👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
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1/ Trump proposed a $4.75 trillion budget, dubbed the “Budget for a Better America.” Trump requested an additional $8.6 billion for his border wall, and proposed increasing military spending by 5% to $750 billion while cutting funding for domestic discretionary spending $597 billion to $543 billion – a 9% cut in 2020. The budget calls for a 23% cut in State Department funding, a 15% cut in spending by the USDA, and a 31% cut in the budget for the EPA. The budget for Homeland Security would increase by 7.4%. The budget forecasts a $1.1 trillion deficit in 2019, 2020, and 2021, and a $1 trillion deficit in 2022 with the national debt ballooning to more than $31 trillion in the next decade by 2029. It currently stands at more than $22 trillion. Trump’s acting budget chief called the budget a “return to fiscal sanity.” (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / Reuters / NPR / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)
- Trump’s budget projects that the economy will continue to grow at a 3% rate or higher over the next five years – higher than independent outside projections. (CNBC)
2/ Trump claimed that “the Democrats hate Jewish people” during a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago. He said he didn’t understand how anyone could vote for a Democrat and that they’ve become the “anti-Jewish party.” Trump also speculated that he would be at 98% in the polls if he were to run to become the prime minister of Israel. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, meanwhile, refused to say whether Trump believes Democrats hate Jewish people, saying “I think you should ask Democrats.” (Axios / The Hill)
A Trump 2020 campaign adviser dismissed a question about diversity within the administration by asking “How many black people were in Abraham Lincoln’s West Wing?” Katrina Pierson added: “I’m not going to participate in the attempt to make this all about race. It’s ridiculous.” (The Hill)
Trump tried to persuade Republican donors not a trust a video where he called the CEO of Apple “Tim Apple.” Trump told the donors that he actually said “Tim Cook Apple” really fast, but the “Cook” part of the sentence was soft. Later, Trump claimed he intentionally said “Tim/Apple” instead of Tim Cook and Apple “as an easy way to save time and words.” Tim Cook changed his Twitter profile to “Tim Apple.” (Axios / ABC News / Politico)
3/ The former owner of a massage parlor tied to a prostitution ring sold Chinese executives access to Trump through her consulting firm, GY US Investments LLC. Li Yang’s website claims its “activities for clients” have included “the opportunity to interact with the president, the [American] Minister of Commerce and other political figures.” In particular, Yang arranged for a larger group of Chinese business people to attend a paid fundraiser for Trump in New York City at the end of 2017. Yang personally gave $5,400 to Trump’s campaign and $23,500 to the Trump Victory political action committee 11 days prior to the Dec. 2, 2017 event. Foreign visitors may attend fundraisers as long as they don’t pay their own entry. GY US also claimed it has “arranged taking photos with the President” at Mar-a-Lago and suggested that could set up a “White House and Capitol Hill Dinner.” Since 2017, Yang and her relatives have donated more than $42,000 to a Trump political action committee and more than $16,000 to Trump’s campaign. (Mother Jones / Miami Herald / CNN / USA Today)
- Yang also serves as an officer of two groups tied to the Chinese government. She founded a non-profit in Miami that promotes “economic and cultural exchange” between China and the U.S. in coordination with “senior…Chinese leaders” in the United States. Yang has been offering to sell access to the Trump family, the White House, and various GOP power brokers. (Mother Jones)
4/ Nancy Pelosi on impeaching Trump: “He’s just not worth it.” The Speaker of the House called Trump unfit to be president – “ethically,” “intellectually” and “curiosity-wise” — but she is “not for impeachment. […] Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it. (Washington Post)
Trump will “make his decision” on whether to pardon Paul Manafort “when he’s ready,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. In November, Trump said that a pardon for Manafort “was never discussed,” but added that he “wouldn’t take it off the table,” rhetorically asking: “Why would I take it off the table?” The comment from Sanders came during the first official White House press briefing in six weeks. (CNBC)
The White House rejected a House Oversight Committee request to interview former deputy counsel Stefan Passantino, who represented Trump to federal ethics officials looking into hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels in 2016. (Axios)
House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff said Robert Mueller was making a “mistake” by not demanding that Trump testify as part of his investigation, “because probably the best way to get the truth would be to put the president under oath.” (Washington Post)
Schiff claimed Erik Prince lied during testimony about a 2016 meeting with foreign nationals at Trump Tower. Prince is the former head of Blackwater, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and an informal adviser to the 2016 Trump campaign. He told Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan that he informed the House Intelligence Committee during his testimony in November 2017 about a meeting at Trump Tower with Trump Jr., UAE emissary George Nader, and Israeli social media manipulation specialist Joel Zamel — but none of that is in the transcript from his testimony. (Axios / Al Jazeera)
New video footage from the Venezuelan border shows an anti-government protester setting fire to a convoy of humanitarian aid last month, despite claims by Mike Pence and the State Department that President Nicolas Maduro had ordered the trucks burned. The Colombian government released partial footage from the incident and attempted to blame Maduro, but newly released footage revealed that a member of the opposition threw a Molotov cocktail at the convoy, triggering the blaze. (New York Times)
Milwaukee will host the 2020 Democratic National Convention – a key Midwestern battleground state that Democrats lost for the first time in three decades in 2016. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / New York Times)
Betsy DeVos illegally delayed implementing a rule that required states to address racial disparities in special education programs. DeVos put off implementing the regulation for two years, which will now take effect immediately after a judge ruled that the was delay “arbitrary and capricious.” (New York Times)
🏌️♂️ Trump was named the winner of his own golf club-championship despite not playing in the tournament. A man named Ted Virtue initially won the 2018 Trump International club championship title. Trump, however, challenged Virtue to a nine-hole winner-takes-the-title challenge. Trump won, then offered to be co-champions with Virtue. (Golf)
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