👋 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.
Send your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints to:
1/ Paul Manafort was sentenced to a total of 7.5 years in prison after receiving an additional 43 months on federal conspiracy charges at his sentencing hearing in Washington, D.C. Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Manafort to 60 months in prison on the first of two criminal conspiracy counts – 30 of those months will be served concurrently with Manafort’s prior sentence in a separate case. Jackson also sentenced Manafort to 13 months of consecutive prison time on his second criminal count, for a total of 43 additional months in prison to the 47 months he was sentenced to last week in Virginia. Jackson accused Manafort of spending a “significant portion of his career gaming the system” before sentencing him to what is now the longest sentence for anyone ensnared in Mueller’s nearly two-year-old probe. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNBC / NBC News / CNN / Reuters / Wall Street Journal)
- 📌 Day 778: Paul Manafort was sentenced to less than four years in jail in the first of two cases against him. Manafort’s 47 months in prison for bank and tax fraud was far lighter than the 19- to 24-year prison term recommended under federal sentencing guidelines. Manafort was ordered to pay a $50,000 fine and restitution of just over $24 million. Judge T. S. Ellis said he thought the sentencing recommendation was “excessive,” adding that he believed Manafort “lived an otherwise blameless life.” It’s the longest sentence to date for a Trump associate caught up in Robert Mueller’s investigation. Manafort will also be sentenced next week on separate charges that he served as an unregistered foreign agent, laundered money and tampered with a witness. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / NPR / ABC News / CNBC)
2/ New York prosecutors indicted Manafort with 16 counts related to mortgage fraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records shortly after he was sentenced for federal crimes. The new state charges against Manafort allege a scheme of falsifying business records to obtain millions of dollars in loans. Trump has not explicitly ruled out pardoning Manafort, but he can only issue pardons for federal crimes. He does not have the power to pardon state charges. (New York Times / CNBC / CNN / NBC News)
- 📌 Day 781: 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)
3/ Rep. Jerry Nadler said former acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker “did not deny that the president called him to discuss the Michael Cohen case and personnel decisions in the Southern District” during a closed-doors meeting with the leaders of the House Judiciary Committee. During a hearing last month, Whitaker either refused to detail the conversations he had with Trump or gave answers that, in Nadler’s estimation, strained credulity. Nadler added that “Whitaker was directly involved in conversations about whether to fire one or more U.S. attorneys” and whether the Southern District of New York “went too far in pursuing the campaign finance case” involving Trump. (Washington Post / CNN / The Hill / Talking Points Memo)
4/ Michael Cohen’s attorney attempted to clarify Cohen’s testimony that he never asked Trump for a pardon. The letter sent to Congress from Lanny Davis said that even though Cohen’s statements were true, they “could have been clearer regarding the time frames.” The letter continues: “At no time did Mr. Cohen personally ask President Trump for a pardon or did the President offer Mr. Cohen the same.” (CNN)
5/ Rudy Giuliani reassured Cohen in an April 2018 email that Cohen could “sleep well tonight” because he had “friends in high places.” While the email does not specifically mention a pardon, Cohen said it corroborates his claim that a pardon was dangled before he decided to cooperate with federal prosecutors. (CNN)
6/ Trump grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 planes after the second fatal crash in five months. Trump’s announcement followed Canada joining some 42 others countries in grounding the jets. Yesterday, the FAA said it had seen “no systemic performance issue” that would prompt it to halt flights of the jet. Planes currently in the air will fly to their destinations and “be grounded until further notice.” The order will ground more than 70 aircrafts. (USA Today / Politico / The Guardian / New York Times / Washington Post)
poll/ 52% of voters are opposed to Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border – up 1 percentage point from last month. (Politico)
Michael Flynn has completed his cooperation agreement with the special counsel’s Russia investigation, according to Robert Mueller. Flynn’s lawyers, however, asked for a 90-day delay in sentencing because “there may be additional cooperation” with another federal probe: his former business partner’s upcoming trial in Alexandria, Va. Flynn is expected to testify in the mid-July trial against Bijan Rafiekian, who faces charges of conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign government agent for Turkey. (Politico / Associated Press / Reuters / CNN)
The Justice Department is investigating whether a $100,000 donation to the Trump Victory committee originated from a fugitive Malaysian businessman alleged to be at the center of a global financial scandal. It is a federal offense for foreign individuals or companies to make direct or indirect donations to U.S. politicians or fundraising committees. (Wall Street Journal)
Wilbur Ross will face the House Oversight Committee on Thursday to answer questions about his decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Last March, Ross told the House Ways and Means Committee that the question was added after he received a request from the Department of Justice in December 2017 that claimed the data was needed to properly enforce civil rights laws. Documents released as a part of a multi-state lawsuit show that Ross wanted to add the question much earlier. (NBC News)
The Mercers once donated money to a conservative group that promoted “cultural events for English-speaking peoples.” The family spent more than $15 million backing Trump during the 2016 presidential election, and spent millions more to fund Cambridge Analytica, which did work for the Trump campaign. (CNBC)
Trump – without evidence – accused media outlets of doctoring photographs to suggest that Melania Trump employs a body double when she has to appear with Trump at public events. (The Hill)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.