👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
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1/ Trump declared that he has the “legal right” to ask Attorney General William Barr to intervene in federal criminal cases a day after Barr publicly asked Trump to stop tweeting about the Justice Department, because it “make[s] it impossible for me to do my job.” Trump tweeted Barr’s quote that Trump had never asked him to do anything related to a criminal case and said that “This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!” (New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / NBC News / USA Today)
2/ Barr assigned an outside prosecutor to review the criminal case against Michael Flynn – days after Barr’s Justice Department undercut Roger Stone’s recommended sentence by career prosecutors. Flynn, who served as Trump’s first national security adviser and resigned a month into the new administration, is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about a conversation he had with the then-ambassador to Russia, but recently asked to withdraw that plea, further delaying his sentencing. In October, Trump tweeted that Flynn had been the target of a “setup.” (New York Times / NBC News / ABC News / CNN / Axios)
The Army will not investigate Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. The announcement comes after Trump said the military would “take a look at” whether Vindman should face disciplinary action for the “horrible things” he told House investigators about the phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last July. (Politico)
The Justice Department will not charge former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe with lying to investigators. The DOJ’s letter to McCabe’s attorney ends a months-long inquiry stemming from inaccurate statements McCabe made to FBI investigators about his actions around the time of the 2016 election. The White House was not given advance notice about the decision, which upset Trump. A White House official said Trump “believes very strongly that action should be taken.” (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / Fox News)
3/ Trump admitted that he ordered Rudy Giuliani to go to Ukraine to dig up damaging information about his political opponents after denying it during the impeachment inquiry. When asked during an interview with Geraldo Rivera if he was sorry that he sent Giuliani to Ukraine, Trump replied: “No, not at all. Here’s my choice: I deal with the Comeys of the world, or I deal with Rudy.” Trump went on to defend his decision by claiming that Giuliani is a “crime fighter” and that “other presidents had [lawyers].” (CNN / New York Magazine / Business Insider)
4/ U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson canceled a planned trip to the U.S. after Trump slammed down the phone on the prime minister. Relations broke down in recent weeks following a series of disagreements between the two over Iran, Huawei, and a rejected request by the prime minister to extradite the wife of a U.S. diplomat. Trump’s behavior during the call was described by officials as “apoplectic.” (The Sun / Business Insider)
5/ Trump will be the guest of honor at a reelection fundraiser that costs $580,600 per couple to attend. The fundraiser, taking place miles from Mar-a-Lago, will be the most expensive since Trump took office. Trump has attended at least 48 gatherings with elite Republican donors since October 2017. (Washington Post)
6/ The Trump administration is deploying specially trained tactical units from the southern border to “sanctuary cities” to help carry out an immigrant arrest operation this weekend alongside Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. The officers are being sent to cities including Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit, and Newark, N.J. The deployment of the teams will run from February through May, according to an email sent to Customs and Border Protection personnel. (New York Times / Axios)
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