👋 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/ Deutsche Bank told a federal appeals court that it has some Trump-related tax returns. In a letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Deutsche wrote that it “has in its possession tax returns (in either draft or as-filed form) responsive to the Subpoenas” from the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees seeking financial records for Trump, Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, the Trump Organization, and other Trump-family-controlled entities. Deutsche redacted the names of individuals from the public filing due to privacy concerns about its relationship with clients and wouldn’t publicly confirm whether it specifically had Trump’s tax returns, but added it also has tax records “related to parties not named in the subpoenas but who may constitute ‘immediate family’” of individuals named in the document request. The disclosure was made by Deutsche after appellate judges had asked if the bank actually had the records. Capital One, which was also subpoenaed by the House committees in April, said it “does not possess any tax returns responsive to the Capital One subpoena.” Trump is currently suing to prevent Deutsche Bank and other banks from complying with the subpoenas. Deutsche Bank has been Trump’s primary lender for years when other banks wouldn’t lend to the Trump Organization. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Reuters / Politico / Bloomberg / Associated Press)
📌 Day 320: Robert Mueller issued a subpoena for the banking records of people affiliated with Trump. The move forced Deutsche Bank – Trump’s biggest lender – to turn over documents related to certain credit transactions and the $300 million Trump owes the lender. Legal experts said it showed Mueller was “following the money” in search of links between the campaign and the Kremlin since Deutsche Bank may have sold some of Trump’s mortgage or loans to Russian-owned banks, which could potentially give Russia leverage over Trump. Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, denied that a subpoena had been issued. Since 1998, Deutsche has helped loan at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Trump, which he used to build or purchase highest-profile projects in Washington, New York, Chicago and Florida. (The Guardian / Bloomberg / Reuters / Wall Street Journal)
📌 Day 356: The Trump administration waived fines for Deutsche Bank and four other multinational banks convicted of manipulating global interest rates. Trump owes Deutsche at least $130 million in loans that were originally worth $300 million. The German bank was also fined $425 million by New York State for laundering $10 billion out of Russia. (International Business Times / USA Today)
📌 Day 526: Justice Anthony Kennedy’s son, Justin, worked at Deutsche Bank for more than a decade, helping loan Trump more than $1 billion at a time when other banks wouldn’t. Since 1998, Deutsche has helped loan Trump at least $2.5 billion, of which at least $130 million is still owed to the bank. In 2017, Deutsche Bank AG agreed to pay $425 million to New York’s banking regulator over a money laundering scheme that helped Russian investors move $10 billion out of Russia. Trump later waived the fines for the bank after Robert Mueller issued a subpoena to Deutsche for the banking records of people affiliated with him. Following Trump’s first address to Congress in February 2017, he stopped to tell Justice Kennedy: “Say hello to your boy. Special guy.” (New York Times)
📌 Day 789: Deutsche Bank loaned more than $2 billion to Trump over nearly two decades during his time as a real estate developer at a time when other banks wouldn’t lend to him. The bank repeatedly loaned money to Trump despite multiple business-related “red flags,” including instances where Trump exaggerated his wealth by an extra $2 billion in order to secure additional loans from the bank. In 2010, Trump returned to Deutsche Bank for $100 million loan, even though it had concluded at the time that Trump had overvalued some of his real estate assets by up to 70%. (New York Times / New York Times / CNBC)
📌 Day 817: House Democrats subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for Trump’s personal and financial records. Democrats also subpoenaed JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup for documents related to possible Russian money laundering. Maxine Waters said Trump’s “potential use of the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes is a very serious concern” and that the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees will “follow the facts wherever they may lead us.” Deutsche Bank reportedly requested a so-called “friendly subpoena” from the committees before it would comply with their request. The Trump Organization, meanwhile, said it was looking at options to block Deutsche Bank from complying with the subpoena. (New York Times / CNN / Politico / Reuters / Washington Post)
📌 Day 831: Trump, his family, and the Trump Organization are suing Deutsche Bank and Capital One to block their compliance with subpoenas from House Democrats seeking his financial records. Trump’s attorneys argue that the subpoenas serve “no legitimate or lawful purpose” and were issued to harass Trump and “rummage through every aspect of his personal finances, his businesses, and the private information of the President and his family.” House Democrats called it a “meritless lawsuit” that was “only designed to put off meaningful accountability as long as possible” in order to “obstruct Congress’s constitutional oversight authority.” The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Trump, Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, and the Trump Organization. Deutsche Bank and Capital One intend to begin providing documents to the House on May 6th, absent court intervention. (New York Times / Politico / Axios / CNBC / CNN)
📌 Day 851: Deutsche Bank staff identified multiple suspicious transactions made in 2016 and 2017 by legal entities controlled by Trump and Jared Kushner. A group of anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended that the bank report the transactions to a federal financial-crimes watchdog. But executives at the bank, from which Trump has borrowed billions of dollars, rejected the advice of their staff and chose not to file the reports with the government. The nature of the transactions in question is still unclear, but at least some of them involved money flowing back and forth between overseas entities or individuals, something the bank employees flagged as suspicious. Deutsche Bank has denied the report that its executives ignored the recommendations of its own anti-money-laundering specialists. (New York Times / Reuters / Reuters)
🚨 RUMOR MILL: MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell said that a “single source close to Deutsche Bank” said Trump had Russian oligarchs co-sign his loan documents. O’Donnell added that his source said Trump would not have been able to obtain his loans with Deutsche without the co-signers, which described as “Russian billionaires close to Vladimir Putin.” (Washington Examiner / Business Insider / Twitter)
- Trump’s personal attorney threatened NBCUniversal and Lawrence O’Donnell with a defamation suit for reporting that “Russian oligarchs” co-signed loans to Trump. Charles Harder demanded that O’Donnell and NBCU “immediately and prominently retract, correct and apologize for the aforementioned false and defamatory statements.” (Hollywood Reporter)
2/ Trump promised to pardon any official who breaks the law in order to get his border wall built by the 2020 election. Trump also directed officials to “take the land” necessary and “get it done” by eminent domain along the U.S.-Mexico border, ignore environmental regulations, and quickly approve billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts to fast-track his signature 2016 presidential campaign promise. “Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you,” Trump reportedly told aides. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC / CNN / The Independent)
3/ Children born to some U.S. military members and government employees working overseas will no longer automatically be considered United States citizens, according to policy alert issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Trump administration rescinded previous guidance that children of U.S. service members and government officials abroad are considered “residing in the United States” and automatically given citizenship under a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The new policy, however, states that “these children will no longer be considered to have acquired citizenship automatically.” The new policy will go into effect on Oct. 29th. (Task and Purpose / The Hill / Axios / Daily Beast)
4/ Trump instructed his Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to exempt Alaska’s 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest from logging restrictions put in place nearly two decades ago. The move would open up more than half of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest to potential logging, energy, and mining projects. It would also undercut a policy put in place by the Clinton administration known as the “roadless rule.” Forest Service officials had planned to phase out old-growth logging in the Tongass within a decade. (Washington Post / The Hill / Slate)
5/ Trump said he backs Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro in the struggle to contain the man-made fires in the Amazon rainforest. Bolsonaro is “working very hard on the Amazon fires,” Trump tweeted, “and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil - Not easy. He and his country have the full and complete support of the USA!” Bolsonaro played a key role in pushing for the deforestation which directly contributed to the fires. He recently rejected $20 million in international aid to help fight the fires, before deciding on Tuesday to accept all foreign aid from organizations or countries — as long as Brazil can decide how to use the assistance. (Politico / New York Times / MSNBC / CBS News)
poll/ 56% of voters disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job as president. If the 2020 presidential election were held today, 54% of voters said they’d vote for Joe Biden, while 38% would vote for Trump. (Quinnipiac)
poll/ 81% of voters say the fundamental values of the United States are being tested in the 2020 election, including 87% of Democrats, 81% of Republicans, and 78% of independents. 58% added that the 2020 election will be the most important of their lifetimes. 6%, however, said the 2020 election is not at all important compared to other elections. 38% of Americans said they would have little or no confidence that the election had been conducted in a “fair-and-square way” if their candidate loses. (USA Today / Suffolk University)
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