👋 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/ Robert Mueller submitted his full report on Trump and Russia to the attorney general. The Justice Department notified Congress that it had received Mueller’s report, but did not describe its contents. William Barr is expected to summarize the findings for lawmakers in the coming days, deciding how much of the report to share with Congress. White House lawyers are prepared to argue some material is protected by executive privilege, especially if the report discusses whether Trump’s interactions with his aides or legal advisers are evidence of obstruction of justice. Mueller’s work has led to criminal charges against 34 people, including six former Trump associates and advisers. Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, and George Papadopoulos all pleaded guilty. Roger Stone was indicted in January and accused of lying to Congress, but has pleaded not guilty. More than 24 people charged by Mueller are Russians. No Americans charged by Mueller have been accused of conspiring with Russia to interfere in the election. No further indictments are expected. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / Bloomberg / USA Today / CNBC)
2/ Barr notified lawmakers that he intends to provide information about the “principal conclusions” of Mueller’s report “as soon as this weekend.” Barr promised to bring as much transparency as possible to Mueller’s findings but stressed that Justice Department policy prevents officials from disclosing information about investigations that didn’t result in criminal charges. That means part of Mueller’s probe as it relates to Trump may not be revealed any time soon. (CNBC / Wall Street Journal)
3/ Trump warned that “people will not stand for it” if Robert Mueller’s report makes him look bad. Trump – again – complained that “a deputy, that didn’t get any votes, appoints a man that didn’t get any votes,” referring to Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of Mueller. Trump also bemoaned that Mueller was “best friend” with James Comey, who succeeded Mueller as FBI director, despite there being no evidence that the two are close friends. (The Guardian / Associated Press)
📌 Day 790: 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)
In June, Rosenstein sent a 12-page letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley outlining a potential road map on what to expect from Mueller. Rosenstein made it clear that he believes the Justice Department will not include disparaging or incriminating information about anybody who has not been charged with a crime. Translation: Don’t expect a criticism of Trump or any associates if they have not been charged with crimes. (ABC News)
The lead federal prosecutor in New York supervising Michael Cohen’s case is leaving his job in April. (Politico)
4/ The Democratic chairs of the six House committees will direct the Justice Department, FBI, and White House Counsel’s Office to preserve records provided to Mueller. The effort will ensure that agencies comply with the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act to retain correspondence, memos, reports and other material should the committees request them. House Democrats have also discussed issuing subpoenas for the information if the White House refuses to cooperate. (Washington Post)
5/ Trump called for his attorney general to “do what’s fair” and open investigations into Hillary Clinton, Comey, James Clapper, and John Brennan. Providing no evidence to support his claims, Trump asserted that he’s been treated “very unfairly” by Mueller’s team, while “nobody does anything” about all the “stone cold crimes” committed by former Obama officials. Trump also accused Comey, Clapper, and Brennan of telling “absolute lies” to Congress. Trump went on to call it an “interesting question” as to whether he thought Attorney General William Barr should look into his accusations. (Politico / Fox Business)
6/ Trump cancelled sanctions aimed at North Korea a day after they were imposed by his own Treasury Department. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump removed the sanctions because he “likes” North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Yesterday, the Treasury Department announced new sanctions against two Chinese shipping companies for their alleged role in evading U.N. sanctions against North Korea. A former director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Treasury called it “utterly shocking” that Trump would “actively undercut his own sanctions agency for the benefit of North Korea.” Trump announced his decision via tweet. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNBC / Bloomberg / CNN)
The commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps warned that sending troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and funding transfers under Trump’s emergency declaration has posed “unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency.” Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller wrote two internal memos that said the “unplanned/unbudgeted” deployment order by Trump last fall along the southwest border, along with shifts in other funds to support border security operations, have forced him to cancel or reduce other military training in at least five countries and delay urgent base repairs. (Los Angeles Times)
The deputy director of the National Economic Council is planning to leave the White House in the coming weeks as the Trump administration continues its high-stakes talks with China. Clete Willems is expected to leave his position in April due to the strain that frequent travel has placed on his young and growing family, according to people familiar with his plans to leave. A replacement to fill the top White House trade position is still in the works, but nothing has been finalized. (CNBC)
Trump blamed Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for the economy’s failure to exceed 4% economic growth last year. (Politico)
Trump will nominate his former campaign adviser Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve. Moore was the founder of the conservative Club for Growth and helped write Trump’s signature tax plan. Moore is also a close friend of Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow, served as an adviser on Trump’s campaign, and helped draft Trump’s economic agenda early on. (Bloomberg / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Reuters)
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