👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
Send your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints to:
1/ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resigned, effective May 11th. In his resignation letter to Trump, Rosenstein writes “I am grateful to you for the opportunity to serve; for the courtesy and humor you often display in our personal conversations.” Rosenstein’s successor, Jeffrey Rosen, currently the No. 2 official at the Transportation Department, is awaiting a confirmation vote by the Senate. Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. [Breaking news… stay tuned for updates] (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NPR)
📌 Day 110: Trump fired James Comey on the recommendation of Jeff Sessions. In a letter dated Tuesday to Comey, Trump concurred “with the judgment of the Department of Justice that [Comey is not] able to effectively lead the bureau.” Earlier today, the FBI notified Congress that Comey misstated key findings involving the Clinton email investigation during testimony, saying that only a “small number” of emails had been forwarded to disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner, not the “hundreds and thousands” he’d claimed in his testimony. The move sweeps away the man who is responsible for the investigation into whether members of Trump’s campaign team colluded with Russia in its interference in last year’s election. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein laid out the reasons for Comey’s firing, arguing that the handling of his investigation into Clinton’s private server, his decision not to recommend charges be filed, and the news conference he held to explain his reasoning were the cause of his dismissal. Democrats reacted with shock and alarm, accusing Trump of ousting the FBI director to escape scrutiny over his campaign’s Russia ties. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged deputy Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor for the federal probe into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russian officials — warning that failing to do so will lead the public to “rightly suspect” that Comey’s surprise firing “was part of a cover-up.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Politico)
📌 Day 118: Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Bob Mueller to oversee the investigation of Russian interference in election. Mueller will take command of the prosecutors and FBI agents who are working on the far reachingRussia investigation. Trump said that he expects the probe will find no collusion between his 2016 White House campaign and foreign countries, calling the Russia inquiry a “taxpayer-funded charade.” (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)
📌 Day 610: Rod Rosenstein raised the idea of wearing a wire last year to secretly record Trump in the White House and expose the chaos in the administration, according to memos written by Andrew McCabe, then the acting FBI director. Rosenstein also discussed recruiting Jeff Sessions and John Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security, to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office. Rosenstein called the report “inaccurate and factually incorrect,” adding: “Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.” At least one person who was present for the discussions said Rosenstein was joking. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Associated Press)
📌 Day 827: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended his handling of the Russia investigation, attacked the media for how it was covered and blamed the Obama administration for not revealing “the full story” about Russia’s efforts. Speaking at the Public Servants Dinner of the Armenian Bar Association, Rosenstein recalled how he had promised to “do it right” during his Senate confirmation hearing and “take it to the appropriate conclusion,” while attacking what he called “mercenary critics,” politicians and the news media. Rosenstein, however, also warned that hacking and social media manipulation are “only the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to Russian efforts to influence American elections. (NBC News / Washington Post / Politico / CNN)
2/ Jerry Nadler threatened to subpoena Attorney General William Barr if he refuses to testify about the Mueller report before the House Judiciary Committee this week. Barr disagrees with the committee’s proposed format and has threatened to skip the hearing if Democrats don’t change the terms of his appearance, which Nadler said the committee has no plans to do. If Barr doesn’t appear, “we will have to subpoena him, and we will have to use whatever means we can to enforce the subpoena.” (New York Times / CNN / Politico)
3/ Trump accused the New York attorney general’s office of “illegally” investigating the NRA after it opened an investigation into potential financial and disclosure misconduct by the gun rights group. The probe was launched after NRA President Oliver North accused Wayne LaPierre, chief executive officer, of financial misconduct, including the improper use of $200,000 of NRA funds to purchase clothing from an NRA vendor. Trump encouraged the NRA to “get its act together quickly” because it’s a “very important organization” that is “under siege” by Democrats. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)
4/ A pair of legal watchdog organizations are suing the FEC for failing to act on complaints that claim the NRA illegally coordinated with the Trump campaign and other Republican candidates in recent elections. The gun-control group Giffords, along with the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center Action, allege that the FEC missed a 120-day deadline to act on four complaints brought by the groups, which claim that the NRA skirted contribution limits to provide unfair advantages to Trump and other GOP candidates. (CNN / ABC News)
5/ A gunman yelling anti-Semitic slurs armed with a semiautomatic rifle opened fire on a synagogue in California, killing one person and injuring three. The shooting is being investigated as a possible homicide, hate crime and federal civil rights violation. John Earnest reportedly posted a manifesto full of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim views and claiming responsibility before the shooting on the online message board 8chan. Trump offered his condolences to members of the synagogue, saying Americans “forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate.” (Los Angeles Times / NPR / New York Times / Washington Post)
📌 Day 803: 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)
📌 Day 827: Trump defended his 2017 comment that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, in which an avowed neo-Nazi rammed his car into a group of protesters, killing a woman and injuring dozens of others. At the time, Trump condemned what happened “on many sides,” arguing there were “very fine people on both sides” of the incident. Now, nearly two years later, Trump stands by his statement, claiming that he answered questions about the incident in Charlottesville “perfectly.” Trump’s comments came a day after Joe Biden launched his presidential campaign with a video comparing the violence and racism displayed in Charlottesville to Trump’s response. The “Unite the Right” rally was organized by self-proclaimed white nationalist Richard Spencer. (Washington Post / Politico / CBS News / Bloomberg / CNN)
poll/ 55% of Americans say they “definitely would not” vote for Trump in the 2020 election, while 28% definitely would and another 14% would consider him for a second term. Trump won 46.1% of the popular vote compared to Hillary Clinton’s 48.2% in 2016. 75% of Americans, and 85% of registered voters, say they’re certain to vote in the 2020 election. (ABC News)
poll/ 42% of voters say Trump’s handling of the economy makes them more likely to vote for him in 2020, while 32% say it makes them less likely to support him. (Washington Post)
poll/ 43% of Americans say they have either benefited a great deal or some from recent growth in the U.S. economy. 54%, however, say they have either not been helped much or not at all from the nation’s growing economy. (Monmouth)
Steven Mnuchin: Trade talks between the United States and China are “getting to the final laps.” Mnuchin is traveling to China today with Trump’s top trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, to try to resolve the remaining disagreements between the two countries. Chinese officials are expected to come to the U.S. on May 8 to hammer out the final details and possibly conclude the negotiations. (New York Times)
Mitch McConnell signed a T-shirt joking about the death of former Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. The T-shirt shows Garland’s face surrounded by the dates 3/16/16 and 1/3/17, with the caption “gone but not forgotten.” (Daily Beast)
The White House is reviewing past writings by Trump’s potential nominee to the Federal Reserve Board. Stephen Moore wrote a column for the National Review in 2014, saying women earning more than men “could be disruptive to family stability.” (New York Times)
Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading statements since taking office. Trump reached 5,000 claims on day 601 of his presidency, but he reached the 10,000 mark just 226 days later. Trump averaged nearly 23 false or misleading claims per day during that seven-month period. As of April 27, the tally stood at 10,111 false or misleading claims in just 828 days. (Washington Post)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.