1/ Michael Cohen recorded a conversation with Trump two months before the presidential election in which they discussed payments to Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model who had an affair with Trump. In the September 2016 conversation at Trump Tower, Cohen told Trump that American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, had bought the rights to McDougal's story about her affair with Trump for for $150,000 in August 2016. Cohen suggested that they acquire the rights to McDougal's story themselves and Trump asked how to proceed and whether he should write a check. The FBI seized the recording during the raid on Cohen's office. Rudy Giuliani confirmed that Trump had discussed the payments with Cohen on the tape, but said the payment was ultimately never made. Prosecutors want to know if Cohen's efforts to limit negative stories about Trump during the campaign violated federal campaign finance laws. When informed about the recording today, Trump responded: "I can't believe Michael would do this to me." (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / CNN)

  • WTF REWIND:

  • Four days before the 2016 election, it was first reported that the company that owns the National Enquirer had paid McDougal $150,000 for her story about a Trump affair a decade ago, but then didn't publish the story – effectively silencing McDougal for the remainder of the campaign. At the time, Hope Hicks said of the agreement, "We have no knowledge of any of this," adding that McDougal's claim that she had an affair with Trump was "totally untrue." (Wall Street Journal)

  • In April 2018, the FBI raided Cohen's office, seizing his computers and phones. Cohen was known to have sometimes recorded conversations and store them as digital files. (Washington Post)

2/ The FBI reopened the Hillary Clinton email investigation 11 days before the election because they were focused on investigating the Trump campaign's connections to Russia, according to the report of the Justice Department's inspector general. In late September 2016, FBI agents learned about a new batch of Clinton emails from the laptop of former congressman Anthony Weiner, who was under investigation for sexting a minor and was married at the time to Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The bureau was evidently overwhelmed with the urgency of the Trump-Russia investigation so that management lapses and communication breakdowns caused a monthlong delay in looking into the new Clinton emails. Nine days after announcing he was reopening the probe, James Comey said the FBI found nothing in the new emails to change the original July decision against bringing charges. (The Intercept)

3/ The Justice Department will alert American companies, private organizations, and individuals when they are being targeted by foreign actors attempting to affect elections or the political process. "Exposing schemes to the public is an important way to neutralize them," Rod Rosenstein said. "The American people have a right to know if foreign governments are targeting them with propaganda." (Washington Post / USA Today)

4/ The Trump administration has reunited 364 of the 2,500+ children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. The administration has a week left before the court-imposed deadline to reunite the families. Of the 1,607 parents eligible for reunification, 719 have received final orders of deportation, meaning they could be deported as soon as they are reunited with their children. (NBC News)


Notables.

  1. Trump: "I'm ready to go to $500" billion in tariffs on Chinese goods. "I'm not doing this for politics, I'm doing this to do the right thing for our country," Trump claimed. "We have been ripped off by China for a long time." So far, the U.S. has imposed tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese products, to which China has responded with tariffs of their own. (CNBC)

  2. Republican lawmakers backed down from reinstating sanctions on Chinese telecom firm ZTE, allowing Trump's personal favor to Chinese President Xi Jinping to remain in place. ZTE was found guilty in 2016 of violating American sanctions on Iran and North Korea. (Bloomberg / Reuters / New York Times)

  3. The Department of Defense estimated that between 5,000 to 7,000 service members could march in Trump's military parade, scheduled for Saturday, November 10. (ABC News)

  4. Starting August 1, Americans can legally download plans for 3-D printable guns. These "ghost guns" don't have serial numbers and are untraceable. (CNN)

  5. A Russian company cited a decision by Trump's Supreme Court nominee arguing that the charges against the firm should be thrown out. The ruling by Brett Kavanaugh prohibited foreigners from contributing to candidates or political parties, but it did not rule out donations or expenditures on independent advocacy campaigns. Concord Management and Consulting is one of 16 Russian individuals or companies indicted by Robert Mueller. It is charged with paying $1.25 million a month to the Internet Research Agency to interfere with the 2016 election. (Washington Post)

  6. Mitch McConnell threatened to delay Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation vote until just before the midterms to keep vulnerable red-state Democrats off the campaign trail if Democrats keep pushing for access to related documents. (Politico)

  7. Scott Pruitt's staff tried to protect him from formaldehyde exposure while he was suppressing the release of a report on the health dangers from the same chemical. Staff at the EPA arranged for Pruitt's new office desk to be aired out in a warehouse so he wouldn't have to breathe in any of the carcinogenic chemical. (Politico)


Week in Review:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein revealed indictments against 12 Russians for the hacks of the Democratic National Committee, and we learned that Russian hackers went after Hillary Clinton's private office for the first time on the very day Trump said, "Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing." At the NATO summit in Brussels, Trump attacked a close European ally—Germany—and generally questioned the value of the alliance. Next, he visited the United Kingdom and trashed Prime Minister Theresa May. Then, in Helsinki, he met with Vladimir Putin privately for two hours, with no U.S. officials present other than a translator. After this suspicious meeting, he sang the Russian strongman's praises at a news conference at which he said he viewed Putin’s denials on a par with the unanimous and unchallenged conclusions of America’s intelligence agencies. (Politico)