👋 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 announced executive actions to address what he called an “epidemic” of gun violence. Biden also pressed Congress to close background check loopholes, ban assault weapons, and strip gun manufacturers of liability protections, saying “much more needs to be done.” Biden said he asked the Justice Department to identify “immediate, concrete actions” he could take unilaterally. The Justice Department will also issue a proposed rule to curb so-called ghost guns and publish model “red flag” laws for states to use as guides. “We’ve got a long way to go, it seems like we always have a long way to go,” Biden said. “Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment.” (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / New York Times)
2/ More than 18,800 unaccompanied children crossed the southern border in March. The previous one-month high for unaccompanied minors arriving at the border was 11,861 – set in May 2019. U.S. authorities apprehended more than 172,000 migrants at the border in March – a 15-year high in monthly crossings. Of those, more than 100,000 were almost immediately expelled. (Politico / Washington Post)
3/ The Biden administration is spending at least $60 million per week to care for unaccompanied migrant teenagers and children in shelters operated by the Department of Health and Human Services. The cost of emergency shelter sites is more than 2.5 times higher than permanent shelters “due to the need to develop facilities quickly and hire significant staff over a short period of time,” a spokesman for HHS’s Administration for Children and Families said, adding that the average daily cost per child is “approximately $775 per day based on past experience.” (Washington Post)
4/ Justice Department lawyers still cannot find the parents of 445 children separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border by the Trump administration. The parents of 61 separated migrant children have been located since February. (New York Times)
5/ Joe Manchin will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster under any circumstances and suggested that he would also be opposed to using budget reconciliation process to push major aspects of Biden’s agenda through Congress. “The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation,” Manchin wrote in an op-ed. As a result, 10 Republicans would be needed to join all Democrats in the 50-50 Senate to pass major pieces of legislation. (CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)
6/ Investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office seized financial records from the former daughter-in-law of the Trump Organization’s Chief Financial Officer. Jennifer Weisselberg was married to Barry Weisselberg — the son of Allen Weisselberg — from 2004 to 2018. District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office took possession of three boxes and a laptop as part of a grand jury subpoena. Jennifer Weisselberg turned over all records she possessed of her ex-husband’s bank accounts and credit cards, plus his statements of net worth and tax filings. Separately, the Trump Organization hired an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent it in the Manhattan prosecutors’ investigation into possible bank, tax or insurance fraud by the Trump and the Trump Organization. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)
7/ One of Matt Gaetz’s associates, who faces a sex trafficking charge, is expected to plead guilty and will likely cooperate with federal prosecutors. Investigators are looking into a Bahamas trip Gaetz allegedly took in late 2018 or early 2019 and whether he violated sex trafficking or prostitution laws. Joel Greenberg’s possible cooperation with the Justice Department could provide investigators with key details. Specifically, investigators are trying to determine if the escorts were illegally trafficked across state or international lines for the purpose of sex with Gaetz. Greenberg introduced Gaetz to women he found through websites that connect people who are willing to go on dates in exchange for gifts and allowances, which feature women looking for “sugar daddy” relationships with wealthy men. Greenberg’s lawyer, Fritz Scheller, said his client was “uniquely situated” to help prosecutors and was seeking a deal “with the least exposure possible.” Scheller added: “I’m sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.” (New York Times / CBS News / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / NBC News)
- Matt Gaetz privately asked the White House for blanket pre-emptive pardons from Trump for himself and unidentified congressional allies for any crimes they may have committed. The request came in the final weeks of Trump’s term when Gaetz was already under investigation over whether he violated sex trafficking laws. Trump, meanwhile, said Gaetz “has never asked me for a pardon.” (New York Times / Politico)
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