👋 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 pledged to have a plan “far better than Obamacare” if the Supreme Court strikes down the entire Affordable Care Act, saying “I understand health care now.” Trump did not provided details about what health care plan would replace the ACA, but reiterated his baseless claim that the Republican Party will now be the “party of great health care.” A district judge in Texas ruled that the entire law was unconstitutional after Trump’s tax law eliminated the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance mandate penalty. Yesterday, the Justice Department took the position that the entire ACA should be overturned. The ACA insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion provide health care coverage from more than 20 million people. (Politico / CBS News / New York Times / NBC News)
- What happens if the Affordable Care Act is overturned? 21 million people could lose their health insurance and 12 million adults could lose Medicaid coverage. (New York Times)
2/ House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Trump he disagrees with the administration’s attempt to get the entire Affordable Care Act thrown out in court. McCarthy reportedly told Trump that the decision made no sense without a plan in place to replace the ACA heading in the 2020 elections. Republican officials are privately blaming Mick Mulvaney, domestic policy chief Joe Grogan, and acting director of the Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought for engineering Trump’s new position. (Axios / Washington Post)
- The Trump administration’s move to invalidate the Affordable Care Act came despite the opposition from the heads of the Justice Department and Health and Human Services Department. Alex Azar argued against backing the lawsuit seeking the full repeal of the health care law, citing the lack of a Republican alternative. William Barr, meanwhile, opposed the plan based on skepticism among conservative lawyers about the wisdom of seeking to overturn the law. (Politico)
3/ Betsy DeVos defended her proposal to eliminate $17.6 million in federal funding for the Special Olympics, calling it a “difficult decisions” because she thinks “that the Special Olympics is an awesome organization,” but “the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations.” About 272,000 children would be affected from the funding cut to the Special Olympics. Overall, DeVos’ proposed budget would eliminate 29 programs covering arts, civics and literacy for an annual savings of $6.7 billion – or about a 12% cut to the Education Department’s budget. Meanwhile, DeVos has proposed creating a $5 billion federal voucher system for private schools. It was the third year in a row that DeVos called for eliminating funding for Special Olympic events at schools. Devos blamed the media and some members of Congress for “falsehoods and fully misrepresenting the facts.” (Detroit Free Press / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Washington Post)
The chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that determines Department of Education funding levels rejected DeVos’ proposed cuts to the Special Olympics. Sen. Roy Blunt said “Our Department of Education appropriations bill will not cut funding for the program.” (The Hill)
Trump’s last five trips to Mar-a-Lago would cover the proposed Special Olympics cuts. Trump’s trips to his private club in Florida cost taxpayers about $3.4 million. (Washington Post)
poll/ 48% of Americans still believe Trump conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election, despite the summary of Mueller’s findings suggesting no evidence of a conspiracy. (Reuters)
poll/ 56% of Americans don’t believe that Trump and his campaign have been exonerated of collusion. 77% of Republicans say Trump has been exonerated, 80% of Democrats and 58% of Independents say he has not. (CNN)
poll/ 47% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the economy while 43% disapprove. (CNBC)
Robert Mueller’s grand jury is “continuing robustly” despite the end of his investigation, indicating that the ongoing cases Mueller handed off could still result in further indictments. Two former federal prosecutors said the grand jury activity may indicate that the office is pursuing matters spun off from the Mueller probe. (Politico / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN)
Mitch McConnell blocked a second resolution in the Senate calling for Mueller’s report to be made public. Senate Judiciary Chair Diane Feinstein attempted to get unanimous consent to pass a Senate version of a non-binding resolution that passed in the House with a vote of 420-0. McConnell objected to her request and said that Attorney General William Barr is still working with Mueller to determine which parts of the report – if any – should be made public. (The Hill / Axios)
McConnell supports a Republican effort to investigate alleged political bias against Trump at the Justice Department and the FBI, spearheaded by Lindsey Graham. “I think it’s not inappropriate for the chairman of the Judiciary with jurisdiction over the Justice Department to investigate possible misbehavior,” McConnell said. (Politico / Reuters)
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff doubled down on his claims that he has seen evidence that Trump colluded with Russia. “Undoubtedly there is collusion. We will continue to investigate the counterintelligence issues. That is, is the president or people around him compromised in any way by a hostile foreign power? . . . It doesn’t appear that was any part of Mueller’s report.” House Democrats gave William Barr until April 2 to deliver a copy of the Mueller report to Congress. (Washington Post)
The House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved legislation directing the Justice Department to give Congress all records on FBI obstruction of justice or counterintelligence probes against Trump. The full House now has the opportunity to vote on the measure. Approval would give Barr 14 days to comply with the demand for all records and communications, as well any discussions within the Justice Department about recording Trump or seeking to replace him by invoking the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (Politico / Reuters)
The House Oversight and Reform Committee requested 10 years of Trump’s financial records from an accounting firm that prepared several years of financial statements for Trump. The request comes after testimony from Michael Cohen, who raised questions about whether Trump inflated or deflated the value of his financial assets during the course of past business transactions. (Politico / CNBC / Daily Beast)
Seven former senior Trump aides may have violated federal law by failing to disclose their future employment on financial reports. High-level staffers are required to disclose their future employment to identify potential conflicts of interest between their White House positions and new employers. (Politico)
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