👋 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 Department agreed to provide Congress with “key evidence” collected by Robert Mueller related to obstruction of justice and abuse of power by Trump. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said “Mueller’s most important files” will be available to all committee members, allowing “us to perform our constitutional duties and decide how to respond to the allegations laid out against the President by the Special Counsel.” The House Judiciary Committee, however, moved no closer to securing testimony from Mueller or other figures, such as former White House counsel Donald McGahn, who has declined to testify, citing Trump administration lawyers. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)
2/ Jerry Nadler agreed to delay a vote to hold Barr and McGahn in contempt of Congress after reaching the deal with the Department of Justice for evidence from the Mueller report. The House will still proceed with a vote to authorize the House Judiciary Committee to take Barr to federal court to fully enforce its subpoena, but will not formally vote to hold Barr in contempt. “If the Department proceeds in good faith and we are able to obtain everything that we need, then there will be no need to take further steps,” Nadler said. “If important information is held back, then we will have no choice but to enforce our subpoena in court and consider other remedies.” (ABC News / NBC News / NPR)
3/ Trump backed off his threat to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods, tweeting that the U.S. reached an agreement with Mexico to reduce the number of migrants at the southern border. According to a joint statement, Mexico agreed to “take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration,” including the deployment of thousands of national guard troops to its border with Guatemala to stop migrants from reaching the U.S. Mexico also agreed to an expansion of a Trump administration program to host more migrants seeking asylum while their court proceedings are in progress in the U.S. (New York Times / Washington Post)
- READ: The United States-Mexico Joint Declaration released by the State Department. (New York Times)
4/ Mexico had already agreed to deploy its National Guard several months ago. The Mexican government agreed to the “deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border” during secret talks with Kirstjen Nielsen back in March. And, the agreement to host asylum seekers in Mexico while their cases proceed in the U.S. was reached in December. Trump, however, tweeted on Saturday that he was “very excited about the new deal with Mexico.” (New York Times / Reuters)
5/ Trump claimed there are “some things….. …..not mentioned” in the deal with Mexico, promising they’ll be revealed “in the not too distant future.” Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard, however, contradicted Trump’s claim that a “fully signed and documented” agreement would be revealed soon, saying there were no undisclosed parts of the U.S.-Mexico deal. Trump also claimed that Mexico agreed to “immediately begin buying large quantities of agricultural product from our great patriot farmers.” There is no evidence, however, that an agreement on agricultural trade was agreed to and three Mexican officials have denied that it exists. (Politico / Associated Press / ABC News / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg / Business Insider)
6/ The White House blocked a State Department intelligence agency from submitting written testimony that human-caused climate change is “possibly catastrophic” to national security. The written testimony by the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research for a House Intelligence Committee hearing outlined that “absent extensive mitigating factors or events, we see few plausible future scenarios where significant — possibly catastrophic — harm does not arise from the compounded effects of climate change.” Officials from the White House’s Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, and National Security Council all objected to parts of the testimony because it did not align with the Trump administration’s official stance. The analyst, Rod Schoonover, was ultimately allowed to speak before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, but the White House refused to approve Schoonover’s written testimony for entry into the permanent Congressional Record. (Washington Post / New York Times)
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested that people deal with climate change by “mov[ing] to different places.” Pomeo claimed that the climate “always changes,” and so “societies reorganize” and “we will figure out responses to this that address these issues in important and fundamental ways.” (Talking Points Memo)
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao set up a special liaison to deal with grant applications from her husband Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky. The deal allowed at least $78 million for preferred projects to go through while McConnell campaigned for reelection. Chao personally asked Todd Inman to serve as intermediary and help advise McConnell and local officials on specific grants that McConnell designated. One grant for a highway improvement project in a McConnell political stronghold had already been rejected on two separate occasions. (Politico)
A real estate company part-owned by Jared Kushner received $90 million in foreign funding since 2017. Kushner failed to list the company, Cadre, on his first ethics disclosure, but later adding the company and calling it an inadvertent omission. (The Guardian)
A bipartisan group of Senators is attempting to block Trump’s sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. Senators are using a provision in the Foreign Assistance Act to request a report from the Trump administration on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, which could trigger a vote to halt the billions of dollars in arms sales that Mike Pompeo is pushing for despite opposition from Congress. (Politico / NBC News / The Hill)
The Trump administration rejected requests from U.S. embassies to fly the rainbow pride flag on embassy flagpoles during Pride Month. An advisory cable last year directed diplomats to obtain top-level approval from the State Department’s Office of Management to fly a rainbow flag. Requests by U.S. embassies in Israel, Germany, Brazil and Latvia to fly the pride flag on their flagpoles have been denied. (NBC News / Washington Post)
The symbolic oak tree Emmanuel Macron gave to Trump last year has died. Macron tweeted at the time that the sapling would be “a reminder … of these ties that bind us” and the “tenacity of the friendship” of the two nations. (The Guardian)
Trump has made at least 10,796 false or misleading claims since taking office. Trump has averaged about 12 false claims a day. (Washington Post)
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