👋 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/ House Democrats sued for Trump’s tax returns, challenging the administration’s refusal to comply with a subpoena for the records. The Ways and Means Committee accused the Trump administration of “an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight,” naming the Treasury Department, IRS, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in the suit. The Trump administration has argued that Congress’s power to access the returns is limited to information that would serve “legitimate” legislative purposes. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / ABC News)
📌 Day 876: The Justice Department supported Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s refusal to turn over Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. The Office of Legal Counsel released its legal rationale for refusing to provide Trump’s tax returns to Congress, saying the request was designed to make the returns public, which “is not a legitimate legislative purpose.” (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)
📌 Day 873: 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)
📌 Day 841: The House Ways and Mean Committee subpoenaed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over Trump’s tax returns. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig was also subpoenaed. Chairman Richard Neal gave Mnuchin and Rettig until until May 17 to turn over six years of Trump’s returns, and is expected to go to court to enforce his request if the Trump administration continues to argue that the committee does not have a legitimate legislative purpose that warrants compliance. Earlier this week, Mnuchin rejected Neal’s request for the returns. Trump previously vowed to fight all subpoenas from House Democrats. Subpoenas are now pending from the Ways and Means, Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, Financial Services, and the Intelligence Committees. (CNBC / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)
2/ The Trump administration dropped its plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census after the Supreme Court effectively blocked the addition of the question, calling the rationale for the question “contrived.” After the ruling was announced last week, Trump said he was considering delaying the census until the question could be added. The process of preparing a new justification, however, was expected to take months and delay the process of printing hundreds of millions of forms. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNBC)
📌 Day 889: The Supreme Court blocked the citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census. The court found that while the Department of Commerce had a right to reinstate the question, the administration provided a “contrived” justification for doing so. The Trump administration claimed the citizenship question was necessary to better comply with federal voting rights law, while critics argued it is an attempt to intimidate immigrant households. The Department of Commerce will now have to justify the addition of the question, which raises the question of whether the Trump administration will have enough time or the ability to add it before the forms have to be printed. The administration previously told the court that the questionnaire needed to be printed by the end of June. The Census Bureau found the question would reduce the response rate –especially in immigrant communities – and result in an estimated 6.5 million people not being counted. (CNN / NBC News / New York Times / NPR / Washington Post)
The Trump administration missed its own July 1st deadline to print the 2020 census. The materials have yet to be officially approved by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which is headed by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. (NPR / Daily Beast / New York Magazine)
3/ The Department of Homeland Security sent out fines for nearly $500,000 to some immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally for “failing to depart the U.S. as previously agreed.” ICE said the Immigration and Nationality Act grants the agency the right to impose “civil fines on aliens who have been ordered removed or granted voluntary departure and fail to depart the United States” of no more than $500 for each day the person is in violation of the section. Immigration lawyers say they’ve never heard of it used this way. (NPR)
4/ Trump threatened to increase ICE raids and deportations of undocumented immigrants after the Fourth of July holiday, saying “they’re going to be gone, they’re going back to their countries. They go back home.” Trump praised the Mexican government for taking steps to curb the flow of migrants reaching the U.S. border, claiming, “It was because of tariffs that they’re doing it, but the point is they’re doing a great job.” Trump then reiterated his threat to deport all undocumented immigrants, “because that’s what we do.” Trump delayed planned nationwide ICE raids last month for two weeks to see if Congress can “work out a solution.” (NBC News)
📌 Day 886: Trump delayed planned nationwide ICE raids for two weeks to see if Congress can “work out a solution.” Immigration agents had planned to sweep and deport people living the U.S. illegally in 10 major cities beginning Sunday. Hours after defending the plan, Trump delayed the raids on Saturday.Earlier in the week, Trump threatened to arrest and deport “millions of illegal aliens” next week. ICE leaders expressed concerns that officers’ safety would be in jeopardy because too many details about the raids had been made public. (Associated Press / New York Times / CNN / Politico / ABC News)
Rep. Joaquin Castro snuck a hidden camera into a migrant detention facility and tweeted out photos and videos, saying Americans “must see what is being carried out in their name.” The tweets show several women in the custody of Customs and Border Patrol sitting on the floor with blankets at a facility in El Paso. The facility in question housed “women from Cuba, some grandmothers, crammed into a prison-like cell with one toilet, but no running water to drink from or wash their hands with. Concrete floors, cinder-block walls, steel toilets.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also visited the facility, where she said officers were keeping women in cells with no running water, and had “told them to drink out of the toilets.” (The Hill / The Guardian / NBC News / BuzzFeed News / Washington Post)
5/ Tanks for Trump’s Fourth of July “Salute to America” arrived in Washington. At least two Bradley and two Abrams tanks were purportedly en route to the National Mall. Trump also requested that the chiefs for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines stand next to him during the celebration. (NBC News / New York Times / Associated Press)
6/ Ivanka Trump was an unofficial stand-in for diplomats and government officials at meetings with world leaders at the G-20 summit, in South Korea, and at the demilitarized zone last week. Ivanka called the experience “surreal.” (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / NBC News)
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