1/ The special counsel's office issued a rare statement disputing aspects of the BuzzFeed report that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about Trump's involvement in a real-estate deal with Russia during the 2016 campaign. A statement from Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, called the report's "description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's Office" and the "characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office" as it related to Cohen's Congressional testimony "not accurate." In response, BuzzFeed News Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith tweeted: "We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he's disputing." BuzzFeed's story cited two anonymous law-enforcement sources. According to different anonymous people who claim to be familiar with the matter, "Mueller's denial […] aims to make clear that none of those statement in the story are accurate." And, another anonymous person claiming to be familiar with Cohen's testimony to Mueller's prosecutors said: "Cohen did not state that the president had pressured him to lie to Congress." The statement from the special counsel's office came nearly a day after the story was published. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian / Politico / CNN / Vox)

  • Trump thanked Robert Mueller for the statement, tweeting that he "appreciate[s] the special counsel coming out with a statement last night" about what he called "a total phony story." (Reuters / Axios / USA Today)

  • BuzzFeed insisted that their reporting is "solid" and "accurate." BuzzFeed's Anthony Cormier said "I'm solid. My sources are solid. This reporting is accurate," adding that he has received "further confirmation" that the report is accurate. "I have further confirmation that this is right. We're being told to stand our ground. … Our reporting is going to be borne to be accurate and we're 100 percent behind it." (The Hill)

2/ Trump was involved in negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow throughout the entire 2016 presidential campaign – several months longer than any administration official or Trump associate has previously admitted. Rudy Giuliani said conversations between Trump and Michael Cohen about building a Trump Tower in Moscow "went on throughout 2016 […] probably up to, could be up to as far as October, November." Giuliani later clarified, quoting Trump that the discussions were "going on from the day I announced to the day I won." The new timetable means that Trump, who repeatedly claimed during the campaign that he had "no business" in Russia, was in fact seeking a deal in Russia when he said in July 2016 that he had "nothing to do with Russia." The timeline also conflicts with Cohen's 2017 testimony that the Moscow project ended in January 2016 – before the Republican primaries began. Cohen later pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the deal, saying efforts continued through June 2016 before it fell apart – a month after Trump had secured the Republican Party's presidential nomination. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Politico / CNN / Bloomberg)

  • Giuliani suggested that Trump may have spoken to Cohen before he gave false testimony to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow discussions. Giuliani claimed it would have been "perfectly normal" for Trump to discuss the testimony with Cohen, but added "So what if he talked to him?" (The Guardian)

3/ Trump offered Democrats a limited three-year renewal of DACA and Temporary Protected Status protections in exchange for $5.7 billion in funding for his border wall. The proposal to end the government shutdown – now in its 31st day – was immediately rejected by Democrats and mocked by conservatives as "amnesty." Trump canceled DACA in 2017 and has moved to end TPS as well. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / The Guardian / CNN / CNBC)

  • 10% of TSA employees called out with "unscheduled absences" on Sunday, with many employees citing "financial limitations" preventing them from working. (CNN)

  • The FDA has called back about 100 furloughed investigators and 35 supervisors for domestic food surveillance inspections. The FDA's Scott Gottlieb said the agency is "targeting the riskiest products to make sure that Americans remain protected" during the shutdown. (Bloomberg)

4/ Trump lied 8,158 times since taking office two years ago. Trump averaged nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day in his first year in office, and hit nearly 16.5 a day in his second year – almost triple the pace. (Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. Researchers discovered as many as 20 undisclosed ballistic missile sites in North Korea. The Kim regime has never admitted the existence of the bases. (NBC News)

  2. Kamala Harris announced she is running for president in 2020. The California senator joins a Democratic field that includes Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, and Joe Biden are all expected to announce their bids in the coming weeks. (Bloomberg / Reuters / Wall Street Journal)

  3. The Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Jerome Corsi, seeking both an interview and documents from the Roger Stone associate. (The Hill)

  4. The Trump administration's deal to lift sanctions against a Russian oligarch contains provisions that will allow Oleg Deripaska to wipe out of hundreds of millions of dollars in debt while leaving him and his allies with majority ownership of his company. (New York Times)

  5. The House Intelligence Committee and Financial Services Committee are discussing how to investigate Trump's business ties to Deutsche Bank. Trump owes the bank at least $130 million according to a 2017 financial disclosure. (Reuters)

  6. Senate Republicans threatened to use the "nuclear option" to quickly confirm Trump's nominees, which an emphasis on confirming judges to lifetime appointments. (Politico)

  7. Trump honored Martin Luther King, Jr. with a two-minute visit to the memorial in Washington. He laid a wreath at the base of a sculpture of King and thanked reporters for being there. (Politico)


⚠️ Programming note: According to my publishing schedule, I wasn't supposed to publish today. However, a lot happened since Friday and I wanted to make sure we captured the big updates. Oh well! Here's your "limited" WTFJHT!