👋 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/ Speaker Nancy Pelosi instructed the key chairmen in the House of Representatives to begin drafting impeachment articles against Trump, signaling that the House will likely vote to charge him with high crimes and misdemeanors before Christmas. Pelosi said the facts of Trump’s alleged wrongdoing involving Ukraine “are uncontested” and that “the president leaves us no choice but to act.” By ordering the “chairmen” to draft the charges, Pelosi left open the possibility that the other five committees that have investigated Trump and his administration will be asked to make recommendations about articles of impeachment. Pelosi added that Trump “abused his power for his own personal political benefit” and that his alleged wrongdoing “strikes at the very heart of our Constitution.” (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / ABC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Bloomberg)
📅 The House Judiciary Committee will hold its next impeachment on Monday at 9 a.m. ET, when the panel will receive presentations from Democratic and GOP counsels to the Intelligence Committee on the evidence collected in the inquiry. (CNN / NBC News)
House Democrats are considering obstruction and bribery articles of impeachment against Trump. Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee and Intelligence Committee believe Trump’s actions vis-a-vis Ukraine meet the definition of bribery. House Democrats have also signaled that they plan to include evidence from Robert Mueller’s investigation as part of the obstruction of justice articles. (Washington Post / CNN)
2/ Trump accused Pelosi of having “a nervous fit” after a reporter asked if she hated Trump. James Rosen, a reporter for a conservative television network, loudly asked Pelosi as she was leaving a news conference: “Do you hate the president?” Pelosi rejected the question, saying: “Don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.” (The Guardian / Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times)
- Trump to Democrats: “If you are going to impeach me, do it now.” Trump suggested that he wanted the “Do Nothing Democrats” to move “fast” on impeachment “so we can have a fair trial in the Senate.” (ABC News)
3/ Attorney General William Barr’s handpicked prosecutor told the Justice Department’s inspector general that he found no evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies had planted spies in the Trump campaign. Barr tasked U.S. Attorney John Durham with investigating the origins of the Mueller probe, as well as Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud, who conservative media outlets allege was a spy planted by the FBI or U.S. intelligence agencies. As part of a separate investigation, Durham was contacted by Michael Horowitz, the DOJ’s inspector general, and asked whether Mifsud, who had early contact with the Trump campaign, was an intelligence asset. Durham informed Horowitz’s office that his investigation had produced no evidence to support the allegation. Horowitz’s report concludes that the FBI had adequate cause to launch its Russia investigation. (Washington Post / CNN / The Hill)
📌 Day 1042: The FBI never placed undercover agents or informants inside Trump’s 2016 campaign, according to a draft of the Justice Department’s inspector general report. Michael Horowitz’s report on the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation is due on Dec. 9. Trump and his supporters have repeatedly alleged that FBI officials not only spied on the campaign but that Obama had ordered Trump’s phones tapped. The report is also expected to debunk allegations that the FBI relied on information from Christopher Steele’s dossier of damaging, unverified information about Trump to open the investigation. (New York Times)
📌 Day 1037: 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)
4/ Trump asked the Supreme Court to block a subpoena from House Democrats for his financial records, arguing that the House exceeded its authority when it ordered Trump’s longtime accounting firm Mazars USA to turn over his personal records. The petition is the second request in the last month concerning a similar subpoena for his financial records. In both cases, Trump sued to stop Mazars USA from complying with subpoenas for records. Federal appeals courts ruled against Trump in both cases. (Politico / Bloomberg / NBC News /CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)
- 📌 Day 1030: Trump asked the Supreme Court to block a House subpoena for his tax returns for the second day in a row. Yesterday, Trump’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to reverse a lower-court ruling that allowed the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to obtain eight years’ worth of Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns from his accountant, Mazars USA, as part of a probe into the payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Today, Trump’s lawyers asked the justices to temporarily block a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee compelling Mazars to provide Trump’s tax returns. Mazars has said it will hand over the records if it is required to. (CNBC / Bloomberg / Washington Post)
5/ The former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Trump before he was president sued Fox News for defamation. Karen McDougal alleged that Tucker Carlson falsely accused her of extortion when he said that she “approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money.” (New York Times)
6/ North Korea threatened to resume calling Trump a “dotard” if he keeps referring to Kim Jong Un as “rocket man.” The warning came after Trump remarked that Kim “likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he? That’s why I call him rocket man.” (Associated Press)
- 📌 Day 246: Following Trump’s United Nations speech, North Korea threatened to detonate a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific. Kim Jong Un in a statement called Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” who would “pay dearly” for his words, and that North Korea would enact the “highest level of hardline countermeasure in history.” The North Korean foreign minister clarified this phrase, suggesting it could refer to an H-bomb. (Financial Times / New York Times)
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