👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
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1/ The Trump administration is considering a drastic reduction in refugee admissions for next year. One plan would zero out the refugee program altogether, while another would cut refugee admissions by half or more, to 10,000 to 15,000 people. Senior officials plan to discuss what Trump should set the refugee admissions at for the coming year in a meeting next week. (New York Times)
📌 Day 911: The Trump administration is considering admitting zero refugees next year. The idea was floated during a recent meeting with officials from the Department of Homeland Security, State Department, and the Pentagon. Homeland Security officials at the meeting suggested making the level anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000. The Trump administration cut refugee admissions from 110,000 in fiscal year 2017 to 30,000 in 2018. (Politico / CNN)
📌 Day 944: The Trump administration is considering a plan to allow states and cities the ability to deny entry to refugees approved for resettlement in the United States. According to the draft order, “the federal government will resettle refugees only where both the relevant state and local governments have consented to participate” in the program. If a jurisdiction does not agree, the federal government will find another location. Trump, meanwhile, is debating whether to decrease refugee admissions starting on Oct. 1. In fiscal year 2016, the limit was 85,000 refugees; in fiscal year 2019, the number was 30,000. (NBC News)
2/ Four states are planning to cancel their Republican presidential primaries and caucuses. Republican parties in South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, and Kansas are expected to complete the cancellation of their primaries at meetings this weekend. It is not unprecedented for state Republicans or Democrats to decide not to hold a presidential primary when an incumbent is running uncontested to save party money at the state level. Trump’s challengers, however, say the moves are undemocratic and represent the latest illustration of Trump’s takeover of the entire Republican Party. (Politico / CNN)
3/ Trump called a Fox News correspondent to the Oval Office to insist that he wasn’t wrong when he claimed Hurricane Dorian could have hit Alabama. “He stressed to me that forecasts for Dorian last week had Alabama in the warning cone,” said Fox News senior White House correspondent John Roberts. “He insisted that it is unfair to say Alabama was never threatened by the storm” and suggested that Trump was “just looking for acknowledgment that he was not wrong for saying that at some point” about Alabama being at risk. Trump later complained on Twitter that the media has not apologized to him for “four days of corrupt reporting” about his false claim that Alabama was among a handful of states that “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Trump attempted to prove that his original claims about Alabama were accurate this week by showing a doctored and outdated hurricane map that had been altered with a black Sharpie to include Alabama in the storm’s track forecast cone. (CNN / Politico / Washington Post)
- A White House official said Trump was the one who drew on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map with a sharpie to make it look like Dorian was poised to strike Alabama. “No one else writes like that on a map with a black Sharpie,” said the official. (Washington Post / Politico / Talking Points Memo)
4/ The Justice Department opened an antitrust investigation into four automakers who rejected the Trump administration’s relaxed air pollution and mileage regulations. Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen of America, Honda, and BMW instead struck a deal with California to reduce automobile emissions. Automakers have urged the administration not to drastically roll back Obama-era emissions levels, arguing that one national standard would be better than one weaker standard for most of the country and one tougher standard for California, plus the 13 other states that follow California’s lead. Those 14 states account for about 40% of the U.S. population. The Justice Department is investigating whether the deal could potentially limit consumer choice. (New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN)
5/ The U.S. added 130,000 jobs in August – about 25,000 of which were temporary 2020 Census workers – signaling a slowdown in the pace of job growth. Economists had predicted 160,000 job gains in August. Job gains for the two previous months were also revised downward by 20,000. The unemployment rate remained at 3.7%. (Washington Post / Los Angeles Times / NPR / New York Times / Associated Press / CNBC)
6/ Congressional investigators identified possible failures in Deutsche Bank AG’s money laundering controls in its dealings with Russian oligarchs. Investigators discovered the potential failures after going through a series of transactions, emails, and other documents turned over to Congress by the bank. The inquiry found instances where bank staff flagged concerns about new Russian clients and transactions but were ignored by managers. Congress is also looking into whether the bank allowed entities to funnel illegal funds into the United States as a correspondent bank by processing transactions for others. (Reuters / The Hill)
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