👋 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’s shutdown entered its sixth day with negotiations between Democrats, Republicans, and the White House at a standstill. The Senate is scheduled to be in session today, but there are no votes for a spending bill scheduled since an agreement between Democrats and Trump hasn’t been reached over Trump’s demand for $5 billion in border wall funding. The impasse has left about 420,000 federal workers working without pay and another 380,000 furloughed. Trump told reporters that he’ll do “whatever it takes” to fund the wall he once claimed Mexico would pay for. (ABC News / New York Times)
2/ Trump made up alternative facts to claim “most of the people not getting paid” during the government shutdown are Democrats, contrasting his Christmas claimed that “many of those workers” had told him to continue to shut down the government “until you get the funding for the wall.” (Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC / Bloomberg)
3/ Trump’s lawyers asked to delay the emoluments case against him until the shutdown ends. Justice Department attorneys representing Trump asked a federal appeals court to indefinitely postpone all filings in the lawsuit alleging that Trump is illegally profiting from foreign officials’ use of the Trump International Hotel in Washington. (Politico)
4/ Trump tweeted a video revealing a covert U.S. Navy SEAL team deployed in Iraq, which violated combat operational security by posting the faces and location of the special operations unit. Trump’s trip to Iraq, his first to a war zone as president, was supposed to be a secret for security reasons, but a Twitter user in Germany posted that he had tracked an aircraft that could be Air Force One, while a British-based Flickr user later posted a photo of the plane flying through clear skies over Yorkshire. The clandestine trip came a week after Trump ordered the Pentagon to withdraw roughly 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria and about 7,000 from Afghanistan over the next few month, which prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. (Newsweek / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / NBC News)
5/ Trump lied to troops in Iraq that he had secured a “more than 10 percent” pay raise for them. Trump authorized a raise that amounts to 2.6% earlier this year. Military members have seen a pay raise in each of the last 10 years, ranging from 1% to 3.9%. (Washington Post / CNN / HuffPost)
6/ The acting attorney general claimed he was an Academic All-American while playing football at the University of Iowa. He wasn’t. The College Sports Information Directors of America said the group has no record that Matthew Whitaker was ever an Academic All-American. To be considered an Academic All-American, a student-athlete must have at least a 3.3 cumulative GPA and be an integral part of the team. (Wall Street Journal)
7/ Michael Cohen’s cell phone was briefly activated near Prague around time of the Russia meeting described in the Steele dossier, which purports that Cohen and one or more Kremlin officials met in or around the Czech capital to plot ways to limit discovery of the close “liaison” between the Trump campaign and Russia. Additionally, around the same period of late August or early September 2016, electronic eavesdropping by an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up Russians remarking that Cohen was in Prague. The cell phone and eavesdropping evidence was shared with Robert Mueller. (McClatchy DC)
📌Day 224: Trump’s lawyer “vehemently” denied working with Russia to disrupt the election. Michael Cohen gave Congress a point-by-point rebuttal of the 35-page dossier compiled by retired British spy Christopher Steele, which alleges he has deep ties to Russian officials. Cohen denied the dossier’s claims, including that he had secret meetings in Prague with a Russian official last summer. (New York Times)
📌Day 450: Robert Mueller has evidence that Michael Cohen made a secret trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign, entering through Germany in “August or early September.” Confirmation of the trip corroborates part of the Christopher Steele dossier that Cohen met with an ally of Putin. Cohen has denied that he has ever been in Prague and that he colluded with Russia during the campaign. (McClatchy DC)
8/ Rudy Giuliani said negotiations with Mueller are “still open” on whether the special counsel will further question Trump, including the scope of the questions, if they take place. (Daily Beast)
poll/ 47% of Americans hold Trump responsible for the shutdown, while 33% blame Democrats in Congress. 35% of those surveyed said they backed including money for the wall in a congressional spending bill. 25% said they supported Trump shutting down the government over the matter. (Reuters)
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