👋 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/ Senior Trump administration officials overturned and granted at least 25 security clearances – including two current senior White House officials – to people who were initially denied by career employees for “serious disqualifying issues” in their backgrounds. Tricia Newbold, a whistleblower working in the White House Personnel Security Office, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that she warned her superiors that clearances “were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security.” Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings said he was prepared to authorize subpoenas to compel the White House to comply with an investigation into whether national secrets were at risk. Newbold claims she was retaliated against for declining to issue security clearances, including being suspended without pay for 14 days. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Associated Press / CNN / Wall Street Journal)
2/ The House Judiciary Committee plans to vote to authorize subpoenas to obtain Robert Mueller’s full report. Attorney General William Barr pledged to release a redacted version of the report by mid-April. Chairman Jerry Nadler, however, wants the “full and complete report,” which spans nearly 400 pages, as well as underlying evidence. (Washington Post / CNN)
3/ Trump called the 2020 census “meaningless” if it doesn’t include a citizenship question that two federal judges have already ruled against. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to add the citizenship question violated federal law by June. (Washington Post / Politico / Reuters)
4/ Trump plans to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign assistance programs for Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Democrats called the move “short-sighted and flawed,” “reckless,” and “counterproductive” to reducing the flow of migrants to the U.S. border. The move affects nearly $500 million in 2018 funds earmarked for Central America but has not yet been spent. (Politico / NBC News / Washington Post)
- Trump is considering bringing on a “immigration czar” to coordinate policies across various federal agencies. Trump is reportedly considering former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. (Associated Press)
5/ The White House reiterated Trump’s threat to close the U.S. border with Mexico, despite warnings that the move would do little to slow migrants trying to enter the U.S. “It certainly isn’t a bluff,” Kellyanne Conway said. “You can take the president seriously.” Mexico is America’s third-largest trading partner and closing the border would cause immediate economic damage. (Washington Post / NBC News)
📌 Day 799: Trump repeated his threat to close the U.S.-Mexico border as early as “next week” if the Mexican government doesn’t “immediately” stop all undocumented migrants crossing into the U.S., saying he’s “not playing games.” Trump has repeatedly threatened to close the border, but he’s never attached a specific timetable. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / Vox)
Nearly half of all imported U.S. vegetables and 40% of imported fruit are grown in Mexico. American would run out of avocados in three weeks if imports from Mexico were stopped. (NBC News)
“Fox and Friends” described Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras as “3 Mexican Countries” while discussing the Trump administration’s decision to cut aid to the so-called Northern Triangle. (Mother Jones)
poll/ 29% of Americans believe Trump has been cleared of wrongdoing, based on what they have heard about Attorney General William Barr summary of Robert Mueller’s report. 40% do not believe he has been cleared and 31% are not sure if he’s has been cleared. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)
poll/ 38% believe no additional investigation is needed after Mueller delivered his report to Barr – down two percentage points from before Mueller delivered his report on the Russia investigation. (Lawfare)
Trump is reportedly telling people he is “saving” Judge Amy Barrett for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat. Barrett’s past academic writings suggest an openness to overturning Roe v. Wade. (Axios)
The White House claimed that Republicans are “working on a plan” to replace the Affordable Care Act. Senate Republicans were caught off guard last week by Trump’s declaration that the Republican Party “will soon be known as the party of health care.” Before his inauguration in 2017, Trump claimed his plan for replacing most of the ACA was nearly finished. (Washington Post)
White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney guaranteed that Americans would not lose their health insurance coverage if the Affordable Care Act was declared unconstitutional. Mulvaney promised that a replacement plan for the ACA would include protections more than 60 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. (USA Today)
More than 750,000 people would likely lose their food stamps under a new proposal by the Trump administration to encourage able-bodied adults to get a job. The administration wants to stop food stamps after three months for able-bodied adults without dependents who don’t work, volunteer or get job training for at least 20 hours a week. (NPR)
A federal judge declared that Trump’s order to open oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans is illegal. The decision puts 128 million acres of federal waters off limits to energy exploration. (Washington Post)
A Connecticut woman accused Joe Biden of inappropriately touching her at a political fundraiser in 2009. The accusation comes three days after a former Nevada state lawmaker accused Biden of an “awkward kiss” at a campaign rally when she was the state’s Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2014. (Politico / New York Times / Hartford Courant)
A group of Senate Democrats will introduce a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College this week. A constitutional amendment can be proposed by a two-thirds supermajority in both the House (~290 votes) and Senate (67 votes) and requires ratification by 38 states. (NBC News / Politico / Daily Beast)
Trump has made at least 9,451 false or misleading claims since taking office. Trump is making roughly 22 false or misleading claims a day – up from his average of nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day during his first year in office. (Washington Post)
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