👋 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/ At least 18 babies under the age of two – “including nine infants under the age of one” – were separated from their parents at the border and “kept apart for 20 days to half a year,” according to a report by the House Oversight Committee. The report provides new information about at least 2,648 children who were separated from their parents. Some were kept at Border Patrol facilities longer than the 72-hour limit and many were shuffled around to multiple government facilities. In some cases, parents were not sent to federal criminal custody as intended under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy, while others were taken into custody at first “and then returned within a day or two likely because prosecutors declined to prosecute their cases or because they were sentenced to time served for the misdemeanor of illegal entry.” (CNN)
- Border Patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border are circulating unofficial commemorative coins mocking the task of caring for migrant children. On the front, the coin declares “KEEP THE CARAVANS COMING.” The coin’s reverse side features the Border Patrol logo and three illustrations: a Border Patrol agent bottle-feeding an infant; an agent fingerprinting a teen boy; and a U.S. Border Patrol van. The text reads: “FEEDING ** PROCESSING ** HOSPITAL ** TRANSPORT.” (ProPublica)
2/ Robert Mueller’s Capitol Hill testimony will be delayed one week under a tentative arrangement with the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. Mueller’s testimony was postponed to give lawmakers more time to question him about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by Trump. Mueller was initially scheduled to appear on July 17 before both the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in back-to-back sessions where 22 members from each committee would get to question the special counsel. Members of the Judiciary Committee, however, were concerned that two hours would be insufficient time to discuss the 10 areas of potential obstruction of justice by Trump identified in the Mueller report. (Politico / CNN / Washington Post)
3/ Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta will resign amid controversy about a plea deal he brokered for sex offender Jeffrey Epstein while serving as a U.S. attorney in Florida more than a decade ago. Trump called Acosta “a great Labor secretary not a good one” and “a tremendous talent.” Epstein was arrested over the weekend and charged in the Southern District of New York with sex trafficking dozens of girls. (New York Times / NBC News / Politico / CNBC)
4/ California lawmakers passed legislation mandating all presidential and state gubernatorial candidates release their tax information in order to appear on the state’s ballot. The bill passed with a 57-17 vote, and requires candidates to share their income tax returns from the last five taxable years with the California state government. The legislation also includes an “urgency clause,” which allows it to take effect immediately and will force the candidates currently running for president in 2020, including Trump, to comply with the law. (ABC 7 News / The Hill)
5/ Trump told confidants he wants to remove Dan Coats as director of national intelligence. Trump has also been floating potential replacements since at least February. (Axios)
6/ The U.S. has gone seven months without a permanent defense chief – the longest stretch in Pentagon history. There is also no confirmed deputy secretary of defense, and several other significant civilian and military positions at the Pentagon remain in limbo — more than at any other time in recent history. (Associated Press)
7/ The House voted 251-170 to restrain Trump’s ability to strike Iran without first getting Congress’s approval. Last month, Trump said he believed he did not need congressional approval to strike Iran and was reportedly on the brink of a retaliatory missile strike before abruptly reversing course minutes before launch. Republican leaders in the House and Senate have argued that the language would send a bad message to Tehran and would complicate Trump’s ability to manage tensions. (New York Times / Washington Post)
8/ Trump attacked Paul Ryan in response to criticism from the former House speaker. On Thursday, Trump claimed that Ryan “was not a talent,” “wasn’t a leader,” and was a “lame duck for a long time as Speaker.” Trump’s comments follow the release of excerpts from a new book in which Ryan said Trump “didn’t know anything about government” and that “We’ve gotten so numbed by it all. Not in government, but where we live our lives, we have a responsibility to try and rebuild. Don’t call a woman a ‘horse face.’ Don’t cheat on your wife. Don’t cheat on anything. Be a good person. Set a good example.” Trump continued the attack on Friday, saying that “The only success Paul Ryan had was the time that he was with me. He was a baby. He didn’t know what the hell he was doing.” (Politico / NBC News / Axios)
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