👋 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:
😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~9,179,000; deaths: ~475,000; recoveries: ~4,596,000. (Johns Hopkins University)
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,339,000; deaths: ~122,000; recoveries: ~642,000.
1/ Dr. Anthony Fauci: “None of us have ever been told to slow down on testing — that just is a fact. In fact, we will be doing more testing.” White House officials, however, have defended Trump’s comments that he wanted to slow down testing for the coronavirus, calling them “tongue-in-cheek” and a joke. Fauci told the House committee that the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a “mixed bag,” adding that the increase in cases is “disturbing” and “The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges we are seeing in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and other states.” (Politico / Daily Beast / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / New York Times / The Hill / Associated Press)
2/ When asked whether he was joking that he asked officials to slow down coronavirus testing, Trump replied: “I don’t kid.” Trump also tweeted that “we did a great job on CoronaVirus” and said “the Fake News refuses to acknowledge this in a positive way.” More than 120,000 Americans have already died as a result of COVID-19, and the total number of confirmed infections nationwide has surged beyond 2.3 million. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany later told reporters that Trump was making a “serious point, and that’s why he said ‘I don’t kid.’” (CBS News / Politico / Axios)
3/ Dr. Deborah Birx told governors that it was vital to increase coronavirus testing to prevent further community spread. “Hopefully I have left you with the impression that increased testing is good,” Birx said on the call. “We would like to even see it even more. Identifying cases early including your asymptomatic [ones] will really help us protect the elderly and the additional people with comorbidities.” (Daily Beast)
4/ The European Union may block Americans travelers from entering because the United States has failed to control the spread of the coronavirus. European nations are currently negotiating over two potential lists of acceptable visitors based on how countries have managed to control the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. has, so far, been deemed too risky. A final decision on who can visit is expected early next week, before the bloc reopens on July 1. (New York Times)
5/ Trump threatened that anyone who vandalizes “any monument, statue or other such federal property” would be arrested and face up to 10 years in prison. Trump’s twitter announcement that he “authorized” the government to arrest vandals comes after he complained about an attempt by demonstrators to remove a statue of Andrew Jackson that sits across from the White House. Trump also suggested that the penalties could be applied “retroactively” to anyone who damaged or pulled down monuments in recent weeks, citing the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, “or such other laws that may be pertinent.” Despite Trump’s assertions, the act doesn’t require his authorization. (NPR / CBS News / The Independent)
- The Secret Service ordered some members of the White House press corps to immediately leave the premises after protesters attempted to topple a statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park. Typically in security situations at the White House, the press is locked down inside the complex. Later, the Secret Service issued a statement that said “four members of the media were misdirected” to leave the White House grounds after the clash between police and protesters. (CNN / The Independent)
6/ The House Judiciary Committee will subpoena Attorney General William Barr to testify about the firing of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman. Chairman Jerry Nadler wants Barr to appear on July 2 to explain why Berman was fired, who had been investigating Rudy Giuliani and other Trump associates. Nadler also asked Berman to testify. Nadler has called on Barr several times in recent weeks to testify before the committee about the Justice Department’s handling of the criminal cases involving former Trump advisers, including Roger Stone and Michael Flynn. (Axios / Politico / NBC News)
7/ The White House admitted that Trump was involved Geoffrey Berman’s firing after Trump initially claimed that he was “not involved” in the process. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump was “involved in the sign-off capacity,” describing Berman’s removal as a simple swap that would allow SEC chairman Jay Clayton to take over the job. Clayton has never been a litigator or prosecutor but has expressed interest in the position at the Southern District of New York. McEnany was unable to explain why Berman was dismissed before Clayton was confirmed by the Senate. (CNN)
- 📌 Day 1250: Attorney General William Barr said Trump fired the federal prosecutor whose office prosecuted several of his associates, including Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani.
8/ A former Roger Stone prosecutor will testify that he and his colleagues were repeatedly pressured to cut Stone “a break” because of his relationship with Trump. Career prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, who withdrew from the Stone case after the Justice Department intervened and recommended a lighter sentence, plans to tell the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that “What I heard – repeatedly – was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the President. I was also told that the acting U.S. Attorney was giving Stone such unprecedentedly favorable treatment because he was ‘afraid of the President.’” (Axios / Politico / New York Times)
9/ Trump’s family requested a temporary restraining order to block the publication of a tell-all book by Trump’s niece. The filing is against Mary Trump and Simon & Schuster, and seeks to stop publication on the grounds that Mary Trump signed a nondisclosure agreement. (New York Times)
- The State Department muted the line of a reporter asking about John Bolton’s book during a briefing highlighting the importance of press freedom. (Politico)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.