👋 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 House of Representatives will vote on the Trump impeachment inquiry. The resolution “affirms the ongoing, existing investigation,” “establishes the procedure for hearings,” and “ensure transparency and provide a clear path forward,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. It will mark the first floor vote on impeachment since Democrats formally launched their inquiry. Representative Jim McGovern, chairman of the House Rules Committee, will introduce the resolution on Tuesday with a full House vote scheduled for Thursday. Pelosi added: “We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives.” (New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Bloomberg)
2/ A former deputy national security adviser and one of Trump’s “closest confidential” advisers defied a congressional subpoena and failed to appear for a scheduled closed-door deposition before House impeachment investigators. Charles Kupperman filed a lawsuit seeking guidance from a federal judge about whether he should listen to the executive branch, which has invoked “constitutional immunity,” or to Congress. “Given the issue of separation of powers in this matter, it would be reasonable and appropriate to expect that all parties would want judicial clarity,” Kupperman said. Since there has not yet been a ruling, Kupperman declined to appear. Leaders of three House committees said his lawsuit is “lacking in legal merit and apparently coordinated with the White House,” and failure to appear for his deposition “will constitute evidence that may be used against him in a contempt proceeding.” Kupperman listened in to the July 25th call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / NPR)
📌 Day 1009: A top adviser on Trump’s National Security Council is expected to corroborate testimony that Trump pushed for Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into Joe Biden and his son, using the military aid as leverage. Tim Morrison’s testimony is expected to be significant because he was named 15 times during Bill Taylor’s deposition, which Democrats view as damning for Trump. Morrison was also listening in on the July 25th call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Morrison is also expected to say that he didn’t see anything wrong with what the Trump administration did with regard to Ukraine. Morrison would also be the first currently serving White House official to testify. (CNN)
3/ The White House knew as early as mid-May — earlier than previously known — that Rudy Giuliani and the ambassador to the European Union were pressuring the new Ukrainian president. Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top Russia adviser, was told in a White House meeting the week of May 20th about a campaign by Giuliani, two of Giuliani’s associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and Gordon Sondland to pressure President Zelensky with unsolicited advice on who should be elevated to influential posts within his new administration. Sondland had no official role overseeing Ukraine, and Giuliani isn’t a government employee. (NBC News)
📌 Day 999: The White House’s former top Russia adviser told impeachment investigators that Rudy Giuliani ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats in order to personally benefit Trump. Fiona Hill, who served as the senior official for Russia and Europe on the National Security Council, testified for about nine hours before three House panels regarding a July 10th meeting she attended with senior Ukrainian officials, then-National Security Adviser John Bolton, and other U.S. officials in which the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, who was working with Giuliani, raised the issue to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats, Joe Biden, and his son. Hill said she confronted Sondland about Giuliani’s actions, which were not coordinated with officials responsible for U.S. foreign policy. Hill resigned days before Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Associated Press / The Guardian / NBC News / Vox / NPR)
📌 Day 1000: A former top White House foreign policy adviser told House impeachment investigators that she viewed Sondland as a national security risk because he was so unprepared for his job. Fiona Hill did not accuse Sondland of acting maliciously or intentionally putting the country at risk, but described him as and Trump donor-turned-ambassador. (New York Times)
📌 Day 1007: House impeachment investigators are scrutinizing a National Security Council aide suspected of operating a second Ukraine backchannel. Fiona Hill, the National Security Council’s former senior director for Eurasian and Russian affairs, testified last week that she believed Kashyap Patel was improperly getting involved in Ukraine policy by sending information about Ukraine to Trump that could warp American policy. Senior White House officials reportedly grew concerned when Patel became so involved in the issue that at one point Trump wanted to discuss the documents with him, referring to Patel as one of his top Ukraine policy specialists. Patel is assigned to work on counterterrorism issues, not Ukraine policy, and was part of the Republican effort to undermine the Russia investigation. (New York Times / Politico)
4/ A senior State Department official testified that he appealed to leadership for a public show of support for the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine when she was targeted in a smear campaign by Trump and Rudy Giuliani. Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary for Europe, said he pushed State Department leadership to make a statement of support for Marie Yovanovitch to counter Giuliani’s push to get her recalled. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, however, wouldn’t back the ambassador to Ukraine. Reeker also testified that he did not find out the Trump administration’s efforts to push Ukraine into publicly announcing investigations into Joe Biden and the 2016 election until the whistleblower complaint was made public. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Washington Post)
5/ The Trump administration appealed a judge’s ruling requiring the Justice Department to give the House Judiciary Committee grand jury material related to Robert Mueller’s report. Chief Judge Beryl Howell’s ruling granted the Judiciary Committee access to portions of Mueller’s report and underlying grand jury information that were redacted. (Politico / CNBC)
- 📌 Day 1009: A federal judge directed the Justice Department to hand over Robert Mueller’s secret grand jury evidence to the House Judiciary Committee, which Attorney General William Barr has withheld from lawmakers. U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell rejected the Trump administration’s claim that the impeachment probe is illegitimate, saying the material could help the House Judiciary Committee substantiate “potentially impeachable conduct” by Trump. The materials must be disclosed by Wednesday. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Politico)
6/ Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died after detonating a suicide vest during a raid by U.S. special forces in northwestern Syria. Hours later, Islamic State spokesman Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, described as al-Baghdadi’s right-hand man, was killed in a separate raid by Kurdish-led and U.S. forces in northern Syria. Trump described al-Baghdadi’s death as a man “running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering, screaming and crying all the way,” who “died like a dog” and a “coward.” al-Baghdadi was one of the most wanted suspected terrorists in the world, with a $25 million bounty issued by the U.S. for his capture. (New York Times / CNN / Associated Press / Reuters / Washington Post)
Trump did not give House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Congress advance notice of the raid that killed Baghdadi. Trump, instead, informed Russia about the operation before telling congressional leadership. Trump said he knew about plans for the top-secret mission for three days, but claimed that he kept Congress in the dark because he worried they would leak the information to the public and put the lives of American forces at risk. (USA TODAY / Washington Post / ABC News / Associated Press)
Trump knew the CIA and Special Operations commandos were zeroing in on the location of Baghdadi when he ordered American troops to withdraw from northern Syria earlier this month. Trump’s abrupt withdrawal order disrupted the planning and forced Pentagon officials to speed up the plan for the risky night raid before their ability to control troops, spies, and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared with the pullout. (New York Times)
Trump was booed during game five of the World Series in Washington D.C. The crowd chanted “Lock him up!” as Trump and several Republican lawmakers made an appearance during the fourth inning. (New York Daily News / Politico / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Washington Post)
The Trump administration banned all flights to Cuba – other than those to Havana. The ban goes into effect on Dec. 10th. (NBC News)
The White House explored cutting off taxpayer funding for charter schools affiliated with a political opponent of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The debate over funding for the schools came a few weeks ahead of Erdogan’s first visit to the U.S. in May 2017. (Bloomberg)
Trump directed Defense Secretary James Mattis during summer 2018 to “screw Amazon” out of the opportunity to bid on a $10 billion contract to provide cloud computing services to the Pentagon. The contract was awarded to Microsoft last week. (CNN / CNBC / The Verge / New York Times)
A company tied to Trump’s brother received a $33 million contract from the U.S. Marshals Service earlier this year. The contract to provide security for federal courthouses and cellblocks went to CertiPath that has been owned in part by a firm linked to Robert S. Trump since 2013. (Washington Post)
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