Day 599: Quite enthusiastic.
1/ The Trump campaign team was “fully aware” of George Papadopoulos’ efforts to set up a Trump-Putin meeting. “I actively sought to leverage my contacts with the professor to host this meeting,” Papadopoulos said. “The campaign was fully aware what I was doing” and Trump was “open to this idea,” but deferred to Jeff Sessions, who was “quite enthusiastic.” (ABC News / NBC News)
2/ Trump is expected to declassify documents about the government’s surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and the investigative actions taken by Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr. Republicans on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees allege that Ohr was an improper intermediary between the Justice Department, Christopher Steele, and Fusion GPS — the opposition research firm that created the Trump-Russia dossier. (Axios)
3/ Trump won’t enforce the $130,000 hush-money nondisclosure agreement between Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen, claiming he has “never taken the position that he was a party” to the NDA because he never signed the agreement. Trump’s attorney, Charles Harder, called for Daniels to “immediately dismiss” Trump from her defamation lawsuit. (ABC News / CNN / New York Daily News)
Michael Cohen agreed to tear up the nondisclosure agreement barring Stormy Daniels from discussing her alleged affair with Trump and requested that she pay back the $130,000 she received. Michael Avenatti, who represents Daniels, called it a “legal stunt” in order to avoid Trump being deposed in the case. (CNN / ABC News)
Michael Cohen is back to playing games and trying to protect Donald Trump. He is now pulling a legal stunt to try and “fix it” so that we can’t depose Trump and present evidence to the American people about what happened. He is not a hero nor a patriot. He deserves what he gets.— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) September 8, 2018
Stormy Daniels said she “vigorously opposes” Trump and Cohen’s offer to not enforce her nondisclosure agreement, claiming their “sudden desire to escape” the agreement is a signal that they have been “shamelessly deceiving this Court and the American public for more than six months.” (Daily Beast / Courthouse News)
4/ The Trump administration discussed plans for a coup in Venezuela last year with rebels who were rebuffed by the Obama administration. The secret meetings involved a Venezuelan military commander who is on the American government’s own sanctions list of corrupt officials in Venezuela. The U.S. eventually decided not to help the rebels, and the coup plans stalled. (New York Times)
5/ Jeff Sessions defended the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy as “perfectly legitimate, moral and decent.” He also argued that in order to deter a large number of migrants, the U.S. need to adopt a tougher stance on immigration, saying: “The world will know what our rules are, and great numbers will no longer undertake a dangerous journey.” Sessions plans to increase the number of immigration judges by 50% by the end of the year. (NBC News / Politico)
poll/ 38% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president – down three percentage points since August. 60% say Trump is not honest, 55% say he doesn’t care about Americans, 55% also say he is not fit to serve as president, and 42% say Trump is not intelligent. (Quinnipiac)
Federal prosecutors admitted that they wrongly accused Maria Butina of trading sex for influence with high-level Republicans on behalf of the Russian government. Butina is a Russian citizen who is currently in custody and facing charges of conspiracy and illegally acting as a foreign agent. Prosecutors acknowledged in court filings that they were “mistaken” in their interpretation of what were apparently joke text messages between Butina and a friend. (New York Times)
The Trump administration is expanding U.S. drone strikes in Africa. President Obama curtailed the program toward the end of his term after a series of highly publicized civilian deaths resulted from the strikes. (New York Times)
John Bolton will threaten the International Criminal Court with sanctions and other penalties if it proceeds with an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Americans in Afghanistan. “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” reads a draft of Bolton’s upcoming speech. The Trump administration is also expected to announce the closure of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington due to concerns over Palestinian attempts to convince the ICC to launch an investigation of Israel. (NBC News / Washington Post / CBS News)
Omarosa Manigault Newman released a recording of Trump discussing Hillary Clinton and the Russia investigation. In the October 2017 meeting with the White House communications and press teams, Trump claimed that the “real Russia story is Hillary and collusion.” He alleged that the Clinton campaign paid $9 million for an unidentified “phony report.” Manigault Newman added that Trump frequently crashed meetings at the White House, “rambling from topic to topic,” because he got bored “very often.” (NBC News / The Hill / Daily Beast)
The White House changed its phone policy in a move believed to be in direct response to Manigault Newman’s recordings. Staffers will now have to put their White House-issued devices in their offices or in lockers with their personal phones near the West Wing entrances before being buzzed into the Situation Room. (CNN)
Pence said he would take a lie-detector test “in a heartbeat” in order to prove that he wasn’t the anonymous author of the New York Times op-ed. He also said he is “more than willing” to sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller’s team as part of their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Washington Post / The Hill)
Trump promised to “write the real book” about his administration, calling Bob Woodward’s new book a “joke.” Trump claimed that Fear: Trump in the White House is “fiction” because it uses “now disproven unnamed and anonymous sources.” (Politico)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.