👋 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/ Nancy Pelosi accused Attorney General William Barr of “not telling the truth to the Congress of the United States — that’s a crime.” At a House Appropriations Committee hearing on April 9th, Charlie Crist asked Barr if Robert Mueller’s team believed he had failed to adequately represent their findings in his four-page memo. Barr responded that he was not aware of any concerns from Mueller’s team. On April 10th at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Sen. Chris Van Hollen asked Barr if Mueller supported his finding that there was not sufficient evidence to conclude that Trump had obstructed justice. Barr responded: “I don’t know.” Mueller, however, had written Barr two weeks earlier, on March 27th, complaining that the attorney general’s memo “did not fully capture the context, nature and substance” of his work. “He lied to Congress,” Pelosi said. “Nobody is above the law. Not the president of the United States, and not the attorney general.” The Justice Department called Pelosi’s words “reckless, irresponsible and false.” (Associated Press / Politico / CNBC / Washington Post / Washington Post / Vox)
- 📌 Day 832: Robert Mueller twice objected to Attorney General William Barr’s four-page summary to Congress, saying the memo “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions.” Barr’s summary claimed that the Mueller investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government” and that Mueller “did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other —as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction.” Mueller, however, sent a letter to Barr on March 27th – three days after Barr issued his summary – citing “public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation” that “threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the department appointed the special counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.” Mueller asked the Justice Department to release the 448-page report’s introductions and executive summaries, making some initial suggested redactions that Mueller believed would “alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen and would answer congressional and public questions about the nature and outcome of our investigation.” Mueller’s office first informed the Justice Department of their concerns on March 25th, the day after Barr released his summary clearing Trump of obstruction of justice. On April 9, Barr testified to Congress that Mueller declined an opportunity to review his summary of “principal conclusions.” Barr also previously testified that he did not know if Mueller supported his conclusion on the question of possible obstruction. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / New York Times / Politico / CNN / The Guardian)
2/ House Democrats threatened to hold Barr in contempt of Congress after he refused to appear at a House Judiciary Committee hearing and ignored a subpoena deadline to hand over Mueller’s full report and evidence. Barr is boycotting the hearing over the ground rules for his testimony, which allots time for attorneys from the Democratic and Republican sides of the panel to question him. Jerry Nadler said he would give Barr “one or two more days” to produce the full Mueller report before initiating contempt proceedings. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Axios / Reuters)
- The House Judiciary Committee mocked Barr with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and an empty chair. (CNN)
3/ The White House accused Mueller’s team of failing “to act as prosecutors and only as prosecutors.” In an April 19th letter to Barr, White House lawyer Emmet Flood wrote that Mueller needed to “either ask the grand jury to return an indictment or decline to charge the case,” despite Justice Department guidelines saying that a sitting president cannot be charged. Flood also claimed that Trump’s decision allowing advisers to cooperate with Mueller’s probe does not extend to congressional oversight investigations, and that Trump has the right to instruct advisers not to testify. (CNN / Reuters)
poll/ 56% of Americans saying Trump is doing a good job on the economy – a new high on his economic approval rating. (CNN)
The Trump administration had “no way to link” thousands of separated migrant parents and children, according to newly obtained emails from ICE and Health and Human Services officials. Officials resorted to using a spreadsheet and manually reviewing all of the records associated with the nearly 3,000 families that were separated at the border. On the same day a Health and Human Services official told ICE officials they had “no way to link” separated families, DHS issued a fact sheet claiming that the “United States government knows the location of all children in its custody and is working to reunite them with their families.” The fact sheet also asserted that DHS had “a process established to ensure that family members know the location of their children,” which included “a central database which HHS and DHS can access and update.” At the time, no such database existed. (NBC News)
The Trump administration formally filed a request to strike down the entire Affordable Care Act, arguing in a federal appeals court filing that the legislation was unconstitutional. 21 million Americans and millions more who benefit from the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and required coverage for pregnancy, prescription drugs, and mental health. (New York Times)
The Trump administration tried to remove references to climate change from an international statement on Arctic policy. The administration objected “to any mention of climate change whatsoever” in a nonbinding declaration of goals and principles among the eight Arctic nations. (Washington Post)
The House passed the Climate Action Now Act, which would require Trump to develop a plan for the U.S. to meet the Paris agreement goals to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide. The act would also block federal funds from being used to advance the formal U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 climate accord. Mitch McConnell said the Senate will not take up the legislation, dismissing the bill as “political theater” by Democrats. (Reuters)
Trump won’t nominate Stephen Moore for a seat on the Federal Reserve board. The news came hours after Moore said he was “all in” for the job. Trump withdrew Moore from consideration after Republican lawmakers criticized Moore’s past comments about women, including that they should not earn more than men. (New York Times / Reuters / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNN)
At least seven foreign governments were allowed to rent condominiums in Trump World Tower in 2017 without approval from Congress. The 1982 Foreign Missions Act requires foreign governments to get State Department clearance for any purchase, lease, sale, or other use of a property in the U.S., and the emoluments clause bans U.S. officials from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments without congressional consent. (Reuters)
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