👋 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/ The United States officially returned to the Paris climate accord, four years after the Trump administration abandoned the global climate pact. “This is a global existential crisis,” Biden said. “We can no longer delay or do the bare minimum to address climate change.” Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. would reduce its emissions by about 25% by 2025. The country, however, is only on track to achieve about a 17% reduction and Biden has promised to chart a path toward net-zero U.S. emissions by 2050. “We know that just doing Paris is not enough,” John Kerry said, Biden’s special envoy for climate. “We feel an obligation to work overtime to try to make up the difference. We have a lot to do.” (Associated Press / NBC News / NPR / CNN / Bloomberg / The Guardian / Reuters)
2/ Biden affirmed that the United States is “fully committed” to NATO but warned global leaders that “democratic progress is under assault” and the world faces an “inflection point” that could result in a tilt toward autocracy. Without mentioning Trump, Biden said “I know the past few years have strained and tested our transatlantic relationship,” but the U.S. is “determined to reengage with Europe, to consult with you, to earn back our position of trusted leadership.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / NBC News / Bloomberg)
- The Biden administration said it was ready to restore the Iran nuclear deal that the Trump administration abandoned, offering to hold talks with other world powers and Iran to discuss Tehran’s nuclear program. (NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg)
3/ Biden privately told a group of mayors and governors that the $15-an-hour minimum wage hike was unlikely to be in the final Covid-19 relief bill. “I really want this in there but it just doesn’t look like we can do it because of reconciliation,” Biden told the group. House Democrats, meanwhile, released the full text of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, which includes an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, $1,400 direct checks for Americans making $75,000 or less, an extension of $400 federal unemployment benefits, and money for small businesses. (Politico / CNN)
4/ The Manhattan district attorney’s office enlisted an expert on white-collar crime to investigate Trump and the Trump Organization. District Attorney Cyrus Vance is investigating possible tax and bank-related fraud, including whether the Trump Organization inflated the value of its properties to obtain loans and tax benefits. Mark Pomerantz will serve as a special assistant district attorney and work exclusively on the Trump investigation. (New York Times)
- A venture capitalist who donated nearly $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Imaad Zuberi pleaded guilty to tax evasion for filing false foreign agent registration records and providing illegal campaign contributions while lobbying high-level U.S. officials. Zuberi funneled from foreign entities over five years between 2012 and 2016, including a $900,000 contribution to the Trump inaugural committee in December 2016. Zuberi was also fined $1.75 million and ordered to pay $15.7 million in restitution. (NBC News)
5/ The U.S. Capitol Police suspended six officers with pay for their actions during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Another 29 are under investigation. Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman “has directed that any member of her department whose behavior is not in keeping with the Department’s Rules of Conduct will face appropriate discipline.” The Justice Department, meanwhile, charged six people suspected of being members of the Oath Keepers, alleging that they “did knowingly combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and others known and unknown” to force entry to the Capitol and obstruct Congress from certifying the election results. (CNN / NBC News / CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times)
poll/ 56% of Americans are dissatisfied with U.S. gun laws and policy – the ninth consecutive year of dissatisfaction. (Gallup)
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