👋 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 EPA rolled back Obama’s Clean Power Plan, allowing states to set their own carbon emissions standards for coal-fired power plants and limits the agency’s authority to set national restrictions on carbon emissions in the future. Andrew Wheeler, the EPA administrator, insisted that the new plan will reduce carbon emissions in the power sector 34% below 2005 levels – roughly equal to the goals of the Clean Power Plan. Experts, however, say the U.S. power sector needs to cut its emissions 74% over 2005 levels by 2030 to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. As of last year, the power sector had cut its greenhouse gas emissions 27% compared with 2005. The EPA also said the new rules could result in 1,400 more premature deaths by 2030 than the Obama-era plan. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Axios)
2/ Hope Hicks refused to answer questions during a closed-door hearing before the House Judiciary Committee as part of their ongoing investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice. While the White House did not formally assert executive privilege to block Hicks from answering questions, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s said Hicks was “absolutely immune” from discussing her tenure in the Trump administration. Hicks, however, is a private citizen. Hicks also wouldn’t answer questions as basic as where she sat in the West Wing or whether she told the truth to Mueller. Meanwhile on Twitter, Trump accused Democrats of putting Hicks “through hell” and seeking a “Do Over” of the Mueller investigation. The Judiciary Committee said it will release a full transcript of the interview within 48 hours. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Daily Beast /CNN)
- Earlier Today: House Democrats will question former White House communications director Hope Hicks during a closed-door session of the Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers intend to ask Hicks about five specific incidents of possible obstruction of justice outlined in the Mueller report. White House counsel Pat Cipollone claimed in a letter that Hicks is “absolutely immune” from answering any questions about her time working for the White House and for the Trump transition team. The committee also plans to ask Hicks about the hush money payments that Trump made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. (Politico / Washington Post)
3/ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is privately claiming that Iran has ties to Al Qaeda in order to justify invoking the 2001 war authorization and allow the Trump administration to go to war with Iran. The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force permits the U.S. to wage war on Al Qaeda and its allies. While Pompeo claimed Trump “does not want war,” Trump ordered 2,500 additional troops to the region recently. On Monday, the Pentagon said it would send an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East. (New York Times / Washington Post)
Senator Tom Cotton wants to launch a “retaliatory strike” on Iran for the two recent tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman. “Whatever Iran thinks they can do to the United States or our security partners in the region we can do tenfold to them,” Cotton said. “One hundredfold to them.” (Politico)
Tucker Carlson has privately advised Trump against taking military action against Iran. The Fox News host compared Pompeo’s “misplaced certainty” that Iran attacked the tankers to former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s now-discredited claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. (Daily Beast)
poll/ 67% of Democrats want lawmakers to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump – up from 59% in April. (Politico)
A U.N. investigator called for further investigation into Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. U.N. Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard released a 101-page report detailing her months-long investigation into Khashoggi’s death, providing new details which Callamard says place the blame for the murder beyond just the 11 Saudi agents who are currently on trial. Callamard said Khashoggi’s death amounted to an extrajudicial killing, possibly involving torture, for which the Saudi kingdom is responsible. (Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)
Trump vowed to cure cancer and ends AIDS if he’s elected to a second term. Trump promised to “come up with the cures to many, many problems, to many, many diseases” as he officially kicked off his 2020 campaign in Orlando. (CBS News)
Trump Jr. mocked Joe Biden for saying he wants to cure cancer. Junior’s remarks came shortly before his father made the same promise to the same audience. (Washington Post)
Trump took credit for passing a veteran’s health care bill that was signed into law by Obama in 2014. The Veterans Choice program allows veterans to see doctors outside the government-run VA system at taxpayer expense. (The Hill / Associated Press)
Trump refused to apologize for the full-page ad he ran in 1989 calling for the execution of the Central Park Five who were exonerated in 2002 after Matias Reyes confessed to raping the woman, which was backed up by DNA evidence. Trump suggested the men might still be guilty, because “they admitted their guilt.” “You have people on both sides of that,” Trump added. A new Netflix series has renewed scrutiny surrounding the Central Park Jogger case. (NBC News / ABC News / Washington Post / USA Today)
Sarah Huckabee Sanders is “extremely serious” about running for governor of Arkansas. Sanders is preparing to leave her current role as White House press secretary at the end of the month and has been privately considering a gubernatorial run for months. (Politico)
Today marks 100 days without an on-camera White House press briefing. The previous record was 42 days. (CNN)
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