👋 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 pressured Kirstjen Nielsen into busing detained immigrants to “sanctuary cities” located in the congressional districts of Democratic members of Congress. The plan was first raised in a Nov. 16, 2018, email asking whether members of a migrant caravan could be arrested when they reached the border and then transported “to small- and mid-sized sanctuary cities” where local officials have refused to cooperate with ICE. The White House claimed that the proposal would free up ICE detention space, as well as send a message to Democrats. One top official responded to the plan by pointing out budgetary and liability concerns, as well as the “PR risks.” The White House called the proposal a “nonstory” and said “this was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion.” (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times)
2/ Trump – contradicting his own administration – confirmed that he is “giving strong consideration” to releasing detained undocumented immigrants in Democratic “sanctuary cities,” suggesting that it should make liberals “very happy” because of their immigration policies. Trump’s tweets come after both the White House and Department of Homeland Security said they rejected the plan when it was floated in November and again in February, because it’d be “so illegal.” The new push comes as Trump has empowered senior adviser Stephen Miller to lead the administration’s immigration policy. Miller reportedly wants to create tent cities at the border to house migrants and detain migrant children beyond the current 20-day limit imposed by a federal judge. The goal is to force migrant parents to choose between splitting from their children or remaining together indefinitely in detention while awaiting court proceedings. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal / ABC News)
3/ Trump promised to pardon the Customs and Border Protection Commissioner if he were sent to jail for blocking asylum seekers from entering the U.S. in defiance of U.S. law. Two days later, Trump promoted Kevin McAleenan to acting secretary of homeland security after pressuring Nielsen to submit her resignation. Nielsen previously refused to close the border, telling Trump it was illegal. A few days prior to the encounter with McAleenan, Trump backtracked from his thread to close the border, saying he was issuing a “one-year warning” for Mexico to halt illegal immigration and drug trafficking. (New York Times / CNN)
4/ Trump’s top advisers discussed whether the military could be used to build tent city detention camps for migrants at the border. Also discussed was whether the military could legally run the camps, since U.S. law prohibits the military from directly interacting with migrants. Trump complained that the laws are “horrible laws that the Democrats won’t change.” (NBC News)
5/ The Justice Department is reviving a Bush-era regulation allowing appellate immigration judges to issue binding rulings on the entire immigration system while only a minority of appeals judges participate. Currently, the appeals board can declare a binding precedent only if a majority of all permanent sitting judges vote to do so. Immigration advocates and attorneys say the new regulations will be used to reshape immigration law to fit Trump’s political goals. The Trump administration claims the move is to help fix an immigration court system plagued with delays. Attorney General William Barr has sent the proposed regulation to the White House for review. (San Francisco Chronicle)
poll/ 55% of Georgia voters say that they have an unfavorable view of Trump, compared to 39% who had a favorable view, and 4% who were undecided. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Rod Rosenstein defended the Justice Department’s handling of Robert Mueller’s report, saying Barr is “being as forthcoming as he can” about the redaction process. Barr has come under criticism for his four-page summary of the principal conclusions he issued less than two days after Mueller handed over his nearly 400-page report. (Wall Street Journal / CNBC)
The House Oversight Committee threatened to hold a Justice Department official in contempt after refusing to comply with a subpoena for testimony and documents related to the citizenship question on the 2020 Census. Committee Chair Elijah Cummings said in a letter to AG William Barr that the committee would hold his principal deputy assistant AG, John Gore, in contempt of Congress if Barr didn’t make him available to answer questions about Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add the question to the census. Gore was slated to testify on Thursday but he did not appear. The committee voted 23-14 earlier this month to compel Gore to testify and for the Trump administration to provide additional documents pertaining to the citizenship question. (NBC News)
The House Oversight Committee will issue a “friendly subpoena” to the accounting firm that prepared several years’ worth of Trump’s financial statements. Mazars USA had requested a subpoena from the committee before it would provide records. (CNN)
Trump withdrew his nomination for the next U.S. diplomat for South Asia. Trump nominated Defense Intelligence Agency official Robert Williams five months ago to fill the post, which has been empty since Trump took office. The White house did not say why it decided to withdraw Williams’ nomination. (Reuters)
The former White House aide who mocked John McCain as “dying anyway” is joining a pro-Trump PAC. Kelly Sadler was let go after saying McCain’s opposition to Gina Haspel being nominated as CIA director didn’t matter because he was “dying anyway.” Sadler starts Monday and is “really excited” to join America First Action. (CNN)
Trump confirmed that he considered naming Ivanka Trump to head the World Bank because “she’s very good with numbers.” Trump said he didn’t nominate Ivanka because people would have complained about “nepotism, when it would’ve had nothing to do with nepotism.” (The Atlantic / The Guardian / Bloomberg / Washington Post)
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