👋 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/ House impeachment managers accused Trump of whipping the crowd in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 “into a frenzy” and then aiming them “like a loaded cannon” at the Capitol. In a memorandum filed ahead of Trump’s second impeachment trial, the House’s nine impeachment managers said Trump was “singularly responsible” for the riot, accusing him of “a betrayal of historic proportions.” They added: “Trump’s responsibility for the events of January 6 is unmistakable” and that his “abuse of office threatened and injured our democratic order” and “his conduct endangered the life of every single member of Congress, jeopardized the peaceful transition of power and line of succession, and compromised our national security.” (Washington Post / NPR / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN / ABC News / CBS News)
2/ Trump’s lawyers denied that he sought to subvert the election results and incite the deadly assault on the Capitol, arguing that the trial is unconstitutional because he is out of office. In a 14-page response to the House’s impeachment charge, Trump’s lawyers argued that Trump did not incite the crowd on Jan. 6 “to engage in destructive behavior” and suggested that case was “substantially flawed” and should be dismissed. Trump’s lawyers also denied that he was “factually in error” when he claimed that he had won the election “in a landslide,” claiming “insufficient evidence exists upon which a reasonable jurist could conclude that the 45th president’s statements were accurate or not, and he therefore denies they were false.” (New York Times / Politico / CNN / ABC News / Bloomberg)
3/ The Biden administration will distribute Covid-19 vaccine doses to retail pharmacies across the nation. Biden’s team said they would begin shipping roughly one million doses per week to about 6,500 pharmacies nationwide as a trial run. White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients also announced that the administration will increase the weekly allocation of vaccines going to states by 5%, bringing the weekly total shipment of vaccines to 10.5 million per week. (Politico / CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
4/ Biden will form a task force to reunite families separated at the southern border under Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, which an administration official called a “moral failing.” Biden will also sign two other executive orders to authorize a review of Trump’s immigration policies that limited asylum and slowed down legal immigration into the U.S. “Trump was so focused on the wall he did nothing to address the root causes of why are people are coming to our southern border — it was a limited, wasteful and naive strategy, and it failed,” a senior administration official said. “People continue to migrate to the United States — even today — because of it. President Biden’s approach is to deal with immigration comprehensively, fairly and humanely.” (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Associated Press / CNN / Wall Street Journal / CBS News)
5/ The Senate confirmed Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security – the first Latino and immigrant to lead DHS. Despite opposition from Senate Republicans, Mayorkas secured enough votes for confirmation, by a 56-43 vote. DHS has not had a Senate-confirmed secretary since April 2019, when Trump ousted Kirstjen Nielsen. (Washington Post / NPR / USA Today / CNN / Associated Press)
6/ Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin dismissed hundreds of members of the Pentagon’s policy advisory boards, including the Trump administration’s last-minute nominees. Austin fired all members serving on DoD’s advisory boards and directed the immediate suspension of all committee operations while the Pentagon completes a “zero-based review” of at least 42 defense advisory committees to be completed by June. Last week, Austin suspended the onboarding process for Trump administration nominees to Pentagon advisory boards. (Wall Street Journal / Politico)
7/ The Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg as Transportation Secretary – the first openly gay Cabinet secretary. Buttigieg was confirmed with bipartisan support by a vote of 86-13. (NPR / USA Today / Washington Post)
8/ Mitch McConnell likened Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s “loony lies and conspiracy theories” to a “cancer” on the Republican Party. While McConnell didn’t mention Greene by name in his three-sentence statement, Greene responded on Twitter, writing “the real cancer for the Republican Party is weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully.” McConnell also released a statement defending Rep. Liz Cheney, who has come under fire for voting to impeach Trump last month. (The Hill / NBC News / CNN / NPR / New York Times)
9/ A post-mortem by Trump’s chief pollster shows that Trump lost the 2020 election largely due to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and voter perception that he wasn’t honest or trustworthy. Trump also lost ground with every age group in the 2020 election, compared to 2016, but he had his “greatest erosion with white voters, particularly white men.” It is unclear if Trump has seen the 27-page report prepared by Tony Fabrizio. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)
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