👋 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 voted over Republican objections to advance two articles of impeachment accusing Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. In back-to-back votes, the Democratic-controlled committee adopted each charge against Trump by a margin of 23 to 17. The Judiciary Committee spent two days debating the articles, including a marathon 14-hour hearing yesterday, which Chairman Jerrold Nadler abruptly recessed before midnight without a vote. Deliberations today lasted less than 10 minutes. A full House vote is expected next week, and if either charge is approved, Trump would become the third American president to be impeached. Trump remained defiant on Twitter, insisting he had done “NOTHING wrong” and called Democrats “the Party of lies and deception!” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNN / CNBC / Politico / NBC News / The Guardian)
Where every House member stands on impeachment. (New York Times)
2/ Mitch McConnell: There’s “no chance” that Trump will be removed from office as a result of the impeachment trial in the Senate. McConnell added that it “wouldn’t surprise” him if some Democrats broke ranks to vote in favor of Trump, calling the case “so darn weak.” McConnell and the White House have agreed to coordinate their plans for the trial, which McConnell has said he will end as soon as he has 51 GOP votes in place for a final vote. “We know how it’s going to end.” (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post)
3/ Rudy Giuliani was seen entering the White House just as the House Judiciary Committee voted to approve articles of impeachment against Trump. Giuliani – unfazed by federal prosecutors probing his business dealings and the Trump impeachment inquiry – has escalated his push for Ukraine to conduct investigations. He recently traveled to Ukraine to interview officials and gather more information and has promised to create a “report” on the findings of his trip. It was not clear if Giuliani was meeting with Trump. (USA Today / New York Daily News / Wall Street Journal)
📌Day 1049: Rudy Giuliani traveled to Europe to meet with several former Ukrainian prosecutors in an effort to defend Trump against the impeachment inquiry. Giuliani traveled to Budapest to meet with former Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, before going to Ukraine to meet with a number of other former prosecutors, including Viktor Shokin and Kostiantyn H. Kulyk. It was Giuliani’s earlier interactions with some of the same Ukrainians that setup the impeachment inquiry in the first place and led to an investigation by federal prosecutors into whether Giuliani violated federal lobbying laws. (New York Times / CNN)
📌 Day 1054: Trump said Giuliani wants to testify before impeachment investigators about his recent trip to Ukraine. Trump added that Giuliani will “make a report” of his findings to submit to Barr and Congress. (Politico / Washington Post)
4/ Trump’s senior aides have further restricted the number of administration officials allowed to listen to his phone calls with foreign leaders since his July 25 call with Ukraine’s President was revealed. Transcripts of Trump’s calls with world leaders are also disseminated to a smaller group of people inside the White House than before. (CNN)
5/ More than $20 million of the military aid that was supposed to go to Ukraine still hasn’t reached the country. $20.2 million of the Pentagon’s $250-million portion of the aid is still sitting in U.S. accounts, undermining one of the key GOP arguments against impeachment: that Ukraine eventually received the aid despite the hold placed on it by the Trump administration. Letters from lawmakers to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other officials asking about the continued delay have gone unanswered. (Los Angeles Times)
6/ The Trump administration released a trove of heavily redacted documents that contain the first communications between government agencies when the military aid to Ukraine was withheld earlier this year. The documents include email conversations between the deputy comptroller at the Department of Defense and White House Office of Management and Budget staff, as well as spreadsheets of financial figures that appear to be related to Ukraine. The documents are so heavily redacted that most of the details about the conversations and exchanges remain unclear. (ABC News / Center for Public Integrity)
7/ Trump agreed to the limited “phase one” deal with China to halt the trade war. Trump said that a 25% tariff he placed on $250 billion of Chinese products will remain in effect, but the 15% tariff he put on $120 billion of products in September will be cut in half – to 7.5%. A round of tariffs scheduled for Sunday would also be canceled. In exchange, China will increase American agricultural purchases by $32 billion over previous levels over the next two years. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / CNN / New York Times)
8/ A federal judge rejected the Trump administration’s request to delay a lawsuit against Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for defying congressional subpoenas related to the handling of the 2020 census. Barr and Ross were held in contempt of Congress in July, and the House Oversight Committee filed suit last month to try to force the administration to turn over the subpoenaed records. (The Hill / Politico)
9/ The Supreme Court will hear three separate cases over whether Trump can block the release of his financial records. Two of the cases involve subpoenas issued by House committees seeking financial documents from Trump’s accountants and two banks, Deutsche Bank and Capital One. The court will also decide whether Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, must comply with a grand jury subpoena obtained by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, which seeks nearly a decade’s worth of tax returns and other financial documents for an investigation of hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who claimed they had affairs with Trump. Arguments are scheduled for its March session with a decision expected by the end of June. (CNBC / Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / CNN)
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