👋 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/ Roger Stone was in communication with Steve Bannon about upcoming WikiLeaks disclosures during the 2016 presidential race. After WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange publicly claimed to have hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, Bannon emailed Stone on Oct. 4: “What was that this morning???” Stone responded that Assange feared for his personal safety, but would be releasing “a load every week going forward.” Last week, Robert Mueller’s team interviewed Bannon for a third time, including about his communications with Stone. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)
Earlier this week Stone claimed he never discussed WikiLeaks with anybody from the Trump campaign. “There are no such communications,” Stone said, “and if Bannon says there are, he would be dissembling.” (Washington Post)
📖Read the emails between the Trump campaign and Roger Stone. (New York Times)
Jerome Corsi met with Mueller’s investigators and is scheduled to appear before the federal grand jury probing Russia interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Friday. Corsi is one of at least 11 individuals associated with Stone who have been contacted by the special counsel. (ABC News)
2/ Trump tweeted a racist video falsely accusing Democrats of allowing a man who murdered two police officers into the country. The ad shows Luis Bracamontes, a Mexican man who had previously been deported but returned to the U.S. and killed two California sheriff’s deputies, in court with text overlays that say he “killed our people!” and that “Democrats let him into our country” and “Democrats let him stay.” It’s followed by footage of people who appear to be part of a migrant caravan pushing down gates with text then asks: “Who else would Democrats let in?” The ad offers no evidence for claims that Democrats let Bracamontes, who was deported twice, into the country. (ABC News / CNN / The Guardian)
3/ Before Saudi Arabia acknowledged that Jamal Khashoggi’s death was a “terrible mistake” and a “terrible tragedy,” the crown prince claimed that Khashoggi was a dangerous Islamist. In a phone call with both Jared Kushner and national security adviser John Bolton, Prince Mohammed bin Salman argued that Khashoggi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohammed is expected to retain power despite an international consensus that he’s responsible for the killing. (Washington Post / New York Times)
4/ Trump’s deployment of an additional 5,200 troops to the southern border could cost as much as a million dollars per day. Troops are expected to be stationed at the border for 45 days. (Newsweek)
5/ Without evidence, Trump claimed that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if George Soros is funding the caravan of Central American migrants moving toward the U.S. Republican congressmen, cable-news personalities, and Trump Jr. have been pushing the idea that Soros, a wealthy, liberal Jewish donor, was funding the caravan. (The Hill / Washington Post)
- 🎉 Base motivations: Trump claimed that he will take executive action next week to end what he calls an “abuse” of the asylum system, saying that “massive tent cities” could be erected at the southern border to hold people who cross into the country illegally in detention indefinitely. Trump also said that soldiers at the border may shoot at migrants who commit violence. (Bloomberg / Washington Post)
6/ Trump: “I always want to tell the truth. When I can, I tell the truth.” Trump has made more than 5,000 false or misleading statements during his nearly two years in office. During the same interview, Trump claimed he is “pretty good at estimating crowd sizes,” which is how he knows the group of migrants traveling north through Central America is “a lot bigger than people would think.” (ABC News)
- Trump suggested that he might invoke a state of national emergency in order to justify using the military to arrest and detain migrants and refugees at the southern border. When asked what role active duty military personnel would play, since U.S. law prohibits the U.S. Army from being used to enforce domestic law, Trump said “Well it depends, it depends.” He continued: “National emergency covers a lot of territory. They can’t invade our country. You look at that it almost looks like an invasion. It’s almost does look like an invasion.” (ABC News)
7/ Trump claimed that calling the press the “enemy of the people” is his only way to fight back “when people write stories about me that are so wrong.” He said he thinks he’s “doing a service” by attacking the press, and that he wouldn’t have been elected if he hadn’t done it during the 2016 campaign. “If they would write accurately about me,” he continued, “I would be the nicest president you’ve ever seen. It would be much easier.” (Axios)
poll/ 56% of voters said Trump has done more to divide the country than unite it. 64% said the media have done more to divide the country. (Politico)
poll/ 47% of American believe that Russia will try to influence the midterm elections. 48% believe Russians would try to help Republicans, while 15% say Russia would try to help Democrats. (Politico)
Federal judges ordered Ohio to allow voters who had been purged for not voting over a six-year period to participate in the midterm elections. The state sent confirmation notices to voters that they’d be removed from county voter rolls after not voting in three federal elections. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel said the state “did not adequately advise registrants of the consequences of failure to respond.” (NBC News)
National Security Adviser John Bolton called Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua a “Troika of Tyranny,” declaring Jair Bolsonaro’s recent election in Brazil a “positive sign” for Latin America. Bolsonaro has made numerous homophobic and sexist remarks, and supports military rule. (Axios)
Trump’s top economic adviser opposes the federal minimum wage, arguing that it’s a “terrible idea” and that raising it would “damage” small businesses by forcing their payroll to increase. Larry Kudlow also said that he would oppose any attempt to work with Democrats in Congress to raise the federal minimum wage should they take back the House or Senate in the 2018 midterm elections. (Washington Post)
The EPA approved the use of a weedkiller prone to drifting and damaging nearby crops and wild vegetation. Farmers started using dicamba because glyphosate, their previous favorite weedkiller, isn’t working as well anymore. (NPR)
Trump wants to offer a former Fox News anchor the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations job. Heather Nauert, currently the State Department spokeswoman, would take over from Nikki Haley, who announced last month that she would step down at the end of the year. (CNN / ABC News)
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