👋 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/ The National Climate Assessment concludes that global warming is already “transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us.” The findings from the landmark scientific report, issued by 13 federal agencies, are at odds with the Trump administration’s environmental deregulation agenda, which Trump claims will lead to economic growth, and its plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The report predicts that the effects of global warming could eliminate as much as 10% of the U.S. economy by the end of the century, and warns that humans must act aggressively now “to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades.” The first report, released in November 2017, concluded that there is “no convincing alternative explanation” for the changing climate other than “human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases.” Trump recently questioned the science of climate change, saying that “I don’t know that it’s man-made” and that the warming trend “could very well go back.” (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN)
📌 The Re-up: 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)
Trump: “I don’t believe” the climate report. (Axios)
2/ The Trump administration claimed it reached a deal with Mexico’s incoming government to hold asylum seekers in Mexico while their claims are processed through U.S. courts. The incoming Mexican government, however, denied that it reached an agreement with the Trump administration, known as Remain in Mexico, and insisted that talks of a deal were premature. (Washington Post / The Guardian / USA Today / NBC News)
3/ U.S. border agents fired tear gas on migrants protesting near the U.S.-Mexico border after some of them attempted to cross using a train border crossing. The fumes were carried by the breeze toward unarmed families hundreds of feet away. Mexico’s Interior Ministry said around 500 migrants were involved in the march for faster processing of asylum claims for Central American migrants, but it was a smaller group of migrants who broke away and tried the train crossing. The border was shut down in both directions for several hours. (Associated Press / New York Times / CNN)
- Defense Secretary Jim Mattis declined last month to approve a Department of Homeland Security request to use military force to protect border agents on the southwest border. DHS instead went over Mattis’ head and asked John Kelly to get approval for the use of lethal military force. Kelly is not in the military chain of command. (Daily Beast)
4/ A judge denied Trump’s request to throw out a lawsuit alleging he used the Trump Foundation for personal and political purposes. The suit alleges that Trump, along with Ivanka and Trump Jr., engaged in “extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Mr. Trump’s personal and business interests, and violations of basic legal obligations for nonprofit foundations.” A lawyer for the Trump Foundation tried to have the case thrown out, arguing that a sitting president can’t be sued and that the Trump family didn’t knowingly do anything wrong. He claimed the suit was an act of political bias. (NBC News / Reuters / NBC News / CNN)
poll/ 59% of Americans disapprove of the way Trump is handling race relations. 35% approve. (Quinnipiac)
poll/ 60% of American disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president. 38% approve. (Gallup)
Jared Kushner directed the Department of Defense and State to inflate the value of the arms deal between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia from around $14.5 billion to $110 billion. (ABC News)
Trump launched 238 drone strikes during his first two years in office on Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. In 2009 and 2010, “Drone President” Obama launched 186 drone strikes on Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. Once in office, Trump relaxed the burden of proof requirements for targets put in place by the Obama administration, which counterterrorism experts say explains the increase in strikes. (Daily Beast)
The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to take up three cases challenging Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military. The move is an attempt to bypass federal appeals courts and bring the case directly to the high court for a decision. District courts across the country have so far prevented the policy from going into effect, and the D.C. Circuit is scheduled to hear arguments in early December. (CNN / Reuters / Washington Post / New York Times / BuzzFeed News)
Jerome Corsi rejected a deal from Robert Mueller to plead guilty to one count of perjury. He claimed he was forgetful when investigators asked him whether he knew beforehand that WikiLeaks was going to publish emails stolen from Democratic computers during the campaign. He said he did not want to plead guilty to intentionally lying. (Washington Post / New York Times)
George Papadopoulos was ordered to start his 14-day prison sentence today for lying to federal investigators in the Russia probe, Papdopoulos has asked to delay the start of his sentence while a constitutional challenge to the special counsel’s investigation of Russian election interference remains unresolved. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)
The head of Russian military intelligence died “after a long and serious illness.” In March, the Trump administration sanctioned Igor Korobov, citing the GRU’s involvement “in interfering in the 2016 U.S. election through cyber-enabled activities.” (Meduza / The Guardian)
The Office of Special Counsel is looking into whether acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from accepting political contributions. According to the Office of Special Counsel guidance, “penalties for Hatch Act violations range from reprimand or suspension to removal and debarment from federal employment and may include a civil fine.” The office has no connection to the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. (CNN)
The White House deputy communications chief will continue to receive payments from his $8.4 million Fox News severance package over the next two years while being paid by the White House at the same time. Bill Shine’s financial disclosure form shows he will also receive a bonus and stock options package worth about $3.5 million this year and again in 2019. Shine was accused in multiple lawsuits of enabling and helping to cover up alleged sexual harassment by Fox News executives. (Hollywood Reporter / Daily Beast / USA Today / Associated Press)
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