👋 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 released a $1.9 trillion economic and health care rescue package to deliver direct aid to families, businesses, and communities, and provide money for testing and vaccine distribution. The emergency relief plan includes $400 billion for fighting the coronavirus, more than $1 trillion in direct relief to families, including direct payments of $1,400 to most Americans, and $440 billion for aid to communities and businesses. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, and help advance his plans to reopen most schools by the spring. (Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press / CNBC / CNN / Wall Street Journal)
😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~92,851,000; deaths: ~1,989,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~23,254,000; deaths: ~388,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
2/ Biden urged the Senate to balance the impeachment trial of Trump with the “other urgent business of this nation.” The Senate won’t return until Jan. 19 – the day before Biden’s inauguration – which means Trump’s trial will create a logistical challenge, and risks delaying confirmation of Biden’s cabinet nominees and legislative initiatives. All 100 senators must consent to allow the chamber to confirm Biden’s Cabinet and pass his legislative agenda on one track, and begin Trump’s trial for “incitement of insurrection” on another. Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, hasn’t detailed her schedule for transmitting the single article of impeachment to the Senate. (CNN / Bloomberg / Politico / NPR / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal / CBS News / Washington Post)
3/ Trump is reportedly in “self-pity mode” after becoming the only U.S. president to be impeached twice. According to White House advisers and people close to him, Trump and has become “increasingly isolated, sullen, and vengeful” after being left to fend for himself at the White House as impeachment quickly gained steam. Trump has also instructed aides not to pay Rudy Giuliani’s legal fees, demanding that he personally approve any reimbursements for the expenses Giuliani incurred while traveling on his behalf to challenge election results. Trump has apparently expressed concern with some of Giuliani’s decisions. The lawyers who defended Trump in his previous impeachment trial, including Jay Sekulow and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, have declined to defend him during the second impeachment trial. (Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg)
4/ Trump issued an appeal for nonviolence after the House voted to impeach him for “incitement of insurrection,” saying he “unequivocally” condemned the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump released the five-minute video following heavy pressure from his advisers. He offered no humility, regret, or self-reflection, failed to mention the election, and did not concede that Biden won a free and fair election. The video was released through the White House Twitter account, because his personal account was permanently suspended on fears it could incite further violence. Trump alluded to the ban, saying there had been an “unprecedented assault on free speech.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNBC)
5/ Democratic lawmakers accused Republican colleagues of leading groups on “reconnaissance” tours of the Capitol the day before Trump supporters stormed the building. Rep. Mikie Sherrill said she saw “members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 for reconnaissance for the next day.” At least one protest organizer said he coordinated with three House Republicans and Capitol Police officers said they wouldn’t be surprised if some lawmakers helped organize the attack. Meanwhile, at least 31 members of Congress demanded that the acting House Sergeant of Arms, acting Senate Sergeant of Arms, and Acting Chief of the Capitol Police investigate what they described as an “extremely high number of outside groups” let into the building on Jan. 5 at a time when most tours were restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic. The letter says the tours were “unusual” and “concerning” and were reported to the Sergeant at Arms on Jan. 5, adding that the groups “could only have gained access to the Capitol Complex from a Member of Congress or a member of their staff.” Dozens of people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list were in Washington D.C. on the day of the Capitol insurrection – the majority suspected white supremacists whose past conduct was so alarming that their names had been previously added to the national Terrorist Screening Database. (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Politico /BuzzFeed News / NBC News / CNN)
- Several Republican members of Congress complained about or circumvented metal detectors put in place after the deadly riot at the Capitol. The new safety measures to enter the House floor included metal detectors and physical pat-downs in some instances. (NPR / NBC News)
The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy was pushed by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, despite warnings that the government wasn’t prepared to deal with the consequences, according to a report from the Justice Department’s inspector general. The report concludes that top Justice Department officials were the “driving force” behind the 2018 decision to separate families and refer parents for prosecution. (NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / BuzzFeed News)
The D.C. Attorney General’s office notified Trump Jr. that it wants to interview him as part of a lawsuit alleging that Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee improperly funneled money to his business. In January 2020, the D.C. Attorney General’s office sued the Trump Organization and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, alleging that they wasted more than $1 million raised by the nonprofit by “grossly overpaying” to use the Trump Hotel in Washington for the 2017 inauguration. (Washington Post / CNN)
U.S. taxpayers spent $3,000 a month – more than $100,000 to date – to rent an apartment so Secret Service agents for Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner could use the bathroom while standing guard in front of their Washignton home. Agents were instructed to not use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house. (Washington Post)
2020 was the second-hottest year in recorded history and the last decade was hotter on average than any time in at least 2,000 years. The last seven years have been the warmest since measurement began in the 19th century. (NBC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post)
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