WTF Just Happened Today

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


Day 35: "Intelligence failures."

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

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1/ The FBI rejected a White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Trump’s associates and Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. Comey rejected the request for the FBI to comment on the stories, because the alleged communications between Trump associates and Russians known to US intelligence are the subject of an ongoing investigation. The White House did issue its own denial, with Priebus calling The New York Times story “complete garbage.” (CNN)

  • Paul Manafort faced blackmail attempt while he was Trump’s campaign chairman last summer. Stolen text messages from his daughter’s phone appear to be threats to expose relations between Russia-friendly forces, Trump, and Manafort. Manafort confirmed the authenticity of the texts and added that, before the texts were sent to his daughter, he had received similar texts to his own phone number from the same address. (Politico)
  • House Republicans plan to derail a Democratic resolution that would force disclosure of Trump’s potential ties with Russia and any possible business conflicts of interest. Democrats have blasted Trump for failing to make a clean break from his real estate empire, accusing him of being vulnerable to conflicts of interest. They also are suspicious of his campaign’s relationship with Russia. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that top Russian officials orchestrated interference into the 2016 presidential election on Trump’s behalf. (Politico)

2/ Trump touts recent immigration raids, calling them a “military operation”. The effort to ramp up deportations are aimed at ridding the U.S. of “really bad dudes.” Under the administration’s guidelines, any immigrant who is convicted, charged or suspected of a crime is considered a priority for removal. (Washington Post)

  • Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly promised there will not be any military force used in immigration enforcement. The statement contradicts what President Trump had said hours before when he referenced Kelly’s and Secretary of State Tillerson’s trip to Mexico. (CBS News)
  • Spicer: Trump didn’t mean “military operation” literally. Spicer added that “the president was clearly describing the manner in which this is being done.” (The Hill)

3/ Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly head to Mexico amid deep strains in bilateral ties in what is expected to be the first in a series of high-level meetings focusing on drug trafficking, trade and immigration. Twin threats hang over the frayed relationship between the two nations: Trump’s new orders to round up and deport immigrants who are in the United States illegally, and a separate effort to take a hard look at all American aid to Mexico, possibly using it to pay for a border wall instead. (New York Times)

  • Mexico’s foreign minister drew a sharp line against “unilateral” U.S. immigration policies before the top-level Trump administration team could cool tensions that threaten to derail trade and ot...

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