1/ Trump claimed the Democratic Party’s push for “Medicare for All” would “eviscerate” and “gut Medicare with their planned government takeover of American health care,” in a rare presidential op-ed published by USA Today. The op-ed included numerous debunked claims and factual inaccuracies while simultaneously linking to information that directly refuted his claims. Trump suggested that “Medicare would be forced to die” under the plan, devastating the health care industry, and “inevitably lead[ing] to the massive rationing of health care.” Medicare provides health care to Americans older than 65 and those with disabilities. (CNN / NBC News)

  • Fact-checking Trump’s op-ed. (Washington Post)

  • The Trump administration plans to take down healthcare.gov for maintenance during the sign-up period for the Affordable Care Act. The administration did the same thing last year and drew criticism for it, but officials say the maintenance periods are routine and intended to occur during the slowest periods. (The Hill)

2/ Trump said he will speak to Saudi officials about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying he was “concerned.” While the Saudi government claims that Khashoggi left the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul after his visit last week, top Turkish security officials concluded that Khashoggi was assassinated in the consulate on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi royal court. Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen living in exile in the United States, was a vocal critic of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Fifteen Saudi agents had arrived on two charter flights the day Khashoggi disappeared and all 15 left just a few hours later. The Trump administration has been largely silent in part because Saudi Arabia is a close American ally and Trump has repeatedly expressed his enthusiasm for Mohammed bin Salman. (New York Times / Politico)

3/ State court judges may be able to grant custody of migrant children to American families without notifying their parents, according to a report drawing on hundreds of court documents, immigration records and interviews in the U.S. and Central America. More than 300 parents were deported to Central America without their children this summer, many of whom allege they were ordered to sign a waiver they didn’t understand, which affected their rights to reunify with their children. (Associated Press)

4/ Melania Trump: Women “need to have really hard evidence” before saying they’re victims of sexual assault. “I do stand with women,” the first lady said, “but we need to show the evidence. You cannot just say to somebody, ‘I was sexually assaulted,’ or, ‘You did that to me,’ because sometimes the media goes too far, and the way they portray some stories it’s, it’s not correct, it’s not right.” During the 2016 presidential campaign, at least 13 women accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment or sexual assault. (CNN)

  • FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate that the White House limited the Brett Kavanaugh investigation. The FBI’s “supplemental update to the previous background investigation was limited in scope and that … is consistent with the standard process for such investigations going back a long ways,” Wray said. (Politico)

  • Chief Justice John G. Roberts referred more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints filed recently against Kavanaugh to a federal appeals court in Colorado. The 10th Circuit will likely dismiss the complaints now that Kavanaugh has joined the Supreme Court. (Washington Post)

poll/ 46% of voters believe the Senate “made the wrong decision” in confirming Brett Kavanaugh, while 40% said it was the right decision. Among Democrats, 78% say the Senate made the wrong decision compared to 73% of Republicans who support the decision. Following the nomination, 77% of Democrats say they are “very motivated” to turn out and vote in the midterms. 68% of Republicans say they’re “very motivated.” (Politico)

  • Democratic voter turnout in this year’s House primaries increased in each of the 19 competitive, comparable House districts compared to 2014, and doubled in more than two thirds of them. (Axios)

poll/ 55**% of Americans think Trump is just venting when he calls the press “enemies of the people.”** 45% said they believe he is being serious. (Los Angeles Times)

✏️ Notables.

  1. The Trump campaign argued that it can’t be held legally responsible for the WikiLeaks publication of DNC emails because the First Amendment protects the campaign’s “right to disclose information – even stolen information.” The lawsuit, filed by two Democratic donors and a former employee of the Democratic National Committee, alleges that the Trump campaign and Roger Stone coordinated release and exploitation of the hacked emails with Russia and WikiLeaks, thereby violating the plaintiffs’ privacy. (The Atlantic)

  2. The Republican operative who tried to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails had established a relationship with Michael Flynn as early as 2015, according to emails and interviews. Peter Smith told associates during the presidential campaign that he was using Flynn’s connections to help him on the email project. (Wall Street Journal)

  3. A Roger Stone aide says he feels “great” about taking his case to the Supreme Court now that Kavanaugh is on the bench. Andrew Miller, who worked for Stone and was subpoenaed to testify before Robert Mueller’s grand jury, is challenging the constitutionality of the special counsel’s probe. He filed a suit to invalidate Mueller’s authority to act as a prosecutor. A federal judge ruled against him and held him in contempt, so he appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. (CNN)

  4. A federal judge sentenced Richard Pinedo to six months in prison and six months of home confinement after he pleaded guilty to a felony identity fraud tied to Russian trolls. It’s the most severe penalty handed down yet in Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling. (Politico)

  5. The infamous Russian troll factory was set on fire by an unknown suspect wielding a Molotov cocktail. The troll farm, run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as Putin’s “cook,” rebranded itself as a media company last year with 16 news websites generating more than 30 million pageviews every month. (Moscow Times)

  6. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will introduce legislation this week to fully fund Trump’s $23.4 billion border wall. The bill is currently in draft form, but is expected to be released within the next few days. The House would not be able to consider the bill until after the midterm elections. (CNN)

  7. Trump said the Federal Reserve “has gone crazy” for raising interest rates. The comment comes after the Dow plunged more than 800 points – the worst drop since February. The tech sector, in particular, had its worst day in seven years. The Fed has raised interest rates three times this year and one more is expected before year-end. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC)

📌 The Re-Up.

A few stories worth your attention that were drowned out by the daily shock and awe. Updated occasionally.

  • Day 621: Trump inherited his family’s wealth through fraud and questionable tax schemes, receiving the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire. Trump has repeatedly claimed that “I built what I built myself.” Trump and his siblings used fake corporations to hide financial gifts from their parents, which helped Fred Trump claim millions in tax deductions. Trump also helped his parents undervalue their real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars when filing their tax returns. In total, Fred and Mary Trump transferred more than $1 billion in wealth to their children and paid a total of $52.2 million in taxes (about 5%) instead of the $550+ million they should have owed under the 55% tax rate imposed on gifts and inheritances. Trump also “earned” $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father’s companies starting at age 3. After college, Trump started receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year, which increased to $5 million a year when he was in his 40s and 50s. Trump has refused to release his income tax returns, breaking with decades of practice by past presidents. There is no time limit on civil fines for tax fraud. [Editor’s note: This is a must read. An abstract summary does not suffice.] (New York Times)

  • Day 627: A U.N. report on the effects of climate change predicts a strong risk of an environmental crisis much sooner than expected. The report finds that the atmosphere could warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, which would cause sea levels to rise, intensify droughts, wildfires, and poverty, and cause a mass die-off of coral reefs. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050. The use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1% and 7% by 2050. Renewable energy would have to increase to about 67%. Trump has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, vowing to increase the burning of coal, and he intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement. The world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark and “there is no documented historic precedent” for the scale of changes required, the report said. (New York Times / Washington Post)

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  3. Check your voter registration deadline here or here.

⚠️ Why I’m not covering Hurricane Michael. The scope of what WTF Just Happened Today covers is defined like a set of concentric circles. I start with Trump at the center, expanding outward to include news about his administration followed by the judicial and legislative branches of government. I’ll cover natural disasters, like hurricanes and wildfires, as they become intertwined with Trump and his administration (i.e. their response). Breaking news moves fast and rather than regurgitating outdated reporting once a day here, it’s better to get your information from the local news outlets reporting from the ground about their communities.