👋 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’s investigators gathered “alarming and significant” evidence of obstruction by Trump that was “much more acute than [Attorney General William] Barr suggested” in his four-page letter to Congress. Members of the special counsel team told associates they believe their findings are potentially more damaging for Trump than Barr explained, and are frustrated that Barr did not adequately portray their work. The team had also prepared summaries for different sections of their 400-page report, which Barr did not use. Lawyers and FBI agents on Mueller’s team reportedly could not reach an agreement about whether Trump’s conduct amounted to obstruction of justice, but Barr, after consulting with Rod Rosenstein, went ahead and cleared Trump. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Bloomberg)
- The House Judiciary Committee called on Barr to release Mueller’s summaries that were prepared as part of the Trump-Russia report. “If these recent reports are accurate … then those summaries should be publicly released as soon as possible,” chairman Jerry Nadler said. Nadler also called on Barr to produce “all communications” about the Mueller report between the special counsel’s office and the Justice Department. (Reuters)
2/ The Department of Justice defended Barr’s handling of Mueller’s 400-page report on possible obstruction and Russian interference, saying they didn’t disclose the full report because “every page” contained protected grand jury information and it “therefore could not be publicly released.” A full report is expected to be released by mid-April after “appropriate redactions.” (Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNN)
- Rand Paul blocked a resolution calling for Mueller’s report to be released publicly. It was the fifth time that Republicans blocked the resolution, which unanimously passed in the House last month. (Axios)
3/ Trump accused the New York Times of being a “Fake News paper” with no “legitimate sources” after it reported that Mueller’s team believes that the report is more damaging than Barr has indicated. “In fact, they probably had no sources at all!” The Times story was corroborated by the Washington Post and NBC News. (Axios / Daily Beast)
4/ The House voted to end American involvement in the Yemen war and cut off support for the Saudi-led coalition. The bill now heads to Trump, who is expected to veto it – his second veto as president – and Congress lacks the votes to override him. The White House claimed the resolution raises “serious constitutional concerns.” It’s the first time Congress has invoked the War Powers Resolution to try and stop a foreign conflict. (Associated Press / New York Times / Politico / CNBC / The Guardian)
5/ The House approved legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act with new provisions to prohibit gun sales to convicted domestic abusers and stalkers. The National Rifle Association opposed the bill and said it’d be “scoring” how lawmakers vote on the bill to measure future ratings and endorsements in elections. (NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)
Trump backed down from his threat to close the southern border. Instead, he gave Mexico a “one-year warning” and threatened to impose car tariffs before closing the border “if the drugs don’t stop.” (Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg)
Jared Kushner was among one of the 25 White House officials whose security clearance was initially denied but later overturned. A whistleblower in the White House’s personnel security office said she and another career employee determined that Kushner had too many “significant disqualifying factors” to receive a clearance. (Washington Post)
Trump intends to nominate Herman Cain for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board. Cain ran for the 2012 GOP president nomination, but dropped out after sexual harassment allegations. Cain also co-founded a pro-Trump super-political action committee, America Fighting Back PAC, which claims that “America is under attack” and “we must protect Donald Trump and his agenda from impeachment.” (Axios / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
Trump’s nominee to lead the Interior Department continued lobbying clients for several months after vowing to end his lobbying activities. In November 2016, David Bernhardt filed a legal notice formally ending his status as a lobbyist, but continued his work until as late as April 2017. (New York Times)
FBI Director Christopher Wray said that white supremacy is a “persistent” and “pervasive” threat to the U.S. After the New Zealand mosque massacre last month, Trump said he didn’t consider white nationalism to be a rising global threat. (CNN)
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