👋 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 said the Democratic leadership believes that Trump is “engaged in a cover-up” after meeting with congressional committee leaders. “We believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up,” Pelosi told reporters. “A cover-up. And that was the nature of the meeting.” Trump responded to Pelosi’s comments by storming out of an infrastructure meeting with senior Democrats after only three minutes, before heading to the Rose Garden to host a surprise press conference. “I don’t do cover-ups,” Trump said before declaring that he would refuse to work with Democrats until they stop investigating him. “I want to do infrastructure,” he continued. “I want to do it more than you want to do it. I’d be really good at that - that’s what I do. But you know what? You can’t do it under these circumstances. So get these phony investigations over with.” (New York Times / NBC News / Axios / Reuters / CNBC / ABC News)
Analysis: The various cover-ups of Donald ‘I don’t do cover-ups’ Trump. “I don’t do cover-ups,” he said. “You people” — the media — “know that probably better than anybody.” (Washington Post)
‘I pray for the president,’ Pelosi says after Trump cuts short infrastructure meeting, blasts Democrats. “In an orchestrated – almost to an ‘oh, poor baby’ point of view – he came into the room and said that I said that he was engaged in a cover-up and he couldn’t possibly engage in a conversation on infrastructure as long as we are investigating him,” Pelosi said. (Boston Globe / The Hill)
Trump rails about impeachment, says Democrats are fishing. Trump claimed that his approval rating “would be at 65%” if there were no investigations. (NBC News)
2/ The House Intelligence Committee reached a last-minute deal with the Justice Department over the redacted material in the Mueller report and announced that it will not enforce the subpoena against Attorney General William Barr. The DOJ agreed to turn over the material and the underlying information in Mueller’s report, but committee chairman Adam Schiff said the subpoena “will remain in effect and will be enforced should the Department fail to comply with the full document request.” Schiff said he expects the DOJ to finish turning over the 12 categories of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence material from Mueller’s report “by the end of next week.” In a letter sent to Schiff on Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd warned that “the Department will not likely be able to continue to work with the Committee to accommodate its interest in these materials” if the committee takes “the precipitous and unnecessary action of recommending a contempt finding or other enforcement action against the attorney general.” (Washington Post / New York Times)
3/ The IRS must honor congressional requests for Trump’s tax returns unless Trump invokes executive privilege to protect them, according to a confidential draft legal memo written by IRS staffers. The memo undercuts Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s argument that the White House doesn’t have to comply with Congress’ requests because they lack any “legitimate legislative purpose.” Mnuchin said he came to that conclusion after consulting with attorneys from the Treasury Department, the IRS, and the Justice Department, but the memo says the Treasury Secretary does not have the authority to deny requests for taxpayer returns made by tax-writing committees in Congress. (Washington Post / New York Times)
- New York lawmakers passed a pair of bills that would allow Congress to obtain Trump’s state tax returns. Tax officials will now be authorized to hand over Trump’s state returns to any one of three congressional committees. (New York Times / CNN)
4/ Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled at a U.S. District Court hearing in New York that Congress has the legal authority to demand the Trump Organization’s financial records from Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp. Lawyers for Trump, his three older children, and the Trump Organization argued that the subpoenas should be quashed. The ruling clears the way for the banks to comply with subpoenas issued to them last month by two congressional committees, and comes just two days after a different federal judge in Washington, D.C. said Trump’s accounting firm has to comply with a congressional subpoena for Trump’s personal financial records. (Reuters / CNBC)
poll/ 70% of Americans say they have confidence in the condition of the U.S. economy and their own financial situation. 41% of those who said the economy was in good shape also credited Trump’s policies as the reason why the economy is doing well, up from 32% at the beginning of 2018. 41% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president. (ABC News)
Michael Cohen communicated more than 1,000 times over the course of eight months with the CEO of a U.S. money-management firm with ties to a Russian oligarch, according to a warrant filed on Aug. 7, 2017. The exchanges between Cohen and Andrew Intrater of Columbus Nova LLC began the day Trump was elected, and Mueller’s team was investigating whether payments to Cohen from Columbus Nova were connected to a plan to give Michael Flynn a proposal to lift sanctions against Russia. No charges were filed related to that particular inquiry. (Bloomberg)
Rex Tillerson met with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for more than six hours in a private, closed-door session, during which he talked about his time serving under Trump, the frictions between himself and Jared Kushner, and his attempts to tackle issues like Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Daily Beast)
Trump’s golf trips have cost taxpayers at least $102 million in extra travel and security expenses. Trump’s trips to Florida cost $81 million, his trips to New Jersey cost $17 million, his two days in Scotland last summer cost at least $3 million, and another $1 million went toward a trip to his resort in Los Angeles. (HuffPost / New York Magazine)
Steve Mnuchin says the Harriet Tubman redesign of the $20 bill will no longer be unveiled in 2020. The unveiling had been scheduled to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Mnuchin says the design process has been delayed, and no new imagery will be unveiled until 2028. (CNBC)
Mick Mulvaney is looking to install one of his political allies as the new head of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. Mulvaney has signaled that he wants someone who worked with him at the Office of Management and Budget to replace the outgoing current head, Shahira Knight. Having someone he trusts as the new head of the team would allow him to be directly involved with negotiating and passing critical pieces of legislation during the remainder of Trump’s term. (CNBC)
Senator Mike Lee of Utah says the U.S. census should include questions about criminal records in order to help policymakers get former convicts back into the workforce. Lee suggested the idea at a hearing about the Census’s impact on the economy. (Reuters)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection only installed 1.7 miles of fencing with the $1.57 billion that Congress appropriated last year for Trump’s border wall with Mexico. The administration recently updated a federal judge on the status of its border wall efforts, and “based on that updated information,” the court filing reads, “it appears that CBP has now constructed 1.7 miles of fencing with its fiscal year 2018 funding.” (Bloomberg)
Michael Avenatti was charged with extorting Nike and stealing $300,000 from his former client, Stormy Daniels. Federal prosecutors in New York charged him with fraud and aggravated identity theft involving Daniels and a book deal, and with attempting to extort more than $20 million from the sportswear giant, Nike. Avenatti has denied the allegations. (Southern District of New York / Associated Press / Reuters / CNN / CNBC)
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