👋 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/ Biden will ask all Americans to wear masks for 100 days after he is inaugurated, saying “Just 100 days to mask, not forever. One hundred days.” Biden also asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to stay on as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – the same position he has held since 1984 across six administrations. Fauci called Biden’s proposal a “good idea.” The CDC, meanwhile, now recommends “universal mask use” outside people’s homes as part of its updated coronavirus guidance. (CNN / Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / Axios / NPR)
😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~65,687,000; deaths: ~1,515,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~14,298,000; deaths: ~279,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
2/ The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November on a seasonally adjusted basis as the unemployment rate fell to 6.7%, from 6.9% in October. The economy has brought back 12.3 million of the 22 million jobs lost in the first two months of the coronavirus pandemic, but there are still 10.7 million unemployed Americans, compared with 5.8 million in February. Hiring is now so slow that it could take another 40 months for the job market to fully recover from the pandemic. Biden, meanwhile, said the “grim” jobs report shows the economic recovery is stalling and warned of a “dark winter” ahead unless Congress passes a coronavirus relief bill immediately. (CNN / New York Times / CNBC / NPR / Reuters / The Guardian)
3/ Trump could preemptively pardon as many as 20 aides and associates before leaving office. Republicans, however, say offering legal reprieves to his friends and family members would be unprecedented, could tarnish, his legacy, and harm a 2024 campaign. (Politico)
4/ The Justice Department investigated Jared Kushner’s lawyer and a top Trump fundraiser over a possible scheme to offer bribes in exchange for clemency for a tax crimes convict. Unsealed, but heavily redacted court documents, disclosed that Abbe Lowell and Elliott Broidy were the subject of an investigation as recently as this summer into possible unregistered lobbying and bribery related to securing clemency for Hugh Baras, who had received a 30-month prison sentence on a conviction of tax evasion and improperly claiming Social Security benefits. The scheme involved Sanford Diller, a real estate developer, making a “substantial” political contribution in exchange for a pardon for Baras. However, Diller died in 2018 and Baras never received clemency. Broidy, meanwhile, pleaded guilty in October to a different scheme to lobby the Trump administration. (New York Times / NBC News)
5/ Trump’s campaign and its related committees spent more than $1.1 million at Trump’s own properties in the last weeks of his losing 2020 campaign. The Trump Victory fundraising committee, which is managed by Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee, spent $1.06 million at Trump properties in September, October, and November. And, Trump’s own campaign reported spending another $66,000. (Washington Post)
6/ The White House fired several members of the Pentagon’s Defense Business Board. Loyalists Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie were then appointed to the board. The firings come less than a month after Trump removed Defense Secretary Mark Esper. (Politico / Washington Post)
8/ The House voted to remove marijuana from the federal schedule of controlled substances, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level. The legislation, however, is almost certainly doomed in the Republican-led Senate. (Washington Post / Axios / CNN / New York Times)
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