👋 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/ The House Ways and Mean Committee subpoenaed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over Trump’s tax returns. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig was also subpoenaed. Chairman Richard Neal gave Mnuchin and Rettig until until May 17 to turn over six years of Trump’s returns, and is expected to go to court to enforce his request if the Trump administration continues to argue that the committee does not have a legitimate legislative purpose that warrants compliance. Earlier this week, Mnuchin rejected Neal’s request for the returns. Trump previously vowed to fight all subpoenas from House Democrats. Subpoenas are now pending from the Ways and Means, Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, Financial Services, and the Intelligence Committees. (CNBC / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post) / Wall Street Journal)
2/ The House Judiciary Committee introduced the “No President Is Above the Law Act” that would “pause the statute of limitations for any federal offense committed by a sitting president.” The move is an attempt to get around a Justice Department ruling that a sitting president cannot be indicted or criminally prosecuted. Robert Mueller laid out extensive evidence of possible obstruction by Trump, but declined to exonerate Trump in his report, citing a Justice Department legal opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted. (Axios)
3/ Robert Mueller won’t testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee next week, but “he will come at some point,” committee chairman Jerrold Nadler told reporters. The committee is still negotiating with the Justice Department for Mueller’s appearance. “If it’s necessary,” Nadler said, “we will subpoena him and he will come.” Mueller was tentatively scheduled to appear May 15th. (The Hill / Reuters)
4/ Trump escalated his trade war with China, raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and moving ahead to tax nearly all of China’s imports. Trump said the move is meant to punish China for attempting to “renegotiate” a trade deal between the two countries. At one point, Trump mentioned that he received a “beautiful letter” from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who wanted to speak with him on the phone, but later said he would be more than happy to keep hitting China with tariffs. “I have no idea what’s going to happen,” Trump said, tweeting later that there is “no need to rush” on to securing a trade deal with China. (New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / Bloomberg)
Maria Butina denied that she tried to infiltrate U.S. conservative groups in order to promote Russian interests. She claimed she was “building peace.” Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring to serve as a foreign agent inside the United States. (NPR)
The House passed a $19.1 billion disaster relief package for farmers and communities hit by hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other natural disasters, including Puerto Rico. Trump urged House Republicans late Thursday night to vote down the bill. Instead, 30 Republicans voted in support of the bill, and the measure passed 257-150. (New York Times / Washington Post)
North Korea’s three new missiles have “Russian technology fingerprints all over” them, military experts said. The missiles reportedly bear a resemblance to the Russian-designed Iskander – a short-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile that has been in the Russian arsenal for more than a decade. (Associated Press)
A commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard rejected Trump’s invitation to sit down for talks with the U.S. Trump said he would not rule out military action against Iran, but “would like to see them call me” first. Gen. Yadollah Javani responded that “there will be no negotiations with America,” claiming that the U.S. wouldn’t dare take military action against Iran. (Associated Press / Reuters)
The Pentagon will shift $1.5 billion in funds to help pay for construction of 80 miles of wall at the U.S.-Mexican border. The funds were originally targeted for support of the Afghan security forces and other projects, and follows the Pentagon’s decision in March to transfer $1 billion from Army personnel budget accounts to support wall construction. (Associated Press)
The Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed the Trump administration’s plan to evict undocumented immigrants from public housing could displace more than 55,000 children. The proposed rule would make it harder for undocumented immigrants to access public housing, in order to “make certain our scarce public resources help those who are legally entitled to it,” according to HUD Secretary Ben Carson. The agency’s own analysis found that half of the people currently living in households facing eviction and homelessness under the new rule are children who are legally qualified for aid. (Washington Post)
Rudy Giuliani is encouraging Ukraine to pursue an investigation into Joe Biden’s son and his involvement in a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch. Trump’s personal lawyer is meeting with the incoming government in Kiev to press them to try to discredit Mueller’s investigation and undermine the case against Paul Manafort. “We’re not meddling in an election,” Giuliani said. “We’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do.” (New York Times / NBC News)
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