👋 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/ Joe Manchin agreed to support the use of budget reconciliation to pass a broader tax and social spending bill. Manchin said he believes a Democratic-only infrastructure bill “can be done,” but hasn’t agreed on how big it will be, adding that it shouldn’t be linked to the separate bipartisan agreement. Manchin’s comments, however, come as the Progressive Caucus told the White House and party leaders that they would withhold their support for the bipartisan infrastructure bill if the bigger, broader tax and social spending package wasn’t passed in tandem. Manchin, meanwhile, urged progressive Democrats to “take the win” on the bipartisan agreement. (The Hill / Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / Business Insider)
2/ Maricopa County will replace all of the voting equipment that was turned over to contractors hired by the Republican-controlled state Senate to conduct its audit of 2020 presidential election results. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors said that because the equipment had been placed “under the control of persons not certified to handle election equipment,” the County would “not use the subpoenaed election equipment in any future election” because it “could pose a risk to free and fair elections.” The potential cost to taxpayers is unknown. The county is currently half way through a $6.1 million lease with Dominion Voting Systems for the equipment. Meanwhile, 49% of Arizona voters say they oppose the recount effort, while 46% support the audit. (Arizona Republic / CNN / The Hill / Politico)
3/ The House will vote to remove statues honoring Confederate and other white supremacist leaders from public display in the Capitol. The legislation would also remove a bust of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that said Black people weren’t entitled to U.S. citizenship. Under the measure, Taney’s bust would be replaced with one of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice. The legislation, however, faces challenges in the evenly divided Senate where it would need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. A similar bill passed the House last year, but didn’t advance in the then Republican-controlled Senate. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / CBS News)
4/ Trump Organization attorneys met with New York prosecutors to argue why Trump’s company should not be criminally charged. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has convened a grand jury and prosecutors have reportedly been considering criminal charges against Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, as well as against the organization as an entity. Trump’s personal lawyer, however, has said that Vance does not currently plan to charge the Trump Organization with crimes related to “hush money” payments or real estate value manipulations. Ronald Fischetti said Vance’s team was considering charges against the Trump Organization and individual employees related to alleged failures to pay taxes on corporate benefits and perks. Weisselberg’s former daughter-in-law, meanwhile, said she is prepared to testify before the grand jury as part of the investigation into Trump’s company. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)
5/ The Justice Department is investigating Rudy Giuliani over possible foreign lobbying for Turkish interests. In 2017, Trump and Giuliani pressured then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to persuade the Justice Department to drop money-laundering charges against Giuliani’s client Reza Zarrab, a Turkey-based, Iranian-born businessman. Giuliani also urged Trump to extradite a Turkish cleric living in exile in the U.S., who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused of inciting a coup. The inquiry is separate from the criminal probe into Giuliani’s activities in Ukraine. (Bloomberg / ABC News)
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