👋 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 is officially conducting an impeachment inquiry into Trump and will decide by the end of the year whether to refer articles of impeachment to the House floor. In a July court filing to get the full, unredacted Mueller report, the Judiciary Committee argued that it needed the information because it “is conducting an investigation to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment.” Today, chairman Jerry Nadler clarified that “This is formal impeachment proceedings.” That timeline would put an impeachment battle in the middle of the Democratic presidential primary contests. (Washington Post / Politico)
2/ The El Paso shooter that killed 22 people told police that his target was “Mexicans” and confessed that “I’m the shooter” when he was arrested. Patrick Crusius also said he had used an AK-47-style rifle and brought multiple magazines with him to carry out the killings. Authorities believe Crusius was the author of a “manifesto” posted online shortly before the attack, saying he wanted to stop the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” (New York Times / Washington Post)
3/ The Trumps posed for a photo with an orphaned two-month-old, whose parents were shot dead in El Paso. Melania Trump smiled broadly and held the baby, while Donald flashed a thumbs-up and grinned. The picture was circulated by Melania Trump and not the family. White House aides had not allowed journalists into the hospital during the visit, saying it was “not a photo op.” (The Guardian / Yahoo)
4/ The State Department suspended a foreign affairs official in the energy bureau after his ties to a white nationalist group were revealed. The State Department refused to name the official, but the Southern Poverty Law Center identified him as Matthew Gebert. The SPLC published a report on Wednesday that Gebert hosted white nationalists at his home and published white nationalist propaganda online using a pseudonym. (Reuters)
- 📌 Day 930: A U.S. State Department official oversaw a Washington, D.C.-area chapter of a white nationalist organization, hosted white nationalists at his home, and published white nationalist propaganda online. Matthew Gebert works as a foreign affairs officer assigned to the Bureau of Energy Resources. (Southern Poverty Law Center)
5/ The White House has prepared an executive order that would give the FCC oversight over tech companies and how they monitor and manage their social networks. “Protecting Americans from Online Censorship” tasks the FCC with developing new regulations to clarify how and when the law protects social networks when they remove or suppress content on their platforms. The draft order also calls for the Federal Trade Commission to take those new policies into account when investigating or filing lawsuits against technology companies. (CNN / TechCrunch)
- 📌 Day 931: The White House is preparing an executive order to address allegations of anti-conservative bias by social media companies. While the contents of the order remain unknown, last month Trump said he would be exploring “all regulatory and legislative solutions” to deal with the supposed issue. (Politico)
6/ Trump walked back his statement that he was “strongly considering” commuting the 14-year sentence of the former Illinois governor who was convicted of essentially trying to sell Obama’s vacant Senate seat for personal gain. A day after musing about commuting Rod Blagojevich’s sentence, Trump was having second thoughts in response to pushback from conservatives and Illinois Republicans. Now, Trump says White House staff are merely “continuing the review of this matter.” (New York Times)
7/ The DOJ official responsible for the Trump administration’s failed attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census is leaving the Justice Department. John Gore, who served as the principal deputy assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said he wants to spend time with his family while “discerning next steps.” Gore is currently facing allegations that he provided false testimony and concealed evidence as part of the lawsuits over the citizenship question. (NPR)
📌 Day 813: The House Oversight Committee threatened to hold a Justice Department official in contempt after refusing to comply with a subpoena for testimony and documents related to the citizenship question on the 2020 Census. Committee Chair Elijah Cummings said in a letter to AG William Barr that the committee would hold his principal deputy assistant AG, John Gore, in contempt of Congress if Barr didn’t make him available to answer questions about Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add the question to the census. Gore was slated to testify on Thursday but he did not appear. The committee voted 23-14 earlier this month to compel Gore to testify and for the Trump administration to provide additional documents pertaining to the citizenship question. (NBC News)
📌 Day 825: The Justice Department refused to comply with a congressional subpoena for a Trump administration official to testify about the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The House Oversight and Reform Committee is investigating the addition of the citizenship question despite evidence that it could lead to millions of people being undercounted. John Gore’s refusal to appear before the committee is at the direction of Attorney General William Barr. Gore is the principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division. (CNN / Washington Post)
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