👋 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/ Trump – again – denied the rape allegations against him by E. Jean Carroll, claiming she is “totally lying” and “not my type.” Carroll accused Trump of pushing her up against a dressing room wall and raping her in a department store in 1995 or 1996. Trump accused Carroll of making up the story, because “I know nothing about this woman. I know nothing about her. She is — it’s just a terrible thing that people can make statements like that.” Carroll is the 16th woman to have publicly accused Trump of sexual assault or misconduct — all of which he has denied. (The Hill / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Axios)
- 📌 Day 883: Trump rejected an allegation by journalist E. Jean Carroll that he sexually assaulted her in a Manhattan department store dressing room in the 1990s, saying that he has “never met this person in my life.” According to Carroll, she met Trump inside Bergdorf Goodman when he told her he was buying a gift for “a girl” and needed help. While in the lingerie section, Carroll said Trump suggested a lace bodysuit, and encouraged her to try it on. “The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips,” Carroll writes. “He seizes both my arms and pushes me up against the wall a second time, and, as I become aware of how large he is, he holds me against the wall with his shoulder and jams his hand under my coat dress and pulls down my tights.” More than a dozen women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. Trump, meanwhile, said: “Shame on those who make up false stories of assault to try to get publicity for themselves, or sell a book, or carry out a political agenda.” (New York Magazine / Politico / Daily Beast)
2/ The New York Post’s former top editor deleted a story about E. Jean Carroll’s rape allegations against Trump. Col Allan, a Trump supporter and top Rupert Murdoch lieutenant, ordered the story to be scrubbed from the website on Friday, as well a wire story by the Associated Press. Allan returned to the paper in early 2019, reportedly in an effort to make the paper even more friendly to Trump. (CNN / New York Daily News)
3/ Congress is trying to pass a $4.5 billion in emergency humanitarian aid to the southwestern border while putting restrictions on Trump’s immigration policies. In the Senate, Republicans and Democrats approved a $4.6 billion border aid package last week that contained some limitations to prevent the administration from using the resources for enforcement. The House bill allocates $4.5 billion, but goes further in placing restrictions on the money. Democrats in the House, however, are still concerned that any money they approve will be directed by the Trump administration to advance Trump’s immigration policies. The Trump administration, meanwhile, threatened to veto the House measure, claiming it “does not provide adequate funding to meet the current crisis” and “contains partisan provisions designed to hamstring the administration’s border enforcement efforts.” (New York Times / Reuters)
- Here’s what’s different between the House and Senate bills. (New York Times)
4/ Customs and Border Protection returned more than 100 children back to a troubled Border Patrol station that independent monitors called conditions “unconscionable.” Officials said the children were returned to the Clint, Tex. station due to a lack of bed space in U.S. shelters designed for children. Lawyers who visited recently the Clint station said hundreds of minor detainees had been housed for weeks without access to showers, clean clothing, or sufficient food. (Washington Post / CNN)
Health and Human Services said it will run out of money in July for sheltering migrant children. HHS Secretary Alex Azar said a situation to a government shutdown would result if the program isn’t funded, with workers and companies caring for the children without pay. (Bloomberg)
Border Patrol is rejecting donations of toys, soap, toothbrushes, diapers and medicine for children held in “horrendous,” overcrowded facilities. Under the Antideficiency Act, the government can’t spend any money or accept any donations other than what Congress has allocated to it. (Texas Tribune / Washington Post / Slate)
📌 Day 886: The Trump administration moved most of the children from a remote Border Patrol station in Texas following reports that more than 300 children were detained there with inadequate food, water and sanitation. (Associated Press / New York Times)
📌 Day 834: John Kelly joined the board of a company that operates the largest facility for unaccompanied migrant children. Caliburn International is the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services, which operates Homestead and three other shelters for unaccompanied migrant children in Texas. Prior to joining the Trump administration, Kelly had been on the board of advisors of DC Capital Partners, an investment firm that now owns Caliburn. (CBS News)
5/ The Customs and Border Protection agency’s acting commissioner will resign in the coming weeks amid an increase in the number of undocumented migrants crossing the border and the fight over how to address it. John Sanders assumed the role after Kevin McAleenan replaced Kirstjen Nielsen as homeland security secretary this spring. (New York Times / CNN / Reuters)
6/ Trump declined to say if he has confidence in FBI Director Christopher Wray. When asked about his level of confidence in Wray, Trump replied: “Well, we’ll see how it turns out.” Trump added that he disagrees with the FBI director, who previously said he does not believe the bureau “spied” on Trump’s 2016 campaign. (The Hill / CNN / Axios)
📌Day 811: Barr told Congress that the government was “spying” on Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election, but provided no evidence. During a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Barr said that while he’s not launching an investigation of the FBI or suggesting there is an “endemic” problem at the FBI, he does “think there was a failure among a group of leaders at the upper echelons.” Barr went on to say that he wanted to understand if there was “unauthorized surveillance” of political figures and whether law enforcement officials had proper legal justification for the “genesis” of the counterintelligence investigation. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / Axios)
📌 Day 838: FBI Director Christopher Wray said he would not call the 2016 investigation into Trump’s campaign advisers “spying.” When asked during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing if he had “any evidence that any illegal surveillance” into the Trump 2016 campaign occurred, Wray told lawmakers that “I don’t think I personally have any evidence of that sort.” Wray’s comments are in contrast to those made by Attorney General William Barr at a Senate hearing on April 10th, where he claimed that “spying did occur, yes,” calling it “a big deal.” The Justice Department inspector general is expected to issue a report in the next month or two about the origins of the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign. Wray asked lawmakers to wait for the report. (Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)
7/ Trump is privately considering withdrawing from a defense treaty with Japan. Trump claimed the pact is too one-sided, because it guarantees U.S. aid if Japan is ever attacked, but doesn’t require Japan’s military to do the same for America. The treaty was signed more than 60 years ago and constitutes the foundation of the post-war alliance between the two countries after World War II. (Bloomberg)
8/ Iran called Trump’s White House “mentally retarded” and promised that Iran wouldn’t be intimidated by new, “fruitless sanctions.” Iran’s Foreign Ministry also said Trump’s leadership would lead to “the permanent closure of the road of diplomacy” between the two countries and that Iran would take new steps to reduce its commitments under the nuclear deal with world powers on July 7th. Trump meanwhile, threatened that any attack by Iran would be answered with “great and overwhelming force” and in some cases, “overwhelming will mean obliteration.” (New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / NBC News / The Independent / Washington Post)
9/ Trump claimed he has the authority to initiate a military strike against Iran without congressional approval, but said he likes “the idea of keeping Congress abreast.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi asserted that Trump would need congressional approval for any “hostilities” against Iran. Jim Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, however, believes that Trump’s authority to take military action against Iran falls within his executive power, but outside the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force. (The Hill / CNN)
poll/ 65% of voters support Trump’s decision to call off the planned military strike against Iran. 14% opposed the decision. Only 36% of voters support U.S. military actions against Iran in response to the downed surveillance drone. 42% oppose military action against Iran, while 22% say they have no opinion. (Politico)
🐊 Dept. of Swamp Things.
Melania Trump’s communications director will be the next White House press secretary, replacing Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is leaving at the end of the month. Stephanie Grisham will also take over the role of communications director, which has been vacant since the departure of Bill Shine in March. (NBC News / Axios / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)
The Commerce Department ordered a former official not to answer questions from the House Oversight and Reform Committee about the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Commerce Department lawyers instructed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ senior adviser and counsel, James Uthmeier, not to answer the committee’s questions about his contacts with the White House or his conversations with Ross regarding the citizenship question. (Washington Post / Politico)
The House Oversight and Reform Committee called on the House to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for defying congressional subpoenas related to whether the administration was seeking to discriminate against certain groups by adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. (Reuters)
Trump has been frequently snapping at Mick Mulvaney and expressing more frustration with him than usual, revealing a slow deterioration of their relationship. Trump has recently asked people what kind of leadership and value they think Mulvaney is adding. Trump, however, is unlikely to replace his acting chief of staff – his third chief of staff in less than two-and-a-half years – anytime soon. (Politico)
The Treasury Department’s inspector general will open an investigation into why Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin delayed the new $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman. The Trump administration has denied that it delayed the release of the bill. Trump, however, has publicly lamented the idea of replacing Andrew Jackson. (New York Times / Washington Post)
The White House directed Kellyanne Conway to reject a request to testify before the House Oversight Committee about her repeated violations of the Hatch Act, a federal ethics law that bars government officials from engaging in political activities at work. (New York Times / Washington Post)
A federal judge ruled that the Democrats’ emoluments lawsuit against Trump can proceed. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said discovery could begin Friday, and Democrats are expected seek financial information, interviews and other records from Trump and the Trump Organization. The Trump administration can still try to delay or block Democrats from issuing subpoenas by appealing directly to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to intervene. (Washington Post)
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