👋 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 Manhattan District Attorney subpoenaed eight years of Trump’s “personal and corporate tax returns” as part of its investigation into hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election. Trump and his company reimbursed Michael Cohen for the $130,000 Cohen he paid Stormy Daniels just before the election to buy her silence about an affair she had with Trump. Cyrus Vance’s office is exploring whether the reimbursements violated New York state laws and whether the Trump Organization falsely accounted for the reimbursements as a legal expense. The subpoena was served last month to Mazars USA, which prepares Trump’s tax returns. (New York Times / NBC News / CNBC / Axios)
- 📌 Day 925: State prosecutors in New York subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents related to its role in hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. The investigation is examining whether senior executives filed false business records related to the $130,000 payment Michael Cohen made to Daniels, as well as the arrangement between Cohen and the National Enquirer to pay off McDougal. Falsifying business records would constitute a state crime. The Manhattan district attorney separately subpoenaed American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer. (New York Times)
2/ The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee accused the acting director of national intelligence of withholding a whistleblower complaint in order to protect a “higher authority” official. Adam Schiff said Joseph Maguire, the acting DNI, consulted the Justice Department about the whistleblower complaint prior to his decision to withhold the complaint – a departure from standard practice. Schiff added that the Committee “can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials.” (Business Insider / CBS News)
3/ A previously unreported story about Brett Kavanaugh in college echoes Deborah Ramirez’s allegation that he pulled down his pants at a party and thrust his penis at her, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it. Former Yale classmate Max Stier told senators and the FBI last year about a separate episode where Kavanaugh had his pants down at a dorm party while his friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. The FBI failed to investigate the incident Stier described. During his Senate testimony, Kavanaugh said that if the incident had occurred, it would have been “the talk of campus.” Senate investigators at the time also concluded that Ramirez’s account lacked corroboration. However, at least seven people corroborated the incident before Kavanaugh became a federal judge, including two classmates who heard about it days after the party occurred. Ramirez’s lawyers also gave the FBI a list of at least 25 people who may have had corroborating evidence. The bureau declined to interview any of them. (New York Times)
📌 Day 613: A second woman publicly accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were both freshmen at Yale during the 1983-84 academic school year. Deborah Ramirez said Kavanaugh exposed himself and shoved his penis in her face without her consent at a dorm party. Kavanaugh’s roommate at the time said he “cannot imagine [Ramirez] making this up” and that Kavanaugh was “frequently, incoherently drunk.” After learning of Ramirez’s allegation last week, Senate Republicans called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to accelerate its confirmation vote. (New Yorker)
📌 Day 615: Kavanaugh’s second accuser is willing to testify publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee, her attorney said. Deborah Ramirez’s lawyer expressed concern about her testifying before the FBI is able to conduct an investigation into her claims, saying “we can’t even talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee about what that would look like” because “they certainly haven’t invited her” to testify. Senate Republicans blew off a scheduled phone call yesterday to discuss Ramirez’s claims that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were in college. (Axios / The Hill / CNN / Good Morning America)
📌 Day 622: The FBI has not contacted at least 40 potential corroborators or character witnesses about the allegations made against Kavanaugh by Ford and Deborah Ramirez. Two sources, however, say more interviews are happening with a focus on Kavanaugh’s high school friends who are listed as attending a July 1, 1982, party. (NBC News / CNN)
4/ A Democratic senator told FBI Director Christopher Wray last fall of the sexual misconduct allegation against Kavanaugh by Max Stier. In a letter to Wray, Sen. Christopher Coons said “several individuals,” including Stier, contacted his office wanting to share information with federal authorities about Kavanaugh, but said they had “difficulty reaching anyone who will collect their information.” The FBI supplemental background investigation into Kavanaugh did not include Stier’s allegation. (Washington Post / Los Angeles Times / Axios)
5/ Several Democratic presidential candidates called for Kavanaugh to be impeached after new information about Ramirez’s allegations of sexual misconduct became public. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Julián Castro called for Kavanaugh to be impeached after the authors of a new book wrote that they had found new corroboration for accusations that Kavanaugh exposed himself to Ramirez, a classmate at Yale. (New York Times / CBS News / NBC News / Washington Post)
- How impeaching a Supreme Court justice works: The House is responsible for voting on impeachment. Its members decide by a majority vote. The Senate then holds a trial for the underlying misconduct. A conviction requires two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes. If there is a conviction, the Senate would remove the individual from office. (Washington Post)
6/ Trump tweeted that Kavanaugh should “start suing people” or the Department of Justice “should come to his rescue.” Trump also accused news outlets of trying to “scare [Kavanaugh] into turning Liberal!” and that he should sue people for “liable” – misspelling the word “libel.” (Politico / CNBC)
- Trump called on the House Judiciary Committee to investigate Obama’s book deal and Netflix show. Trump complained about the time and money spent on the Mueller report and the investigations into him and his businesses, and said, “I have a better idea. Look at the Obama Book Deal, or the ridiculous Netflix deal.” Barack and Michelle Obama have reportedly signed a “high 8-figure” deal with Netflix and a joint book deal reported worth $65 million. (Vice)
7/ The House Judiciary Committee is negotiating to secure Jeff Sessions’ testimony as part of its impeachment investigation of Trump. Democrats on the committee hope Sessions’ appearance will help bolster the inquiry, especially since Sessions has had a turbulent relationship with Trump. An attorney for Sessions said the former attorney general will not agree to testify unless he is subpoenaed. (Washington Post)
8/ Trump threatened military action in response to an attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. Trump said the U.S. is “locked and loaded” and ready to respond, but was waiting to consult with Saudi officials before taking any action. Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, however, blamed Iran, calling the incident “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.” He insisted that there was “no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.” A senior Trump administration official said Iran launched nearly a dozen cruise missiles and over 20 drones from its territory in the attack on a Saudi oil facility. In response to the attack, Saudi Arabia cut its daily oil output in half. Trump responded by saying, “We don’t need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas,” but said the U.S. “will help our allies!” (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / ABC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / Reuters)
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