👋 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.
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1/ Trump discussed the “Russian Hoax” with Putin and both agreed that “there was no collusion” between Moscow and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Robert Mueller’s report, however, detailed how the Russian government interfered in the 2016 race in “sweeping and systematic fashion” in order to help Trump win. Trump added that he “didn’t discuss” election meddling with Putin or warn him not to meddle in the next U.S. election. Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed that she was “pretty sure both leaders were very well aware of (the Mueller report’s finding) long before this call took place,” because it was “something we’ve said for the better part of two and a half years.” The hour-long discussion about Mueller’s report, trade, nuclear arms control, Ukraine, North Korea, and Venezuela was their first conversation since the release of Mueller’s report. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN / Politico / Washington Post)
2/ House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler set a Monday deadline for Attorney General William Barr to grant access to the underlying evidence in Mueller’s report. If Barr fails to comply with Nadler’s final “counter offer,” the “committee will move to contempt proceedings and seek further legal recourse.” Nadler told Barr that the committee was “willing to prioritize a specific, defined set of underlying investigative and evidentiary materials for immediate production,” specifically citing witness interviews and the contemporaneous notes that were cited in Mueller’s report. The Justice Department said earlier this week it would not comply with Nadler’s subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report, underlying evidence, or grand jury information. (Politico / CNN / ABC News)
3/ Trump probably won’t allow former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify to Congress because McGahn was already interviewed by Mueller’s team. “I would say it’s done,” Trump told Fox News. “I’ve had him testifying already for 30 hours.” Trump said he is concerned that allowing McGahn to testify would open the doors for Congress to call other members of his administration to appear before committees. (Reuters)
4/ The Trump administration rolled back safety rules for offshore drilling operations that were put in place after the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The change is meant to ease drilling restrictions in places like the Gulf, even though oil production reached a record 1.9 million barrels per day at the end of 2018. It also reduces the required frequency of safety tests for key equipment, such as blowout preventers, a last-ditch safety measure against massive spills and “gushers.” The new rule will take effect in 60 days. (Politico)
The U.S. added 263,000 new jobs in April. The unemployment rate fell to 3.6% from 3.8% – the lowest since December 1969. (CNBC)
The California state Senate voted 27-10 to prevent candidates from appearing on the ballot unless they have publicly released five years of their tax returns. California will also be one of the first states to hold primary elections for the 2020 race. If the bill becomes law and Trump does not release his tax returns, he may not be on the California primary ballot. (The Hill)
Michael Cohen heads to prison on Monday to begin serving his three-year sentence for tax evasion, lying to Congress, and campaign finance crimes. (NBC News)
John Kelly joined the board of a company that operates the largest facility for unaccompanied migrant children. Caliburn International is the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services, which operates Homestead and three other shelters for unaccompanied migrant children in Texas. Prior to joining the Trump administration, Kelly had been on the board of advisors of DC Capital Partners, an investment firm that now owns Caliburn. (CBS News)
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