👋 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 unveiled his $2.25 trillion jobs, infrastructure, and green energy proposal to reshape the U.S. economy. Over the next eight years, the plan would rebuild 20,000 miles of roads, repair 10 of the most economically important bridges in the country, eliminate lead pipes from the nation’s water supply, update and modernize the electric grid, fund the construction of about a half-million electric vehicle charging stations, expand high-speed broadband across the entire country, upgrade and build new schools, and more. The White Houses said the spending would generate millions of new jobs as the country shifts away from fossil fuels and accelerates the fight against climate change. The White House also said the proposal would pay for itself over 15 years by raising the corporate tax rate to 28%, increasing the global minimum tax paid to 21%, ending federal tax breaks for fossil fuel companies, and ramping up tax enforcement. Nancy Pelosi said she wants to have the House pass the package by July 4. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / NPR / Politico / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
2/ The Pentagon reversed Trump-era policies that banned transgender people from serving in the military. The new department policies will “allow transgender people who meet military standards to enlist and serve openly in their self-identified gender, and they will be able to get medically necessary transition-related care authorized by law.” Biden also issued his first presidential proclamation to formally celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility – an international day to commemorate trans lives and accomplishments. Biden said that despite the “hard-fought progress” for transgender and gender non-conforming people to “live openly and authentically,” trans people “still face systemic barriers to freedom and equality,” such as higher rates of violence, harassment and discrimination. (Associated Press / Axios / NPR / NBC News)
3/ Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, behind heart disease and cancer. More than 3.3 million deaths were reported in the U.S. last year, a 15.9% increase from 2019. (CNBC / CNN)
😷 Dept. of “We’re gonna get through this.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~128,558,000; deaths: ~2,810,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~30,448,000; deaths: ~552,000; fully vaccinated: ~15.5%; partially vaccinated: ~29.4%
Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is 100% effective in preventing Covid-19 in children ages 12 to 15. A clinical trial found no symptomatic infections among vaccinated the children, and there were no serious side effects. The data, however, have not yet been reviewed by independent experts. (New York Times / CNBC)
Republicans dismissed the idea of “vaccination passports”, which are designed to ensure that people can safely return to normal activities, such as flights, concerts, and indoor dining. The effort by some Republicans to create doubt about a vaccine passport program is centered on the idea that the federal government will try to control the population. (Washington Post)
4/ The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis reviewing the federal response to Covid-19 obtained documents that show the Trump administration “pursued a haphazard and ineffective approach to procurement” of personal protective equipment and medical supplies at the start of the pandemic. Specifically, Peter Navarro, who served as Trump’s trade adviser, warned Trump on March 1, 2020, to acquire medical supplies and invest in coronavirus tests, and other supplies to fight the virus, according to a memo. After Trump ignored Navarro’s recommendations, he pursued his own strategy to acquire supplies, committing more than $1 billion in federal funds with little oversight, which has since prompted multiple probes by multiple congressional committees. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)
5/ The Biden administration dismissed more than 40 outside experts at the EPA, who were appointed by Trump. EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the decision to oust researchers with The Science Advisory Board and the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee was necessary to “ensure the agency receives the best possible scientific insight.” (Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNBC)
6/ Russian hackers stole thousands of State Department officials’ emails last year. A previously unreported breach revealed that Russians accessed emails in the department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. While it’s unclear whether the hack of State Department emails was part of the SolarWinds espionage campaign, it does not appear that the classified network was accessed. (Politico)
7/ Two Capitol Police officers sued Trump for the physical and emotional injuries they suffered as a result of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. In the lawsuit, James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, accused Trump of inciting the violent mob with baseless claims of voter fraud and that Democrats were “trying to steal” the election. About 140 D.C. and Capitol police officers were injured during attacks, and two officers who had been on duty at the Capitol later died by suicide. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Politico / ABC News)
8/ A federal judge ruled that a non-disclosure agreement that Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign required employees to sign was “invalid and unenforceable.” Jessica Denson, who had worked on Trump’s campaign as a phone bank supervisor and Hispanic outreach coordinator, claimed that she was the target of abusive treatment and sexual harassment. The Trump campaign later won a $50,000 award against Denson for violating the non-disparagement agreement. Denson then sued on behalf of herself and other Trump campaign aides who had been forced to sign confidentiality agreements, asking that they be invalidated as too broad and illegal in New York because they lasted indefinitely. (New York Times / Politico)
9/ Prosecutors working for the Manhattan district attorney subpoenaed the personal bank records of the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer and are scrutinizing gifts he received from Trump. While Allen Weisselberg has not been accused of wrongdoing, the effort appears to be an attempt to gain his cooperation to help prosecutors understand the inner workings of the company. Prosecutors are also examining whether Trump and the company manipulated property values to obtain loans and tax benefits. (New York Times)
10/ The Justice Department is investigating whether Rep. Matt Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and violated federal sex trafficking laws by paying her to travel with him. Attorney General William Barr opened the investigation in the final months of the Trump administration. Trump and several senior Justice Department officials were notified of the investigation. Gaetz called the investigation part of a scheme involving “false sex allegations” to extort his family for $25 million, adding that he and his father, Don Gaetz, have been cooperating with the FBI by “wearing a wire.” Gaetz, meanwhile, has privately told confidants that he’s considering not seeking re-election and possibly leaving Congress early for a job at Newsmax. (New York Times / Politico / Axios)
- The Matt Gaetz allegation, explained. (Washington Post)
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