👋 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/ Negotiations to avoid another partial government shutdown fell apart on Sunday. Democrats are demanding a limit on the number of arrests of undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, as well as a cap the number of beds in ICE detention centers to force the Trump administration to focus on detaining undocumented immigrants with criminal records instead of using indiscriminate deportation raids in local communities without valid reason. To avoid another partial shutdown – set to begin Saturday – the House and Senate must pass identical spending bills that Trump would then need to sign into law by Friday night. The 17 House and Senate negotiators had hoped to reach a deal by Monday to give lawmakers enough time to approve the deal in both chambers before the deadline. The only things being discussed at the moment are a temporary Homeland Security spending bill or a possible national emergency declaration by Trump. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Reuters / The Guardian)
- California’s governor is pulling the National Guard troops back from the southern border. Gov. Gavin Newsom will order the removal of roughly 360 California National Guard members from the state’s border with Mexico, and instead directing them to focus on drug trafficking and wildfire prevention. (Los Angeles Times / New York Times / CBS News)
2/ Mick Mulvaney “absolutely cannot” rule out the possibility of another partial government shutdown if Congress doesn’t include funding for a border wall. The acting White House chief of staff blamed the uncertainty on Democrats and that “You cannot take a shutdown off the table, and you cannot take $5.7 billion off the table.” (NBC News)
3/ Trump spent about 50% of his time last week in unstructured “Executive Time,” as more of his personal schedules leaked. Hours earlier, Mick Mulvaney said he expected to catch whoever leaked Trump’s personal schedule to the media and “have a resolution on that this week.” Trump responded to his leaked schedules by tweeted that “When the term Executive Time is used. I am generally working, not relaxing.” Trump is believed to use his executive time watching TV, tweeting, calling friends, and reading newspapers. Trump added: “I probably work more hours than almost any past President.” (Axios / USA Today)
4/ The average tax refund is down about 8% under the first full year of the Republican-led overhaul of the tax code. The White House promised a $4,000 “raise” under the Trump tax plan, but refunds have averaged $1,865 compared to $2,035 for tax year 2017. (NBC News / CNN)
5/ Robert Mueller’s lead prosecutors disclosed that the special counsel is continuing to pursue collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia based on the conversations between Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, who allegedly is linked to Russian intelligence. Prosecutors have been focused on discussions the two had about a “peace plan” to end the conflict following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014. The two repeatedly communicated about the plan for Ukraine starting in early August 2016, while Manafort was still running Trump’s campaign, and continuing into 2018 – months after Manafort had been charged by Mueller’s office related to his work in the country. (New York Times)
poll/ 34% of Americans believe it’s always or sometimes acceptable for a white person to wear blackface as a Halloween costume, compared to 53% who believe it’s rarely or never acceptable. 50% of Republicans, however, say it’s always or sometimes acceptable to wear blackface as part of a costume. (Pew Research Center)
👑 Presidential News and Notes.
Amy Klobuchar announced that she will run for president in 2020. The three-term Minnesota Democrat announced her campaign with a call to rebuild American with a “sense of community.” (Politico / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)
Elizabeth Warren announced she will run for president in 2020, calling for “fundamental change” because wealthy power brokers “have been waging class warfare against hardworking people for decades” and that Trump is “just the latest and most extreme symptom of what’s gone wrong in America.” (New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal)
Trump mocked Warren – again – calling her by the slur “Pocahontas” and saying he’d “see you on the campaign TRAIL,” which is interpreted as a reference to the Trail of Tears where Native Americans were forcibly relocated to reservations in the southeastern U.S. in the 1800s. Trump Jr. called the “TRAIL” tweet “savage.” (New York Times / USA Today / ABC News)
Kamala Harris called for the legalization of marijuana at a federal level, saying “I think it gives a lot of people joy. And we need more joy.” Harris also said she smoked weed in college “and I inhaled.” (Politico)
A Democratic party strategist called Joe Biden a “weaker candidate than Hillary.” (McClatchy DC)
Trump will hold a rally in El Paso tonight at the same time as Beto O’Rourke. Trump will speak at a Make America Great Again rally at the El Paso County Coliseum at 7 p.m. Mountain time, while O’Rourke and his supporters will meet at Bowie High School at 5 p.m., and then march to Chalio Acosta Sports Center. He will also begin speaking at 7 p.m. (New York Times)
The brother of Jeff Bezos’ mistress leaked the text messages to the National Enquirer. AMI has previously refused to identify the source of the texts, but a lawyer for the company hinted that Michael Sanchez was behind the leak. Elkan Abramowitz also said the exposé of Bezos’ extramarital affair was not “inspired by the White House, inspired by Saudi Arabia or inspired by The Washington Post,” and insisted that neither the kingdom nor Trump leaked the messages. Abramowitz denied Bezos’ allegations that the parent company of the National Enquirer attempted to extort and blackmail CEO, saying it “absolutely is not extortion and not blackmail.” (Daily Beast / Politico / ABC News)
The publisher of the National Enquirer asked the Justice Department last year if it should register as a foreign agent after it sought financial backing from Saudi investors and produced a magazine celebrating the country’s new crown prince. American Media previously went to the Saudis to finance a failed effort to acquire Time magazine, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money. (Wall Street Journal)
Trump is expected to sign an executive order launching the American Artificial Intelligence initiative to bolster American leadership in the field. (CNN)
Trump’s personal physician declared that the president is in “very good health” and should remain so “for the remainder of his presidency and beyond.” Last year, Trump’s then-physician noted the president’s “excellent health” and “incredible genes,” joking that Trump “might live to be 200 years old” if he improved his diet. (New York Times / CNN)
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