👋 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/ Otto Warmbier’s family blamed Kim Jong Un for the death of their son a day after Trump said he took Kim “at his word” that the North Korean dictator was not responsible. Fred and Cindy Warmbier called Kim the leader of an “evil regime” that is “responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity” that resulted in Warmbier death in 2017. Warmbier was arrested for taking a propaganda banner from a hotel in Pyongyang in January 2016 and was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. He was released in a coma after 17 months and died days later. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post)
The North Korean delegation to the Trump-Kim summit disputed Trump’s claim that Kim demanded that the U.S. lift all sanctions in order for North Korea to move forward with denuclearization. “Basically,” Trump said yesterday, “they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that. We had to walk away from that.” Hours later, two top officials from the North Korean delegation told reporters Kim had only asked for partial sanctions relief in exchange for shutting down their main nuclear complex. An anonymous senior U.S. official acknowledged that Kim only wanted the U.N. Security Council to lift the sanctions imposed since March 2016, and did not include sanctions from the previous decade. (Associated Press)
The U.S. military will end its annual, large-scale joint exercises conducted with South Korea in an effort to ease tensions with North Korea. The exercises will be replaced with smaller, mission-specific training. (NBC News)
2/ Michael Cohen and Felix Sater will both testify before the House Intelligence Committee on March 14 to testify about Trump’s effort to build a skyscraper in Russia. Cohen interviewed with the House Intelligence Committee for more than seven hours yesterday. Sater is a Russian-born Trump Organization executive who worked on the Trump Tower Moscow project with Cohen. (CNN / Associated Press)
Trump attacked Cohen’s credibility and accused him of perjury. Trump tweeted that his former personal attorney’s proposed “Book is exact opposite of his fake testimony, which now is a lie!” Trump also referenced a description of Cohen’s book as a “love letter to Trump.” (Washington Post)
Who is Felix Sater and what’s his role in Michael Cohen’s plea deal? (CBS News)
3/ Robert Mueller is expected to need five to eight days for Roger Stone’s trial for lying to Congress and obstruction of justice. The anticipated trial length does not account for any witnesses that Stone’s lawyers plan to call in his defense. (Politico)
poll/ A majority of Americans favor government action to help reduce the cost of prescription medication in the U.S. 86% of respondents support having Medicare negotiate directly with drug companies to get lower prices, something Medicare is currently barred from doing. 80% believe drug company profits are a major factor in the high price of prescription drugs, and 65% support tying the price that Medicare pays for medication to the prices paid by the health services of other countries. (Kaiser Family Foundation / NPR)
More than 1,000 TSA employees have not received all of the back-pay they are owed for work during the shutdown, which lasted from December 22 until January 25. (CNN)
Trump reiterated his plans to veto the House-passed resolution that would end his national emergency declaration. “We’ll be fine,” Trump told Sean Hannity. When Hannity suggested that Trump would veto the resolution and that Congress would not be able to overturn the veto, Trump said, “Yeah.” The Senate is required to vote on the House-passed measure within 18 days of its passage, and only four GOP senators need to vote with the Democrats in order for it to pass. Three Republicans have already indicated that they will back the resolution. (NBC News)
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol data show more undocumented immigrants are choosing to cross the border illegally instead of waiting in line to claim asylum at legal U.S. ports of entry as a result of the Trump administration’s policies at the southern border. As CBP has cracked down on the number of migrants who can be processed at ports of entry, the number of migrants caught crossing illegally has gone up by 10 percent over the same period since last year. (NBC News)
Three high-profile immigrant rights organizations sent a joint letter to DHS accusing ICE of detaining an “alarming” number of infants at a Texas detention center without providing the legally-required level of care. The letter claims that at least nine infants younger than a year old are being held in ICE custody at the South Texas Family Residential Center. One of the infants is alleged to have been detained for more than 20 days. The letter also expressed “grave concern” about the lack of specialized medical care available to families who are being held at the facility. (Newsweek)
Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee announced that he is running for president, centering his campaign around climate change, calling it “the most urgent challenge of our time.” (NBC News / CNN / Politico)
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