👋 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/ Former White House counsel Don McGahn failed to appear at hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee, following Trump’s instructions to ignore the congressional subpoena. “Our subpoenas are not optional,” Committee chair Jerry Nadler said after McGahn failed to show up. Nadler also warned that “one way or another,” the panel will hear from McGahn, even if that means holding McGahn in contempt of Congress for failing to appear. “This committee,” he said, “will have no choice but to enforce the subpoena against him.” (Associated Press)
2/ A federal judge ruled that Trump’s accounting firm must turn over his financial records to Congress. Judge Amit Mehta ruled that the accounting firm, Mazars, must comply with the subpoena issued by the House Oversight Committee. Trump had sued to quash the subpoena, arguing that Congress had no legitimate legislative reason to request the documents, but Judge Mehta said that they do. “It is simply not fathomable,” Mehta wrote, “that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct — past or present — even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.” Trump has vowed to appeal Mehta’s ruling. (NPR / Washington Post / The Guardian / New York Times / CNN)
3/ Michael Cohen told lawmakers earlier this year that one of Trump’s personal attorneys told him to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow deal and suggested he might be pardoned if he helped “shut down” the Russia investigation. Cohen claimed that Jay Sekulow asked him to tell Congress that the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations ended on Jan. 31, 2016 — nearly six months before they actually ended — according to transcripts from Cohen’s two private interviews with lawmakers, which were released yesterday. Cohen also said Sekulow told him that Trump was considering pardons for Cohen and others who “shut down, you know, this investigation.” (Politico / Washington Post)
4/ ‘Fox & Friends’ host Pete Hegseth has been privately lobbying Trump for months to convince him to pardon convicted and accused war criminals. Hegseth has repeatedly lobbied Trump since as early as January and pressed him in multiple private conversations to support pardons for, among others, accused war criminal and former Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher. Gallagher will stand trial on May 28 for allegedly shooting civilians, including a school-aged girl, and knifing a captured ISIS fighter to death while the fighter was receiving medical treatment in 2007 at a facility in Iraq. (Daily Beast / New York Times / USA Today)
poll/ 40% of rural Americans struggle with routine medical bills, food expenses, and housing costs. 49% say they could not afford to pay an unexpected $1,000 expense of any type. (NPR)
Kris Kobach has a list of 10 demands that he wants met if Trump asks him to be the next “immigration czar.” Among Kobach’s demands: 24-hour access to a government jet, an office in the West Wing, guaranteed weekends off, and an assurance that he will be appointed as the next Secretary of Homeland Security by November. He also wants to be the main television spokesperson for Trump’s immigration policies, plus guarantees that all other cabinet secretaries would defer to him on immigration issues. (New York Times)
Trump is expected to choose Ken Cuccinelli to coordinate the administration’s immigration policy. The job’s duties and title are still being decided, but Cuccinelli, an immigration hard-liner, is expected to work through the Department of Homeland Security. (New York Times)
Russian documents reveal desire to sow racial discord — and violence — in the U.S. The revelations come as U.S. intelligence agencies have warned of probable Russian meddling in the 2020 election. (NBC News)
Several members of Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team pressed her to begin an impeachment inquiry against Trump. At least five members of Pelosi’s leadership team pressed her during a closed-door leadership meeting to allow the House Judiciary Committee to start an impeachment inquiry, all of whom Pelosi rebuffed. (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News)
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos used personal emails for her government work in “limited” cases. An internal Education Department watchdog says DeVos sometimes uses personal email accounts for government business and does not always save the messages properly. (CNBC)
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