👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
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1/ The FBI believed that then-candidate Trump was closely involved in the plan to the hide hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, according to previously redacted federal search warrants made public following the conclusion of the probe into Michael Cohen’s campaign finance crimes. The documents describe a “series of calls, text messages, and emails” between Cohen, Trump, Hope Hicks, Keith Davidson – an attorney for Daniels – Dylan Howard – the National Enquirer editor – and David Pecker, an executive of the company that published the National Enquirer. It’s the first time that the authorities have identified Trump by name regarding his alleged involvement in the scheme. Authorities previously referred to Trump in court filings as “Individual 1.” Last August, Cohen admitted to making $280,000 in illegal payments through a shell company to buy the silence of Daniels and McDougal. In April 2018, Trump claimed that he didn’t know anything about the hush money payment to Daniels. (NBC News / The Guardian / Washington Post / Reuters / CNN / Daily Beast / Wall Street Journal)
- Federal prosecutors signaled that it’s unlikely they would file additional charges in the hush-money investigation, saying they had “effectively concluded” their inquiry. (New York Times)
2/ Trump continued his racist call for a congresswoman to “go back” to Somalia during a campaign rally last night while the crowd chanted “send her back.” Rep. Ilhan Omar is a U.S. citizen and Somalian refugee, and is one of four congresswomen of color Trump attacked on Twitter over the weekend, telling them to “go back” to their countries. The other three were born in the United States. “If they don’t love it,” Trump told the crowd, “tell them to leave it.” Trump paused to allow the “send her back” chant and did nothing to discourage the crowd. The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission includes “Go back to where you came from” as one of its examples of potentially unlawful harassment based on national origin. Trump spent more time during the rally attacking Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley than he did discussing his 2020 presidential campaign. (Politico / NBC News / Reuters / BuzzFeed News / New York Times)
House Democrats warned that Omar’s “life is in imminent danger” following the chants to “send her back.” Senior Democrats are now calling for authorities to evaluate security for Omar, as well as the three other lawmakers Trump has recently attacked. (Politico)
Trump claimed he was “not happy” with the “send her back” chant that broke out during his re-election rally. Trump argued that he tried to cut off the chant by “speaking very quickly,” which is contradicted by video of the event. (New York Times)
The chairman of House Republicans’ campaign arm said “there’s no place for that kind of talk,” referring to the “send her back!” chant. Representative Tom Emmer, however, also claimed that “there’s not a racist bone in the president’s body.” (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)
3/ Iran seized a foreign oil tanker carrying 1 million liters of “smuggled fuel” near a small island in the Strait of Hormuz, according to Iranian state TV. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps ambushed the tanker, which appears to be a United Arab Emirates-based tanker that disappeared off trackers in Iranian territorial waters over the weekend. (CNN / Associated Press / CNBC)
4/ The Navy “destroyed” an Iranian drone that came within 1,000 yards of the U.S.S. Boxer and ignored “multiple calls to stand down” hours after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard seized a foreign tanker it accused of smuggling oil. Trump said the drone was “threatening the safety of the ship and the ship’s crew” in the Strait of Hormuz and was “immediately destroyed.“Four weeks ago, Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone flying over international airspace the same area. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News / Reuters / CNBC / The Guardian / Politico)
- The Trump administration is preparing to send hundred of troops to Saudi Arabia as a show of force against Iran. Five hundred troops are expected to be deployed to the Prince Sultan Air Base east of Riyadh. A small number of troops are already on site at the base to begin initial preparations for the deployment of a Patriot missile defense battery, as well as runway and airfield improvements. (CNN)
poll/ Two-thirds of Americans support statehood for Puerto Rico. 66% of respondents said they support adding Puerto Rico as the 51st state, which is consistent with polling dating back to the 1960s. Support is highest among Democrats, young voters, and non-white voters. (Politico)
Trump asked for information about the Pentagon’s cloud-computing contract that will likely be awarded to either Amazon or Microsoft. Republican lawmakers have pressured the White House to intervene in the project, and one person familiar with the process said that it sounded as if Trump was thinking about canceling the contract, worth as much as $10 billion over ten years. “I never had something where more people are complaining,” Trump said. “We’re getting tremendous complaints from other companies.” (Bloomberg / CNBC)
The Pentagon authorized an additional deployment of 1,100 active-duty troops and 1,000 Texas National Guard soldiers to the U.S.-Mexico border. They will join some 2,500 active-duty and 2,000 National Guard troops already there, for a force of more than 6,600 at the border. (Politico)
The House voted to block the sale of billions of dollars of arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirate, undoing Trump’s attempt to use emergency powers to sidestep Congress and push through 22 deals worth more than $8 billion. (Washington Post / New York Times)
William Barr gave $51,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the months leading up to his Senate confirmation hearings for attorney general. Barr’s contributions took place over a 5-month period from October 2018 to February 2019. In the past Barr gave occasionally: once in 2009 and 2011, twice in 2014, once in 2015, and another in 2016. (Quartz)
The Agriculture Department blocked the release of a plan on how to respond to climate change that was finalized in the early days of the Trump administration. Top officials decided not to release the multiyear plan that outlined how the department should help agriculture understand, adapt to and minimize the effects of climate change. Instead, staff members were told to keep it for internal use only. (Politico)
The EPA announced that it would not ban a pesticide associated with developmental disabilities and other health problems in children, claiming that the science was unsettled. The Obama administration banned chlorpyrifos in 2015 after scientific studies produced by the EPA showed the pesticide had the potential to damage brain development in children. (New York Times)
The House passed a bill to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009. The measure is not expected to advance in the GOP-led Senate. (CNN / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)
Trump directed his administration to have rapper A$AP Rocky freed from custody in Sweden after Kim Kardashian West contacted Jared Kushner. Rocky turned himself into Swedish police after he was wanted for questioning about a street fight in Stockholm. (TMZ / Axios)
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