👋 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/ House Democrats will file a resolution rejecting Trump’s national emergency declaration. Nancy Pelosi said the House will move “swiftly” to pass the disapproval resolution, which is the first formal step in countering Trump’s effort to go around Congress and build his border wall. While the effort is almost certain to fall short due to the threat of a Trump veto, voting will put some Republicans from swing districts and states on the record. (Washington Post / The Guardian / Politico)
2/ A federal judge banned Roger Stone from speaking publicly about his case after he published an Instagram post with what appeared to be the crosshairs of a gun drawn behind her head. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson banned Stone from issuing statements on the radio, press releases, blogs, media interviews, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat posts. Jackson also banned Stone’s spokespersons, family members or his “many volunteers” from issuing statements on his behalf. Stone claimed he was “heartfully sorry” and that he was “having trouble putting the food on the table and making rent,” and that he needed to be able to make money as a commentator. Stone’s pre-trial consulting income was $47,000 a month. (NBC News / CNN / Washignton Post)
3/ The White House is forcing interns to sign non-disclosure agreements and warning them that a breach of the NDA could result in legal and financial consequences. Interns were also told that they would not receive a copy of the NDA. The Trump intern orientation process calls this “ethics training.” (Daily Beast)
- A former Trump staffer filed a class action lawsuit against the Trump campaign alleging that the non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements are invalid. The claims brought by Jessica Denson are the broadest attack on Trump’s campaign practices to date, which include having staffers, volunteers, and contractors sign agreements that prohibit them from ever publicly criticizing Trump, his company, or his family, and bars them from disclosing private or confidential information about all three. Denson’s lawyers believe thousands of campaign staffers, volunteers, and contractors signed NDAs and could be covered by the case. If the agreements they signed are eventually thrown out in court, they would all be free to discuss their time working for the campaign and to criticize Trump without fear of financial penalties or legal retribution. (BuzzFeed News)
Michael Cohen has agreed to testify publicly before Congress next week about his work as Trump’s longtime fixer, lawyer, and confidant. Lawmakers have said they will limit the scope of their questions out of deference to Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation. Cohen will appear Wednesday before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, where he’ll be given an opportunity to explain the work he did for Trump, including the illegal plan during the 2016 campaign to pay off two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump. (New York Times / CNN)
Paul Manafort will be sentenced on March 8th in Virginia after being convicted last summer on eight felony counts of bank and tax fraud. Manafort will be sentenced in a related case in Washington, D.C. five days later. (Politico / CNBC / Reuters)
Senate investigators want to question a Moscow-based American businessman with deep ties to Trump after witnesses told lawmakers that the man could provide information about Trump’s commercial and personal activities in Russia dating all the way back to the 1990s. The Senate Intelligence Committee has been interested in speaking with David Geovanis for several months. Geovanis helped organize a 1996 trip to Moscow for Trump while he was in the early stages of pursuing what would become his long-held goal of building a Trump Tower in Russia’s capital city. Years later, Geovanis worked for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. (CNN)
White House officials, as well as several Republican and Democratic lawmakers, are concerned that Trump will soon replace Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Trump spent the holiday weekend at Mar-a-Lago venting about Coats’ testimony before Congress last month, where Coats publicly contradicted Trump about the chances North Korea agreeing to give up its nuclear weapons. (CNN / Washington Post)
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