👋 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/ Trump began the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks by tweeting a defense of himself in the Russia investigation while also attacking the FBI. In a string of tweets that appeared to quote from a segment on Fox News, Trump blamed FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page for employing a “media leak strategy” to undermine his administration. He then blamed the FBI and Justice Department for doing “NOTHING” about it. Almost two hours later, Trump tweeted: “17 years since September 11th!” (NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)
A history of Trump’s comments about 9/11. For instance, in November 2015 he claimed, without evidence, that “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey had celebrated the news of the attacks. (HuffPost)
Trump bragged that one of his buildings was now the tallest in downtown Manhattan hours after the World Trade Center collapsed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. “40 Wall Street actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and it was actually, before the World Trade Center, was the tallest,” Trump said during a telephone interview on the afternoon of Sept. 11 with local New Jersey television station WWOR. “And then, when they built the World Trade Center, it became known as the second-tallest. And now it’s the tallest.” (Washington Post / HuffPost)
2/ The Trump administration plans to make it easier for energy companies to release methane into the atmosphere. The EPA plans to weaken an Obama-era requirement that companies monitor and repair methane leaks, while the Interior Department wants to repeal a restriction on intentional venting and burning of methane by drilling operations. Methane is among the most potent greenhouse gases and is roughly 25 times more effective than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere. (New York Times)
- The United Nations Secretary-General: “We face a direct existential threat” because “climate change is moving faster than we are.” António Guterres urged world leaders to combat “the defining issue of our time.” (Common Dreams)
3/ The number of White House aides Trump trusts is “much smaller” following allegations that there is a “resistance” inside the Trump administration trying to subvert his agenda. Trump Jr. said he believes the New York Times op-ed authored by an anonymous senior administration official was written by a “low-level person,” and that the Justice Department should investigate the author. He called the op-ed “pretty disgusting” and “sad.” (Politico / ABC News / Washington Post)
4/ Trump said his administration is “totally prepared” for Hurricane Florence, which he described as “tremendously big and tremendously wet” with “tremendous amounts of water.” Trump called the federal government’s “incredibly successful” response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico a year ago “one of the best jobs that’s ever been done.” Nearly 3,000 people died. Meanwhile, the general who oversaw the military response to Hurricane Katrina, said “I will not bet any money that we are prepared.” (Roll Call / ABC News / The Hill)
poll/ 36% approve of the way Trump is handling his job, down from 42% in August. Trump’s approval with independents went from 47% last month to 31% now. (CNN)
Officials consider Russia to be the main suspect behind the mysterious “attacks” on U.S. personnel in Cuba and China. The U.S. believes sophisticated microwaves or other electromagnetic weapons were used against government employees, which led to brain injuries. There is not enough conclusive evidence, however, for the U.S. to officially blame Moscow for the alleged attacks. (NBC News)
Trump has canceled a planned trip to Ireland in November due to “scheduling reasons.” However, immediately after Trump’s visit was announced, the leader of Ireland’s Green Party called on the Irish people to “show their disgust and rejection of the Trump administration’s policies by turning out […] in large-scale mass protest around the country.” (CNBC)
The Trump administration is considering sanctions against senior Chinese officials and companies over Beijing’s detention of hundreds of thousands of Muslims in large internment camps. It would be the first time the Trump administration has taken action against China over human rights issues. (New York Times)
Two political action committees based in Maine raised over a million dollars for Sen. Susan Collins nonexistent opponent if she votes to confirm Brett Kavanaugh. Collins’ Democratic opponent raised $2.3 million during Maine’s most recent Senate campaign. (Daily Beast)
The Trump administration is expected to close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington. Senior Palestinian officials strongly condemned the decision and described it as a “reckless escalation.” (Wall Street Journal)
Trump told Gary Cohn to “just run the presses” and “print money” in order to lower the national debt, according Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear: Trump in the White House. The federal deficit, meanwhile, grew $222 billion – or 32% – in the first 11 months of the fiscal 2018 year to $895 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO now estimates that the deficit will approach $1 trillion by the end of this fiscal year. An earlier analysis projected that deficits wouldn’t reach $1 trillion until 2020. (CNBC / The Hill / Axios)
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