👋 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 warned that Iran “made a very big mistake” after its military claimed responsibility for shooting down an American drone in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard claimed the drone “violated” Iranian airspace, while U.S. military claimed the unmanned aircraft was taken down in “an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset” over international airspace. Trump called the action “a new fly in the ointment” and a “very foolish move,” saying the “this country will not stand for it, that I can tell you.” Trump added that it also could have been a “mistake” by someone “loose and stupid.” A top Iranian commander, meanwhile, warned that Iran was “fully ready for war.” And, when asked whether the U.S. would attack Iran, Trump responded: “You’ll soon find out.” (ABC News / Associated Press / New York Times / Politico / The Guardian / NBC News / CNN / CNBC)
2/ The Senate voted to block the sale of $8.1 billion in munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In back-to-back votes, the Senate passed three measures to block Trump from using his emergency authority to complete the arms sales, but fell short of the support needed to overcome a pledged veto. Trump is expected to veto the Senate’s resolutions. (New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)
3/ A federal appeals court ruled that the Trump administration’s family planning “gag rule” can immediately take effect nationwide. The ruling lifts national injunctions ordered by lower federal courts in Oregon and Washington state, as well as a statewide injunction in California, allowing the Trump administration to strip federal Title X funding from any clinic that provides abortions or abortion referrals. Planned Parenthood faces a cut of $60 million in Title X funds. (Washington Post / Politico)
4/ A watchdog group filed a complaint claiming Ivanka Trump violated the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from engaging in elections in their official capacity. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington cited a tweet from Ivanka Trump two days before Trump’s 2020 campaign launch that included the campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” and stated “the best is yet to come.” (The Guardian / The Hill)
5/ Felix Sater will testify before the House Intelligence Committee tomorrow about his experience working on the proposed Trump Tower Moscow. The closed-door interview is part of House Democrats’ investigation into Trump’s plans to expand his business operations in Russia during the 2016 election. Sater is a U.S. citizen who worked on two separate efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. He was originally scheduled to testify in March, but his appearance was postponed. (Washington Post)
6/ Deutsche Bank is being investigated by federal authorities over questions of whether it complied with anti-money-laundering laws. Investigators will review the bank’s handling of suspicious activity reports about potentially problematic transactions, including some linked to Jared Kushner. The criminal investigation is one part of several separate but overlapping government probes into financial corruption and the flow of illicit funds through the U.S. financial system. Several other banks are also under investigation. (New York Times)
7/ Three more senators received a classified Pentagon briefing about a series of reported Navy encounters with UFOs. A growing number of members from key oversight committees have requested similar briefings. Sen. Mark Warner was one of the latest three to be briefed on what Warner’s spokesperson referred to as an “unidentified aerial phenomenon.” The briefing comes several days after Trump claimed he had also been briefed on the reports. “People are saying they’re seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particularly.” (Politico / ABC News)
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