👋 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 called for Florida to suspend its legally required recount and declare the Republican candidates for Senate and governor the winners of their respective races. Without evidence, Trump claimed that “many ballots are missing or forged,” and that “an honest vote count is no longer possible – ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!” In the governor’s race, unofficial results showed Ron DeSantis leading Democratic mayor, Andrew Gillum, by 0.41%, and in the Senate race, Republican governor Rick Scott leads incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson by 0.14%. Florida’s 67 counties are required to complete their recounts by Thursday. (ABC News / The Guardian / Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC)
The election overseer for Palm Beach County in Florida says there is no way the machine recount will be finished by Thursday’s deadline. “It’s impossible,” said the supervisor of elections. Both parties seem to agree that completing the recount in time to meet the deadline is not going to happen. Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Michael Barnett said the inability to meet the deadline was “good news for Republicans because our candidates are ahead.” (CNN)
Stacey Abrams filed a new lawsuit in federal court asking a judge to delay Georgia’s vote certifications by one day to give officials time to count any votes that were wrongly rejected. If the suit is successful, officials would have until Wednesday to restore at least 1,095 votes that weren’t counted. Neither campaign can agree on how many votes remain to be counted. (ABC News)
2/ Without evidence, Rick Scott accused Bill Nelson of trying to “commit fraud to try to win this election.” State elections and law enforcement officials say there is no evidence suggesting Scott’s allegations are true. Florida’s Senate race is one of three statewide contests headed to an automatic recount after the unofficial deadline for counties to report results passed. (The Guardian / CNN / Politico)
Gillum withdrew his concession to Republican former Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Florida governor’s race. (CNN)
Nelson called on Scott to recuse himself from “any role” in the recount that will determine the winner of their race. The recount is overseen by Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Republican who was appointed to his position in 2012 by Scott. (NBC News)
Scott has filed at least five lawsuits against county election officials alleging that some ballots were counted after the Saturday noon deadline and requesting that voting tabulation equipment be impounded after the machine recount is completed. (CNN)
An ethics complaint asserts that Scott broke state law when he held a press conference in front of the governor’s mansion on Nov. 8 to claim that he would not “sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal” his Senate race. A group of Florida voters and organizations have also filed a lawsuit that alleges Scott has abused his power as governor for threatening to not count legal votes. (Politico / BuzzFeed News)
3/ Trump properties received at least $3.2 million during midterms from campaigns and PACS. The Republican National Committee spent at least $1.2 million at Trump properties while the Trump campaign has spent more than $950,000 at the properties since the start of 2017. (CNN)
4/ A year before Jamal Khashoggi was killed, Saudi intelligence officials close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed using private companies to assassinate enemies of the kingdom. Saudi officials have claimed that Khashoggi’s death was a rogue killing ordered by an official who has since been fired. Turkish officials say Mohammad al-Otaibi, Saudi Arabia’s consul general in Istanbul at the time, as an accessory to the killing of Khashoggi has been established through his early denials and refusal to give investigators access to the consulate after Khashoggi’s disappearance. Otaibi was not among the Saudis arrested or fired. (New York Times / Washington Post)
- Canadian intelligence has heard the audio recordings of the killing of the Khashoggi. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country had shared the audio recordings with a number of countries, including the U.S., France, Germany and Saudi Arabia. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that his country’s intelligence services have listened to the recordings. (NBC News / NPR / BBC)
5/ North Korea has continued its ballistic missile program at 16 hidden bases identified in new satellite images. The existence of the ballistic missile bases contradicts Trump’s assertion that North Korea was “no longer a nuclear threat” following his June summit with dictator Kim Jong Un. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Washington Post)
6/ Michael Cohen and his criminal defense lawyer, Guy Petrillo, met Robert Mueller’s investigators. Cohen’s meeting with Mueller’s team is the latest in a series of sitdowns since pleading guilty in August to federal criminal charges, including campaign contribution violations related to payments to two women at Trump’s behest. Cohen has participated in multiple interview sessions totaling more than 40 hours with investigators from Mueller’s office and federal prosecutors in New York City. (ABC News / CNBC)
poll/ 61% of Democrats see Republicans as “racist/bigoted/sexist.” 31% of Republicans say they view Democrats the same way. (Axios)
Trump doesn’t want to give any more federal relief funding to Puerto Rico, because he thinks the island’s government is using the relief money to pay off its debt. It’s not. (Axios)
Trump blamed California’s wildfires on “poor” forest management despite nearly 60% of California’s forests being under federal management. He also threatened to cut off federal funding due to “gross mismanagement.” (ABC News / NBC News)
Democrats in the House have at least 85 different topics for potential subpoena and investigation, including Trump’s taxes, his role in payments to two women who alleged that they had affairs with him, his family business, and his targeting of the press. One senior Democratic source said the Democrats are preparing a “subpoena cannon.” New York Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler added that if Trump is found to have violated campaign finance laws with hush payments, it “might very well be an impeachable offense.” (Axios / ABC News / The Guardian / CNN)
Trump blamed the stock market downturn on the prospect of “Presidential Harassment by the Dems.” (Washington Post)
Half of the Republicans who wrote the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are no longer in Congress. Of the 24 Republican tax-cut authors, four lost their seats in the midterms, three retired, three ran for another office, and two left mid-term. (Yahoo News)
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