👋 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 claimed he’d be “proud to shut down the government” if his demand for $5 billion in border wall funding isn’t met. In an extended, heated, and televised exchange with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, Trump declared that “I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it. I am proud to shut down the government for border security. […] I will take the mantle […] for shutting down the government.” Schumer and Pelosi said they made two offers to Trump at the current level of $1.375 billion. Prior to the meeting, Trump falsely tweeted that a substantial part of his “Great Wall” had already been built and then threatened that “if the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall.” Schumer accused Trump of throwing a “temper tantrum” with the meeting ending with no resolution, increasing the chances of a partial government shutdown at the end of next week. (Washington Post / Axios / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC)
After the meeting, Pelosi questioned Trump’s manhood and called the border wall a matter of masculine pride. Trump “must have said the word ‘wall’ 30 times,” the House minority leader said. “It’s like a manhood thing with him — as if manhood can be associated with him,” she added. “This wall thing.” (Politico / Washington Post)
5 takeaways from Trump’s meeting with Pelosi and Schumer. (New York Times)
Annotated: Trump’s squabble with Pelosi and Schumer. (Washington Post)
Trump gives the Democrats the best soundbite they could possibly hope for: "Yes, if we don't get what we want...I will shut down the government. ... I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it." pic.twitter.com/e4xbjlMvwj— David Mack (@davidmackau) December 11, 2018
2/ The Trump administration plans to unveil sweeping changes to federal clean water rules that would weaken protections for millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams against pesticide runoff and other pollutants. The proposed reforms would strip away standards that were put in place during the George H.W. Bush administration despite Trump’s repeated commitment to “crystal-clean water.” Current rules restricts farmers from using land near streams and wetlands for certain kinds of plowing and planting, and also requires permits from the EPA to use some pesticides and fertilizers. Trump’s new plan would lift those restrictions. (New York Times / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)
3/ John Kelly will remain as chief of staff through at least Jan. 2 to ensure “a very peaceful and pragmatic transition,” Kellyanne Conway said. Trump previously announced that Kelly would exit by the end of the year. (Washington Post)
After Nick Ayers declined the chief of staff job, Trump asks “why wouldn’t someone want one of the truly great and meaningful jobs in Washington.” Trump later claimed that “a lot of friends of mine want it,” and “we’re in no rush.” (Politico / New York Times / USA Today)
Trump’s mood after Ayers’ declined the job: “super pissed” and humiliated. Trump has also become increasingly concerned about what his administration is up against come January, when Democrats are expected to exercise their oversight powers on the Trump administration. (CNN)
4/ Trump sees impeachment as a “real possibility” after prosecutors in New York linked him to campaign finance violations for directing the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. The legal troubles have unnerved some of his fellow Republicans with one official calling last week’s court filings a “reality tremor.” (CNN / Associated Press / Axios)
- More Mueller developments are coming this week in the Manafort, Cohen and Flynn cases. (CNBC)
5/ Trump continues to reject the assessment U.S. spy agencies lay out for him in daily briefings on world events. In particular, Trump has dismissed the intelligence community’s assessments about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, North Korea’s willingness to abandon its nuclear weapons program, Iran’s nuclear and regional ambitions, the existence of climate change, and the role of the Saudi crown prince in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. (Washington Post)
poll/ 57% of Americans think Trump should compromise on his border wall to prevent a government shutdown. 69% do not consider building a border wall to be an immediate priority for the next Congress. (NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist)
poll/ 29% of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling the Russia investigation. 54%, meanwhile, think the things Trump has said publicly about the investigation have been false. (CNN)
The Senate will vote on a criminal justice bill before the end of the year. The legislation would reduce the three-strike mandatory life sentence to 25 years for drug offenses, and give judges the power to bypass the minimum sentences for certain offenders. It would also mark of Trump’s first bipartisan legislative achievements of his presidency. (CNBC / Bloomberg / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)
For months the Trump administration hid a report that showed Wells Fargo charged college students fees that were several times larger than the average fees of its competitors. The report was produced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under its former top student loan official, Seth Frotman, who resigned in protest in August. Wells Fargo collected more than half of all the fees paid by students despite handling about a quarter of the accounts. (Politico)
China agreed to reduce tariffs on U.S. autos to 15% – down from 40% currently. The Trump administration, meanwhile, plans to condemn China’s trade, cyber, and economic policies. The Justice Department is also expected to announce the indictments of several hackers suspected of working for the Chinese government. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times)
The incoming House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman plans to investigate Jared Kushner’s ties to Mohammed bin Salman as part of a review of U.S. policy towards Saudi Arabia. (CNN)
Putin claimed “nobody” at Russia’s spy agencies “knows anything about” Maria Butina, who agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and cooperate with federal, state and local authorities in any ongoing investigations. (CNBC / ABC News)
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