What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential newsletter. Logging the daily shock and awe in national politics. Read in moderation.
by @matt_kiser

Site updated:
Search Results
Pledge Drive!

Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small donation.
Learn more

Day 126: Street fighters.

1/ Trump’s prepping for a years-long war under the cloud of a special investigation. The White House is “getting street fighters ready to go” with legal, surrogate, communications, and rapid-response teams as part of a “new normal.” With Trump on tour in the Middle East and Europe, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus are at home, putting in place the means to keep his agenda moving ahead and avoid “paralysis.” (Axios / Politico)

2/ Trump chastises “obsolete” NATO about how it’s “not fair” some members don’t pay their share. He lectured 23 of the 28 member for what he called their “chronic underpayments” to the military alliance. The mutual defense pledge requires nations to contribute at least 2% of their GDP. (ABC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ A federal appeals court will not reinstate Trump’s revised travel ban, saying it “drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination.” The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the injunction, saying the executive order violated the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion – In this case singling out Muslims. (New York Times / Politico)

4/ Macron out-Trumps Trump in “fierce” handshake duel. Editor’s note: The descriptions are too good to summarize, so I’m quoting in full:

From the Washington Post: “…the two men shook hands for six long seconds. Their knuckles turned white, their jaws clenched and their faces tightened. Trump reached in first, but then he tried to release, twice, but Macron kept his grip until letting go.” (Washington Post)

From Bloomberg: “Trump’s trick is to go in strong and then hold on just slightly too long, often pulling the other man toward him. Meeting Macron for the first time before a NATO summit in Brussels, Trump went in firm as usual. But this time, it was Trump – not Macron – who tried to back out first. Macron simply wouldn’t let go as Trump tried to pull back once, and then flexed his fingers straight to get out. On the second try, he was able to pull away.” (Bloomberg)

5/ A group of 22 Republican senators are urging Trump to exit the Paris climate deal. They say the provisions in the Clean Air Act and the Paris agreement would create “significant litigation risk,” which puts fully rescinding the Clean Power Plan in danger. (Axios)

6/ Paul Manafort remained in contact and continued to advise the Trump team even after the FBI launched its Russia probe. Manafort called Priebus a week before the inauguration to tell him the dossier by a former British spy that alleged Russia had compromising information on Trump and his associates was “garbage.” Manafort was forced to resign as Trump’s campaign chairman due to his ties to Kremlin-aligned politicians in Europe. (Politico)

  • Russians had discussed how to influence Trump advisors last summer. Specifically, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, who both had close ties to Russia. It’s unclear if Russian officials attempted to influence either. (New York Times)

7/ Sessions was advised not to disclose his meetings with Russian officials when he applied for security clearance. Democratic lawmakers are demanding for Sessions’s resignation. “He’s lied under oath,” Senator Kamala Harris said. “He’s misled on security clearance forms. It’s simple — he should not be the Attorney General.” (New York Times)

8/ Reince Priebus is sweating Comey’s secret memos. Three White House officials said Priebus has expressed worry about a memo involving one of their chats, and how it might play in the press and to investigators. (The Daily Beast)

9/ A Montana GOP House candidate was charged with assault after “body-slamming” a journalist. Greg Gianforte grabbed the reporter by the neck with both hands, slammed him into the ground, and then began punching the reporter. Misdemeanor charges were filed against Gianforte, who was “sick and tired of this!” – ”this” being a question. (The Guardian / Fox News)

10/ A Mar-A-Lago employee is doing work for Trump’s foreign trip. The guest reception manager at Trump’s “Winter White House” is in Italy helping Trump’s logistics team. (BuzzFeed News)

11/ Lieberman withdraws from consideration for FBI Director job. Once considered the front-runner to replace James Comey, he’s formally withdrawn citing the appearance of a conflict of interest now that Trump’s tapped his boss, attorney Marc Kasowitz, as outside counsel in the Russia investigation. (Wall Street Journal / Politico / ABC News)

12/ Trump condemned “leaks of sensitive information” after complaints From Britain. Manchester police said they would no longer share details of the investigation with the US after crime-scene photos and suspected bomber’s name were leaked to American media. (New York Times / Washington Post)

poll/ 40% approve of Trump job performance, with 53% disapproving. Pence, meanwhile, clocks in at a 42% approval to 43% disapproval rating. (The Hill)

Day 125: A madman with nukes.

1/ Trump called Kim Jong Un a “madman with nuclear weapons,” days before stating publicly that he would be “honored” to meet with Kim. In an April 29 call with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Trump asked for his input on whether Kim is “stable or not stable.” Duterte has been accused of presiding over the extrajudicial killing of thousands of drug dealers and users. (Washington Post)

2/ The US has two nuclear submarines off the coast of North Korea, Trump told Duterte during last month’s call. He revealed that “we have a lot of firepower over there. We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all.” (New York Times)

3/ The Pentagon is in shock that Trump told Duterte about the submarines. The Pentagon never talks about the location of submarines on the belief that stealth is key to their mission. (BuzzFeed News)

4/ Trump congratulated Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job” in his war on drugs, where the government has allowed extrajudicial killing for drug dealers and users. “You are a good man,” Trump told Duterte. “Keep up the good work.” The State Department’s human rights report calls the Philippines “disregard for human rights and due process” one of the “most significant human rights problems.” (The Intercept / Politico)

5/ Pope Francis urged Trump to meet US commitments on climate change. He gave Trump copy of his 2015 encyclical (a type of papal document used for significant or important issues) calling for urgent, drastic cuts in fossil-fuel emissions. Trump has called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. (Bloomberg)

6/ Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance. Sessions met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least twice last year, but didn’t failed to note those interactions on the security clearance form. (CNN)

7/ The House Intelligence Committee will subpoena Michael Flynn after he declined to appear before the panel. Flynn already rejected requests from the Senate Intelligence Committee for a list of his contacts with Russian officials, invoking his Fifth Amendments rights against self-incrimination. (Reuters / Associated Press / Politico)

  • Flynn hit with two Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenas and risks being held in contempt of Congress if he doesn’t comply. (ABC News)

8/ Trump lawyers up and retains Marc Kasowitz for the Russia investigation. Related, former Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman joined Kasowitz’ law firm in 2013 and was Trump’s top choice for the FBI director job. The administration hit the reset button on the search today, wanting to see a broader list of candidates. (NBC News / CNN)

9/ Trump’s hotels are failing to track payments received from foreign governments despite his promise to donate all profits back to the Treasury. A Trump Organization policy suggests that it is up to foreign governments, not Trump hotels, to determine whether they self-report their business. (NBC News)

10/ The House health care bill would leave 23 million more uninsured by 2026, the Congressional Budget Office projected. If passed, 14 million people would lose insurance next year and would make coverage less comprehensive than it is now for those still insured. The Senate has already said it will make substantial changes to the measure passed by the House. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg)

11/ Mitch McConnell on Obamacare: “I don’t know how we get to 50 (votes).” The Senate Majority Leader has not asked the White House for input on the legislation being crafted to dismantle Obamacare. McConnell has promised to undo Obamacare “root and branch,” but Congress and the White House have struggled to come up with a consensus plan despite controlling both branches of government. (Reuters)

12/ Ben Carson called poverty “a state of mind.” He said he believes that government can provide a “helping hand” for people to climb out of poverty, but warned against programs that are “sustaining them in a position of poverty.” (Washington Post)

13/ Democrats flipped seats in two districts that voted for Trump. The new legislature seats in New York and New Hampshire won’t change the balance of power, but may signal a change in the country’s political climate. (HuffPost)

Poll/ 65% of voters believe there is a lot of fake news in the mainstream media. 84% of voters said it’s hard to know what news to believe online. (Editor’s Suggestion: Get the fuck off Facebook.) (The Hill)