👋 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 House Judiciary Committee said it would petition a federal judge to unseal Robert Mueller’s secret grand jury evidence. Chairman Jerry Nadler argued that it’s essential that Congress “have access to all the relevant facts” – including witness testimony – in order to fully investigate potential abuses of power by Trump and his inner circle before deciding whether to recommend articles of impeachment. The petition does not seek the public release of the grand jury evidence. The committee will also continue its investigation during the House’s six-week summer recess and is working to obtain testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn. Nadler said he is going to court today and again next week to file a lawsuit to force McGahn to testify. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will make a decision regarding impeachment in a “timely fashion,” denying that she is trying to “run out the clock” on the issue. Pelosi’s comment came shortly before Nadler said the House Judiciary Committee had already “in effect” been conducting an impeachment inquiry. (NBC News)
2/ Russia targeted the election systems in all 50 states in 2016, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s new report on election interference concluded. Officials believe that Russians probably “scanned” systems in every state for “election-related web pages, voter ID information, election system software, and election service companies.” The investigation found that Russia’s interference began as early as 2014 and continued into at least 2017, but there was no evidence that votes were changed or that any voting machines were compromised. (New York Times / Washington Post)
- 📌 Day 917: The Senate Intelligence Committee found that “the Russian government directed extensive activity, beginning in at least 2014 and carrying into at least 2017, against U.S. election infrastructure at the state and local level,” according to the committee’s report on Russian interference. The report recommends that Congress provide additional funding for states to secure elections once the $380 million appropriated in 2018 is spent. (NPR / Bloomberg / Axios / The Hill)
3/ Active duty military personnel are stationed within feet of migrant adults and children inside Border Patrol facilities. The proximity could lead to violations of the 140-year-old federal law that prohibits active duty troops and military personnel from coming into direct contact with migrants or from being used as law enforcement. Soldiers stand on elevated platforms throughout large rooms inside the facilities where detained migrants are held. Troops were originally assigned to the facilities to conduct periodic welfare checks of the migrants detained inside, but officials say that arrangement has evolved into a continual presence watching over them. (NBC News)
4/ Several U.S. Marines were arrested at Camp Pendleton and charged with human smuggling and other offenses for allegedly transporting undocumented migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border. The migrants in question told border agents they had agreed to pay the Marines $8,000 to take them north of the border to Los Angeles and eventually to New Jersey. The Marines could face charges in military or federal court. None of the Marines in question had served in support of the Southwest Border Support mission. (NBC San Diego)
5/ The U.S. government will pay between $15 and $150 per acre to American farmers hurt by Trump’s trade war with China. The latest aid package will cost $16 billion, with farmers in the South expected to see higher rates than those in the Midwest. The assistance will be distributed beginning in mid-to-late August, and payment will be disbursed based on their geographic location instead of the crops they produce. (Reuters)
6/ The Justice Department approved the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint after the two companies agreed to create a new wireless carrier by selling assets to satellite-TV provider Dish. The attorneys general for 13 states are trying to block the $26 billion merger with an antitrust lawsuit, arguing the deal could leave consumers with higher cellphone bills. T-Mobile and Sprint are the third- and fourth-largest wireless companies in the U.S. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)
📌 Day 749: T-Mobile executives involved in the company’s merger with Sprint last year have booked more than 52 nights at Trump’s D.C. hotel since then. Newly obtained records from the hotel show T-Mobile executives booked more nights than previously reported, sometimes staying in rooms that cost up to $2,246 per night. Trump still owns the hotel, despite turning day-to-day control over to his sons Eric and Don Jr. (Washington Post)
📌 Day 775: T-Mobile spent $195,000 at Trump’s Washington hotel after the announcement of its merger with its Sprint last April. Before news of the deal broke on April 29, 2018, only two top officials from T-Mobile had ever stayed at Trump’s hotel. (Washington Post / Reuters)
7/ U.S. economic growth didn’t hit Trump’s 2018 target of 3%, according to revised government data that showed a slower pace of expansion in the final quarter than previously estimated. Trump called the report “not bad.” Gross domestic product was up 2.5% in the fourth quarter of 2018 from a year earlier, but down from a recent estimate of 3%. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / New York Times)
8/ Trump attacked Fox News after the network’s pollsters showed him losing a handful of hypothetical matchups against 2020 Democratic candidates. Trump claimed that Fox News had been “Proud Warriors!” during the 2016 campaign but the “new Fox Polls” are “so different from what they used to be.” The national survey said Trump would lose to Biden by 10 percentage points and to Bernie Sanders by 6 points. It also showed him beating Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris by 1 point. The poll’s margin of error is 3 percentage points. (Politico)
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