👋 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 White House will review and decide what evidence from Robert Mueller’s report the House Judiciary Committee gets to see. The Trump administration will work with the Justice Department and is expected to assert executive privilege to limit the documents the committee has access to. (Daily Beast)
- 📌 Day 872: 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/ The House authorized committee chairs to sue the Trump administration in federal court to enforce a series of subpoenas. The House Judiciary Committee can now begin legal proceedings to enforce the panel’s subpoenas for Mueller’s evidence and force former White House Counsel Donald McGahn to cooperate with the panels’ probe into whether Trump obstructed justice. The move also empowers other committee chairmen to seek enforcement of their own subpoenas for testimony and documents, such as Trump’s tax returns. The measure, however, stopped short of a criminal contempt citation for Attorney General William Barr and McGahn. (Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)
- The Justice Department advised Trump to invoke executive privilege to block House Democrats’ access to documents about efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd threatened the blanket assertion of privilege if the House Oversight and Reform Committee proceeds with a scheduled vote on Wednesday to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress. (Politico)
3/ Trump Jr. will be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors on Wednesday. The Republican-led committee subpoenaed Trump Jr. last month, angering Trump and his allies. Trump Jr. will testify for two-to-four hours on a half dozen topics, including the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting and the Trump Tower Moscow project. (CNN)
📌 Day 840: Mick Mulvaney criticized Republicans for not informing him that Trump Jr. would be subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. The acting White House chief of staff called it “bad form” to “not at least get a heads-up” from the Republican-led committee. Senator Richard Blumenthal said that “If [Trump Jr.] fails to comply with a lawful subpoena, he has no privilege, prison is the only answer.” Trump Jr. is expected to assert his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination in order to resist testifying about his contacts with Russia. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN / The Hill / Reuters)
📌 Day 839: The Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Trump Jr. to answer questions about his previous testimony related to the Russia investigation. Trump Jr. testified before the committee in September 2017 that he was only “peripherally aware” of the proposed plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Michael Cohen, however, told a House committee earlier this year that he had met with both Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump “approximately 10” times to brief them about the Trump Tower plan. The Republican-led committee wants Trump Jr. to answer questions about his claim to have limited knowledge of the plan. (Axios / CNBC / New York Times)
📌 Day 680: Trump Jr.‘s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee conflicts with Michael Cohen’s version of events regarding negotiations of a prospective Trump Tower in Moscow. In Cohen’s version, he says the discussions with at least one Russian government official continued through June 2016. Trump Jr. testified in September 2017 that talks surrounding a Trump Tower in Moscow concluded without result “at the end” of 2014 and “certainly not 16. There was never a definitive end to it. It just died of deal fatigue.” Trump Jr. told the Senate committee that he “wasn’t involved,” knew “very little,” and was only “peripherally aware” of the deal other than a letter of intent was signed by Trump. He also said he didn’t know that Cohen had sent an email to Putin’s aide, Dmitry Peskov. In Cohen’s guilty plea, he said he briefed Trump’s family members about the continued negotiations. (NPR / USA Today)
4/ Speaker Nancy Pelosi said impeachment is “not off the table,” but that the Democratic caucus is “not even close” to moving forward with impeaching Trump. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, meanwhile, has twice urged Pelosi in private to open a formal impeachment inquiry. (CNN / Axios / Politico)
- Rep. Justin Amash stepped down from the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, which he co-founded, less than a month after becoming the first Republican to admit that Trump committed impeachable offenses. Amash said he “didn’t want to be a further distraction for the group” after tweeting that Mueller’s report contained “multiple examples” of Trump committing obstruction of justice. Trump called Amash “a loser for a long time.” Amash is now facing a primary challenge from a Trump supporter. (CNN / Fox News / Politico / Axios / Washington Post)
poll/ 70% of American voters say the economy is “excellent” or “good,” but only 41% of voters say Trump deserves credit for it. Another 27% said Trump does not deserve credit and 28% say the economy is “not so good” or “poor.” (Quinnipiac)
Trump ordered his aides to lie about the results of his campaign’s internal polling efforts in key battleground states. After he was briefed on the results of a 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Trump told aides to publicly deny that he was trailing Joe Biden in states like Texas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. When details about the polls leaked, he also told aides to say publicly that other polling data showed him doing well. (New York Times / The Week)
The Trump campaign is considering putting resources into Oregon – a state where Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 11 percentage points in 2016. (CNN)
Three Republican former heads of the EPA accused the agency’s current leadership of taking a “catastrophic” approach to climate change by “undermining [the] science.” (ABC News)
Mike Pence confirmed that American embassies were banned from flying the pride flag on their embassy flagpoles, calling it “the right decision.” Pence added that “when it comes to the American flagpole, and American embassies and capitals around the world, one American flag flies.” (Washington Post / USA Today / NBC News)
Trump’s former Chief of Staff Reince Preibus joined the Navy. Preibus was sworn in as an entry-level officer by Pence during a commissioning ceremony. (Washington Post)
Trump appears to be having second thoughts about his next secretary of defense. Last week, Trump asked several confidants about alternative candidates for nominee Patrick Shanahan. (NBC News)
Trump distinguished between himself and Richard Nixon about the possibility of impeachment. “He left. I don’t leave,” Trump said. “A big difference.” (Politico)
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