👋 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/ The Justice and Commerce departments rejected subpoenas by House Democrats demanding more documents about the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent a letter to House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, claiming the documents are protected by attorney-client privilege and therefore cannot be disclosed. Boyd wrote that the committee’s “insistence that the department immediately turn over these documents … is improper,” and added that the Justice Department has already handed over tens of thousands of documents. (Politico)
2/ Elijah Cummings indicated that he plans to move forward with contempt votes for Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in response to the Justice and Commerce departments’ refusal to turn over documents. “We gave Attorney General Barr and Secretary Ross every opportunity to produce the documents the Committee needs for our investigation,” Cummings said in a statement, “but rather than cooperate, they have decided that they would rather be held in contempt of Congress.” The panel is scheduled to vote next week to hold Barr and Ross in contempt of Congress, the same week the House will vote to hold Barr in contempt for failing to provide the full, unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence to Congress. (The Hill)
3/ The world’s largest automakers warned Trump that his plan to weaken tailpipe pollution standards is a threat to their profits and will produce “untenable” instability in the manufacturing sector. In a letter signed by 17 companies including Ford, General Motors, Toyota, and Volvo, the companies urged Trump not to roll back the policy. Trump’s new rule would all but eliminate the Obama-era auto pollution regulations and effectively freeze miles-per-gallon standards at 37 mpg for cars, instead of the original goal of reaching 54.5 mpg by 2025. The automakers warned Trump that “an extended period of litigation and instability” would follow if his plans are implemented. (New York Times / NPR)
4/ Government prosecutors released the audio recording of a 2017 voicemail from Trump’s then-personal lawyer asking Michael Flynn’s attorney for “some kind of heads up” about his cooperation with investigators. Mueller’s team has described John Dowd’s call to Rob Kelner as a “potential” effort to hinder the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The transcript of Dowd’s call with Kelner was included in the Mueller report, but the audio remained secret until Thursday. Prosecutors turned it over after an order from a federal judge, who is weighing how to sentence Flynn for making false statements to FBI agents about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States. (ABC News / New York Times)
- Russia tried to set up a video teleconference between Trump and Putin on the day after Trump’s inauguration. While the U.S. and Russian officials have never confirmed that a conversation took place on Jan. 21, 2017, the White House, however, provided a readout of a “congratulatory call” from Putin that happened on Jan. 28th. The call lasted about one hour and the two discussed Syria and fighting Islamic terrorism, among other topics. (Politico)
5/ U.S. and Russian warships almost collided in the Pacific, coming somewhere between 50 feet and 165 feet of each other. Each side blamed the other, alleging that their ships were forced to perform emergency maneuvers to avoid a collision. (CNN)
6/ The economy added 75,000 jobs in May while the unemployment rate stayed steady at 3.6% – the lowest level in almost 50 years. March’s job count was revised lower from 189,000 to 153,000 and the April number was lowered to 224,000 from 263,000. (CNBC / NBC News / New York Times)
7/ Trump called Nancy Pelosi a “nasty, vindictive, horrible person” in response to the House speaker telling lawmakers she’d rather see “him in prison” than impeached. Trump also called Charles Schumer a “jerk” and Mueller a “fool.” (Politico / Washington Post)
poll/ 77% of Americans want the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade. Within that group, 26% say they would like to see it remain in place, but with more restrictions added; 21% want to see Roe expanded to establish the right to abortion under any circumstance; 16% want to keep it the way it is; and 14% want to see some of the restrictions allowed under Roe reduced. 13% overall say it should be overturned. (NPR)
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