👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
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1/ The Interior Department’s inspector general concluded that U.S. Park Police did not clear the park outside the White House of protesters on June 1, 2020, so Trump could walk to a nearby church for a photo op. Mark Greenblatt instead found that Park Police had the authority to clear the park and surrounding areas so that a contractor could install anti-scale fencing and did not know that Trump would be leaving the White House and crossing Lafayette Park until “mid-to late afternoon” on June 1 – hours after the contractor had arrived to begin installation. Park Police officials said the plan to clear the area was in place before a 2 p.m. meeting that included then-Attorney General William Barr, who “did not mention a potential presidential visit to the park,” according to the report. Barr, however, did urge officials to speed up the clearing process after Trump decided to walk through the area around 6:10 p.m. (NPR / Politico / NBC News / CBS News / ABC News / CNBC / USA Today)
2/ Former White House counsel Don McGahn testified behind closed doors last week about Trump’s attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation. In a transcript of the interview with members of the House Judiciary Committee, McGahn described Trump’s efforts to get him to tell Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Robert Mueller over Trump’s claim that Mueller had a conflict of interest. McGahn refused to go along with Trump’s effort to fire Mueller, believing it could “cause this to spiral out of control.” McGahn also acknowledged that Trump told then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he should resign for having recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation. Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said “McGahn’s testimony gives us a fresh look at how dangerously close President Trump brought us to, in Mr. McGahn’s words, the ‘point of no return.’” (New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post)
3/ The U.S. reportedly lost more than $400 billion to fraudulent unemployment claims over the past year. The bulk of the money – representing as much as 50% of all unemployment money – likely ended in the hands of foreign crime syndicates in China, Nigeria, Russia and elsewhere. (Axios)
4/ The Trump Justice Department continued to pursued a CNN reporter’s records for half a year after a federal judge said the argument for access to internal emails was “speculative” and “unanchored in any facts.” The Trump administration also put CNN general counsel David Vigilante under a gag order prohibiting him from sharing any details about the Justice Department’s effort to obtain two months’ of CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr’s 2017 email logs. The pursuit for Starr’s records began in July 2020 under then-Attorney General William Barr. (CNN)
5/ The Keystone XL oil pipeline project was canceled after Biden revoked a key permit. TC Energy, the Canadian company behind the project, said it terminated the $9 billion project after Canadian officials failed to persuade Biden to reverse his cancellation of the permit. Keystone XL was expected to carry 830,000 barrels per day of Alberta oil sands crude to Nebraska. (NBC News / Associated Press / CNN)
poll/ 75% of respondents from 12 nations said they were confident that Biden would “do the right thing regarding world affairs,” compared with 17% for Trump last year. 62% of respondents said they have a favorable view of the U.S. compared to 34% at the end of Trump’s presidency in 2020. (Pew Research Center / Washington Post)
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