👋 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/ Trump “condemn[ed] racism, bigotry and white supremacy” following two mass shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH over the weekend that left 31 people dead. Trump, who spent the weekend at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., stopped short of endorsing new gun control measures, and instead parroted Republican talking points about the “perils” of mental illness, violence in the media, and violent video games for fostering white nationalism and hatred. In El Paso, the shooter published a four-page “manifesto” on the online message board 8chan about 20 minutes before the attack, saying he wanted to stop the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Trump failed to acknowledge his repeated use of the word “invasion” to describe asylum seekers and immigrants at the southern border. Trump also cited the threat of “racist hate” with no acknowledgment that his own anti-immigrant rhetoric. Reading from a teleprompter at the White House, Trump also incorrectly referred to Toledo, Ohio instead of Dayton, Ohio as the location of one of the killings. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Associated Press / The Hill)
Dayton, Ohio: 9 people were killed and 27 others injured. The shooter used an assault-style rifle with high capacity magazines, wore body armor and a mask. He did not have a police record. (CBS News / Washington Post / Associated Press)
2/ Hours earlier, Trump called for “strong background checks” and suggested “marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform.” Trump made a similar call to improve background checks after a shooting last year in Florida. Trump, however, threatened to veto a gun control bill that passed the House with bipartisan support in February that would require universal background checks. The bill has not been considered by the Senate, which is on recess until September. (CNN / New York Times)
3/ Trump dismissed accusations that his own racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric has stoked racial hatred and helped to provoke would-be mass shooters. Instead, Trump tweeted – without evidence – that the news media is contributing “greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years.” The manifesto of the shooter in Texas, however, echoes the same kind of anti-immigrant language that Trump has used at his rallies over the years, specifically stating that “this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Portions of the 2,300-word essay, titled “The Inconvenient Truth,” closely mirror Trump’s rhetoric demonizing undocumented immigrants as “thugs” and “animals,” and decrying Latino immigration as “an invasion of our country.” (Reuters / New York Times / Washington Post)
- A Republican lawmaker in Nebraska accused Trump and the GOP of “enabling white supremacy.” John McCollister said that while he is “not suggesting that all Republicans are white supremacists,” nor that the average Republican voter is a racist, “the Republican Party is COMPLICIT to obvious racist and immoral activity inside our party.” McCollister continued by directly calling out Trump, who has downplayed the threat of white supremacy and white nationalism: “We have a Republican president who continually stokes racist fears in his base,” McCollister tweeted. “He calls certain countries ‘sh*tholes,’ tells women of color to ‘go back’ to where they came from and lies more than he tells the truth.” (Washington Post)
4/ Democrats called on Mitch McConnell to cancel the Senate’s August recess so they can take up gun control legislation. The bill would create new background check requirements for gun transfers between unlicensed individuals. It passed the House in February 240-190. (NBC News)
- McConnell tripped on his patio and fractured his shoulder. The 77-year-old is recovering at his home in Kentucky. He is running for a seventh term in the Senate next year. (Politico / Washington Post)
5/ FBI Director Christopher Wray ordered the agency to conduct a new threat assessment in order to identify and stop potential future mass shootings. A command group in Washington, D.C. will oversee the effort, during which FBI field offices will actively work to identify threats that are similar to the attacks last week at a food festival and over the weekend in Texas and Ohio. In recent congressional testimony, senior FBI officials said they were conducting about 850 domestic terrorism investigations — down from a year earlier, when there were roughly 1,000. (CNN / Washington Post)
July was the hottest month that humans have ever recorded since record-keeping began more than a century ago, slightly eclipsing the previous record-holder, July 2016. The past five years have been the hottest on record. The 10 hottest years have all occurred in the past two decades. This year is on track to be in the top five hottest ever. (New York Times / Washington Post)
Wall Street suffered its worst day of 2019 as China answered Trump’s threat to add 10% tariffs on another $300 billion in Chinese imports by allowing its currency to slide to an 11-year low against the dollar. Trump accused China of manipulating its currency. The Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq fell 2.9%, 3%, and 3.5%, respectively. (CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
The Treasury Department designated China as currency manipulator, a move that no White House had exercised since the Clinton administration. (CNBC)
The Trump “superfan” who sent homemade pipe bombs to Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other Democrats was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors had called for a life sentence for Cesar Sayoc, while his defense lawyers pushed for a 10-year sentence, saying that at the time of his arrest, Sayoc was allegedly suffering from an untreated mental illness, compounded by excessive steroid use, and that he had become increasingly obsessive, isolated and paranoid. (Washington Post / New York Times)
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