👋 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 Biden administration imposed sanctions on Russia for alleged interference in the 2020 presidential election, the cyberattack against U.S. government and corporate networks, the illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea, and human rights abuses. The administration sanctioned six Russian technology companies that supported hacking operations run by Russia’s intelligence services and expelled 10 intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover in the U.S. The White House formally said the Russian intelligence service SVR was responsible for the hacking operation known as SolarWinds. The Treasury Department also sanctioned 32 entities and individuals for “carrying out Russian government-directed attempts to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election, and other acts of disinformation and interference,” as well as eight individuals and entities associated with Russia’s actions in Crimea. The White House said the sanctions were intended “to impose costs on Russia for actions by its government and intelligence services against U.S. sovereignty and interests.” (Politico / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC)
2/ Paul Manafort’s associate and former employee “provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy” during the 2016 election, according to the Treasury Department. Konstantin Kilimnik was one of 16 people sanctioned for attempting to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election at the direction of the Kremlin. Kilimnik also “sought to promote the narrative that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” the Treasury Department statement read. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on 2016 Russian election interference assessed that Kilimnik was a Russian intelligence officer, who worked with Manafort as a lobbyist for the pro-Russia president of Ukraine. Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager. (CNBC / Just Security / Axios / Washington Post)
3/ The House Judiciary Committee voted to recommend the creation of a commission to study the issue of paying reparations to the descendants of slaves in the U.S. The commission would also consider a “national apology” for the harm caused by slavery. It’s the first time the committee has acted on the decades-long effort to advance the measure to the full House. Neither chamber of Congress, however, has committed to a floor vote. (NBC News / New York Times / USA Today / CBS News)
4/ The House Committee on Oversight and Reform advanced legislation to make D.C. the 51st state. The full House is expected to pass the Washington, D.C. Admission Act – possibly as soon as next week – for the second consecutive year. The bill, however, is likely to face significant hurdles in the Senate where it needs the support of 60 senators to advance. (Washington Post)
5/ Democrats introduced legislation to expand the Supreme Court from nine justices to 13. “The court is broken, and make no mistake about it,” Sen. Edward Markey said. “The court is broken because Sen. Mitch McConnell, his Senate Republican colleagues, and Donald Trump broke it.” Nancy Pelosi, however, said she has “no plans to bring it to the floor,” adding that she supports Biden’s recent move to create a commission to study possible expansion of the Supreme Court. (NBC News / Politico / CBS News / CNN / ABC News)
6/ Biden reportedly hasn’t raised the Trump-era refugee cap because of political optics. One Democratic aide said Biden has not yet signed off on the refugee program because he wants to preserve his options. White House press secretary Jen Psaki, meanwhile, said Biden was committed to raising the refugee ceiling, but refused to provide a timeline. In February, Biden’s State Department said it planned to expand the Trump cap – set at 15,000 refugees – to up to 62,500. As of March 31, only 2,050 refugees had been allowed to resettle in the U.S, putting the Biden administration on track to accept the fewest number of refugees this year of any modern president – including Trump. (CNN)
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