’s illegitimate child” – the one he fathered with an ex-housekeeper in the late 1980s. Dino Sajudin entered into a “source agreement” with American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, on Nov. 15, 2015, but he was “recently” released from the contract, according to his attorney. In April, Sajudin said he had previously been “instructed not to criticize President Trump’s former housekeeper due to a prior relationship she had with President Trump which produced a child.” At the time, AMI called Sajudin’s story “not credible.” (CNN / New Yorker / Source PDF)
3/ Trump refused to approve a White House statement honoring John McCain’s military service, which called McCain a “hero.” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, John Kelly, and other White House staffers advocated for a statement lauding McCain’s career, but Trump told them he wanted to tweet instead. Shortly after McCain’s death was announced, Trump tweeted: “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!” Trump is not invited to the late senator’s funeral. (Washington Post)
4/ A federal judge struck down most of Trump’s executive orders limiting the power of federal employee unions. In May, Trump signed three executive orders which made it easier for managers to fire under-performing federal employees and limited the issues that could be bargained over in union negotiations. In her decision, the judge wrote that the president cannot “eviscerate the right to bargain collectively as envisioned” in the federal labor-management relations statute. She added: “The collective bargaining process is not a cutthroat death match.” (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)
5/ Trump added a blue stripe to the American flag during a flag-coloring session at a children’s hospital in Ohio. The stripes on the U.S. flag are red and white; the blue is the background to flag’s stars. Editor’s note: 🇷🇺 or 🇫🇷*?* (The Independent / Yahoo News)
The opioid crisis is one of our top priorities at HHS, with a drumbeat of action on the full range of efforts where we can assist local communities. Today, I joined @POTUS & @FLOTUS in Ohio to learn how states and communities are responding to the challenge of opioid addiction. pic.twitter.com/NwxSoeNznA— Alex Azar (@SecAzar) August 25, 2018
poll/ Trump’s approval rating stands at 44% with 52% of Americans disapproving. The research firm that conducted the survey called Trump’s approval rating “remarkably stable” despite Paul Manafort’s conviction and Michael Cohen now cooperating with federal prosecutors after his guilty plea. (NBC News)
poll/ 60% of voters think it would be inappropriate for Trump to pardon Paul Manafort. 11% say a pardon would be appropriate. (Politico)
- Trump’s advisers expect him to use his unilateral authority to pardon Manafort, although they agree with his lawyers that he shouldn’t. (Politico)
poll/ Ted Cruz leads Beto O’Rourke by one percentage point in their Texas Senate race. Cruz leads O’Rourke 38 to 37%. (The Hill)
The federal official in charge of protecting student borrowers from predatory lending practices resigned, saying the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the White House have “ turned its back on young people and their financial futures.” (NPR / Associated Press)
Gun control, teacher and civil rights groups are threatening to sue the Department of Education if it moves forward with its proposal to allow states to spend federal funds on guns for school personnel. (NBC News)
The Democratic National Committee voted to limit the influence of “superdelegates” at the party’s 2020 convention. The DNC met this past weekend in Chicago. (CNN)
A government watchdog group has found a discrepancy between Trump’s financial disclosures and the payments he made to Michael Cohen. Trump’s financial disclosure form states that he “fully reimbursed” Cohen between $100,001 and $250,000 in 2017, but court documents filed by federal prosecutors state that Cohen received $420,000 from the Trump Organization over the course of that year. “It is quite notable,” said Scott Amey, general counsel of the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight. “This may constitute a false statement by the president. If they were paying him $420 [thousand] they should have put the whole amount in there.” (CNBC)
A House Intelligence Committee member wants Trump Jr. to testify again in light of Trump being implicated by Michael Cohen in a hush money scheme. (CNN)
Stormy Daniels says she would “happily” testify before Congress about the $130,000 hush money payment she received from Trump in 2016 via Michael Cohen. “If Donald Trump has done things he shouldn’t have during his campaign, he should be impeached,” Daniels told the Daily Mirror. She added: “I’ll happily testify under oath and prove my story is true.” (The Hill / Daily Mirror)
Trump met with a QAnon conspiracy theorist in the Oval Office last week, according to photos posted on the man’s Twitter account. Michael Lebron, known as Lionel in online circles, is described on his own websites as “an avowed conspiracy analyst.” Photos posted to Lionel’s Twitter account show him with Trump in the Oval Office and touring the White House. “There are simply no words to explicate the profound and ineffable honor of meeting @realDonaldTrump in the tabernacle of liberty, the Oval Office,” Lionel tweeted. “@LynnShawProd and I so appreciate @POTUS’ kindness and courtesy. #MAGA.” (CNN / Daily Beast / GQ)
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