👋 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/ Trump called Mueller’s report illegitimate because he was never elected and complained to reporters that he now has to deal with “somebody writing a report” despite having “won one of the greatest elections of all time.” Trump went on to refer to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as just “a deputy” who was “appointed,” who then “appoint[ed] another man to write a report,” rhetorically asking somebody to “explain that, because my voters don’t get it, and I don’t get it.” Trump nominated Rosenstein, who was confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate in a 94-6 vote. (Talking Points Memo / Roll Call)
2/ Trump then called for Robert Mueller’s report to be made public, saying “Let it come out, let people see it […] we’ll see what happens.” He added: “I don’t mind” if it’s made public and “I look forward to seeing the report.” The decision to make Mueller’s report public will be left to Attorney General William Barr, and Trump said he has “no idea” when the report will be released. (Reuters / Politico / Bloomberg)
3/ Robert Mueller’s team told a federal judge that they’re very busy this week because they “face the press of other work” and would like a deadline extension to respond to a request to unseal records in Paul Manafort’s criminal case. The special counsel asked the court to give them until April 1 to respond to the request from the Washington Post, which petitioned the court to unseal the Manafort documents related to his breach of plea proceedings, citing “the profound public interest in these proceedings.” Mueller’s report is expected any day now. (Washington Post / CNN)
- Here’s what we already know about the Mueller report: The investigation has revealed a range of events related to Russian interference and the 2016 election. Six people connected to Trump have been charged and five have been convicted or pleaded guilty. (New York Times)
4/ Hope Hicks plans to turn over documents to the House Judiciary Committee as part of its investigation into potential obstruction of justice. Rep. Jerry Nadler said the former White House communications director and long-time confidante of Trump will hand over documents from “any personal or work diary, journal or other book containing notes, a record or a description of daily events” about Trump, the Trump campaign, the Trump Organization and the executive office of the President. (CNN)
Michael Flynn’s company submitted several thousand pages of documents to the House Judiciary Committee as part of the panel’s investigation of alleged obstruction of justice and other actions by Trump. (Politico)
The chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee accused the Trump administration of engaging in “an unprecedented level of stonewalling.” Elijah Cummings said the White House has refused to cooperate with repeated requests from the committee. (Newsweek)
📌 Day 798: The Trump administration ignored the House Judiciary request for documents. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler had set a Monday deadline asking for documents related the firing of James Comey, internal discussions about the decision of Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the Russia probe, details about any talks to dismiss, as well as records about payments Trump made as part of a hush-money scheme to keep his alleged extramarital affairs from going public. (CNN / Politico)
5/ Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut will not result in the promised 3% annual growth rate. The White House conceded that the American economy would need additional labor regulation rollbacks, a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, and another round of tax cuts in order to produce the promised 3% average growth rate for the next decade. White House forecasters say that without those additional steps, the growth rate would slow to about 2% a year in 2026 when many of the 2017 tax cuts expire. (New York Times)
poll/ 62% of Americans have confidence in the fairness of Mueller’s investigation – with 33% very confident. 37%, however, are not very or not at all confident in a fair investigation. 63% are concerned about the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia. (Associated Press)
poll/ 48% of Americans approve of Mueller’s handling of the investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election in 2016, while 37% disapprove. 56% say they consider Russia’s efforts to influence the election a serious matter that should be fully investigated, while 38% consider an effort to discredit Trump’s presidency. (CNN)
Trump designated Brazil as a “major non-NATO ally” after meeting with the country’s new far-right president and said he would be open to granting Brazil full NATO membership, even though Brazil doesn’t qualify to join the alliance. Trump also remarked that he was “very proud to hear the president use the term ‘fake news’.” (Associated Press / Reuters)
Trump said he plans to leave the tariffs on Chinese goods in place for a “substantial period of time” until he’s certain that “China lives by the deal.” Trump has levied tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods – about half the value of Chinese exports to the U.S. Beijing has retaliated with tariffs on $110 billion of U.S. goods – about 90% of U.S. exports to China. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)
The Trump administration wants to use $359 million from an unrelated bank settlement to fund the border wall. French bank Societe Generale agreed to pay the U.S government $1.3 billion after admitting that it violated U.S. sanctions on Cuba and Iran for years. It’s unclear if the White House can use the money for the wall. (CNBC)
A federal judge ruled that Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military can not go into effect yet, and that the 2017 court order blocking the ban remains in place. The White House released a memo last week saying that it planned to implement the ban in April because “there is no longer any impediment” to doing so. (BuzzFeed News)
A federal judge temporarily blocked oil and gas drilling on 300,000 acres of federal land in Wyoming, ruling that the Trump administration “did not sufficiently consider climate change” in its assessments of whether to lease federal land for individual projects. (Washington Post / Axios /Reuters)
Trump plans to nominate former Delta Air Lines pilot and executive Stephen Dickson to lead the FAA. If confirmed, Dickson will become the first permanent FAA administrator since Obama-appointee Michael Huerta resigned in 2018. (NPR)
18 states have considered legislation that would require presidential and vice presidential candidates to release their tax returns to appear on the ballot during a primary or general election. Many of the legislatures considering the bills are controlled by Democrats. (Washington Post)
A panel of federal appeals court judges challenged the legal basis for a lawsuit alleging that Trump’s profits from the Trump International Hotel violate the Constitution’s emoluments clauses. Trump has retained ownership of the hotel while serving as president, which has become a favored lodging and event space for foreign- and state-governments. (New York Times / Reuters)
Kellyanne Conway defended Trump’s attacks on her husband after Trump called George Conway “Mr. Kellyanne Conway,” a “whack job,” “a stone cold LOSER,” and a “husband from hell!” George Conway responded: “You. Are. Nuts.” Kellyanne, meanwhile, asked: “You think [Trump] should just take that sitting down?” (Politico / NBC News / CNBC / ABC News)
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