👋 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 Justice Department filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia, alleging that the restrictions from its new voting law purposefully discriminate against Black Americans. Georgia’s Election Integrity Act, which was passed the Republican-led state legislature on a party-line vote and signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in late March, changed how voters can cast their votes, imposed new limits on the use of absentee ballots, made it a crime for outside groups to provide food and water to voters waiting at polling stations, and handed greater control over election administration to the state legislature. “Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia’s election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section Two of the Voting Rights Act,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said. Kristen Clarke, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said several of the law’s provisions “were passed with a discriminatory purpose” that would disproportionately “push more Black voters to in-person voting where they will be more likely than white voters to confront long lines.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal / ABC News)
2/ Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 years and six months in prison for murdering George Floyd. Chauvin was convicted in April on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He faced up to four decades in prison – prosecutors had asked for 30 years – and could get out on parole after serving two-thirds of his sentence, or about 15 years. Judge Peter Cahill went beyond the 12 1/2-year sentence prescribed under state guidelines, citing “your abuse of a position of trust and authority and also the particular cruelty” shown to Floyd. Separately, Chauvin and the three other former officers present for Floyd’s murder are also facing federal civil rights charges. (Associated Press / NPR / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / Wall Street Journal)
3/ The bipartisan infrastructure deal is now in jeopardy after Republicans complained they were “blindsided by Biden’s efforts to simultaneously pursue both the bipartisan deal and a package of Democratic priorities that can pass via reconciliation without GOP support. Yesterday – when Biden announced the bipartisan infrastructure deal – he said that if this “is the only one that comes to me, I’m not signing it,” adding that the deal is contingent upon it passing “in tandem” with a broader package of priorities. Several of the 11 Republicans who signed off on the bipartisan deal were described as “stunned,” “floored,” and “frustrated” that Biden later put conditions on accepting their deal, privately warning that they could walk away and torpedo the $1.2 trillion deal. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said senators shouldn’t be surprised by the two-track strategy, saying “That hasn’t been a secret, [Biden] hasn’t said it quietly, he hasn’t even whispered it.” Sen. Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, claimed that Biden duped the GOP senators who negotiated the deal, saying “most Republicans could not have known” about the two-track strategy. “There’s no way. You look like a fucking idiot now.” (Politico / Associated Press / The Hill / CNN / Business Insider)
4/ The Manhattan district attorney’s office informed Trump’s lawyers that it is considering criminal charges against the Trump Organization. Cyrus Vance Jr. could announce charges against the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, as soon as next week in connection with fringe benefits Weisselberg received from the company. Investigators have also been probing Matthew Calamari – Trump’s Trump bodyguard who’s now the company’s chief operating officer – over whether he received tax-free fringe benefits from the company. It would be unusual to indict a company only for failing to pay taxes on fringe benefits. (New York Times / NBC News)
5/ Nearly all Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. now are among people who weren’t vaccinated. About 63% of eligible Americans 12 and older have received at least one dose, and 53% are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. “Breakthrough” infections in fully vaccinated people accounted for fewer than 1,200 of more than 853,000 Covid-19 hospitalizations – about 0.1%. (Associated Press)
6/ The House voted to repeal a Trump-era rule that rolled back regulations of methane emissions from oil and gas industries. The final vote was 229-191 and now heads to Biden’s desk for his signature. The Senate passed the resolution at the end of April under the Congressional Review Act. (CNN / Washington Post)
poll/ 41% of Americans ages 18-34 have a positive view of socialism – up from 39% in 2019. 49% of Americans ages 18-34, meanwhile, have a positive view of capitalism – down from 58% in 2019. (Axios)
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