👋 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/ Rick Gates requested proposals in 2016 from an Israeli company to create fake online identities and use social media to manipulate and influence the election. Gates joined the Trump campaign along with Paul Manafort. Both have been indicted on multiple charges of financial fraud and tax evasion. One proposal from the company, known as Psy-Group, called for the creation of fake online personas to target and persuade 5,000 delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention by attacking Ted Cruz. Another called for opposition research and “complementary intelligence activities” aimed at Clinton and her close allies. There is no evidence that the Trump campaign acted on the proposals, but Psy-Group owner Joel Zamel did meet with Trump Jr. in August 2016. (New York Times)
2/ Nikki Haley resigned as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and will leave at the end of the year. Trump said that Haley informed him about six months ago that she would “take a break” at the end of her first two years. Haley said she doesn’t plan to run for president against Trump in 2020 and will support Trump’s re-election. Trump plans to name a successor in two to three weeks (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Axios / NBC News / CNN)
After announcing her resignation, Haley called Jared Kushner a “hidden genius that no one understands.” She added: “We’re a better country because [Jared and Ivanka Trump are] in this administration.” (The Hill / Axios)
👋 Who The Fuck Has Left The Trump Administration. A timeline of all the departures so far… (WTFJHT Community Forum)
3/ Trump said he thought there was no one “more competent in the world” than Ivanka Trump for the U.N. ambassador job. While he thinks his daughter would make for an “incredible” ambassador, he also acknowledged that he “would be accused of nepotism.” (NBC News / Axios)
- Senior White House officials have talked with Dina Powell about replacing Haley as U.N. ambassador. Powell is a Goldman Sachs executive and Trump’s former deputy national security advisor. (CNBC)
poll/ 54% of likely voters say they support the Democrat in their district while 41% back the Republican in a generic ballot. 62% of Democrats say they’re enthusiastic to vote while 52% of Republicans are excited to vote. (CNN)
poll/ 34% of young people ages 18-24 say they are “extremely likely” to vote in the midterm elections – up from 19.9% of 18-to-29 year olds who voted in 2014’s midterms. 45% want to vote for a Democratic candidate in 2018 while 26% plan to support a Republican. (Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
The acting EPA administration repeatedly engaged with racist and conspiratorial content on Facebook and Twitter over the past five years. Andrew Wheeler brushed off his interactions, saying he doesn’t remember “liking” or retweeting the inflammatory content. (HuffPost)
The Trump administration will remove a federal ban on the summer sales of high-ethanol gasoline blends. The policy change would allow year-round sales of gasoline blends with up to 15% ethanol – 5% higher than typical blends. The EPA currently bans high-ethanol blends during the summer because they contribute to smog on hot days. The move is seen as a reward to Sen. Chuck Grassley, who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee and presided over Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. (CBS News)
Trump apologized “on behalf of our nation” to Kavanaugh “for the terrible pain and suffering” that he and his family endured during the confirmation process. Trump claimed that Kavanaugh was “proven innocent” and said that the confirmation process was based on “lies and deception.” (NBC News / ABC News)
More than a thousand noncitizens may have been registered to vote in California due to a processing error. The California Department of Motor Vehicles admitted that a mistake had caused as many as 1,500 noncitizens to be registered to vote in the state. A Canadian citizen and legal permanent resident of the U.S. first brought attention to the mistake after he received a letter in the mail telling him he was registered to vote. (ABC News / Los Angeles Times)
Trump’s trade war with China has cost Ford $1 billion. The automaker may have to cut production of some models and potentially eliminate some U.S. jobs as a result. (NBC News)
Kanye West will visit the White House to discuss job opportunities for former convicts with Trump and Jared Kushner. West also hopes to discuss increasing manufacturing jobs in the Chicago area. (New York Times / Reuters)
A few stories worth your attention that were drowned out by the daily shock and awe. Updated occasionally.
Day 621: Trump inherited his family’s wealth through fraud and questionable tax schemes, receiving the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire. Trump has repeatedly claimed that “I built what I built myself.” Trump and his siblings used fake corporations to hide financial gifts from their parents, which helped Fred Trump claim millions in tax deductions. Trump also helped his parents undervalue their real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars when filing their tax returns. In total, Fred and Mary Trump transferred more than $1 billion in wealth to their children and paid a total of $52.2 million in taxes (about 5%) instead of the $550+ million they should have owed under the 55% tax rate imposed on gifts and inheritances. Trump also “earned” $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father’s companies starting at age 3. After college, Trump started receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year, which increased to $5 million a year when he was in his 40s and 50s. Trump has refused to release his income tax returns, breaking with decades of practice by past presidents. There is no time limit on civil fines for tax fraud. [Editor’s note: This is a must read. An abstract summary does not suffice.] (New York Times)
Day 627: A U.N. report on the effects of climate change predicts a strong risk of an environmental crisis much sooner than expected. The report finds that the atmosphere could warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, which would cause sea levels to rise, intensify droughts, wildfires, and poverty, and cause a mass die-off of coral reefs. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050. The use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1% and 7% by 2050. Renewable energy would have to increase to about 67%. Trump has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, vowing to increase the burning of coal, and he intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement. The world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark and “there is no documented historic precedent” for the scale of changes required, the report said. (New York Times / Washington Post)
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