👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
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1/ Major parts of the federal government are shut down after Trump tanked a bipartisan spending bill because it didn’t include money for his border wall. Agencies in charge of federal parks, law enforcement, taxes and transportation ran out of money Friday night. Nearly 400,000 federal workers won’t work or get paid until a deal can be reached. Several services will be also unavailable, and the impacts will get worse the longer the shutdown lasts. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico)
2/ Trump complained that he is “all alone (poor me)” in the White House as the government entered its third day of a partial shutdown and the markets continued to tank. Trump canceled his planned vacation to Florida as 800,000 federal employees remain without pay. He spent the morning tweeting his grievances. (CNBC / New York Times / The Hill)
3/ Trump discussed firing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell several times over the past few days following the latest interest-rate hike and recent stock market losses that put the market on track for its worst year since 2008. Trump told advisers he thinks Powell will “turn me into Hoover,” a reference to the Great Depression-era president Herbert Hoover. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tweeted a statement from Trump: “I totally disagree with Fed policy . . . but I never suggested firing Chairman Jay Powell, nor do I believe I have the right to do so.” Experts say Trump most likely does not have the authority to remove Powell. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNN / New York Times)
4/ The incoming acting chief of staff said Trump “now realizes” he “does not have the authority to fire” the Federal Reserve chairman. Mick Mulvaney claimed that “it’s not at all unusual for a president to complain about the actions of the Federal Reserve chairman.” However, Trump broke a 25-year tradition of presidents refraining from making public comments on Fed interest rate moves to preserve its independence. (USA Today / NBC News / ABC News)
5/ Markets dropped after Mnuchin unexpectedly called the CEOs of the six largest U.S. banks to ensure that their operations were running smoothly, and that they had “ample liquidity available for lending.” Treasury did not say what motivated Mnuchin’s statement, though it comes amid a government shutdown and following the Dow suffering its worst week since 2008. The CEOs who spoke with Mnuchin said they were “totally baffled” by the session, finding the encounter puzzling and unnecessary. (CNN / New York Times / Politico /
6/ Trump attacked the Federal Reserve, tweeting that “the only problem” the economy has “is the Fed” and suggesting that “they don’t have a feel for the Market.” Both major stock indexes fell in the worst day of Christmas Eve trading ever following Trump’s tweets. (CNBC / Bloomberg / NBC News)
7/ Trump directed Mike Pompeo to fire Jim Mattis after the defense secretary had already resigned. Trump tweeted that Mattis was retiring “with distinction” at the end of February, but after reading the general’s resignation letter, Trump announced that he was removing Mattis from his post by Jan. 1 – two months before the defense secretary had planned to depart. Trump appointed Patrick Shanahan – Mattis’s deputy and a former Boeing executive – to serve as the acting defense secretary, calling him “very talented” and adding that “he will be great!” Shanahan will take over the government’s largest and most complex agency with no military or foreign policy experience. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)
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