👋 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/ Impeachment Watch: What happens next. The House Intelligence Committee concluded public hearings for the impeachment inquiry into Trump after more than a dozen witnesses testified. With no other witnesses scheduled to testify, the committee and Chair Adam Schiff will now compile and submit a report of its findings to the House Judiciary Committee. The report will be sent to the Judiciary Committee, which will decide whether or not to draft on articles of impeachment. If it drafts articles, the committee would vote on them and send them to the House floor, where Democrats anticipate a vote by Christmas. If the House votes to impeach Trump, the case is sent to the Senate for a trial, which would start in the new year. It would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate to remove Trump from office. Senate Republicans and senior White House officials have discussed limiting a Senate impeachment trial to two weeks. Meanwhile, a federal judge is expected to rule on whether former White House counsel Don McGahn is required to obey a Judiciary Committee subpoena to testify in response to an earlier House subpoena in a previous matter. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton declined an invitation to testify and has not been subpoenaed, but said he won’t testify unless compelled by a court. Bolton is awaiting the result of a lawsuit filed by his former deputy, Charles Kupperman, asking a judge to decide whether he should listen to the House or the White House. (Vox / Politico / New York Times)
2/ Trump’s aides have discussed removing some impeachment witnesses from their White House posts ahead of schedule. National Security Council staffers, such as Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Tim Morrison, are on loan to the White House from other agencies. Trump has reportedly suggested that Vindman and Taylor could be sent back to their home departments early despite advisers warning him that firing them could be viewed as retaliation. (CNN)
- Trump accused Marie Yovanovitch of refusing to hang his photo in the Ukrainian Embassy and saying she “was not an angel.” Without offering any evidence, Trump claimed Yovanovitch –the former U.S. ambassador who Trump ousted in May as his associates began pressuring the new Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden – “wouldn’t hang it. It took like a year and a half, two years to get the picture up.” A member of Yovanovitch’s legal team said the embassy hung photos of Trump, Pence, and the secretary of state “as soon as they arrived from Washington, D.C.” (Politico / CBS News)
3/ Trump spent 53 minutes on the phone with “Fox & Friends” accusing an impeachment witness of lying, repeating a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and calling the details in the whistleblower complaint “fake.” Trump accused David Holmes, a political counselor to the American ambassador in Ukraine, of fabricating a phone call between Trump and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, saying “I guarantee you that never took place.” Sondland, however, corroborated Holmes’s account in his own testimony. Trump also accused the Obama administration of spying on his campaign, claiming that “they were spying on my campaign and it went right to the top and everybody knows it and now we’re going to find out” and “they tried to overthrow the presidency.” (New York Times / Axios / HuffPost)
4/ A report from the Justice Department’s inspector general didn’t find anti-Trump bias at the FBI when it obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to look into Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser. According to a draft copy of Michael Horowitz’s report, there were errors and omissions in the documents related to wiretapping Page and that a low-level lawyer altered an email used to seek a renewal of the wiretap. Kevin Clinesmith attached additional material to the bottom of an email from an official at another federal agency, which contained several factual assertions. Horowitz concluded that the altered document did not impact the overall validity of the surveillance application, but referred his findings about Clinesmith to prosecutors for a potential criminal charge. Clinesmith left the Russia investigation in February 2018. Overall, the draft report concludes that the FBI had enough evidence for opening the investigation, that Joseph Mifsud, a Russia-linked professor who told a Trump campaign official that Russia had damaging information on Hillary Clinton in the form of hacked Democratic emails, was not an FBI informant, and that none of the evidence used to open the investigation came from the CIA or dossier of Trump-Russia ties compiled by Christopher Steele. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Washington Post)
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