👋 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.
Send your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints to:
1/ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump. Pelosi told House Democrats in a closed door meeting she will support a formal impeachment inquiry, believing that Trump pressuring the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son and his administration’s subsequent refusal to share the whistleblower report with Congress has left the House with no alternative but to move forward with an inquiry. “It would be my intention with the consent of this caucus … to proceed with an impeachment inquiry,” Pelosi said. “He is asking a foreign government to help him in his campaign, that is a betrayal of his oath of office.” As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 166 Democrats supported some type of impeachment action — more than two-thirds of the 235-member caucus. Pelosi and top Democrats have privately discussed the creation of a special select committee – similar the one created in 1973 to investigate the Watergate scandal – to conduct the impeachment inquiry, rather than leaving the task with the House Judiciary Committee. Democrats are also discussing a resolution condemning Trump’s interaction with his Ukrainian counterpart to put lawmakers on the record. Trump, meanwhile, called the allegations a “witch hunt” and said impeachment will be “a positive for me in the election.” (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Bloomberg / Politico / The Guardian / The Hill)
- Who supports an impeachment inquiry against Trump? (New York Times)
2/ Trump ordered Mick Mulvaney to withhold more than $391 million in military aid from Ukraine days before he pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden’s son. Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, passed the order through the budget office to the Pentagon and the State Department during an interagency meeting in mid-July, explaining that Trump had “concerns” about whether or not the aid was necessary. White House officials were ordered to tell lawmakers that the delays in funding were part of an “interagency process,” but were instructed to give them no additional information. Trump – despite confirming that he did indeed discuss Biden with Ukraine’s president – denied that he withheld aid from Ukraine in an attempt to press President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on Biden, saying “No, I didn’t — I didn’t do it.” Trump also argued that releasing the transcript of the phone call public would set a bad precedent. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / CNN / Associated Press / Reuters)
3/ Trump admitted that he withheld military aid from Ukraine, but blamed it on the United Nations for not contributing more to the Eastern European nation, naming Germany and France among the countries that should “put up money.” Trump also suggested he did nothing wrong, because “As far as withholding funds, those funds were paid. They were fully paid.” Trump told reporters that in addition to Mulvaney, he also told Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to hold the funds to encourage other nations to pay, but claimed, “there was no quid pro quo. There was no pressure applied, nothing.” Trump added that despite trailing the leading Democratic candidates in most polls, “I’m leading in the polls and they have no idea how to stop me. The only way they can try is through impeachment.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / Reuters)
4/ Trump authorized the release of the “complete, fully declassified and unredacted” transcript of the July phone call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he allegedly brought up investigating Biden and his son. Trump insisted that the call was “totally appropriate” and pledged to release the full text on Wednesday. (NBC News / Washington Post) / New York Times / Reuters)
5/ The whistleblower has requested to speak to both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Adam Schiff said the whistleblower’s lawyer informed him the official “has requested guidance” from the acting Director of National Intelligence on his appearance, with potential testimony taking place “as soon as this week.” The Senate, meanwhile, opened its own inquiry and is seeking to interview the whistleblower who filed the initial complaint with the intelligence community’s inspector general. It was not immediately clear whether the White House will agree to let the official be questioned. (Axios / Politico / Yahoo! News)
6/ The Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling for the whistleblower’s complaint to be transmitted to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. The GOP-controlled Senate approved the nonbinding but symbolic resolution put forward by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling on the Trump administration to immediately provide the two intelligence committees with a copy of the whistleblower complaint involving Trump. (Axios / Washington Post / New York Times)
7/ Ukraine will likely pursue the cases that Trump pressured Zelensky to look into. Valentin Nalyvaichenko, the former head of Ukraine’s domestic intelligence agency and a member of Ukraine’s parliament, said the country will pursue an investigation related to Burisma gas company’s alleged multimillion-dollar corruption deals, but not because of Trump’s pressure. Rather, Ukraine wants to know whether the founder, Ukraine’s ex-minister of natural resources, had paid to quash earlier investigations into the way he acquired gas licenses. Nalyvaichenko said Ukraine should also be interested in an investigation into the “black ledger” that recorded slush-fund payments to Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager. (Daily Beast)
Federal prosecutors in New York rejected Trump’s claim that he has “sweeping immunity” from a criminal probe while he is in office. Trump made the claim in an attempt to block a subpoena for his tax returns, which is part of an investigation into hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to two women who say they had affairs with Trump. Prosecutors argued in a court filing that Trump is “seeking to invent and enforce a new presidential ‘tax return privilege,’ on the theory that disclosing information in a tax return will necessarily reveal information that will somehow impede the functioning of a President.” They added that Trump’s claim is rendered moot by the fact that “every President since Jimmy Carter has voluntarily released his tax returns before or upon taking office,” and doing so has never prevented anyone from fulfilling his obligations as president. (Politico / Associated Press)
Trump is “telling people he’s mad” about how Jared Kushner’s push for criminal justice reform has turned out. Sources say Trump is “furious at Jared” because Jared has been telling him that criminal justice reform will result in more felons voting for Trump. But Trump no longer sees it as a viable issue heading into 2020. “He’s really mad that he did it,” said one source. “He’s saying that he’s furious at Jared because Jared is telling him he’s going to get all these votes of all these felons.” (Politico)
The Trump administration threatened to withhold federal highway funding from California over its “failure” to submit a complete report on its implementation of the Clean Air Act. The move is part of the ongoing feud between the state government and the White House. EPA chief Andrew Wheeler sent a letter to state lawmakers, which states that California “has the worst air quality in the United States” and had “failed to carry out its most basic tasks.” The letter says California’s failure to address the backlog of about 130 incomplete or inactive plans may lead to penalties, including the withholding of federal highway funding. (Sacramento Bee / KTLA / New York Times / Washington Post)
Trump used his address before the United Nations General Assembly to denounce “globalists” and “socialists” while promoting his “America First” approach. “The future does not belong to globalists,” Trump said. “The future belongs to patriots.” (CBS News / Washington Post / Axios)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.