👋 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.
Send your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints to:
1/ A federal appeals court blocked Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy, which required people applying for asylum at the border to wait in Mexico while their claims for protection were reviewed. The court ruled that the policy “is invalid in its entirety due to its inconsistency with” federal law, and “should be enjoined in its entirety.” Some 59,000 people have been sent back to Mexico since January 2019. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals also issued a separate ruling that upheld a lower court’s block on an administration policy denying asylum to those who crossed the southern border illegally. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / CNN / Reuters)
2/ Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney suggested that Americans ignore the media’s coverage of the coronavirus while acknowledging that the outbreak will likely cause disruptions to everyday life in the U.S., such as school closures and changes to public transportation. Mulvaney claimed that the media ignored the administration’s early efforts, because it was preoccupied with thinking impeachment “would bring down the president.” Mulvaney then suggested that the news media only switched to the coronavirus because “they think this is going to be what brings down” Trump. He then urged Americans to “Turn off your televisions for 24 hours.” (New York Times / CNBC / Washington Post / Bloomberg / The Hill)
Several House Republicans walked out of a closed-door coronavirus briefing with health officials after Democrats criticized the Trump administration’s response to the virus as disorganized and lacking urgency. (Politico)
A worldwide threats assessment in 2018 and 2017 warned about the increasing risks of a global pandemic that could strain resources and damage the global economy. Intelligence analysts even mentioned a close cousin of the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus by name, saying it had “pandemic potential” if it were “to acquire efficient human-to-human responsibility.” The 2019 worldwide threat assessment reported “that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support.” (NBC News)
3/ The Trump administration is considering a tax cut package as part of the White House’s economic response to the coronavirus outbreak after all three major U.S. stock indexes suffered their worst weekly decline since the 2008 financial crisis. For the week, all three indexes fell more than 10%, and since Feb. 19, U.S. stocks have lost nearly $3.6 trillion in value. Trump’s top economic advisor Larry Kudlow suggested that investors shouldn’t “rule out more optimistic options,” saying “Stocks looks pretty cheap to me.” Trump, meanwhile, leaned on the Federal Reserve for help, saying he hopes “the Fed gets involved, and I hope they get involved soon.” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that the central bank would “act as appropriate” to help the U.S. economy. (Washington Post / CNBC / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN)
- The Trump administration is considering a 70-year-old war powers law to speed up the manufacturing of medical supplies in a potential coronavirus outbreak. The Defense Production Act, passed by Congress in 1950 during the Korean War, would allow Trump to expedite production of certain products like face masks, gowns, and gloves for national security purposes. (New York Times / NBC News)
4/ Mike Pence will host a $25,000-per-plate fundraiser in Florida. The event, hosted by the Florida Republican congressional delegation, benefits the National Republican Congressional Committee and costs $2,500 to attend, $5,000 for a picture with Pence, and $25,000 to have dinner with him. (Tampa Bay Times / Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
5/ A federal appeals court ruled that former White House counsel Donald McGahn does not have to comply with a subpoena seeking his testimony. The House wanted McGahn to answer questions related to possible efforts by Trump to obstruct Robert Mueller’s investigation. (Politico / CNBC / New York Times)
6/ The House Judiciary committee asked to interview the four career prosecutors who quit Roger Stone’s case after Trump and Attorney General William Barr intervened to demand a lighter jail sentence. Chairman Jerry Nadler also demanded that Barr hand over any messages Trump sent about Stone’s sentencing showing “improper political interference,” calling the recent events “deeply troubling.” (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Daily Beast)
📌 Day 1118: Three career prosecutors handling the Roger Stone case resigned after the Justice Department said in a new sentencing memo that Stone’s sentence should be “far less” than the seven to nine years that they had recommended. The memo noted that DOJ still wanted Stone to be incarcerated but declined to say for how long. Prosecutors Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed, and Jonathan Kravis told the judge they were withdrawing immediately as attorneys. (Washington Post / CNN / Daily Beast / NBC News)
📌 Day 1119: 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)
7/ Trump announced that he would nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe as his permanent director of national intelligence. In 2019, Trump attempted to make the lawmaker his spy chief, but backed off after the nomination was met with resistance in Congress, where lawmakers raised questions about Ratcliffe’s credentials and whether he padded his resume. Nevertheless, Trump tweeted today that he was nominating Ratcliffe, calling him “an outstanding man of great talent!” (NBC News / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.