👋 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/ The House approved a resolution to formally authorize and set ground rules for its impeachment inquiry into Trump. The resolution passed 232-196 almost entirely along party lines and outlines how the House will make the investigation more public, authorizes the House Intelligence Committee to release transcripts from past interviews, and gives Republicans the right to call witnesses, though those requests are subject to approval by Democrats. Before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “Today, we are further down the path of our inquiry,” calling it a “sad day,” because “nobody comes to Congress to impeach a president.” Minutes after the vote, the White House press secretary denounced the resolution as “a sham impeachment” and “a blatantly partisan attempt to destroy the president.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / ABC News)
Two Democrats voted against the impeachment inquiry resolution. Reps. Jeff Van Drew and Collin Peterson both voted “nay” on the resolution. (CNN)
What is impeachment and how does it work? 10 facts to know. (NBC News)
The full Trump-Ukraine timeline. The House is engaged in a formal impeachment inquiry of Trump. It’s focused on his efforts to secure specific investigations in Ukraine that carried political benefits for him — with indications that there might have been an explicit or implicit quid pro quo involved. (Washington Post)
⚡️ Impeachment.wtf – The historian’s guide to the Trump impeachment inquiry. Maintained by the community. Updated daily.
2/ Trump’s former top National Security Council advisor on Russia and Europe corroborated testimony by the acting ambassador to Ukraine that Trump tried to withhold military assistance until Ukraine committed to investigating Trump’s political rivals. Tim Morrison told impeachment investigators today that he spoke to Bill Taylor at least twice in early September. One call was about Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who told the Ukrainians that no U.S. aid would be released until they announced an investigation into Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that had hired Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Morrison also spoke with Taylor on Sept. 7 to share his “sinking feeling” about a conversation between Trump and Sondland, during which Trump demanded that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly announce investigations and a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election. Morrison, however, told impeachment investigators he “was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed,” but he did see the episode as problematic for U.S. foreign policy. Morrison’s testimony comes a day after he announced his resignation. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / NPR / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / NBC News / Daily Beast)
📌 Day 1006: The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine told House impeachment investigators that Trump held up security aid and refused a White House meeting with Ukraine’s president until he agreed to investigate Tump’s political rivals. Bill Taylor said he was told that “everything” Ukraine wanted — a one-on-one meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and nearly $400 million in security aid — was dependent on publicly announcing an investigation into Burisma, the company that hired Joe Biden’s son Hunter, and Ukraine’s alleged involvement in the 2016 election. Taylor provided an “excruciatingly detailed” opening statement that described “how pervasive the [quid pro quo] efforts were” by Trump and his allies, which they have denied. People in the closed-door deposition described Taylor’s testimony as a “very direct line” between American foreign policy and Trump’s own political goals. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Wall Street Journal)
📌 Day 1008: Trump’s top envoy to Ukraine testified that the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. not only knew of a quid pro quo, but had also communicated the threat to Ukraine. William Taylor said he understood that on Sept. 1st, Gordon Sondland warned Andrey Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s aide, that security assistance “would not come” unless Zelensky committed to pursuing the investigation into Burisma, the energy company where Joe Biden’s son held a board seat. On Sept. 9th, Sondland texted Taylor to say there was “no quid pro quos” of any kind authorized by Trump. Sondland’s attorney added that his client “does not recall” such a conversation. By Taylor’s account, however, Sondland already knew the terms of the quid pro quo and had relayed them to Zelensky’s aide a week earlier. (Washington Post / Politico)
📌 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 deputy White House counsel moved the transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky to the highly classified server after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman raised concerns about Trump’s behavior. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, had listened in on the call when Trump asked Zelensky to “do us a favor” by pursuing an investigation into Biden and the debunked conspiracy theory that a Democratic National Committee server was transported to Ukraine after it was hacked in 2016. After the call was over, Vindman, an ethics attorney on the National Security Council, and a deputy legal adviser to the National Security Council met with John Eisenberg to raise concerns about the conversation. Eisenberg then ordered the transcript of the call moved to the NSC Intelligence Collaboration Environment, which is normally reserved for code-word-level intelligence programs, to ensure that people who were not assigned to handle Ukraine policy could not read the transcript. Vindman also told House impeachment investigators that the White House transcript of the July call omitted crucial words and phrases, including Trump’s assertion that there were recordings of Biden discussing Ukraine corruption and a mention by Zelensky about Burisma. Vindman was also given a hard copy of the rough transcript to make written edits, which he then gave to his boss, Tim Morrison. (Washington Post / New York Times)
4/ Two separate federal judges in Washington will consider whether to force two witnesses close to Trump to testify in the House’s impeachment inquiry. The first hearing centers on former White House counsel Don McGahn’s refusal to testify this spring in the House Judiciary Committee’s criminal probe into whether Trump obstructed justice by attempting to impede the Russia investigation. The White House blocked McGahn’s testimony, claiming he was “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony.” The second hearing involves former National Security official Charles Kupperman, who did not appear for his subpoenaed testimony on Monday. Last week, Charles Kupperman filed a lawsuit to resolve conflicting orders from Congress and the White House about his participation in the impeachment investigation. (CNN / Politico / Washington Post / Washington Post)
poll/ 61% of Americans say Trump has little or no respect for the country’s democratic institutions and traditions. 42% of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance. (Associated Press)
poll/ 54% of Americans say the Trump administration’s policies have made the United States less respected around the world, while 28% say the policies have made the U.S. more respected. (Washington Post)
Rudy Giuliani needed an Apple Genius to unlock his iPhone after he was named Trump’s cybersecurity adviser in 2017. Giuliani was locked out of his iPhone because he had forgotten the passcode and entered the wrong one at least 10 times. (NBC News)
The EPA will weaken regulation that limits heavy metals like arsenic, lead and mercury from coal-fired power plants. The new rules are expected to go into effect in November. (New York Times)
The American Bar Association deemed Trump’s new judicial nominee “not qualified” for a spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The ABA found Lawrence VanDyke to be “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice.” When asked during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing about his past positions on issues such as gun control, environmental protections, abortion, and LGBTQ rights, he started to cry. (Washington Post)
The Senate passed four spending bills to fund operations at the Agriculture, Transportation and Interior departments. Current government funding lasts through Nov. 21 and the majority of government spending is locked in a dispute over how to pay for Trump’s border wall. (Politico)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.