👋 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/ Trump asserted executive privilege over subpoenaed documents about the administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The move, on the advice of the Justice Department, was meant to undercut a vote later in the day by the House Oversight Committee to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for refusing to turn over the materials. Hours later the committee voted 24-15 to advance the contempt measures against Barr and Ross. The full House will need to hold a floor vote in order to to file a lawsuit to enforce the committee’s subpoenas. (Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Axios / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)
2/ Trump Jr. said he’s “not at all worried” about perjury charges over suspicions he previously lied to Congress. “There was nothing to change,” Trump Jr. said following his closed-door meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee today. In February, Michael Cohen testified that he briefed Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump about negotiations regarding the Trump Tower Moscow project. Cohen also told Congress that he believed he heard Trump Jr. talking with his father about the Trump Tower meeting between him, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, and a Russian lawyer promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton. (CNN / Washington Post / Politico / Talking Points Memo)
Michael Flynn’s new attorney is one of the earliest and fiercest critics of the Justice Department and the FBI’s investigation into a potential conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Sidney Powell, a former Justice Department attorney, claimed that Flynn was spied on as part of a “set-up” by the FBI and that his case should be “dismissed.” Flynn pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation. (The Hill / Politico / CNN)
The House Intelligence Committee chairman threatened to subpoena FBI Director Christopher Wray for information related to the counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Adam Schiff said he has been unable to get information on the status or findings of the counterintelligence probe. (The Hill / Associated Press / Politico / CNN)
3/ Hope Hicks agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next Wednesday. Hicks will be the first former Trump aide to go before the committee investigating whether Trump tried to obstruct a probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Her testimony will be behind closed doors but a transcript will be released to the public. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)
4/ Kamala Harris – if elected – said her Justice Department “would have no choice” but to prosecute Trump after his term in office. “There has to be accountability,” Harris added. “Everyone should be held accountable, and the president is not above the law.” (NPR / Axios)
poll/ 69% of voters said a sitting president should be subject to criminal charges, while 24% said a president should be charged with crimes after they leave office. 52% of Republicans, 83% of Democrats, and 68% of independent voters all support charging a sitting president. 55% of voters say Robert Mueller’s report did not clear Trump of wrongdoing. (Quinnipiac)
Trump publicly came out against the use of CIA informants to spy on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying it would not happen on his watch. Trump’s comments came a day after reports that Kim’s half-brother, who was killed at the Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017, was a CIA source. “I saw the information about the CIA, with respect to his brother, or half-brother,” Trump told reporters. “And I would tell [Kim Jong Un] that would not happen under my auspices, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices.” (Reuters)
Trump held up a document and claimed it was a “secret” deal with Mexico to avoid further tariffs. Mexican officials had already revealed most of it. Photographs of the document show language about “a regional approach to burden-sharing in relation to the processing of refugee status claims to migrants.” The document also refers to a window of “45 days,” and says Mexico has committed to examining and changing its laws in order to implement the agreement. Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the Friday agreement with the U.S. gave Mexico 45 days to prove that it could diminish migration without agreeing to a “safe third country” deal, in which Central American migrants would be held in Mexico while their claims are processed. (Washington Post / Reuters / The Guardian)
Trump – without evidence – claimed he is “winning in every single state that we polled.” Trump, however, was recently briefed on a 17-state poll by his campaign that showed him trailing Biden in many of the states he needs to win in 2020. He then instructed aides to deny the results of the campaign’s internal polling. “We have great internal polling,” Trump added. (Washington Post)
Mitch McConnell dismissed reports that his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, helped steer federal funding to his home state of Kentucky. When asked about the allegations of special treatment, McConnell joked that he was disappointed that Chao wasn’t able to steer enough funds his way. “You know, I was complaining to her just last night: 169 projects, and Kentucky got only five,” McConnell said. “I hope we’ll do a lot better next year.” (Washington Post)
The U.S. budget deficit widened to $738.6 billion – a $206 billion increase from a year earlier. (Bloomberg)
At least 22 foreign governments have spent money at Trump Organization properties. According to news accounts and other public records, at least nine foreign governments were involved in hosting events at a Trump property, at least nine foreign governments rented or purchased property in buildings or communities owned by Trump businesses, representatives of at least five foreign governments have stayed at a Trump property, and at least eight foreign governments or their representatives attended parties or gatherings at Trump properties. (NBC News)
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