👋 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.
Send your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints to:
1/ New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill allowing congressional committees to access Trump’s New York state tax returns. The bill requires state tax officials to release the state returns for any “specified and legitimate legislative purpose” on the request of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation. Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, called the bill “more presidential harassment.” The House Ways and Means Committee has unsuccessfully tried to access six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns. The House sued the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service last week to try to force them to release the returns. (New York Times / NBC News)
📌 Day 894: 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 809: New York lawmakers will introduce a bill this week to permit the Department of Taxation and Finance to release state tax returns requested by a congressional committee. Under the new proposal, the release of tax information would only happen after efforts to obtain federal tax information through the Treasury Department had failed. The move comes as the Trump administration has signaled that it will resist the House Ways and Means Committee request to turn over six years of Trump’s federal business and personal tax returns by April 10th. Mick Mulvaney, meanwhile, promised that Democrats will “never” see Trump’s tax returns. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico)
📌 Day 804: House Democrats formally requested six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns from the IRS. In a letter to the IRS, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee cited a little known provision in the IRS tax code that grants tax-writing committees in Congress the power to request tax information on any individual. Chairman Richard Neal requested Trump’s personal tax returns from 2013 to 2018, giving the agency until April 10 to comply. Trump claimed his returns are being audited by the IRS and that he would “not be inclined to” turn anything over to Congress. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin previously told the Ways and Means committee that he would protect Trump’s privacy if members of Congress requested his tax returns. (CNN / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)
2/ Congressional Democrats issued three-dozen subpoenas to the Trump Organization and other Trump businesses tied to a lawsuit accusing Trump of profiting from foreign governments in violation of the Constitution. The Justice Department is asking an appeals court to prevent the subpoenas from going forward. (CNN)
- 📌 Day 887: 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)
3/ Trump is “very seriously” considering an executive order to get the citizenship question on the 2020 census despite statements last week from both his Department of Justice and his secretary of commerce that the administration was printing the census without the question. The Justice Department also assigned a new team of attorneys to defend Trump’s attempts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census following the Supreme Court’s ruling that effectively blocked the question. A statement released by the DOJ gave no clear reason for the change to the legal team, but experts say the team is likely to face questions on multiple fronts after the Trump administration spent the last 15 months giving conflicting explanations about why the question should be added. Trump also recently ordered officials to keep pursuing the addition of the question, even if it means delaying the constitutionally mandated decennial survey. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / Axios)
Previously: A day after pledging that the 2020 census would not ask respondents about their citizenship, Justice Department officials reversed course and said they were looking for a way to restore the question on orders from Trump. (New York Times / Washington Post)
Previously: Government lawyers scrambled to find a legal path to add a controversial citizenship question to the 2020 Census, despite their conclusions in recent days that no such avenue exists. (Washington Post)
Previously: The Trump administration confirmed that it will press forward with efforts to add a citizenship question to next year’s census, with Trump saying he’s exploring the possibility of reviving the question via executive order and government lawyers telling a federal judge that they’ve “been asked to reevaluate all available options.” (Politico)
4/ Attorney General William Barr believes there’s a “pathway” to legally add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Barr said he believed the Supreme Court’s ruling against the administration was “wrong” and that there is “an opportunity potentially to cure the lack of clarity that was the problem and we might as well take a shot at doing that.” Barr would not detail the administration’s plans, but said the Trump administration will take action in the coming days that he believes will allow the government to ask the controversial question. (Post and Courier / Associated Press / Talking Points Memo)
5/ ICE officials used facial recognition software to analyze state driver’s license photo databases without motorists’ permission. ICE requested to comb through repositories of license photos in at least three states that offer licenses to undocumented immigrants. At least two of the states — Vermont and Utah — complied with the requests. In Washington state, agents authorized administrative subpoenas of the Department of Licensing to conduct a facial recognition scan of all photos of license applicants, but it’s unclear whether state officials carried out the searches. (Washington Post / New York Times)
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said immigration authorities are ready to identify, detain and deport approximately one million undocumented immigrants with pending removal orders. (CBS News)
The Trump administration plans to replace in-court interpreters at initial immigration court hearings with videos informing asylum seekers and other immigrants facing deportation of their rights. (San Francisco Chronicle)
6/ Trump said he wants members of the press to “go in and see” inside the “beautifully run” migrant detention centers. “I’m going to start showing some of these detention centers … to the press,” Trump said. “We’re going to send people in. We’re going to have some of the press go in.” Trump’s comments come days after several Democratic members of Congress toured two facilities in Texas, where they found migrants and their children are being forced to live in squalid conditions while detained near the southwestern border. (CNN / USA Today)
- 📌 Day 895: A report from the Department of Homeland Security’s independent watchdog found the squalid conditions at migrant detention camps were more widespread than initially revealed. The report describes standing-room-only cells, children without access to showers or hot meals, and detainees desperately begging to be released. Inspectors visited five facilities in June, where they found many migrants are given only wet wipes to clean themselves and bologna sandwiches to eat, leading to additional health problems. Children at two of the camps were not given hot meals until inspectors arrived. Overcrowding was so severe that migrants were banging on cell walls and pressing notes up against the windows begging for help. (New York Times / Reuters)
7/ The White House correspondent for Breitbart has joined the Trump administration. Michelle Moons will work in the office of Domestic Policy Council. (CNN)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.