👋 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/ A second woman publicly accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were both freshmen at Yale during the 1983-84 academic school year. Deborah Ramirez said Kavanaugh exposed himself and shoved his penis in her face without her consent at a dorm party. Kavanaugh’s roommate at the time said he “cannot imagine [Ramirez] making this up” and that Kavanaugh was “frequently, incoherently drunk.” After learning of Ramirez’s allegation last week, Senate Republicans called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to accelerate its confirmation vote. (New Yorker)
Michael Avenatti tweeted that he represents “a woman with credible information” about Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge, who Christine Blasey Ford alleges was in the room at the time of Kavanaugh’s alleged assault. Avenatti said he has “significant evidence” that Kavanaugh and Judge “would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs.” (Axios / Politico)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to delay the Kavanaugh nomination. In her letter, Feinstein asked “that the newest allegations of sexual misconduct be referred to the FBI for investigation, and that you join our request for the White House to direct the FBI to investigate the allegations of Ford as well as these new claims.” (Washington Post)
2/ Kavanaugh and the White House denied Ramirez’s allegation, calling it “a smear, plain and simple.” Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he “will not be intimidated into withdrawing” his nomination because of “false and uncorroborated” allegations against him. Ford told lawmakers that “fear will not hold me back from testifying” against Kavanaugh. Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to declare that the Senate will move forward with a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination, accusing Democrats of running “a smear campaign” to derail the confirmation. (CNN / ABC News / Politico / Reuters / New York Times)
3/ Christine Blasey Ford agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Blasey will appear Thursday before a committee of 21 senators for questioning, but no decision has been reached about whether Republicans would use staff attorneys to question Ford about her claim. All the Republicans on the panel are men. (New York Times / Politico)
Sen. Lindsey Graham: Ford’s testimony won’t change my vote. Graham said he wasn’t prepared to “ruin this guy’s life based on an accusation.” (Politico)
Kavanaugh will turn over calendars from the summer of 1982 to the Senate Judiciary Committee that don’t list a party matching Christine Blasey Ford’s account. Kavanaugh’s team acknowledged that he could have attended a party he did not list. (New York Times)
4/ Trump called the allegations against Kavanaugh “totally political” and said he believes Kavanaugh “all the way.” Trump defended his nominee as “a fine man, with an unblemished past,” despite at least two women accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault. (Politico / CNN / ABC News)
Mitch McConnell called Trump on Friday to say his tweets about Kavanaugh weren’t helpful. Trump said that if Ford’s attack “was as bad as she says,” then she would have filed charges immediately. (CNN)
Ben Carson claimed that socialists plotting to take over America are responsible for the recent allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh. The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development said the allegations “make perfectly good sense” because “going all the way back to the Fabians” there have been “people who’ve wanted to fundamentally change this country.” Now that they see their chance to control the courts slipping away, they “are like wet hornets, just completely lost control off the deep end.” The Fabian Society, a British socialist organization, was founded in the 19th century. It is no longer has an active chapter in the U.S. (CNBC)
5/ Rod Rosenstein did not resign, but “offered to resign” in discussions with John Kelly. Rosenstein and Trump will meet on Thursday to discuss the deputy attorney general’s future at the Justice Department. Rosenstein went to the White House this morning for a meeting where he “expect[ed] to be fired.” The news follows reports that Rosenstein discussed the idea of wearing a wire last year to secretly record Trump in order to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the President from office. Rosenstein has been overseeing Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with those efforts. Noel Francisco, the solicitor general, would take on oversight of Mueller’s investigation and could fire or limit the investigation. (Axios / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)
On Friday, Trump promised to get rid of the “lingering stench” at the Justice Department and FBI following reports that Rod Rosenstein discussed secretly recording Trump last year. “You’ve seen what happened in the FBI and the Department of Justice. The bad ones, they’re all gone. They’re all gone,” Trump said at a political rally in Missouri. “But there is a lingering stench and we’re going to get rid of that, too.” Trump did not explicitly mention Rosenstein in his comments. (Associated Press)
Trump wanted to fire Rosenstein in order to take Brett Kavanaugh out of the news cycle, according to a source familiar with Trump’s thinking. “The strategy was to try and do something really big.” Trump’s allies, meanwhile, have been urging him to pull Kavanaugh’s nomination in order to save Republicans’ electoral chances in the midterms. (Vanity Fair)
poll/ 52% of voters prefer that Democrats control Congress following the midterm elections, 40% want Republicans to control Congress, and 8% are not sure. (NBC News)
Rob Goldstone said he believes the Trump Tower meeting could have been a set-up by Russian intelligence. Goldstone said Trump Jr. was willing to accept “opposition research” he believed was coming from the Russian government. (NBC News)
Roger Stone attempted to contact WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange following the Democratic National Committee email leaks. Stone emailed Jerome Corsi nine days after the first batch of emails were published to suggest that Ted “Malloch should see Assange.” Malloch is a London-based conservative author. (ABC News)
The White House is considering an executive order instructing federal antitrust and law enforcement agencies to open probes into Google, Facebook, and other social media companies. Trump has complained that “Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices.” (Bloomberg)
A new Trump administration rule would make it more difficult for immigrants to obtain green cards if they legally use public benefits, like food stamps or Medicaid. Millions of immigrants who rely on public assistance for food and shelter could be forced to choose between accepting financial help or obtaining a green card to legally live and work in the U.S. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)
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