👋 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 ordered Mick Mulvaney to have NOAA repudiate a tweet by weather forecasters that contradicted his statement that Hurricane Dorian posed a significant threat to Alabama. Mulvaney then called Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to tell him to have the forecasters disavow their position that Alabama was not at risk. Ross, in turn, threatened to fire top employees at NOAA if the situation was not addressed. Trump, meanwhile, denied ordering Mulvaney to direct Ross to pressure NOAA to rebuke scientists who contradicted his hurricane claim, saying “I never did that — I never did that,” dismissing the situation as “a hoax by the fake news media.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)
2/ The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology opened an investigation into Ross pressuring the acting administrator of NOAA into supporting Trump’s false claim about Hurricane Dorian. The committee also demanded documents and information related to the unsigned statement that NOAA issued that was perceived as rebuking its own scientists for contradicting Trump’s claim that Dorian would hit Alabama “harder than anticipated.” (New York Times)
- 📌 Day 963: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross threatened to fire NOAA employees after the agency’s Birmingham office contradicted Trump’s claim that Alabama would be hit “harder than anticipated” by Hurricane Dorian. Ross directed Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president. Jacobs initially objected to the demand, but was told by Ross that the political staff at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not resolved. NOAA then sided with Trump over its own scientists, stating that Alabama was in fact threatened by the storm at the time of Trump’s tweet that Alabama would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” NOAA is a division of the Commerce Department. (New York Times / Washington Post)
3/ The Trump administration will not grant temporary protected status to Bahamians displaced by Hurricane Dorian. Temporary protected status would have let Bahamians work and live in the U.S. until it is deemed safe to return home. (NBC News)
4/ Trump’s trade war with China has reduced U.S. employment by 300,000 jobs through a combination of eliminated jobs by companies struggling with tariffs and jobs that would have been created but weren’t because of reduced economic activity. Moody’s Analytics forecasts that the job toll from the trade war will hit about 450,000 by the end of the year, if there are no changes in policy. (Yahoo Finance)
5/ Trump called on the “boneheads” at the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates to “ZERO, or less” and again blamed the Fed for a slowing U.S. economy. Trump also called on the Fed to “start to refinance our debt” despite there being no modern precedent for the refinancing of federal debt. The U.S. is currently $22.5 trillion in debt, $16.7 trillion of which is owed by the public. The federal debt burden has grown by 13% – $2.6 trillion – under Trump, due in part to the 2017 tax cut Trump pushed through Congress. (CNBC / Washington Post / Politico)
6/ Trump tweeted “never forget” to mark the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11th terror attacks, but after first attacking the “Amazon Washington Post/ABC” over an unfavorable poll, which he called a “phony suppression poll.” Trump also tweeted about the Federal Reserve and pressuring it to lower interest rates, congratulating Republicans in a North Carolina special election, and ranting about China and his trade war. (HuffPost)
Three of former national security adviser John Bolton’s top aides submitted their resignations. Trump said Bolton was fired while Bolton said he resigned. (Reuters)
The Trump administration plans to ban the sale of non-tobacco-flavored electronic cigarettes following an outbreak of a vaping-related lung disease that has sickened 450 people and resulted in at least six deaths. (Politico / New York Times / CNBC / NBC News)
Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire have promised not to cancel their caucus and primary for 2020 even as GOP leaders in other states have canceled party elections to help clear the way for Trump’s reelection. GOP officials in New Hampshire said that “under no circumstances” will they ever cancel the state’s primary election, “whether there’s token opposition or a serious contest.” Iowa Republicans said it was “never even up for discussion.” (Associated Press)
Trump posted a photo of a “Trump 2024” campaign sign on Twitter and Instagram, joking once again that he is interested in serving more than two terms. Trump has made the joke in various forms on several different occasions, including earlier this year when he suggested that he would be president forever. (Newsweek / Fox News / Washington Post / HuffPost)
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