👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
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1/ Trump attacked Obama after the former president called on Americans to “soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments.” Tweeting paraphrased quotes from Fox News hosts, Trump rhetorically asked: “‘Did George Bush ever condemn President Obama after Sandy Hook. President Obama had 32 mass shootings during his reign. Not many people said Obama is out of Control.’” Trump also claimed (again) that he is “the least racist person” in the world. Obama did not mention Trump in his comments. (Politico)
2/ The Trump campaign paid for more than 2,000 Facebook ads this year that included the word “invasion” in relation to immigration. The campaign has spent roughly $1.25 million on Facebook ads about immigration since late March. The campaign spent nearly $5.6 million on Facebook ads overall during that same period. “We have an INVASION!” many of the ads say in large letters. “It’s CRITICAL that we STOP THE INVASION.” While there is no evidence that Trump’s campaign messaging influenced the shooter in the white supremacist terrorist attack that left 22 people dead and dozens injured in El Paso, the shooter declared in his manifesto that “this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” (Media Matters / New York Times / The Guardian / USA Today / VICE News)
📌 Day 651: Trump suggested that he might invoke a state of national emergency in order to justify using the military to arrest and detain migrants and refugees at the southern border. When asked what role active duty military personnel would play, since U.S. law prohibits the U.S. Army from being used to enforce domestic law, Trump said “Well it depends, it depends.” He continued: “National emergency covers a lot of territory. They can’t invade our country. You look at that it almost looks like an invasion. It’s almost does look like an invasion.” (ABC News)
📌 Day 788: Mick Mulvaney: Trump “is not a white supremacist.” The acting chief of staff went on to say it was “absurd” to draw a connection between Trump’s statements about immigration and the acts of a shooter who embraced both white nationalism and Trump. Last week Trump called undocumented immigrants coming to U.S. an “invasion” as he vetoed a congressional resolution that would block his declaration of a national emergency at the U.S. border with Mexico. (Washington Post / CNN)
📌 Day 928: Trump dismissed accusations that his own racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric has stoked racial hatred and helped to provoke would-be mass shooters. Instead, Trump tweeted – without evidence – that the news media is contributing “greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years.” The manifesto of the shooter in Texas, however, echoes the same kind of anti-immigrant language that Trump has used at his rallies over the years, specifically stating that “this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Portions of the 2,300-word essay, titled “The Inconvenient Truth,” closely mirror Trump’s rhetoric demonizing undocumented immigrants as “thugs” and “animals,” and decrying Latino immigration as “an invasion of our country.” (Reuters / New York Times / Washington Post)
3/ The FBI opened a domestic terrorism investigation into the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting that left three people dead and 13 wounded after officials discovered the gunman had a list of other potential targets. The FBI special agent in charge said they also “uncovered evidence that the shooter was exploring violent ideologies.” (Los Angeles Times / San Francisco Chronicle)
4/ Mitch McConnell complained that protesters outside his home were making “serious calls to violence” over his refusal to allow the Senate to consider bills passed by the House to strengthen background checks for gun sales. The protest followed the mass shootings over the weekend in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, that left 31 people dead. Louisville metro police confirmed that the group outside McConnell’s residence were “protesting peacefully.” McConnell’s campaign, however, characterized the group of 20 to 30 people as “an angry left-wing mob” making threats and shouting profanities. (Washington Post / New York Post)
📌 Day 407: Mitch McConnell said the Senate will skip debate on gun legislation and instead turn to a banking bill next week, reflecting the reality that negotiators have not settled on legislation that can pass the House and Senate. (CNN)
📌 Day 928: Democrats called on Mitch McConnell to cancel the Senate’s August recess so they can take up gun control legislation. The bill would create new background check requirements for gun transfers between unlicensed individuals. It passed the House in February 240-190. (NBC News)
5/ McConnell’s campaign tweeted a photo of mock tombstones with the names of his political opponents, Democratic initiates, and nominees he’s blocked, with the caption: “The Grim Reaper of Socialism.” The photo shows five gravestones flanked by two “Team Mitch” signs. One tombstones reads “R.I.P Amy McGrath, November 3rd, 2020,” a reference to his Democratic opponent in the 2020 Kentucky Senate race and the date of the general election. Others include a Judge Merrick Garland tombstone, the Green New Deal, “Socialism,” and Alison Lundergan Grimes, the 2014 Democratic challenger who McConnell defeated that year.(Politico / Washington Post)
6/ Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez confronted McConnell about a photo of seven high school men in “Team Mitch” shirts “groping & choking” a cardboard cutout of her. The photo, which has since been deleted, was posted to Instagram with the caption: “break me off a piece of that.” Ocasio-Cortez retweeted the photo to McConnell, asking to clarify if McConnell was “paying for young men to practice groping & choking members of Congress w/ your payroll, or is this just the standard culture of #TeamMitch?” The McConnell campaign said that it “in no way condones” the photo and that “these young men are not campaign staff, they are high schoolers.” While the photo was taken during a “non-school” event, some of the men were in a photo shared by the McConnell campaign’s Instagram account, holding large posters of Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. The McConnell campaign then attacked “the far-left and the media” for writing about the incident and using the image to “demonize, stereotype, and publicly castigate every young person who dares to get involved with Republican politics.” (NBC News / Washington Post / Daily Beast)
A federal judge signaled that he is willing to consider removing the redactions in Robert Mueller’s report. The case includes a pair of consolidated lawsuits filed against the Justice Department under the Freedom of Information Act. District Judge Reggie Walton appeared to side several times with attorneys for BuzzFeed and the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center during oral arguments, saying “That’s what open government is about.” Walton has the power to rule on the redactions, but he also has the power to review the unredacted report to see if the exemptions claimed by the DOJ to block the release of the full report align with what is permitted under the law. (Politico)
Trump and the Republican National Committee filed a pair of lawsuits challenging a new law in California requiring presidential candidates to release five years of tax returns in order to be placed on the state primary ballot in 2020. The RNC called the law a “naked political attack against the sitting president of the United States.” Trump’s lawyer William Consovoy argued that the new law adds an “unconstitutional qualification” to the set of qualifications for the presidency as defined in the Constitution and violates the First Amendment. The Constitution requires that you be a natural born citizen, at least 35 or older, and be a U.S. resident for at least 14 years. (New York Times / CNN / Axios)
The U.S. Ambassador to Russia submitted his resignation and plans to move back home to Utah. Jon Huntsman resignation is effective October 3rd and there is speculation that he is planning to run for governor of Utah. (Salt Lake Tribune / CNN)
Trump – without evidence – accused Google of “very illegal” acts to subvert his 2016 presidential campaign and that he’ll be watching the company “very closely” ahead of the 2020 election. Trump’s tweets came after a former Google engineer appeared on “Fox & Friends.” A Google spokesperson described the employee, who was fired from in June 2018, as a “disgruntled former employee.” (Reuters / Politico)
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