1/ Facebook identified a coordinated political influence campaign involving 32 “inauthentic” pages and profiles engaging in divisive messaging ahead of the midterm elections. While the social media company said it couldn’t directly link the activity to Russia, company officials told Capitol Hill that Russia was possibly involved. “It’s clear that whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the past,” Facebook wrote. The company removed 32 pages and accounts. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)
2/ Trump repeated Rudy Giuliani’s defense that “Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was No Collusion.” For months, Trump has repeatedly denied that there was collusion between his campaign and Russia. In December, Trump said that “collusion is not a crime,” but legal experts believe that anyone found collaborating with Russia could be charged with other crimes, such as conspiracy, fraud and computer hacking. (CNN / Politico)
3/ [Developing] Paul Manafort’s tax and bank fraud trial started today. The trial is the first in connection with Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Collusion and Russia, however, are not likely to come up during the trial. Mueller is expected to focus on Manafort’s business dealings and his lobbying work on behalf of the pro-Kremlin Ukrainian government. It is unclear whether Manafort will take the stand at any point during the trial. The jury was selected and sworn in. The prosecution’s opening statements began with “Paul Manafort lied.” (Politico / NPR / ABC News / Reuters)
Paul Manafort dropped his civil lawsuit appeal against Robert Mueller. Manafort filed a lawsuit in January challenging Mueller’s broad authority. The lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge in April. (CNN)
4/ John Kelly agreed to remain as chief of staff through Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, quieting at least for the moment speculation that he would leave the White House sometime this summer. Trump, however, has recently expanded his shortlist for potential Kelly replacements, which includes Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, budget director Mick Mulvaney, and Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. Kelly marked his first anniversary as chief of staff on Monday. (Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Washington Post)
5/ Trump continued his tiff with A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times, tweeting that the media was “totally unhinged” and “crazy.” The two held an off-the-record meeting to discuss Trump’s “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric,” but Trump broke their agreement by tweeting about the meeting, prompting the newspaper publisher to release his own account of the talk. (Politico)
6/ Trump lashed out at the Koch brothers, calling them “globalists” who “have become a total joke in real Republican circles.” Trump’s Twitter tirade was in response to Charles Koch’s criticism that the “divisiveness of this White House is causing long-term damage.” Trump called their political network, which plans to spend as much as $400 million on policy issues and political campaigns during the 2018 cycle, “highly overrated.” (Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)
- Tom Steyer plans to spend at least $110 million in 2018 building out his two political organizations, NextGen America and Need to Impeach. (Politico)
poll/ 63% of Americans under 34 years old say that voting in the 2018 midterms will allow their generation to effect change, while 36% think voting won’t really affect what the government does. Likely young voters are more likely to be excited to vote for a candidate who cares about issues that affect them (77%), is a woman (46%), looks like the people they represent (43%), is a teacher (40%), is black (38%) or is a member of the LGBT community (26%). (MTV/AP-NORC)
Russia’s top diplomat claimed his country has access to insider information about U.S. military plans. Sergey Lavrov said Moscow would be “provided with information about the schemes harbored by the militaries of both the U.S. and other Western countries against the Russian Federation.” (Newsweek)
A federal judge ordered the government to transfer all but the most troubled migrant children from an immigration detention facility that allegedly forced children to take psychotropic drugs regardless of their conditions and without their parents’ consent. U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee found the conditions at the Shiloh Treatment Center in Texas to be in violation of a 1997 settlement known as Flores v. Reno, which requires officials to place detained minors “in the least restrictive setting appropriate to (each Class Member’s) age and special needs.” (NBC News)
Senate Democrats asked the National Archives to provide Congress with all of Brett Kavanaugh’s records from his tenure in the George W. Bush White House. Democrats accused Republicans of concealing a significant portion of Kavanaugh’s White House tenure that could provide insight into how the nominee advised Bush on contentious issues that occurred during that administration. (Washington Post)
The U.S. and China are trying to restart trade talks in hopes of averting a trade war. Another $16 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports kick in as soon as Wednesday. (Bloomberg)
North Korea is building at least one and possibly two liquid-fueled ICBMs at the same factory that produced the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States. (Washington Post)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.