👋 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 Senate voted to overturn Trump’s national emergency declaration at the southern border, setting up Trump to issue the first veto of his presidency. The resolution passed 59-41 – with 12 Republicans joining every Democrat. The measure, which already passed the House, now heads to Trump, who has promised to veto the legislation and effectively kill it. Lawmakers don’t have enough votes to override a veto. Ahead of the vote, Trump warned Republicans that “a vote for today’s resolution by Republican Senators is a vote for Nancy Pelosi, Crime, and the Open Border Democrats!” After the vote, Trump tweeted: “VETO!” (New York Times/ CNBC / Washington Post / Politico / Associated Press / CNN / Reuters / NBC News)
- 📌 Day 757: Trump declared a national emergency at the border to circumvent Congress and fund his border wall with money lawmakers refused to give him, saying “I didn’t need to do this,” but “I just want to get it done faster, that’s all.” In a Rose Garden news conference, Trump said he would sign the declaration to divert $3.6 billion from military construction projects to his border wall and then use presidential budgetary discretion to redirect $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs and another $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund. Between the $1.375 billion authorized for fencing in a spending package passed by Congress, and the roughly $6.5 billion in funding from executive action, Trump is will have about $8 billion to construct or repair as many as 234 miles of a border barrier – significantly more than the $5.7 billion that Congress refused to give him. Following the news conference, Trump signed the spending legislation. (New York Times / The Guardian / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News / ABC News)
2/ The House voted 420-0 for the public release of Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired then-director of the FBI James Comey. While the resolution is non-binding and the House cannot force the Justice Department to take an action, the move is an attempt to “send a clear signal both to the American people and the Department of Justice” that lawmakers expect to see the full account of Mueller’s work. The resolution will also put pressure on Attorney General William Barr, who did not commit to making Mueller’s findings public during his Senate confirmation hearings. The Senate, however, is unlikely to take up a similar measure. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico / NBC News)
Roger Stone’s trial is set for Nov. 5. Judge Amy Berman Jackson said she expects the trial will last “at least” two weeks. Jackson didn’t address the re-release of a book Stone published in 2017, which could have been considered a violation of his partial gag order. The judge said she was taking it “under advisement.” (CNBC / NBC News)
One of Mueller’s top prosecutors will be leaving in the next week or so. Andrew Weissmann was the architect of the case against Paul Manafort. Separately, Mueller’s top FBI investigator, David Archey, has also left the team. The departures are the strongest sign yet that Mueller and his team have all but concluded their work. (NPR / NBC News)
3/ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested that he would protect Trump’s privacy if House Democrats request Trump’s tax returns, saying: “We will examine the request and we will follow the law … and we will protect the president as we would protect any taxpayer” regarding their right to privacy. Mnuchin said he “can’t speculate” on how the administration will respond to demands for Trump’s tax returns until it sees the request. House Democrats are preparing to ask the IRS for 10 years of Trump’s personal tax returns under under a 1924 provision that requires the Treasury secretary to “furnish” any individual’s tax return information to the House and Senate tax-writing committees. (Associated Press / ABC News / Politico / CNN)
A casino magnate forced to sell his 12% stake met with Treasury Department officials as they were writing regulations that could help him defer and reduce his taxes. Steve Wynn generated $2.1 billion last March when he was forced to sell his stake in Wynn Resorts Ltd. and resign from the Republican National Committee after sexual-misconduct allegations. Wynn attended the meeting in the Treasury building with Daniel Kowalski, a counselor to Mnuchin, who stopped by the meeting to greet Wynn. (Wall Street Journal)
Mnuchin’s Hollywood ties are raising conflict of interest concerns as he leads trade talks with China. While Mnuchin divested from his Hollywood film-financing firm after joining the Trump administration, he’s been personally pushing Beijing to give the American film industry greater access to its markets. (New York Times)
4/ Federal prosecutors requested documents about Michael Cohen’s alleged “back channel” discussion with Rudy Giuliani about the possibility of a pardon. Cohen’s attorney spoke with Giuliani roughly a dozen times and, in one email, referred to their conversations as a “back channel of communication.” During one of their discussions, Cohen’s attorney allegedly asked whether Trump would put a pardon for Cohen “on the table.” Giuliani told Cohen’s attorney that Trump was unwilling to discuss pardons at that time. The request from federal prosecutors is part of an investigation into whether the alleged back-channel discussions amount to “possible violations of federal criminal law.” Giuliani insists that he and Cohen’s attorney only talked about how Trump “was very mad at [Cohen]” and the fact that the investigation into Cohen had been assigned to the Southern District of New York. (New York Times)
5/ A New York appellate court ruled that a former contestant on The Apprentice can proceed with her defamation lawsuit against Trump. Summer Zervos is one of about a dozen women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct before the 2016 election. Trump called Zervos and the other women “liars,” prompting Zervos to file a lawsuit in 2017. The New York State Appellate Division’s First Department turned down Trump’s argument that the case should be delayed until he is out of office because, as a sitting president, he was immune from a lawsuit brought in state court. The decision means Trump may have to sit for a sworn deposition. (ABC News / Washington Post / Politico)
- 📌 Day 468: A former contestant on “The Apprentice” is suing Trump for defamation after he called her a liar for accusing him of sexual assault. Summer Zervos was among the more than 10 women who came forward during the 2016 presidential campaign and accused Trump of sexual assault and misconduct. He denied all of their claims. (New York Times)
poll/ 51% of Florida voters say they definitely won’t vote for Trump in 2020. 31% say they definitely would vote for Trump, and 14% say they would consider voting for him. Overall, Florida voters give Trump a 40% favorability rating. (Quinnipiac)
The Senate voted 54-46 to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war against Yemen. The move is largely seen as a rebuke of the Trump administration’s continued support for the Saudi monarchy in the wake of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The U.S. has been supplying money and weapons to the Saudis in support of the kingdom’s relentless bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen since the war began in 2015, which has led to widespread humanitarian and health crises in the region. The resolution to end U.S. support for the war must now be taken up in the House, where members passed a nearly identical resolution earlier this year. If Trump vetoes the resolution, however, neither chamber is expected to have the votes required to override the veto. (Washington Post)
Beto O’Rourke announced that he will run for president. In a video, O’Rourke said, “This is going to be a positive campaign that seeks to bring out the very best from every single one of us, that seeks to unite a very divided country.” (Politico)
Adam Schiff suggested that Russians may have laundered money through the Trump Organization. While House Intelligence Committee is investigating the matter, Schiff said the committee is primarily concerned with whether or not Trump is “compromised by a foreign power.” (Newsweek)
The Pentagon instituted its new transgender policy that limits the military service of transgender persons to their birth gender. Transgender service members currently serving will only be allowed to continue to serve if they adhere to the dress and grooming standards of their biological gender, and if they are unwilling to do so, they could be discharged. The policy will be implemented on April 12. (ABC News)
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