What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential newsletter. Logging the daily shock and awe in national politics. Read in moderation.
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Day 184: Complete power.

1/ Trump lost his shit on Twitter today. In a two hour rant he asserted his "complete power" to pardon himself, decried "illegal leaks," blamed Hillary, defended Trump Jr. and his new communications director, called Democrats obstructionist, and declared Obamacare dead. (The Daily Beast / ABC News / Washington Post / New York Magazine)

  • Legal experts doubt Trump could pardon himself in the Russia inquiry. The constitution does not weigh in explicitly on the issue and there is no direct precedent. No president has ever attempted to self-pardon. (The Guardian)

2/ Jeff Sessions discussed the Trump campaign with the Russian ambassador while serving as Trump's foreign policy adviser. US intelligence intercepts show Sessions and Sergey Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues, prospects for US-Russia relations in a Trump administration, and other policy issues important to Moscow. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak, but later said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign. (Washington Post)

  • Senator Chuck Grassley called on the anonymous leaker to release the alleged Sessions-Russia conversations. "LEAKER: stop tease/leak entire conversation/end speculation," Grassley tweeted. (The Hill)

3/ Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump filed new financial disclosures revealing they could be worth more than $762 million. In his 39th revised filing, Kushner "inadvertently omitted" 77 items from his first form. Ivanka Trump, for the first time, filed documents disclosing the couple's art collection (valued at up to $25 million) and that she's been paid as much as $5 million from her outside businesses between January 1st and when she entered the White House on March 8th. (CNN / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

4/ Key provisions in the Republican health care bill don't comply with the Senate’s budget rules. The so-called “Byrd Rule” makes sure policies passed under “budget reconciliation” — which allows legislation to advance with only 51 votes instead of the usual 60 needed to get past a filibuster — either decrease federal spending or increase revenue. The 52 Senate Republicans will now need to vote to preserve each provision flagged by the Senate Budget Committee for violating the Byrd rule. (Politico / Vox)

5/ The House and Senate reached a Russia sanctions deal. The legislation will give Congress the ability to block Trump from easing sanctions on Moscow. The bill includes new sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. The bill is set for a vote Tuesday. (CNN / Washington Post / ABC News)

6/ The new White House communications director praised Breitbart News, saying they've "captured the spirit of what's actually going on in the country." Anthony Scaramucci said he wants to get Trump's unfiltered message to his supporters via Twitter, bypassing mainstream media Trump often calls "fake news," while hoping to de-escalate "unfairness and bias in the media." (Politico)

7/ The Director of National Intelligence said no US intelligence agencies dispute Russian election meddling, pushing back on Trump’s claim there was a misunderstanding between the agencies. “There is no dissent, and I have stated that publicly and I have stated that to the president,” Dan Coats said. Trump had previously claimed that only “three or four” agencies came to the conclusion that Russia meddled in the election. (The Hill)

Day 183: Pardon power.

1/ Trump’s lawyers are discussing his authority to grant pardons to aides, family members, and himself in connection with the Russia probe. Because no president has ever pardoned himself, there is no precedent, which leaves the question open: can a president use their constitutional power to pardon themselves? The power to pardon is granted in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, which gives the president the power to “grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” (Washington Post)

2/ Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to stymie Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. They're scouring the professional and political backgrounds of investigators hired by the special counsel, looking for conflicts of interest they could use to discredit the investigation or force members of the team to recuse themselves – and possibly build a case to fire Mueller. Trump has been particularly upset that Mueller could access his personal tax returns, which he has repeatedly declined to release to the public. (New York Times / The Hill)

3/ Trump tapped Anthony Scaramucci to be the new White House communications director, a wealthy Wall Street financier, schmoozer, and fixture on the global financial scene. Trump sees Scaramucci as a strong defender of him on television and wants him to focus on the surrogate strategy as communications director. Scaramucci supported Trump's campaign, dealing with fundraising and appearing on cable TV as a frequent defender of the president. The role has been open since Mike Dubke resigned in May. (Axios / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico)

  • Scaramucci once called Trump a "hack politician" and said his rhetoric was "anti-American." In August 2015, then-candidate Trump railed against “hedge-fund guys paying nothing” in taxes. Scaramucci shot back, calling him “another hack politician,” whose remarks “anti-American and divisive.” (Time)

4/ Sean Spicer resigned as the White House Press Secretary, telling Trump he "vehemently disagreed" with the appointment of New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director. After offering the job to Scaramucci, Trump asked Spicer to stay on. Spicer declined, telling Trump he believed the appointment was a major mistake. Spicer was largely left in the dark, unaware of Trump's intention to hire Scaramucci until this morning, as were Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, both of whom fiercely opposed Scaramucci's hire. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump encouraged the move. Sarah Huckabee Sanders was named White House press secretary. (New York Times / CNN / ABC News / Politico)

5/ Robert Mueller asked White House staff to preserve all documents relating to Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer. The notice, called a document preservation request, asked White House staff to save any text messages, emails, notes, voicemails, and other communications and documentation from the June 2016 meeting. (CNN)

6/ The Russian lawyer Trump Jr. met with had Russian intelligence connections. Natalia Veselnitskaya had previously represented Russia’s top spy agency, the Federal Security Service, in a land dispute in Moscow. There is no information that Veselnitskaya is an intelligence agent or an employee of the Russian government. (Washington Post)

7/ Russia's foreign minister suggested Trump may have had more meetings with Putin at the G-20 summit. Sergey Lavrov shrugged off the importance of the encounters, dismissing speculation about the leaders' meetings, and joking that "maybe they went to the toilet together." Trump and Putin met three times at the summit. (NBC News)

8/ Susan Rice privately met with the Senate intelligence committee as part of the committee's investigation into Russia meddling in the election. Rice, who served as Obama's national security adviser, is under scrutiny from House Republicans because they believe she improperly "unmasked" the identities of Trump associates in US intelligence reports. (CNN)

9/ Trump reshuffled his legal team. Marc Kasowitz, Trump's longtime personal attorney who has been the lead lawyer on the Russia investigation, will step aside as the role requires Washington-centric expertise. John Dowd and Jay Sekulow will now be Trump's primary personal attorneys for the investigation, with Dowd in the lead. From inside the White House, Ty Cobb will take the lead on the investigation from a legal and communications perspective. (CNN)

10/ The spokesman for Trump’s legal team resigned two months after starting. Mark Corallo said the dynamics in the White House were untenable and that there was "too much fighting all the time." He had grown frustrated with the operation and was concerned about whether he was being told the truth about various matters. (Politico)

poll/ 57% of all Americans say Trump Jr. shouldn't have taken the meeting with the Russian lawyer. 83% of Democrats say the group should not have taken the meeting, while 48% of Republicans say they should have. (CNN)

poll/ Trump averaged a 38.8% job approval during his second quarter in office. No other president has had a worse second-quarter average. The historical average second-quarter rating is 62%. (Gallup)