50 episodes

Your essential guide to the daily shock and awe in national politics.

WTF Just Happened Today Matt Kiser

    • News
    • 4.9 • 421 Ratings

Your essential guide to the daily shock and awe in national politics.

    Day 610: "Numerous acts of fraud."

    Day 610: "Numerous acts of fraud."

    1/ New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump, Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and executives at the Trump Organization. In the more than 200-page lawsuit, James alleges that the Trumps enriched themselves through “numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentations” for more than a decade by “grossly” inflating Trump’s net worth by billions of dollars and deceiving lenders, insurers, and tax authorities with false and misleading financial statements. “For too long, powerful, wealthy people in this country have operated as if the rules do not apply to them,” James said in a statement. “Donald Trump stands out as among the most egregious examples of this misconduct. With the help of his children and senior executives at the Trump Organization, Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and cheat the system.” The civil lawsuit seeks to permanently bar the Trumps from ever running a business in the state again and about $250 million in penalties. In addition, James said she believes Trump and his family business violated several state criminal laws and “plausibly” broke federal criminal laws as well. Her office has referred the matter to federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the IRS. “The pattern of fraud that was used by Mr. Trump and the Trump organization was astounding,” James added. (New York Times/ CNN / Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / NPR / Axios / Bloomberg / ABC News)

    2/ The special master tasked with reviewing documents seized from Mar-a-Lago repeatedly challenged Trump’s lawyers refusal to offer proof that Trump had declassified any of the 100 documents that the FBI recovered from his estate. At the first hearing in the matter, U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie said the Justice Department had presented evidence that several of the documents were classified – noting they are marked as such – and asked James Trusty, one of Trump’s attorneys, to explain why he should question the government’s determination. Trusty, however, repeatedly refused to disclose whether Trump had declassified any of the documents he brought to Mar-a-Lago. At one point, Dearie said that if Trump’s attorneys didn’t directly dispute the government’s argument that the documents are classified, “As far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of it.” Trusty then called it “premature” for Dearie to consider that issue right now, to which Dearie responded: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Trump has implied that the 11,000 documents taken from Mar-a-Lago by the FBI were declassified, including the 100 bearing classification markings that suggest they contain highly sensitive national security-related intelligence. ...

    • 6 min
    Day 609: "A brazen scheme of staggering proportions."

    Day 609: "A brazen scheme of staggering proportions."

    1/ A Texas sheriff opened a criminal investigation into Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to fly 48 Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said the migrants appeared to have been “lured under false pretenses” into staying at a hotel before they were flown to Florida and later Martha’s Vineyard, where they were “left to fend for themselves.” DeSantis, meanwhile, defended his decision, saying outrage over the flights was misplaced because everyone had “signed consent forms.” (CNN / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

    2/ The U.S. arrested more than 2 million undocumented immigrants along the southwestern border in the past 11 months. It’s the first time that immigration arrests have topped 2 million, exceeding last year’s record of more than 1.7 million. In August, the number of undocumented immigrants from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras dropped 43% from last August, while the number of Cubans, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans rose 175%. Many of the migrants are seeking asylum, which was significantly restricted during the Trump administration. (New York Times / Washington Post)

    3/ The Justice Department charged 47 defendants with stealing $240 million from a federal program that provided food for needy children during the pandemic – the largest Covid-19-related fraud to date. “This was a brazen scheme of staggering proportions,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said in a statement. Federal prosecutors said a network of individuals and organizations tied to Feeding Our Future, a Minnesota-based nonprofit, “exploited a program” designed to provide meals for underserved children and that the defendants “prioritized their own greed” by purchasing “luxury cars, houses, jewelry, and coastal resort property abroad.” More than 125 million fake meals are at issue. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Washington Post)

    4/ Newly obtained surveillance video shows Trump allies and contractors working on his behalf copying sensitive software and data from voting equipment in a Georgia county elections office on Jan. 7, 2021. The group of forensics experts from SullivanStrickler spent eight hours inside the Coffee County elections office examining electronic “poll pads,” which contain voter data and are used to check in voters at polling locations. SullivanStrickler was hired by Sidney Powell, a conspiracy theorist and Trump’s former lawyer. Among those seen in the footage is former Georgia Republican Party official Cathy Latham, who is under criminal investigation for posing as a fa...

    • 6 min
    Day 608: "The pandemic is over?"

    Day 608: "The pandemic is over?"

    1/ Biden said he believes “the pandemic is over” despite the U.S. recording more than 2 million Covid-19 cases and more than 12,000 deaths in the last 28 days. The declaration was an apparent off-the-cuff remark and not part of Biden’s planned remarks, and come as his administration seeks an additional $22.4 billion from Congress for coronavirus vaccines, tests, and treatments. Biden, however, acknowledged that the U.S. still has a “problem” with the coronavirus that has killed more than 1 million Americans. Further, the federal government still designates Covid-19 a Public Health Emergency, and the WHO says it remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. “We are not there yet but the end is in sight,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO. “We can see the finish line, but now is the worst time to stop running.” (Politico / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / NPR / Wall Street Journal)

    2/ Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin restricted the rights of transgender students in the state’s schools, issuing new “Model Policies” that roll back the work of Youngkin’s predecessor, Democrat Ralph Northam. The new guidelines will require transgender students to access school facilities and programs matching the sex they were assigned at birth and mandates that students who are minors must be referred to by the name and pronouns in their official records, unless a parent approves the use of something else. Further, school personnel won’t be required to refer to a student “in any manner” that would run counter to their personal or religious beliefs. The new rules will effect more than 1 million children enrolled in the state’s 133 school districts. (NPR / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

    3/ The Justice Department asked an appeals court to let the FBI regain access to about 100 classified documents taken from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, but didn’t try to block Judge Aileen Cannon’s appointment of Raymond Dearie to serve as special master. Last week, Judge Cannon’s granted a special master to review thousands of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago. She also blocked law enforcement agencies from using any of the documents for investigative purposes until the review is done. Lawyers with the Justice Department’s national security division wrote: “Although the government believes the district court fundamentally erred in appointing a special master and granting injunctive relief, the government seeks to stay only the portions of the order causing the most serious and immediate harm to the government and the public.” The Justice Department previously argued that delaying its investigation into Trump’s handling of classified government records could result in “irreparable harm.” a href="https://w...

    • 5 min
    Day 604: "Big problems."

    Day 604: "Big problems."

    1/ Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis shipped about 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard without warning to make a political point about the record number of apprehensions at the southern border. While the two flights were paid for by Florida taxpayers under a state program to transport undocumented immigrants to so-called sanctuary destinations, they originated in San Antonio, Texas. The group of migrants, which included children, were told that they were being transported to Boston. Separately, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott used a state-funded program to send two buses of migrants – between 75 and 100 people – to Harris’s home in DC. The White House, meanwhile, called the actions by the two Republican governors “cruel” and “shameful” political stunts. And, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre accused Abbott of alerting Fox News to the bus’s arrivals instead of the Department of Homeland Security or the city of Washington. (New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / Texas Tribune / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

    2/ The Senate delayed a vote to protect same-sex marriage until after the midterm elections. A bipartisan group of senators have been working to alleviate the concerns of Republicans in an attempt to persuade at least 10 of them to support the bill and overcome a filibuster. Despite the efforts, Republicans complained that their 50-member conference would view a vote as politically motivated if Chuck Schumer forced a vote before the midterms. The Respect for Marriage Act would enshrine federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages, as well as repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which recognized marriages in the U.S. as between one man and one woman. (Politico / Washington Post / NBC News / Bloomberg)

    3/ The White House announced a “tentative” agreement between rail carriers and union leaders to avert a nationwide strike that threatened to cripple U.S. supply chains. After 20 straight hours of negotiations – which included Biden and other administration officials – workers won several of the concessions they were seeking, including better pay and more flexible schedules, like time off for doctors appointments. The parties had been negotiating a new contract for several years and were facing a 12:01 am Friday deadline – the end of a “cooling off period.” Union members, however, still have to vote to ratify the agreement, which is not expected for at least a couple of weeks. Biden called the deal to avoid what would have been an economically damaging strike “a big win for America.” (NPR / a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/15/rail-u...

    • 5 min
    Day 603: "It's all changing."

    Day 603: "It's all changing."

    1/ Biden approved the first $900 million in U.S. funding to build EV charging stations in 35 states. The bipartisan infrastructure bill, which Congress approved in November, allocated $7.5 billion to build a national EV charging network. By 2030, Biden wants 50% of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. to be electric or plug-in hybrid electric models and 500,000 new EV charging stations. “America is confronting the climate crisis with American workers leading the way,” Biden said. “It used to be to buy an electric vehicle you had to make all sorts of compromises. Not now […] It’s all changing. Today, if you want an electric vehicle with a long range, you can buy one made in America.” (CNBC / CBS News / Reuters / Washington Post)

    2/ Amtrak will shut down all long distance passenger trains starting Thursday because of the possible freight rail strike. The majority of Amtrak routes operate on tracks owned by freight railroads. Amtrak trains that operate between Washington, D.C. and Boston, however, would not be affected because Amtrak owns most of those tracks. Two unions representing the engineers and conductors who make up the two-person crews on each freight train are demanding changes to the scheduling rules that keep them “on call” every day they’re not at work and penalizes them for going to routine doctor visits or responding to family medical emergencies. Negotiators face a deadline of 12:01 a.m. Eastern on Friday to avert the freight shutdown. (CNN / Washington Post / Politico)

    3/ The EPA’s inspector general office is investigating the water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi where roughly 150,000 residents have been under a boil-water advisory for seven weeks. The city issued a boil-water advisory after finding cloudiness in the water that could cause illness. The office issued a memo saying it will look into the federal response, as well as city and state officials. The current crisis began when heavy rains caused the Pearl River to flood and overwhelmed the water treatment plant, which was already using backup pumps because the pumps at the main water treatment facility were already damaged. (CNN / Politico / ABC News)

    4/ Marco Rubio will co-sponsor Lindsey Graham’s bill to ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks, which has received a tepid response from Republicans who say they “prefer this be dealt with at the state level.” In Indiana, the first new abortion ban passed by a state legislature since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June will take effect on Thursday. The West Virginia Republican-majority Legislature, meanwhile, passed a near-total abortion ban. Under the new measure, rape and incest victims could obtain abort...

    • 5 min
    Day 602: "Out of step."

    Day 602: "Out of step."

    1/ Lindsey Graham introduced a bill that would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy nationwide. While Graham’s measure stands no chance of enactment, it comes less than two months before the midterm elections when some Republican candidates are walking back their support for a total ban. 56% of voters say abortion will be very important to their midterm votes. Additionally, Mitch McConnell all but rejected the measure, saying that questions about the bill should be directed to Graham and that most Republican senators “prefer this be handled at the state level.” John Cornyn added: “That wasn’t a conference decision. It was an individual senator’s decision.” The White House, meanwhile, criticized the bill as “wildly out of step with what Americans believe.” ‌(Washington Post / Politico / Axios / NBC News / New York Times / NPR / CNN)

    2/ Inflation rose 8.3% in August compared with a year earlier. While inflation is down from an 8.5% jump in July and a four-decade high of 9.1% in June, it’s at a slower pace than anticipated given decreases in gasoline prices and other forms of energy fell. Economists expected consumer prices to rise about 8% annually in August. In response, stock markets posted their worst one-day performance since June 2020. The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, is expected to raise interest rates another 0.75 percentage point next week to slow economy further. The Census Bureau reported that from 2019 to 2021, real median household income decreased 2.8%. (Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / Axios / NBC News / Bloomberg)

    3/ At least 97 current members of Congress reported trades by themselves or family in stocks or other financial assets that intersected with the work of congressional com...

    • 4 min

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