1/ Trump admitted that the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between top campaign aides and a Russian lawyer was to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. "This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics - and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!" Trump's tweet contradicted Trump Jr.'s original statement about the meeting – which was dictated by Trump – that the meeting was to discuss the adoption of Russian children. (New York Times / New Yorker / NBC News / NPR)

2/ Trump told confidants that he is worried about how the Robert Mueller probe could impact Trump Jr.'s life. Mueller is investigating Trump Jr.'s role in organizing the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. One adviser said Trump doesn't believe his son intentionally broke the law, but that Trump Jr. may have inadvertently wandered into legal ­jeopardy. Trump tweeted that his concern about Trump Jr.'s potential legal exposure from the meeting was "Fake News reporting" and "a complete fabrication." (Washington Post / ABC News)

  • Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley this week said that if Trump Jr. "misled the committee, he's lying to Congress. That's a crime. And that'd be up to the prosecutors, not me." (CNN)

  • Why this weekend's Trump Tower tweet matters. The tweet comes at a time when Trump is increasingly anxious about Robert Mueller's investigation and how it may impact him and his family. (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Hope Hicks was spotted boarding Air Force Once ahead of Trump's departure for a campaign rally in Ohio. The former White House communications director resigned from her role in February, a day after testifying before the House Intelligence Committee and saying she told white lies on the job. (The Hill / CNN)

3/ Trump has raised more than $200,000 for his Patriot Legal Expense Fund Trust, but hasn't spent any money on legal services. The fund was launched in late February 2018 to pay for legal expenses incurred by White House officials and allies caught up in Robert Mueller's investigation. Through June, the only expenditures have been to an insurance provider and an accounting firm, totaling less than $50,000. (Daily Beast / ABC News)

4/ Documents from Trump's voter fraud commission "do not contain evidence of widespread voter fraud," according to Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, one of the panel's 11 members. After reading through more than 8,000 pages of documents, Dunlap said he believed that the goal of the commission "wasn’t just a matter of investigating President Trump's claims that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally" but that it "seems to have been to validate those claims." The panel was disbanded in January, and the White House claimed at the time that despite "substantial evidence of voter fraud," the commission was shut down due to legal challenges from states. The panel never presented any findings or evidence of widespread voter fraud. Kris Kobach, the commission's vice chair, however, said at the time that the panel was shut down because "some people on the left were getting uncomfortable about how much we were finding out." (Washington Post)

  • A district judge has struck down a Federal Election Commission rule that allowed for anonymous donations to "dark money" groups. Judge Beryl Howell ruled that the FEC regulation allowing for those donors to remain anonymous fell below the standard that Congress meant to set when it passed laws on disclosing the sources of political donations. (Politico)

  • Marco Rubio said he'd consider altering bipartisan legislation to automatically sanction Russia for any future election meddling in order to get the DETER Act passed. The measure would bar foreign governments from buying ads to influence U.S. elections and would give the director of national intelligence the ability to deploy "national security tools," such as sanctions. (Politico)

  • Trump tweeted that Kris Kobach has his "full and total Endorsement!" for governor of Kansas, despite warnings from aides that it would alienate Republicans loyal to incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer. Kobach is an advocate of stricter voter identification laws in his state, including a requirement that new voters provide proof of citizenship when they register, which a federal judge recently struck down. (Associated Press / NPR / Politico)

5/ Trump signed an executive order to reimpose several sanctions against Iran. Three months after unilaterally pulling the U.S. out of the "horrible, one-sided" Iran nuclear deal, Trump said today's move is meant to exert "maximum economic pressure" on Iran. Trump also warned all other countries "to make clear that the Iranian regime faces a choice: either change its threatening, destabilizing behavior and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation." (Associated Press)

6/ Two of the largest American steel companies, both of which have deep ties to the Trump administration, successfully objected to hundreds of tariff exemption requests by American companies that buy foreign steel. Nucor and United States Steel objected to 1,600 exemption requests filed with the Commerce Department over the last several months, arguing that companies should not be exempt from the tariffs because the imported products are readily available from American steel manufacturers. The Trump administration established a process for companies to request "exclusions" from the metal tariffs, but the Commerce Department also allowed American companies to challenge exclusion requests. Not a single exclusion challenge by the two companies has failed to date. (New York Times)

7/ A federal judge ruled on Friday that the Trump administration must fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, setting a 20-day deadline for the administration to do so. DC District Judge John Bates said the Trump administration failed to justify its proposal to end DACA and that its rationale for dropping the program was inadequate. Jeff Sessions said in a statement that the Justice Department will "take every lawful measure" to defend the decision to terminate the Obama-era program. (NPR / Washington Times / CNN / Politico)


Notables.

  1. Trump blamed Gov. Jerry Brown and "bad environmental laws" for California's catastrophic wildfires. In a tweet, Trump claimed that "vast amounts of water," which "can be used for fires," are "foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean." Firefighters have not raised concerns about the availability of water. (Politico)

  2. Maria Butina, the alleged Russian spy, socialized with a former Trump campaign aide weeks before the 2016 election. At the time, J.D. Gordon planned to join Trump's transition team, but ultimately never did. From March 2016 until August 2016, Gordon was the point person for an advisory group on foreign policy and national security for the Trump campaign. Paul Erickson, a GOP operative with whom Butina was in a romantic relationship, told her that Gordon was "playing a crucial role in the Trump transition effort and would be an excellent addition to any of the U.S./Russia friendship dinners" that might be held. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  3. Rand Paul invited Russian lawmakers to Washington after meeting Russian members of parliament in Moscow. Paul is also expected to meet with Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov and State Duma Foreign Affairs committee head Leonid Slutsky during his visit. (CNN)

  4. The Russian Foreign Ministry tapped Steve Segal to help improve "relations between Russia and the United States in the humanitarian field, including cooperation in culture, arts, public and youth exchanges." (New York Times)

  5. Kristin Davis, the "Manhattan Madam," is scheduled to testify before Robert Mueller's grand jury in Washington this week. Last week an investigator on Mueller’s team questioned Davis, an associate of former Trump adviser Roger Stone, about Russian collusion. (NBC News)

  6. The DNC warned Democrats running in November's midterms not to use devices made by Chinese manufacturers ZTE and Huawei. Top officials from the CIA, NSA, FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency all testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee in February that the Chinese smartphone makers posed a security threat to American customers. (CNN)

  7. Apple removed five of Infowars' six podcasts from its iTunes directory for violating its hate speech guidelines. A few hours later, Spotify, Facebook, and YouTube also removed Alex Jones' conspiratorial content. (BuzzFeed News / The Guardian)

  8. The Newseum stopped selling the "You Are Very Fake News" T-shirts from its store. The online store is still selling "Make America Great Again" hats. (Politico)

  9. A Trump supporter threatened "to shoot" CNN reporters Brian Stelter and Don Lemon during an on-air call with C-SPAN. The caller, identified as "Don from State College, Pennsylvania," accused Stelter and Lemon of "calling Trump supporters all racists." (HuffPost / The Hill)


Dept. of Paul Manafort's Trial.

Instead of writing summary recaps of the trial, I'm going to provide a few daily links to the live coverage.

  • Day Five.

  • 🚨 Rick Gates testified that he and Paul Manafort committed crimes together and held 15 foreign bank accounts that were not disclosed to the federal government, which were not submitted "at Mr. Manafort's direction." Gates admitted to a wide variety of crimes, including bank fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, lying to federal authorities, lying in a court deposition and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort's accounts by falsely claiming expenses. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)

  • Rick Gates to take the stand. Gates is considered the star witness for the prosecution against Manafort. (Politico)

  • Manafort's defense team attempts mission impossible. His legal team is mounting a case to exonerate him in Virginia — an uphill battle, experienced attorneys say. (Politico)

  • Trial resumes with more testimony from Manafort's former accountant; Manafort's lawyer implies Rick Gates embezzled "millions" (CNN)

  • Day Four.

  • Prosecution dives into alleged tax, bank fraud. (CNN)

  • Manafort Trial Turns to Tax Returns Mueller Says Are Phony. (Bloomberg)

  • Judge Ellis Loses Patience with Mueller Prosecutors and Ends Court Early Over Screw-Up. (Law and Crime)

  • Accountant concedes possible wrongdoing, Manafort's double life. 'They never told us about any income deposited in foreign accounts,' Manafort's accountant told jurors. (Politico)

  • Day Three.

  • Prosecution has "every intention" of calling Richard Gates as witness. (Washington Post)

  • Manafort's trial turns to accountants and tax preparers. (CNN)

  • Judge says showing jury flashy suits could "besmirch the defendant." (NBC News)

  • Day Two.

  • Prosecution Cites Lavish Spending by Paul Manafort in His Fraud Trial. (New York Times)

  • A fake bill, a banned word, and a Rick Gates surprise. (Politico)

  • Executive at 'most expensive store' testifies that Manafort paid for suits via wire transfers. (Washington Post)

  • Day One.

  • Jury selection, first witness called and a $15,000 ostrich jacket. (Washington Post)

  • Manafort's defense team opened by blaming Rick Gates. (New York Times)

  • Prosecutors accused Manafort of being a "shrewd" liar who lived an "extravagant lifestyle" fueled by "secret income" that he earned from lobbying work in Ukraine. (CNN)