👋 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 abandoned his plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act a week after announcing that his administration agreed with a judge’s ruling that the entire health care law should be eliminated. In a string of morning tweets, Trump promised that the “vote will be taken right after” the 2020 election “when Republicans hold the Senate and win back the House.” Last week, after directing the Justice Department to support a full dismantling of the ACA on constitutional grounds, Trump urged Republicans to come up with a “spectacular” replacement to the ACA. He called the unwritten Republican proposal “truly great HealthCare that will work for America,” while promising to unveil the plan “at the appropriate time.” He offered no details about when that might be. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, said he had “a good conversation” with Trump and “made it clear to him we were not going to be doing [health care] in the Senate.” (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / NBC News)
- 📌 Day 796: The Trump administration supports a federal appeals court ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be invalidated and thrown out. In a reversal, the Justice Department now says it agrees with the ruling of a federal judge in Texas that declared the ACA unconstitutional on the basis of a 2017 change in federal tax law that eliminated the penalty on uninsured people. Previously, the administration had pushed to remove the protections for people with pre-existing conditions. More than 20 million Americans are covered through the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and its insurance exchanges. Trump, meanwhile,tweetedthat “The Republican Party will become ‘The Party of Healthcare!’” (CNN / NPR / Politico / Washington Post / Vox / Axios / Mother Jones / New York Times)
2/ Trump walked back his threat to close the southwestern border over the increasing number of asylum seekers crossing into the US, saying “we’re going to see what happens over the next few days.” He added that “If we don’t make a deal with Congress, the border’s going to be closed […] 100 percent.” Last week, Trump threatened that he “will be CLOSING….the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week.” While Trump’s top economic advisors have briefed him on the consequences of shutting down the border, he told reporters that “security is more important to me than trade.” McConnell also cautioned that closing the border would be ill-advised and “have potentially catastrophic economic impact on our country, and I would hope we would not be doing that sort of thing.” (Washington Post / Politico / Reuters/ NBC News / CNN / USA Today / ABC News)
3/ Trump blamed Puerto Rico for being “a mess” and called its politicians “incompetent or corrupt” after the Senate blocked billions of dollars in disaster aid for states and territories devastated by natural disasters in recent months. Senators took test votes on two competing measures: Republicans rejected a recovery bill passed by the House, citing Trump’s opposition to the bill’s Puerto Rico funding. Democrats, meanwhile, rejected the GOP legislation, arguing that the proposed $600 million in nutritional assistance for Puerto Rico was not enough. Trump has been pressuring Democrats to support a disaster relief measure that does not include the money they want for Puerto Rico. (New York Times / ABC News)
- A White House spokesman twice referred to Puerto Rico as “that country” while defending Trump’s attacks on the leaders of the U.S. territory. Hogan Gidley later clarified his statement, saying that calling Puerto Rico a country was a “slip of the tongue.” (Politico / Washington Post)
poll/ 48% of American describe Trump as “aggressive” and 38% describe him as “mean.” Trump scored high for being “insincere,” “confident” and “creepy.” On the attributes of being “sexy,” “impartial,” “handsome” and “physically fit,” Trump scored between 0 and 4%. (New York Times)
The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted to subpoena the former White House personnel security director accused of overturning security clearances after a whistleblower complained that the Trump administration ignored national security concerns to approve clearances for 25 individuals whose applications were initially denied. Carl Kline will now be forced testify before the panel about his role in approving security clearances. (Washington Post / Politico)
The House Oversight Committee also voted to subpoena Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for records related to the Commerce Department’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Ross testified before the committee in March, denying the citizenship question was intended to influence the allocation of congressional seats across the country. (Axios / Politico)
A Chinese woman was charged with making false statements to the Secret Service after entering Mar-a-Lago with a thumb drive that contained “malicious software.” Yujing Zhang was on the property on while Trump was playing golf at the Trump International course. Zhang told a receptionist she was there to attend an event (which did not exist), presenting documentation written in Chinese she claimed was her invitation to the event. After Secret Service agents were notified, Zhang claimed she was there to “go to the pool.” Zhang was carrying two Republic of China passports, four cellphones, a laptop, a hard drive, and a thumb drive with malware on it. (CNBC / Washington Post / WPTV)
The Department of Homeland Security quietly disbanded its domestic terrorism unit last year, saying that the threat of “homegrown violent extremism and domestic terrorism,” including the threat from white supremacists, has been “significantly reduced.” The branch of analysts in DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis were reassigned to new positions. (Daily Beast)
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