👋 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/ Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman will support a “thorough, transparent, and timely investigation” into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that Bin Salman “totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate.” Trump sent Pompeo to Saudi Arabia as the kingdom was preparing to acknowledge that Khashoggi died at the consulate as a result of an interrogation that went wrong. (Politico / Reuters / New York Times)
2/ Trump said that Saudi Arabia being blamed for the disappearance Khashoggi is “another case of “guilty until proven innocent.” Trump has vowed “severe punishment” if the Saudis killed Khashoggi, but he’s also speculated that “rogue killers” could be responsible. Trump added: “We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned.” (Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)
- The Trump administration needs Saudi Arabia’s help to implement new sanctions against Iran on Nov. 4. The Saudis could see a significant increase in oil revenues as Congress considers economic or military sanctions against the kingdom for its role in Khashoggi’s death. Sanctioning the Saudis would undercut the Iran policy and send the price of gasoline and heating oil significantly higher. (New York Times)
3/ The body of Jamal Khashoggi was cut into pieces after he was killed two weeks ago at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to a Turkish official. Saudi Arabia has insisted that Khashoggi left the building alive, but police searching the Saudi Consulate found evidence that Khashoggi was killed there. An autopsy specialist carrying a bone saw was among 15 Saudi operatives who flew in and out of Istanbul the day Khashoggi disappeared. (CNN / New York Times / Associated Press)
- Four of the suspects in the disappearance of Khashoggi are linked to the Saudi crown prince’s security detail. A fifth is a forensic doctor who holds senior positions in the Saudi Interior Ministry. (New York Times)
4/ Jared Kushner is “deeply involved” in the White House response to Khashoggi’s disappearance and has been working closely with Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton. Kushner also has a close relationship with Prince bin Salman and has been lobbying Saudi Arabia to participate in the Khashoggi investigation. (Yahoo News)
5/ A federal judge dismissed Stormy Daniels’ libel lawsuit against Trump, saying Trump’s tweet that she had lied about being threatened to keep quiet about their alleged relationship was “rhetorical hyperbole” and is protected by the First Amendment. Daniels was ordered to pay Trump’s legal fees for the case. (Washington Post / Politico)
6/ Trump celebrated the dismissal of Stormy Daniels’ defamation suit by calling her “Horseface” and threatening to “go after” her and “her 3rd rate lawyer.” Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, responded by calling Trump a “disgusting misogynist” and a “liar” who has dishonored his family and country. (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / The Hill)
7/ Trump called Elizabeth Warren a “phony” and a “fraud” while referring to her as “Pocahontas (the bad version)” a day after she publicly released the results of a DNA test intended to prove her Native American ancestry. The DNA test concluded that there was “strong evidence” that Warren had a Native American in her family tree dating back six to 10 generations, making her between 1/64th and 1/1,024 Native American. The Cherokee Nation, meanwhile, criticized Warren’s use of a DNA test as “inappropriate.” (The Guardian / Politico / Washington Post / HuffPost / The Hill)
8/ Mitch McConnell called the rising federal deficits “not a Republican problem” and instead blamed Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. In December 2017, Republicans passed a tax cut. which is projected to add more than $1 trillion to the debt over a decade. (Bloomberg / The Hill / Washington Post)
- Trump escalated his criticism of the Federal Reserve, calling the central bank his “biggest threat” because it is raising interest rates “too fast.” (Politico)
poll/ Ted Cruz leads his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, 52% to 45% among likely voters. 9% of likely Texas voters say there’s a chance they could change their mind before Election Day. (CNN)
Jim Mattis: Trump told me he supports me “100 percent.” Trump called to give Mattis the assurance after he mentioned during an interview on “60 Minutes” that his Secretary of Defense might be leaving. (NBC News / Associated Press)
A coalition of free-press advocates are suing Trump, seeking an order directing the president not to use his office to exact reprisals against the press – the kind of behavior those courts have found unlawful. (Politico)
Mitch McConnell ruled out a vote on Trump’s NAFTA replacement before 2019, setting up a potential fight with Democrats next year if they win the House in midterm elections on Nov. 6. (Bloomberg / CNBC)
Trump threatened to cancel aid to Honduras “if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped.” A group of hundreds of Honduran migrants are fleeing poverty and gang violence in Honduras. (Politico)
The White House is replacing the Interior Department’s inspector general, according to an internal Housing and Urban Development email regarding the staffing change. The acting inspector general at the Interior Department will oversee four ongoing investigations into Secretary Ryan Zinke’s conduct. Acting inspectors general do not need Senate confirmation. (NBC News / Washington Post)
Trump’s reelection campaign has raised at least $106 million. Between the RNC, Trump’s campaign committee, and joint fundraising committees, they’ve raised more than $337 million with at least $88 million of it in cash. (Washington Post)
The Trump campaign has more than doubled its election-related spending over the last three months. The campaign spent $7.7 million between July and the end of September – up from the $3.6 million it spent during the previous three months. The Trump campaign and the RNC have raised more than $18 million in the last quarter alone. (New York Times)
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