👋 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 displayed a doctored National Weather Service map to “prove” that Alabama would, in fact, be affected by Hurricane Dorian. The storm’s projected path on the map was extended to include Alabama with a black marker in an apparent attempted to retroactively justify Trump’s incorrect tweet over the weekend warning that Alabama could be affected. “This is original path that we thought – and everybody thought that this was about a 95 percent probably,” Trump said. When asked whether the chart had been drawn on, Trump said: “I don’t know; I don’t know.” By law, knowingly issuing a false weather report is a violation of the law subject to imprisonment and or fine. (Washington Post / NPR / ABC News / The Guardian)
- 📌 Day 957: Trump refused to retract his claim that Hurricane Dorian was poised to hit Alabama, even though the National Weather Service said he was wrong. The NWS office in Birmingham rejected Trump’s assertion that Alabama was in the storm’s path, tweeting: “We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.” Trump, meanwhile, explained that it’s “Always good to be prepared!” (CNN / New York Times / The Hill / Yahoo! News)
2/ The Trump administration relaxed requirements for energy efficient light bulbs that Congress passed in 2007. The Energy Department’s filing in the Federal Register will now prevent new efficiency standards for inefficient incandescent and halogen bulbs from going into effect on Jan. 1st. (New York Times)
3/ The FBI is tracking people protesting U.S. immigration policy at the border and monitoring their social media. The FBI office in Phoenix sent an “external intelligence note” to other law enforcement and government agencies saying these groups are “increasingly arming themselves and using lethal force to further their goals.” Almost all of the evidence cited in the report involved nonviolent protest activity. Civil rights advocates say that the government is classifying legitimate protests and legally protected speech as violent extremism or domestic terrorism. (Yahoo News)
4/ Mitch McConnell reiterated that he is open to bringing gun legislation to the floor of the Senate – but only if Trump supports it. Democrats are urging McConnell to bring the House’s universal background checks bill to the Senate floor. McConnell said he would be happy to put the bill on the floor if Trump “is in favor of a number of things that he has discussed openly and publicly, and I know that if we pass it it’ll become law.” (Politico)
Trump said he hopes will Congress would reach an agreement on gun reform “soon,” but didn’t endorse the House-passed bill that would mandate universal background checks for all gun sales. (Politico)
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors labeled the NRA a terrorist organization, saying the organization intentional “spreads propaganda that misinforms and aims to deceive the public about the dangers of gun violence.” The NRA called the resolution a “ludicrous stunt.” (KTVU)
5/ A former top Trump official at the Interior Department who oversaw oil and gas drilling on federal lands joined an oil and gas company less than a week after resigning from Interior. Joe Balash served as assistant secretary for land and minerals management for nearly two years, where he worked to open up the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to development and expand drilling on the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to the west of the refuge. Now, Balash will be working for Oil Search, a Papua New Guinea-based oil company that is currently developing one of Alaska’s largest oil prospects in years on state lands that are nearby — but not inside — those same federal reserves. (Washington Post)
6/ The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the Department of Homeland Security over Trump’s alleged offer to pardon officials who break the law while carrying out his immigration agenda. Trump has denied making the offer while his allies claimed the closed-door comment was a joke. (Politico)
- 📌 Day 951: 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)
7/ A federal judge blocked the White House’s decision to revoke a Playboy reporter’s press pass over a showdown in the Rose Garden with former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka. U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras granted a preliminary injunction to restore Brian Karem’s “hard pass,” because reporters weren’t given a clear set of rules governing press conduct at events like the one in question in the Rose Garden. Despite objections from the White House press secretary that reporters are required to adhere to general standards of “professionalism” and “decorum,” Contreras said that “without any contextual guideposts, ‘professionalism,’ standing alone, remains too murky to provide fair notice here.” (Politico / Washington Post)
poll/ 62% of voters said they’re somewhat or very concerned that there will be a recession in the next six months. 57% said they would blame Trump should America enter recession by the end of the year. (Newsweek / Harvard CAPS/Harris)
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