👋 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/ Trump defended Roger Stone in a series of tweets while attacking the federal judge and prosecutors involved in the case. Trump also “congratulated” Attorney General William Barr for “taking charge of the case” – confirming that Barr intervened in Stone’s sentencing recommendation. Trump claimed that Stone was treated “very badly” and suggested that prosecutors “ought to apologize to him.” Trump also implied that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over the case, was biased because of her role in the sentencing of Paul Manafort and dismissal of a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton. Stone is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 20. When asked if he would pardon Stone, Trump replied: “I don’t want to say that yet, but I tell you what, people were hurt viciously and badly by these corrupt people.” (Washington Post / New York Times)
The fourth federal prosecutor resigned from Roger Stone’s case after the Justice Department announced that it planned to reduce its sentencing recommendation. Michael Marando’s departure means the entire prosecutorial team working on the case has resigned in protest over the DOJ’s decision. (Washington Post / NBC News / Associate Press / CNN)
A federal judge has denied Stone’s request for a new trial. The denial was decided last week – before the Justice Department’s revised sentencing recommendations. (CNN)
2/ Trump withdrew Jessie Liu’s nomination to become the Treasury Department’s terrorism and financial crimes undersecretary because of her office’s handling of the Roger Stone and Michael Flynn cases. While head of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, Liu supervised the court proceedings for Trump aides and Mueller defendants, including Rick Gates, Flynn, and Stone. Liu served in the role from September 2017 until Jan. 31, and coinciding with her departure, the U.S. attorney’s office changed its sentencing stances in both Flynn and Stone’s cases. Trump pulled Liu’s nomination two days before her scheduled confirmation hearing. (Axios / Washington Post / NBC News /CNN)
3/ Attorney General William Barr will testify to the House Judiciary Committee on March 31. Democrats signaled they plan to question Barr about three topics: overruling prosecutors on Stone’s recommended sentence, the arrangement for Rudy Giuliani to provide information on Ukraine, and the pulled nomination of Jessie Liu. (Politico / CNN)
- Lindsey Graham told reporters that the Senate Judiciary Committee would not ask Barr to testify about the Justice Department’s decision to reduce Roger Stone’s sentencing recommendation. “He’ll come in as part of oversight, but we’re not going to call him based on this,” Graham told reporters. (Axios / Politico)
4/ Trump suggested that the military will likely look at disciplinary action against Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman after he was ousted from the White House for his testimony during the House impeachment hearings. “That’s going to be up to the military, we’ll have to see, but if you look at what happened, they’re going to certainly, I would imagine, take a look at that,” Trump said. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said he decided to remove Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and his brother Yevgeny from the National Security Council – not Trump. However, Trump admitted the day after Vindman’s dismissal that he was removed because he was “insubordinate” and “reported the contents of my ‘perfect’ phone calls incorrectly.” A U.S. official, however, said that neither the Army nor the Defense Department is investigating Vindman. (Politico / ABC News / New York Times / Axios / Mother Jones)
5/ The House Oversight Committee asked the Secret Service to provide a full accounting of its payments to Trump’s private company after it was revealed that the Secret Service had been charged as much as $650 per night for rooms at Trump clubs. (Washington Post)
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