👋 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/ The Trump administration is considering admitting zero refugees next year. The idea was floated during a recent meeting with officials from the Department of Homeland Security, State Department, and the Pentagon. Homeland Security officials at the meeting suggested making the level anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000. The Trump administration cut refugee admissions from 110,000 in fiscal year 2017 to 30,000 in 2018. (Politico / CNN)
- Border protection officers detained three children, who are U.S. citizens, at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. The children had arrived in the U.S. after a trip to Mexico with a relative when they were detained. Customs and Border Protection confirmed that the three girls were detained because the adult they were traveling with was “deemed inadmissible.” The children were eventually released to their mother’s custody after an official from the Mexican consulate secured an agreement that their mother could come pick them up without being taken into custody herself. (Chicago Tribune)
2/ The Trump administration is planning to update the naturalization test to become a U.S. citizen. Last year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalized more than 750,000 people and the average pass rate on the test was 90%. Since becoming president, Trump has cut the number of refugees admitted to the U.S., banned immigrants based on their nationality in a handful of majority-Muslim countries, made it more difficult to qualify for asylum, and proposed a visa system overhaul that would prioritize immigrants with advanced degrees, English-language skills and money. (Washington Post)
3/ The House Judiciary Committee asked Hope Hicks to clarify her congressional testimony after newly unsealed documents showed “apparent inconsistencies.” The documents reveal that Hicks spoke on the phone with Trump and Michael Cohen about Stormy Daniels and the Trump campaign’s attempt to stop Daniels from going public with the allegations about an affair with Trump. Hicks originally stated that she “had no knowledge of Stormy Daniels other than to say she was going to be mentioned in the story.” Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said the new documents “raises substantial questions about the accuracy” of Hicks’ original statements. (CNN / NBC News / Politico / Vox)
- An attorney for Hope Hicks called reports that Hicks participated in discussions to pay Stormy Daniels “simply wrong.” Robert Trout said that “Hicks stands by her truthful testimony that she first became aware of this issue in early November 2016, as the result of press inquiries.” (Washington Post)
4/ The House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees intend to press Robert Mueller to tell a “much clearer narrative” about “the gravity of the president’s misconduct.” Mueller is expected to appear publicly Wednesday for three hours before the Judiciary Committee followed by two hours before the House Intelligence Committee. Staffers said Mueller’s report “lays out the dots” but “they don’t connect any of the dots, at least through the most significant instances that we’re so interested in.” Lawmakers will focus on five different instances they think would incur criminal charges for obstruction of justice: Trump’s attempts to have former White House counsel Don McGahn fire Mueller; Trump directing McGahn to deny that he had been ordered to fire Mueller; Trump directing to Cory Lewandowski to deliver a message to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the investigation by excluding Trump and only focusing on future elections; Trump directing Lewandowski to tell Sessions he would be fired if he didn’t meet with Lewandowski; and witness tampering regarding Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen. Democrats also plan to press Mueller on the contacts with Russia and WikiLeaks detailed in the report. (NBC News / CBS News / CNN)
The House Oversight Committee asked federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York if the Justice Department’s memo against indicting a sitting president played a role in their decision not to criminally charge Trump over hush money payments to women accusing Trump of extramarital affairs. The 2000 memo by the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel was a key factor in Mueller’s decision to refrain from considering whether to charge Trump with obstruction of justice. (Politico)
The Trump administration asserted executive privilege to block the House and Senate intelligence committees from accessing classified documents from Mueller’s investigation. Congressional investigators believe Mueller’s team was given access to a range of materials that could include intercepts, secretive source interviews, and material shared by the spy agencies of other foreign governments. Justice Department officials, meanwhile, argued that the documents are covered by the privilege initially asserted in response to a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee for all of Mueller’s records. (ABC News)
5/ Trump plans to name the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as his next secretary of labor. Eugene Scalia is a longtime labor attorney and a former top lawyer for the Labor Department under George W. Bush. Scalia spent most of his career defending Walmart and other large companies against labor unions and tougher labor protection laws. (New York Times / Politico / NBC News)
6/ Researchers correlated Trump’s election with worsening cardiovascular health, sleep problems, anxiety, and stress. The study, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also found 3.2% to 3.6% more premature births were reported among Latina women following Trump’s election. (Washington Post / CNN)
poll/ Mitch McConnell is the most unpopular senator. McConnell has a 50% disapproval rating. He is trailed by Susan Collins with 48%, followed by Bob Menendez and Joe Manchin at a 42% disapproval rating. (The Hill / Morning Consult)
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