👋 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 pulling $155 million from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to temporarily pay for court hearing locations for asylum-seekers along the southern border who have been forced to wait in Mexico. The Department of Homeland Security will also lose $116 million previously allocated for Coast Guard operations, aviation security, and more in order to fund nearly 6,800 more beds for immigrant detainees. Combined with existing space, the funding would allow ICE to detain nearly 50,000 immigrants at one time. The Trump administrations sent the allocation changes to Congress as a notification rather than a request. Puerto Rico is currently under a hurricane watch, which Trump complained about as “yet another big storm” before overstating how much money Congress allocated for recovery in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017. (NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / BuzzFeed News)
2/ The attorneys general for 19 states and the District of Columbia sued the Trump administration to block a new rule to indefinitely detain migrant families who cross the border illegally. The new rule would terminate the Flores agreement, which puts a 20-day limit on how long children can be held in immigration detention. (Reuters)
- 📌 Day 924: The Trump administration will terminate the 20-day cap for detaining migrant children and allow the government to indefinitely detain migrant families who cross the border illegally. The new regulation, announced by acting Department of Homeland Security chief Kevin McAleenan, requires approval from a federal judge before it can go into effect and could be in defiance of the 2015 Flores agreement, which limited the time families could be detained to 20 days. Trump and Republicans have repeatedly blamed the 20-day rule for encouraging migrants to arrive at the border with their children expecting to be released. Administration officials claim the new rule will serve as a deterrent against migrant families. The Trump administration proposed a similar rule in September 2018 that would have allowed the government to detain migrant children for longer periods of time, so long as they were treated with “dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.” (ABC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / New York Times)
3/ Homeland Security plans to launch a program aimed at protecting voter registration databases and systems from ransomware attacks ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The systems are used to validate the eligibility of voters before they cast ballots. They were compromised in 2016 by Russian hackers collecting voter information. Intelligence officials say that in 2020, however, foreign hackers will not only target the databases, but could also attempt to manipulate, disrupt, or destroy the data altogether. A senior U.S. official says the systems are classified as “high risk.” (Reuters)
4/ Attorney General William Barr booked Trump’s D.C. hotel for a 200-person holiday party in December. Trump’s hotel will likely earn more than $30,000 in revenue from the event. Justice Department attorneys, meanwhile, are currently defending Trump’s business in court, arguing that he has not violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution. (Washington Post)
5/ Trump blamed “Radical Left Democrats” for spreading a “false and nasty rumor” about a bedbug infestation at the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort. “No bedbugs at Doral,” Trump tweeted, referring to a lawsuit over bedbugs that the resort settled in 2017. The hashtag “#TrumpBedBugs” was trending on Twitter yesterday after Trump floated the idea of hosting next year’s G7 meeting at the hotel. (Washington Post / Politico)
2017: Trump Doral settles lawsuit over biting bedbugs. (Miami Herald)
Trump called Baltimore “rat and rodent infested” four months after he tried ending the primary funding source for the city’s public housing rat-elimination program. The Community Development Block Grant program funded $22 million worth of improvements in Baltimore last year and ensures “decent affordable housing,” after-school programs to low-income children, and assistance on closing costs to purchase homes. (Baltimore Sun)
📌 Day 921: Trump called Elijah Cummings a “brutal bully” and his Baltimore-based district a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” that “is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there.” Trump also called Cummings, a black civil rights icon, a “racist.” Trump’s tweets appeared to be in response to a Fox & Friends segment on the same topic that ran earlier in the day, which included images of rundown and neglected apartment buildings in Baltimore. As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings has initiated most of the investigations into the Trump administration. Last week, Cummings was authorized to subpoena work-related text and emails by White House officials, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Trump called Cummings’ “radical ‘oversight’ […] a joke!” (Baltimore Sun / New York Times / Washington Post / Washington Post / The Hill)
6/ Trump said he refuses to jeopardize the wealth of the U.S. over climate “dreams” and “windmills” after skipping a G7 session on climate change. The Trump administration has rolled back several U.S. environmental protection policies put in place by the Obama administration, including weakening the Endangered Species Act. (Reuters)
7/ Farmers are losing patience with Trump’s trade war with China and a growing number suggest it will not take much more to lose their vote. “We’re not starting to do great again,” said the president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. “Things are going downhill and downhill quickly.” American agricultural exports to China were $24 billion in 2014, but fell to $9.1 billion last year. Exports of farm products to China fell by another $1.3 billion in the first half of this year. Farm bankruptcy filings this year through June are up 13% from 2018 and loan delinquency rates are also on the rise. (New York Times)
- China’s foreign ministry said it hopes the U.S. can create the conditions for additional trade talks between the world’s two largest economies. The ministry also reiterated that it had no knowledge of any recent phone call between the U.S. and China, as members of the Trump administration claimed. (Reuters)
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