👋 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 Judiciary Committee introduced two articles of impeachment against Trump, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of the impeachment inquiry. The articles – written in a nine-page resolution – accuse Trump of having “abused the powers of the presidency by ignoring and injuring national security” to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival and that Trump then engaged in “complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry” by directing the White House and other agencies to withhold documents and block officials from cooperating with the inquiry. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Trump betrayed the country and his oath of office, engaged in a “cover up” of his own misconduct, and “ignored and injured the interests of the nation.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump tried to “corrupt our upcoming elections” and that he remains a “threat to our democracy and national security.” Trump, meanwhile, insisted that he did “NOTHING” wrong and that impeaching him would be an act of “sheer Political Madness!” The Judiciary panel will take up the articles of impeachment later this week with a full House vote likely next week, setting Trump up to become the third president to be impeached. The impeachment trial will be held in the Senate, where the Republican majority is expected to acquit him. Nadler added: “We must be clear: no one, not even the president, is above the law.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNN / NBC News / The Guardian / ABC News / NPR / Reuters / Associated Press)
💬 Quotables: “Elections are the cornerstone of democracy and are foundational to the rule of law. But the integrity of our next election is at risk from a president who has already sought foreign interference in the 2016 and 2020 elections, and who consistently puts himself above country. That is why we must act now.” –House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler
💬 Quotables: “The argument ‘why don’t you just wait’ amounts to this: ‘Why don’t you just let him cheat in one more election? Why not let him cheat just one more time?’” –House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff
💬 Quotables: “WITCH HUNT!” –Trump
ANNOTATED: Articles of impeachment against Trump. (Washington Post)
How impeachment works. (Washington Post)
2/ Trump and Mitch McConnell are divided over the Senate impeachment trial. McConnell hopes to end the trial as quickly as possible. Trump, however, wants a spectacle with Hunter Biden, Adam Schiff, and the whistleblower all testifying live – not taped depositions –because he thinks it’s his best chance to hurt Democrats in the election. (CNN)
3/ Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said “politics can and should influence foreign policy.” The comments echo Mulvaney’s October statement that Trump’s quid pro quo exchange with Ukraine was “absolutely appropriate,” that “we do that all the time with foreign policy,” and “everybody” need to “get over it.” His comments came less than an hour after House Judiciary Committee announced two articles of impeachment against Trump related to the Ukraine controversy. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)
- 📌 Day 1001: Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed that Trump blocked military aid to Ukraine to force Kiev to investigate his political rivals. Mulvaney called the quid pro quo exchange “absolutely appropriate” and that “we do that all the time with foreign policy.” Mulvaney added: “I have news for everybody: Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.” Mulvaney also told reporters the funds were withheld in part because of a request to have Ukraine investigate unfounded allegations that foreign countries assisted Democrats in the 2016 election. Trump has repeatedly denied that there was a quid pro quo arrangement linking his demand for an investigation that could politically benefit him to the release of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNBC)
4/ Attorney General William Barr believes the FBI operated out of “bad faith” and “clearly spied upon” on the Trump campaign when it investigated whether the campaign colluded with Russia. Barr claimed without evidence that the Russia probe was based on a “completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by a completely irresponsible press.” Robert Mueller’s prosecutors, however, identified some 272 contacts between the Trump team and Russia-linked operatives, some of which have never been explained. (NBC News)
- 📌 Day 1054: The Justice Department inspector general’s report concluded that the Russia probe was justified. The 434-page report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found the FBI had an “authorized purpose” when it initiated its investigation into possible coordination between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, rejecting conservative allegations that top FBI officials were motivated by political bias and illegally spied on Trump advisers. Trump called the evidence in the report “far worse than I ever thought possible” and the FBI’s actions a “disgrace,” because – he claimed – “they fabricated evidence and they lied to the courts.” Horowitz, however, “did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions,” but noted “serious performance failures” by some FBI officials. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNN / USA Today / Axios)
5/ Trump attacked FBI Director Christopher Wray for embracing the Justice Department inspector general’s conclusions that the FBI was justified in opening an investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign. Trump tweeted that Wray “will never be able to fix the FBI” with “that kind of attitude,” adding “I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me.” Trump appointed Wray in 2017 and White House officials said they don’t believe Trump is ready to fire Wray, because his decision to dismiss James Comey resulted in the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. (The Guardian / CNN / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News)
TAKEAWAYS: The inspector general’s report on the Russia investigation. (Politico)
ANALYSIS: The Russia probe conspiracy theories debunked by the DOJ inspector general report. (Politico)
6/ Mexico, Canada and the U.S. all agreed to sign the USMCA trade deal. Democrats endorsed the deal after the White House agreed to strengthen labor, environmental, pharmaceutical, and enforcement provisions. The pact will replace North American Free Trade Agreement when ratified and contains provisions aimed at creating more manufacturing jobs. (Politico / Bloomberg / Associated Press / NPR / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / CNN)
- U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators are planning to delay tariffs set to kick in on Dec. 15, as the two continue to discuss Beijing’s commitment to purchasing more U.S. farm products. (Wall Street Journal)
7/ Trump is scheduled to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the White House today. Lavrov’s last meeting with Trump was in 2017, less than 24 hours after Trump fired James Comey. During that meeting, Trump shared classified information with Lavrov. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also attend today’s meeting. (NPR / NBC News / Axios)
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