👋 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/ Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is expected to leave his position after the Senate impeachment trial. Trump aides have been circulating a list of replacements and trying to nudge Trump to choose Mulvaney’s successor. Rep. Mark Meadows, who announced his retirement this week, is believed to be in the running to replace Mulvaney. Despite holding what has historically been one of the most powerful jobs in the White House, Mulvaney has largely been excluded from major personnel and policy decisions and he no longer holds much control over White House staff. (Politico / Talking Points Memo)
2/ Trump once told White House officials that he believed Ukraine — not Russia — interfered in the 2016 election because “Putin told me.” Trump, following a private meeting with Putin in 2017 at the G20 summit, repeatedly insisted that Ukraine tried to stop him from winning the election and that he believed Putin that Russia had not interfered in the 2016 campaign. As many as 15 former Trump and government officials said they’re confounded by Trump’s fixation on Ukraine despite the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. This fall, intelligence officials concluded that Russian propagandists spread the Ukraine theory on social media. (Washington Post / CNN / MSNBC)
3/ The federal prosecutor scrutinizing the Russia investigation is examining former CIA director John Brennan’s role surrounding the intelligence community’s assessment that Russian interfered in the 2016 election. U.S. Attorney John Durham requested Brennan’s emails, call logs, and other documents from the CIA, and wants to know what Brennan told other intelligence officials, including James Comey, about the Steele dossier and the relationships between Russia and Trump associates. Durham is also looking into whether Brennan privately contradicted his public statements and his 2017 testimony to Congress about the dossier and the debate within the intelligence community over their conclusions regarding Russian election interference. Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham to re-examine the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation. (New York Times)
- Facebook removed more than 600 accounts tied to the pro-Trump conspiracy website that programmatically created false accounts to spread disinformation. (NBC News)
4/ A prominent evangelical Christian magazine called Trump “a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused” and that he “should be removed from office.” In an editorial, Christianity Today called Trump’s actions “not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.” Trump responded by lashing out on Twitter, calling it a “far left” magazine that “knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call and would rather have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President.” Trump added – without evidence – that “No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close. You’ll not get anything from those Dems on stage.” (Christianity Today / New York Times / Washington Post / Vox / NPR)
5/ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited Trump to deliver the State of the Union on Feb. 4 – less than 48 hours after she gaveled in the votes making him the third president to be impeached in United States history. (NBC News / Politico)
6/ The Trump administration threatened to veto the spending legislation that passed the House and Senate Democrats unless Democrats stripped language requiring the prompt release of future military aid for Ukraine. The language was ultimately left out and the White House said Trump would sign the $1.4 trillion package before midnight to avert a shutdown. (Washington Post)
- 📌 Day 1064: The Senate passed a $1.4 trillion spending package to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year. The House has already cleared the legislation. Trump needs to sign the bills by Friday to avert a government shutdown, which his advisors have said he will approve. (Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Politico)
poll/ 76% of Americans say the U.S. economy is very or somewhat good – the highest since Feb. 2001 when it was 80%. Among Republicans, 97% feel good about the economy, as do 75% of Independents, and 62% of Democrats. 68% expect the economy to be in good shape a year from now. 9% say the economy is good now but will get worse in 2020. (CNN)
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