👋 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/ The House Judiciary Committee launched a broad investigation into possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power by Trump and his administration. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler sent letters demanding documents from more than 80 family members, business associates, political confidants, and entities tied to Trump, including the Trump Organization, the Trump campaign, the Trump Foundation, the presidential inaugural committee, the White House, Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks, Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer, the National Rifle Association, and others. The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over impeachment, and any hearings that explore whether Trump committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” would take place before the panel. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / CNN / NBC News / Daily Beast)
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff says there is “direct evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Schiff said the evidence can be found “in the emails from the Russians through their intermediary offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of what is described in writing as the Russian government effort to help elect Donald Trump.” Schiff says the Russians offered dirt on Clinton and that “[t]here is an acceptance of that offer in writing from the president’s son, Don Jr., and there is overt acts and furtherance of that.” (Fox News / CBS News)
The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said lawmakers found “enormous amounts of evidence” that Trump colluded with the Russians during the 2016 campaign. Sen. Mark Warner said there is “no one that could factually say there’s not plenty of evidence of collaboration or communications between Trump Organization and Russians.” (Politico / Fox News)
The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to request Trump’s personal tax returns. Democrats say they are prepared to “take all necessary steps,” including litigation, in order to obtain them. (NBC News)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the hush money payments made by Michael Cohen to women on behalf of Trump “aren’t impeachable” offenses. McCarthy downplayed the significance of the payments and referred to the campaign finance violations as mere fines. “I watched — this is a — if it’s a finance campaign, those are fines,” McCarthy said. “Those aren’t impeachable in the process.” He added that other politicians have done “this exact same thing in the past.” (ABC News / NBC News)
2/ Mitch McConnell expects the resolution to overturn Trump’s emergency declaration to pass in the Republican-led Senate – but not survive a veto by Trump – after Rand Paul became the fourth Republican to announce he would vote for the disapproval resolution. “We may want more money for border security,” Paul said, “but Congress didn’t authorize it. If we take away those checks and balances, it’s a dangerous thing.” Trump promised to veto the resolution if it reaches his desk, which would be the first veto of his presidency. Neither the House nor the Senate have the votes needed to override a presidential veto. (Politico / Axios / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / USA Today)
3/ Trump ordered Gary Cohn to pressure the Justice Department to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, which owns CNN, a few months before the Justice Department eventually filed suit to stop the merger in the summer of 2017. The next day Trump declared the proposed merger “not good for the country.” Trump called Cohn, then the director of the National Economic Council, into the Oval Office along with John Kelly and said to Kelly: “I’ve been telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and nothing’s happened! I’ve mentioned it fifty times. And nothing’s happened. I want to make sure it’s filed. I want that deal blocked!” (New Yorker)
- Roger Ailes reportedly informed the Trump campaign in advance about questions Megyn Kelly would ask during the first Republican Presidential debate in 2015, according to a pair of Fox insiders and a source close to Trump. During the debate in Cleveland, Kelly asked Trump started to ask the question: “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals.’” Trump interrupted her question with the quip: “Only Rosie O’Donnell!” A former Trump campaign aide said that a Fox contact gave Trump advance notice of a different debate question, which asked if candidates would support the Republican nominee, regardless of who won. (New Yorker)
4/ A coalition of 21 states filed suit to block the Trump administration’s changes to the Title X family planning program, which would shift tens of millions of dollars from Planned Parenthood toward faith-based pregnancy clinics. The new rule that would affect more than 4 million low-income women who receive services including cancer screenings and pregnancy tests through the Department of Health and Human Services program. (Washington Post)
poll/ 41% of voters say they would vote to re-elect Trump in 2020 while 48% say they would probably vote for the Democratic candidate. 58% don’t think Trump’s been honest and truthful regarding the Russia probe, and 60% disapprove of his recent national emergency declaration to build a border wall. (NBC News)
Roger Stone suggested he has been “framed” by Robert Mueller in an Instagram post, possibly violating the gag order barring him from criticizing the prosecutors in the criminal case against him. Stone published the post less than 48 hours after Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered his lawyers to explain why they didn’t tell her about the planned publication of a book by Stone that could violate her gag order on him. On Feb. 15, Stone said on Instagram that his book, “The Myth of Russian Collusion: The Inside Story of How Trump Really Won,” would be published March 1. Digital versions of the book have been on sale since Feb. 19, however. (CNBC / Washington Post)
Trump blamed Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony for the reason that negotiations with North Korea collapsed. At the time, Trump said he walked away from the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because of a disagreement about economic sanctions on North Korea. (Washington Post)
North Korean hackers continued to attack the computer networks of more than 100 companies in the U.S. and ally nations while Trump was meeting with Kim Jong-un last week. The attacks began in 2017 when Trump mocked Kim as “rocket man” in a speech at the United Nations. (New York Times)
Trump has made 9,014 false or misleading statements over the last 773 days. Trump averaged nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims per day during his first year in office, and he hit nearly 16.5 per day in his second year. In 2019, he’s averaging nearly 22 per day. (Washington Post)
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