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Mueller, If You're Listening... Wonkagenda For Wed., July 24, 2019

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Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may -- or may not be talking about today (aside from the Mueller hearings which we are already liveblogging)!


Robert Mueller has begrudgingly trudged his way up to the Hill this morning and will spend five hours answering questions about his Trump Russia report and getting yelled at by members of the House Judiciary and Intel committees. Last night Mueller got the green light to allow his longtime aide, Aaron Zebley, to sit in on the Judiciary hearing, while the Intel committee says it will swear Zebley in to offer testimony with Mueller. In several shitposts this morning, Trump called Zebley a "Never Trumper," but The New York Times reports Zebley has no known political affiliation, and the Washington Post notes he's never donated to a political party. Last night House Intel Chair Adam Schiff sent Mueller a letter saying the administration was attempting to "obstruct the authorized oversight activity and legitimate investigations of the committee," and bitched about the "limitations" the DOJ is trying to place upon Mueller. House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler says Democrats expect Mueller to stick to his 448-page script, but adds Mueller "does not have to comply" with the DOJ orders as, "He doesn't work for them." [The Daily podcast] [Liveblog]

The effort to #Impeach Trump hinges on Mueller's testimony, and nobody will be paying more attention than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Behind closed doors, Pelosi has been cautioning against pinning the hopes for impeachment upon Mueller's testimony no matter how many Democrats are secretly salivating to open the floodgates. All of this comes as House Democrats continue to face unprecedented stonewalling from the administration, drawing criticism from the Left that Democratic party leaders aren't doing enough. The NAACP has voted in favor of impeachment and said Trump was "unfit to serve this country."

That super huge spending bill is widely expected to clear Congress. Even though Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell came out in support of the bill, the House Freedom crazies are throwing a tantrum because they care more about money than the troops and #Merica. The bill raises domestic and Pentagon spending by $320 billion and suspends the debt ceiling until July 31, 2021, and Democrats are daring the so-called "fiscal conservatives" to vote against the bill and shut down the government (again) on the eve of the 2020 elections.

There are thousands of kids living in baby jails, according to the head of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), and it's possible some may age out of ORR's responsibility and be thrown into ICE concentration camps detention facilities. ORR officials tell CBS that a third of kids under their purview are what's called "Category 4" (a dramatic increase compared to the last two years) and have no family, friends, or relatives to sponsor them. CBS reports ORR officials have been denying requests by deported family members to set up kids stuck in baby jails with sponsor families, thus creating a loophole in the 1997 Flores Agreement governing the detention of minors.

The DOJ has opened an anti-trust review of big tech companies, like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. This mirrors efforts already underway in Congress and at the FTC, but the Wall Street Journal notes the DOJ probe is far more broad with "no defined end-goal." Yesterday, Attorney General Bill Barr said tech companies should stop using encryption and other security systems to turn devices into "law-free zones," which is ironic as encryption is probably the only thing keeping most of Trump World out of prison.

The NSA says it will drop a new cybersecurity directorate later this year that will switch the US from strictly defensive measures to offensive measures. The Wall Street Journal reports the shift will be spearheaded by Anne Neuberger. Change your passwords.

In a 97-2 vote, the Senate voted to fully fund the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund. Only Republican senators and cheap assholes Mike Lee and Rand Paul voted against the bill. Before the vote, Jon Stewart stood in the Senate halls smiling as Sen. Mitch McConnell slouched his way onto the Senate floor for the vote. [Colbert]

Dave Weigel has a good piece on why both Republicans and Democrats are flooding Wisconsin early to build their 2020 bases. Both parties believe the state could be a tipping point, so they've launched massive voter outreach programs to register as many cheese heads as humanly possible.

The unfriendly skies over South Korean Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ) got even less hospitable yesterday when South Korean fighter jets were scrambled to intercept Russian and Chinese aircraft. Everyone in the region is livid after the South Koreans reportedly fired a few hundred warning shots to chase off the Chinese and Russian aircraft. The Japanese (who challenge South Korea's claim to the islets) say they scrambled their own aircraft in response to the commotion, but the Russians say neither they nor the Chinese violated any borders, nor were they ever fired upon by the South Koreans. The DOD says it's standing by both the Koreans and the Japanese, and adds Uncle Sam has eyes on everyone.

FACT CHECK: As The White House ratchets up Trump's trade war, it's desperately pushing more farm bailouts, begging Congress and constituents to take up NAFTA 2 before the 2020 elections smother it like Rosemary's Baby. To do this, Trump has been making up random numbers about Mexico taking US auto business, falsely claiming that US auto factories are closing up shop and moving south of the border.

FACT CHECK: While speaking to a bunch of rich, uptight, brainwashed, WASPY little shits at the Turning Point USA Teen Student Action Summit (TPUSATSAS) Trump claimed that Article II of the Constitution gives him the power to "do whatever I want as president." (Spoiler Alert: It doesn't.) Legal nerds seem to think Trump was regurgitating talking points his TV lawyers tell Sean Hannity. In an ironic twist, Article II also gives Congress the power to #Impeach the president for "high crimes and misdemeanors."

Over on the Daily Show, Trevor Noah has a couple of news nuggets you might have missed and some advice for assholes who yell at airport staffers.

So Much News, So Little Time: U.K.'s New PM, Big Apple Floods & NY's New Claw Law | The Daily Show www.youtube.com

And here's your morning Nice Time: A BABY TAPIR!

Baby tapir tests out his tiny trunk at Chester Zoo www.youtube.com

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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or in a gutter taking photos.

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