What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential guide to the daily shock and awe in national politics. Read in moderation.
Curated by @matt_kiser

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Day 694: "Of course."

1/ Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Trump's inaugural committee and a pro-Trump super PAC received illegal donations from individuals from Middle Eastern nations who were hoping to buy influence over U.S. policy. The inquiry focuses on whether people from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates used straw donors to disguise their donations to the two Trump funds. Foreign contributions to federal campaigns, political action committees, and inaugural funds are illegal. The inaugural committee was headed by Thomas Barrack, and Paul Manafort, who was Trump's campaign chairman at the time, believed that Barrack could help raise funds for the super PAC, Rebuilding America Now, which could collect unlimited amounts of money. Barrack said that Manafort viewed the super PAC as an arm of the campaign, despite laws meant to prevent coordination. The committee raised $23 million on Trump's behalf. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 693: Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether Trump's 2017 inaugural committee misspent the $107 million it raised and whether some of the donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions, or to influence administration positions. The committee said in its tax documents that it spent $77 million on conferences, conventions and meetings, $4 million on ticketing, $9 million on travel, $4.5 million on salaries and wages, and other expenses. Nearly a quarter of the money was paid to a firm led by a friend of Melania Trump that was formed 45 days before the inauguration. (Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 389: Trump's inaugural committee won't reveal what it's doing with tens of millions of dollars it pledged to charity last year. The committee raised about $107 million, but only spent about half of it. The rest, it said, would go to charity. (Daily Beast)

  • 📌 Day 392: Trump's inaugural committee paid nearly $26 million to an event planning firm started by Melania's adviser and longtime friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff. The firm was created in December 2016 – 45 days before the inauguration. Trump’s inauguration committee raised $107 million and paid to WIS Media Partners $25.8 million. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 404: Melania Trump parted ways with her senior adviser and friend, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, after news surfaced that Wolkoff's firm had received $26 million to plan Trump's inauguration and surrounding events in January 2017. Wolkoff was terminated last week because the Trumps were unhappy with the news reports about the contract. (New York Times)

2/ Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed that Trump had nothing to do with his inaugural committee's spending. "The biggest thing the president did, his engagement in the inauguration, was to come here and raise his hand and take the oath of office," Sanders said. (Politico)

3/ Ivanka Trump negotiated the prices that Trump's inauguration committee paid the Trump Organization for rooms, meals, and event space at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. A top inaugural planner emailed Ivanka and others at the company to "express my concern" that the hotel was overcharging for its event spaces and asking what would happen "when this is audited." It could violate tax law if the hotel charged more than the going rate for the event spaces. (ProPublica)

4/ Michael Cohen says "of course" Trump knew it was wrong to make the hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, because Trump "was very concerned about how this would affect the election." Cohen admitted that he "knew what I was doing was wrong," adding that the whole purpose was to "help [Trump] and his campaign." Cohen also noted that "nothing at the Trump Organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump. He directed me to make the payments, he directed me to become involved in these matters." (ABC News / CNN / New York Times)

  • 📌Day 441: Trump denied knowing about the $130,000 payment his lawyer made to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to buy her silence. Trump said he didn't know where Michael Cohen got the money from and he declined to say if he ever set up a fund for Cohen to cover expenses like that. "You'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You'll have to ask Michael," Trump said. Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, tweeted: "We very much look forward to testing the truthfulness of Mr. Trump's feigned lack of knowledge concerning the $130k payment as stated on Air Force One. As history teaches us, it is one thing to deceive the press and quite another to do so under oath." (USA Today / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 📌Day 471: Trump knew about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels several months before he denied any knowledge of it to reporters aboard Air Force One in April. While it's not clear when Trump learned of the payment, which Michael Cohen made in October 2016, Trump did know that Cohen had succeeded in keeping the allegations from becoming public when he denied it. Last week, Giuliani said Cohen was reimbursed between $460,000 and $470,000 for various payments. Cohen was mainly reimbursed through payments of $35,000 per month – or about $420,000 over 12 months – from Trump's personal trust. (New York Times)

5/ Rudy Giuliani contends that the hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal are overblown, because "nobody got killed, nobody got robbed […] This was not a big crime." Trump continues to insist that he is innocent of any crimes because he never explicitly asked for Cohen or AMI to violate campaign finance law. (Daily Beast)

6/ Paul Manafort advised the White House about how to undermine and discredit Robert Mueller's investigation in the spring and summer of 2017. Manafort urged Trump to attack the FBI, Hillary Clinton and the Steele dossier, and to allege without evidence that the Ukrainian government had colluded with the Democratic National Committee to try to help Clinton win the 2016 presidential election. "After signing the plea agreement, Manafort stated he had no direct or indirect communications with anyone in the administration while they were in the administration," Mueller said in a court filing, "and that he never asked anyone to try and communicate a message to anyone in the administration on any subject." (Vox)

7/ Mueller rejected Michael Flynn's suggestion that he was tricked into lying to FBI agents about his communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. "The interview was voluntary, and lacked any indicia of coercion," Mueller's team wrote in new court documents, referring to the Jan. 24, 2017 interview at the White House four days after Trump's inauguration. Neither Flynn nor his lawyers have explained why he lied. (New York Times / USA Today / NBC News / Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and shock while detained by U.S. Border Patrol after crossing into the U.S. illegally with her father. The girl was taken into custody and separated from her father on Dec. 6 around 10 p.m. More than eight hours later, the girl began having seizures around 6:25 a.m. the next morning. Emergency responders measured her body temperature at 105.7 degrees and determined that she "reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days." (Washington Post)

  2. The White House deflected blame for the death of the 7-year-old girl who died in Border Patrol custody, calling it a "tragic situation" that was "100 percent preventable" if Congress would Congress "disincentivize" migrants from making long treks to the southern U.S. border. (Washington Post)

  3. The 7-year-old migrant who died in U.S. custody didn't receive medical care for more than 90 minutes after her father reported that she was sick. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen called the death of the girl "a very sad example of the dangers of this journey." (Bloomberg)

  4. Betsy DeVos will cancel $150 million in federal student loan debt for for 15,000 borrowers after losing a court battle. The move comes two months after a federal judge ordered the immediate implementation of the "borrower defense" rule, which was designed to help students cheated by for-profit colleges get relief on their education debt. (Politico / CNN)

  5. Chris Christie told Trump he doesn't want to be considered for the chief of staff job. (Axios)

  6. George Papadopoulos is considering a run for Congress. The former Trump campaign foreign policy aide just spent 12 days in prison after pleading guilty to making false statements to the FBI about contacts with a professor, Joseph Mifsud, who claimed to know that Russia had thousands of emails connected to Hillary Clinton. (Politico)

  7. Reince Priebus is joining the Navy on a recommendation from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. A Navy review board "professionally recommended" the former Trump chief of staff to join the service. (Washington Post)

Day 693: The Diplomacy Project.

1/ Maria Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a foreign agent of the Kremlin and influence U.S. politics from 2015 until her arrest in July. Butina tried to establish "unofficial lines of communication" with influential Americans in the NRA and in the Republican Party "under direction of" a former Russian senator and deputy governor of Russia's central bank, who matches the description of sanctioned Russian central banker Alexander Torshin. Butina is also expected to provide evidence against Paul Erickson, who helped her with what she called her "Diplomacy Project." Butina faces up to five years in prison but is expected to only serve six months based on "the sentencing guidelines cited as part of the plea agreement." (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Politico) / NBC News)

2/ Trump claimed he "never directed Michael Cohen to break the law" and said he isn't responsible for any crimes because he acted on the "advice of counsel" and his former lawyer is "supposed to know the law." Trump also questioned whether any campaign finance violations even occurred, saying "Cohen was guilty on many charges unrelated to me […] which were not criminal and of which he probably was not guilty even on a civil basis." Trump suggested that Cohen pleaded guilty to the charges in order to "embarrass" him and to get a reduced prison term. Cohen pleaded guilty in August to violating campaign finance law when he made hush money payments ahead of the 2016 election to Stormy Daniels and arranged a similar pay-off to Karen McDougal at the direction of then-candidate Trump, which were intended to sway the election. (New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / Politico / CNN / NBC News)

  • 🚨 CONFIRMED: Trump was the "other member of the campaign" in the room when Cohen and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker discussed ways Pecker could "help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate's relationships with women." In August 2015, Trump and Cohen met with Pecker in his Trump Tower office and asked how he could help the campaign. Pecker offered to use the National Enquirer to buy the silence of women if they tried to publicize alleged sexual encounters with Trump. (Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

  • ⏮ At the time, Hope Hicks claimed the Trump campaign had "no knowledge of any of this," adding that Karen McDougal's claim that she had an affair with Trump was "totally untrue." The National Enquirer's parent company said that "AMI has not paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr. Trump." (Wall Street Journal)

3/ Two Michael Flynn associates said he discussed a deal with Sergey Kislyak during the campaign about how Trump and Russia could work together if Trump won. According to Flynn's associates, the bargain he discussed with Russia's then-ambassador to the U.S. was that Moscow would cooperate with the Trump administration to resolve the Syrian conflict and in exchange the U.S. would end or ease sanctions imposed on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Ukraine. In mid-August 2016, Trump and Flynn received a briefing that noted the intelligence community had reached the preliminary conclusion that Moscow was behind the hacks of Democratic targets and the public disclosure of the stolen material. Flynn's "series of contacts" with Kislyak continued despite knowing Moscow was behind the efforts to subvert the U.S. election. (Mother Jones)

  • Trump claimed that Robert Mueller's prosecutors gave Michael Flynn "a great deal because they were embarrassed by the way he was treated." Mueller recommended Flynn serve no jail time due to his "substantial assistance" in the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election after the former national security adviser pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. last December. (The Hill)

  • 📌 The Re-Up: Day 25: Michael Flynn resigned as National Security Adviser after it was revealed that he had misled Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Flynn served in the job for less than a month. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 26: Trump knew Flynn misled officials on Russia calls for "weeks," the White House says. The comment contrasts the impression Trump gave aboard Air Force One that he was not familiar with a report that revealed Flynn had not told the truth about the calls. White House counsel Don McGahn told Trump in a January briefing that Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions with Russia. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 22: Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials. Flynn's communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election. (Washington Post)

4/ Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether Trump's 2017 inaugural committee misspent the $107 million it raised and whether some of the donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions, or to influence administration positions. The committee said in its tax documents that it spent $77 million on conferences, conventions and meetings, $4 million on ticketing, $9 million on travel, $4.5 million on salaries and wages, and other expenses. Nearly a quarter of the money was paid to a firm led by a friend of Melania Trump that was formed 45 days before the inauguration. (Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 389: Trump's inaugural committee won't reveal what it's doing with tens of millions of dollars it pledged to charity last year. The committee raised about $107 million, but only spent about half of it. The rest, it said, would go to charity. (Daily Beast)

  • 📌 Day 392: Trump's inaugural committee paid nearly $26 million to an event planning firm started by Melania's adviser and longtime friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff. The firm was created in December 2016 – 45 days before the inauguration. Trump’s inauguration committee raised $107 million and paid to WIS Media Partners $25.8 million. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 404: Melania Trump parted ways with her senior adviser and friend, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, after news surfaced that Wolkoff's firm had received $26 million to plan Trump's inauguration and surrounding events in January 2017. Wolkoff was terminated last week because the Trumps were unhappy with the news reports about the contract. (New York Times)

5/ The Senate passed a resolution condemning Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, delivering a political rebuke of Trump's refusal to condemn Mohammed for the killing of Khashoggi. Last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis briefed senators in a classified session, claiming there is no "direct reporting" linking the crown prince to Khashoggi's death despite a CIA assessment reporting that Mohammed was likely responsible for the murder. The Senate also overwhelming approved a resolution to end U.S. participation in the Saudi-led war effort in Yemen. (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Bloomberg / ABC News)

6/ Trump canceled the White House holiday party for members of the media, ending the decades-long tradition as his contentious relationship with the media continues to escalate. There was no announcement from the White House stating that the event was canceled. (Fox News)

poll/ 48% of Americans have confidence in the Democrats in Congress to deal with the major issues facing the country today, compared with 39% who said they have confidence in Trump, and 9% who say they don't trust either. (CNN)


Notables.

  1. Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma bought tens of thousands of dollars in stock in a top defense contractor days before he began pushing for an unprecedented $750 billion defense spending bill. When asked about his purchases, Inhofe had his financial adviser cancel the transactions, dump the stock, and avoid defense and aerospace purchases in the future. (Daily Beast)

  2. Trump removed Rep. Mark Meadows from consideration to be chief of staff. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump needs the House Freedom Caucus chairman in Congress. (Politico)

  3. Jared Kushner met with Trump about the chief of staff job. Trump told reporters that he is down to five finalists. (HuffPost)

  4. Jose Canseco volunteered to be Trump's "Chief if Staff," tweeting at the president that he is "worried about [Trump] looking more like a Twinkie everyday" and promising to "buff you up daily workouts" if he is given the job. (ESPN)

  5. Using backwards math, Trump claimed that the "money we save" from the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada would mean "MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!" Chuck Schumer told the Senate that if Mexico is funding the wall, then Congress doesn't need to spend any money on it. (Washington Post)

  6. Trump will spend 16 days at Mar-a-Lago over the Christmas and New Year's holidays. The upcoming visit is longer than last year's 12-day visit. (Palm Beach Post)

Day 692: Hello darkness, my old friend.

1/ Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion, violating campaign finance laws, lying to banks and to Congress. Cohen apologized for his conduct, admitting that he had arranged the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal "for the principal purpose of influencing the election" for president in 2016, and took "full responsibility" for covering up the "dirty deeds" out of "blind loyalty" to Trump. Cohen pleaded guilty in two separate cases: One brought by Robert Mueller over his lies to Congress. The other was brought by the southern district of New York over tax and bank fraud, and campaign finance violations. Cohen blamed Trump for his "path of darkness." In addition to the prison time, Cohen will forfeit $500,000 in assets and pay $1.393 million in restitution. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico / The Guardian / NBC News / CBS News / ABC News)

  • Sean Hannity deleted past tweets that tied him to Cohen hours before Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison. Hannity reportedly deleted over 270 tweets, with five of them directly referencing his relationship with Cohen. Hannity deleted several April 16 tweets discussing Cohen following the revelation that Cohen represented him, Trump, and former Republican National Committee Deputy Finance Chair Elliott Broidy in legal matters. "Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective," Hannity tweeted in the now-deleted tweet. (Newsweek / Daily Beast)

  • Trump blamed Cohen for the crimes stemming from paying Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, arguing that it was his "lawyer's liability if he made a mistake, not me." Cohen said he arranged the payments at Trump's behest. (Bloomberg)

  • Stormy Daniels was ordered to pay Trump nearly $293,000 for his attorneys' fees and another $1,000 in sanctions after her defamation suit against him was dismissed. Earlier this year Daniels filed a defamation lawsuit, claiming Trump acted with "actual malice" and "reckless disregard for the truth" when he mocked her claim that she was threatened by an unknown man to keep silent about her alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump. (Associated Press / The Guardian / ABC News)

2/ National Enquirer's parent company admitted that it paid Karen McDougal $150,000 in an attempt to influence the 2016 election as part of a non-prosecution cooperation agreement that American Media Inc. entered into with the Southern District of New York. David Pecker, a Trump ally and CEO of AMI, met with Cohen "and at least one other member of the campaign" in August of 2015, offering "to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate's relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided." AMI confessed to the tabloid practice of "catch and kill," paying McDougal for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with Trump and then never publishing it. (Bloomberg / Talking Points Memo / CNN / New York Times)

  • 🚨The "one other member of the campaign" was Trump. In August 2015, Trump met with Pecker in his Trump Tower office and asked how he could help the campaign. Pecker offered to use the National Enquirer to buy the silence of women if they tried to publicize alleged sexual encounters with Trump. (Wall Street Journal)

  • ⏪Four days before the 2016 election, Hope Hicks claimed the Trump campaign had "no knowledge of any of this," adding that McDougal's claim that she had an affair with Trump was "totally untrue." In a statement at the time, the company said that "AMI has not paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr. Trump." (Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌Day 581. David Pecker was granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information about Cohen and Trump in their criminal investigation into hush-money payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal during the 2016 presidential campaign. In exchange for immunity, the CEO of American Media, Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, met with prosecutors and shared details about payments Cohen arranged to Daniels and McDougal, including Trump's knowledge of the deals. Dylan Howard, AMI's chief content officer, is also cooperating with federal prosecutors. Together, Pecker and Howard corroborate Cohen's account implicating Trump in a federal crime (campaign-finance violations). Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis says there are more revelations to come. And, one person close to Cohen claims Cohen wants to tell Mueller that Trump discussed the release of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's e-mails during the weekend when the Access Hollywood "grab 'em by the pussy" tape dominated the news cycle. Late last night, Trump tweeted: "NO COLLUSION - RIGGED WITCH HUNT!" It's unclear what prompted the tweet. (Wall Street Journal / Vanity Fair / NBC News / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 581: The National Enquirer kept a safe with documents about hush money payments and damaging stories it killed as part of its relationship with Trump. Pecker and the company’s chief content officer, Dylan Howard, removed them from the safe in the weeks before Trump's inauguration and it's unclear if the documents were destroyed or simply were moved to a new location. (Associated Press)

  • 📌 Day 547: 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)

  • 📌 Day 162: "Morning Joe" hosts claimed that Trump tried to blackmail them with a National Enquirer hit-piece. Joe Scarborough recounted a story where "three people at the very top of the administration" called and texted him to say the National Enquirer was going to run a negative story about him and Mika Brzezinski. "If you call the president up, and you apologize for your coverage," the officials said, "then [Trump] will pick up the phone and basically spike this story." In a Washington Post op-ed by Scarborough and Brzezinski today, the couple said that during the campaign, Trump called Mika “neurotic” and promised to personally attack them after the campaign ended. Trump is friends with David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer. (CNN / Washington Post)

3/ Michael Flynn asked to be spared jail time because of his "extensive cooperation" with Mueller. Flynn pleaded guilty last December to lying to the FBI during its counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. He blamed the FBI agents for tricking him into lying by not warning him "that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview." Flynn asked to receive a year of probation and 200 hours of community service in light of his cooperation, long service in the U.S. military, and his lack of a criminal record. Mueller's office similarly recommended little to no jail time last week because he had provided "substantial assistance" in the investigation that "likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming." (Politico / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / NBC News)

  • Everyone who's been charged as part of the Mueller investigation. The special counsel has issued more than 100 criminal counts against 33 people and three companies. (New York Times)

4/ The incoming New York attorney general plans to launch a wide-ranging investigation into Trump, his family, and "anyone" in his orbit who may have violated the law. Letitia James plans to investigate any potential illegalities involving Trump's real estate holdings in New York, the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, government subsidies Trump has received, whether he used his businesses to violate the emoluments clause, and the Trump Foundation. (NBC News)

  • Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are poised to benefit financially from the Opportunity Zone tax break they pushed Trump to pass. Opportunity Zones provide tax breaks to developers who invest in depressed American communities. Watchdog investigators say the pair are navigating an ethical minefield after becoming two of Trump's closest advisers without divesting from their real estate investments. The couple owns stakes in at least 13 properties held by Kushner's family firm that could now qualify for tax breaks because they are in Opportunity Zones in New Jersey, New York, and Maryland. (Associated Press)

  • Rudy Giuliani continues to seek lucrative security consulting contracts with foreign governments while representing Trump as part of his work for Giuliani Security and Safety. Giuliani is not a government employee and is not subject to government ethics rules. His security consulting contracts include clauses stipulating that he will not lobby on behalf of clients before the U.S. government. (New York Times)

  • The targets of U.S. sanctions are trying to hire lobbyists with connections to Trump in order to help them reduce or get out of those sanctions entirely. Some of the biggest payments to Washington's influence industry have gone to lobbyists, lawyers, and consultants with connections to Trump or his administration, a notion that reeks of the pay-to-play corruption often seen in the politics of many African, Asian, Middle Eastern, and former Soviet nations. "People overseas often want to hear that you know so-and-so, and can make a call to solve their problem," said a leading Washington sanctions lawyer. The trend has been encouraged by Trump administration officials who project Trump's willingness to make deals around sanctions and tariff exemptions. (New York Times)

5/ Trump claimed he is not concerned about impeachment a day after it was reported that he sees impeachment as a "real possibility." He then defended the payments he directed Cohen to make to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, saying "It's hard to impeach somebody who hasn't done anything wrong and who's created the greatest economy in the history of our country." Trump added: "I'm not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened." (Reuters)


Notables.

  1. The next chief of staff needs to win the approval of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. The two have their sights set on Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, who they see as extremely loyal. Mnuchin, however, remains uninterested in the position. "There was no Plan B" after Nick Ayers refused to take the job, Steve Bannon said. Trump, meanwhile, claimed that 10 to 12 people who want the chief of staff job "badly," but the understanding is that Trump has essentially been "just calling around to friends" to try and fill the position. (Reuters / Politico / Washington Post)

  2. Trump doubled down on his decision to stand by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite his own CIA's assessment that MBS ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. "He’s the leader of Saudi Arabia," Trump said during an interview. "They’ve been a very good ally." Trump continued to defend MBS by reiterating that the "crown prince vehemently denies" any involvement in Khashoggi's death. (Reuters)

  3. The Trump administration decided that Vietnamese migrants who arrived before the establishment of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Vietnam are all eligible for deportation. The White House reinterpreted a 2008 agreement that specifically bars the deportation of Vietnamese people who arrived in the U.S. before July 12, 1995. (The Atlantic)

  4. The Senate passed legislation to reverse a Trump administration policy limiting donor disclosure requirements for political nonprofits. The resolution blocks the recent Treasury Department change to IRS forms allowing political nonprofits to avoid listing some donors. The rule, however, is unlikely to survive the GOP-led House, which must vote on the resolution before the end of the year. (Politico / Washington Post)

  5. The House passed an $867 billion farm bill to address a wide range of areas including farming, nutrition, conservation, trade, energy and forestry. The bill, which passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support, heads to Trump's desk for his signature. (The Hill / Los Angeles Times / CNN)

  6. Despite no evidence linking terror attacks in the U.S. to illegal immigration, Trump used the attack in France to again argue for more funding for his border wall. "Another very bad terror attack in France," Trump tweeted. "We are going to strengthen our borders even more. Chuck and Nancy must give us the votes to get additional Border Security!" (ABC News / Politico / Washington Post)

Day 691: This wall thing.

1/ Trump claimed he'd be "proud to shut down the government" if his demand for $5 billion in border wall funding isn't met. In an extended, heated, and televised exchange with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, Trump declared that "I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it. I am proud to shut down the government for border security. […] I will take the mantle […] for shutting down the government." Schumer and Pelosi said they made two offers to Trump at the current level of $1.375 billion. Prior to the meeting, Trump falsely tweeted that a substantial part of his "Great Wall" had already been built and then threatened that "if the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall." Schumer accused Trump of throwing a "temper tantrum" with the meeting ending with no resolution, increasing the chances of a partial government shutdown at the end of next week. (Washington Post / Axios / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC)

  • After the meeting, Pelosi questioned Trump's manhood and called the border wall a matter of masculine pride. Trump "must have said the word 'wall' 30 times," the House minority leader said. "It's like a manhood thing with him — as if manhood can be associated with him," she added. "This wall thing." (Politico / Washington Post)

  • 5 takeaways from Trump's meeting with Pelosi and Schumer. (New York Times)

  • Annotated: Trump's squabble with Pelosi and Schumer. (Washington Post)

2/ The Trump administration plans to unveil sweeping changes to federal clean water rules that would weaken protections for millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams against pesticide runoff and other pollutants. The proposed reforms would strip away standards that were put in place during the George H.W. Bush administration despite Trump's repeated commitment to "crystal-clean water." Current rules restricts farmers from using land near streams and wetlands for certain kinds of plowing and planting, and also requires permits from the EPA to use some pesticides and fertilizers. Trump's new plan would lift those restrictions. (New York Times / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

3/ John Kelly will remain as chief of staff through at least Jan. 2 to ensure "a very peaceful and pragmatic transition," Kellyanne Conway said. Trump previously announced that Kelly would exit by the end of the year. (Washington Post)

  • After Nick Ayers declined the chief of staff job, Trump asks "why wouldn't someone want one of the truly great and meaningful jobs in Washington." Trump later claimed that "a lot of friends of mine want it," and "we're in no rush." (Politico / New York Times / USA Today)

  • Trump's mood after Ayers' declined the job: "super pissed" and humiliated. Trump has also become increasingly concerned about what his administration is up against come January, when Democrats are expected to exercise their oversight powers on the Trump administration. (CNN)

4/ Trump sees impeachment as a "real possibility" after prosecutors in New York linked him to campaign finance violations for directing the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. The legal troubles have unnerved some of his fellow Republicans with one official calling last week's court filings a "reality tremor." (CNN / Associated Press / Axios)

  • More Mueller developments are coming this week in the Manafort, Cohen and Flynn cases. (CNBC)

5/ Trump continues to reject the assessment U.S. spy agencies lay out for him in daily briefings on world events. In particular, Trump has dismissed the intelligence community's assessments about Russia's interference in the 2016 election, North Korea's willingness to abandon its nuclear weapons program, Iran's nuclear and regional ambitions, the existence of climate change, and the role of the Saudi crown prince in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. (Washington Post)

poll/ 57% of Americans think Trump should compromise on his border wall to prevent a government shutdown. 69% do not consider building a border wall to be an immediate priority for the next Congress. (NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist)

poll/ 29% of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling the Russia investigation. 54%, meanwhile, think the things Trump has said publicly about the investigation have been false. (CNN)


Notables.

  1. The Senate will vote on a criminal justice bill before the end of the year. The legislation would reduce the three-strike mandatory life sentence to 25 years for drug offenses, and give judges the power to bypass the minimum sentences for certain offenders. It would also mark of Trump's first bipartisan legislative achievements of his presidency. (CNBC / Bloomberg / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  2. For months the Trump administration hid a report that showed Wells Fargo charged college students fees that were several times larger than the average fees of its competitors. The report was produced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under its former top student loan official, Seth Frotman, who resigned in protest in August. Wells Fargo collected more than half of all the fees paid by students despite handling about a quarter of the accounts. (Politico)

  3. China agreed to reduce tariffs on U.S. autos to 15% – down from 40% currently. The Trump administration, meanwhile, plans to condemn China's trade, cyber, and economic policies. The Justice Department is also expected to announce the indictments of several hackers suspected of working for the Chinese government. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times)

  4. The incoming House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman plans to investigate Jared Kushner's ties to Mohammed bin Salman as part of a review of U.S. policy towards Saudi Arabia. (CNN)

  5. Putin claimed "nobody" at Russia's spy agencies "knows anything about" Maria Butina, who agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and cooperate with federal, state and local authorities in any ongoing investigations. (CNBC / ABC News)

Day 690: "I have nothing to do with Russia."

1/ An alleged Russian spy appears to have reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors involving accusations that she was working as an agent for the Kremlin in the U.S. Maria Butina is accused of working with a Russian banking official to develop relationships with American politicians through the National Rifle Association in an effort to advance Russian interests. Butina previously pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and acting as an agent of a foreign government, but attorneys and prosecutors filed a request for a "change of plea" hearing since "the parties have resolved this matter." Butina's case was brought by federal prosecutors in D.C. – not by Robert Mueller. (CNN / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  • Relevant: The NRA spent $30 million to support Trump in the 2016 election, and the two groups used the same consultants to execute complementary TV advertising strategies during the campaign. The FBI is also investigating whether a Russian banker – Alexander Torshin – illegally funneled money to the NRA in order to help Trump win the presidency.

  • 📌 The Re-up: Day 543. The Justice Department charged a Russian national and accused her of acting as a Russian agent "for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian federation." Maria Butina tried to infiltrate the NRA and "create a back-channel line of communication" back to the Kremlin. Charging documents say Butina was directed by a "high-level official in the Russian government," who has been previously identified as Alexander Torshin, a senior official at the Russian central bank, who is also a longtime associate of the NRA. The charges were filed under seal the day after 12 Russian intelligence officers were indicted by the Justice Department for hacking Democratic computers. They were unsealed following Trump's press conference with Putin where he said he saw no reason the Russian leader would try to influence the presidential election. (Bloomberg / The Guardian / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 564. 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)

  • 📌 Day 545. The Justice Department added a second charge against Russian national Maria Butina of acting as an unregistered foreign agent of the Kremlin since at least 2015. Butina was charged on Monday with conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government. Butina was arrested on Sunday because she appeared to have plans to flee the U.S. (Politico / Washington Post)

2/ Jerome Corsi sued Mueller, the Justice Department, the National Security Agency, the FBI and the CIA for $350 million, claiming his Fourth Amendment rights were violated, and that Mueller leaked his grand jury testimony and blackmailed him to lie as part of a "legal coup d'etat" against Trump. The conspiracy theorist and Roger Stone associate is asking for $100 million in actual damages and $250 million in punitive damages as compensation for injury to his reputation. The suit also accuses the CIA, FBI, and NSA of placing Corsi under illegal surveillance "at the direction of Mueller and his partisan Democrat, leftist, and ethically and legally conflicted prosecutorial staff." Corsi is suspected of being the go-between for Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. (Politico / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 667. Jerome Corsi emailed Roger Stone two months before WikiLeaks released emails stolen from the Clinton campaign, saying "Word is (Julian Assange) plans 2 more dumps…Impact planned to be very damaging." On July 25, 2016, Stone emailed Corsi, directing him to "Get to (Assange) [a]t Ecuadorian Embassy in London and get the pending (WikiLeaks) emails." Corsi passed the directive along to conservative author Ted Malloch. Eight days later, Corsi emailed Stone saying that WikiLeaks had information that would be damaging to Clinton's campaign and planned to release it in October. (NBC News)

3/ At least 16 Trump associates interacted with Russian nationals during the campaign and transition period, according to public records and interviews. After taking office, Trump and senior officials repeatedly lied about the campaign's contact with Russians, with Trump at one point claiming: "No. Nobody that I know of. I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does." Hope Hicks, then Trump's spokeswoman, also lied, saying: "It never happened. There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign." The contacts and communications occurred amidst "sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the U.S. presidential election," according to Mueller's latest filing. The list of associates communicating with Russians includes Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Jeff Sessions, JD Gordon, Roger Stone, Michael Caputo, Erik Prince, Avi Berkowitz, Michael Cohen, Ivanka Trump, and Felix Sater. (CNN / Washington Post)

4/ Trump tweeted there is no "smocking gun" tying his campaign to Russia, misspelling "smoking gun" twice in the same tweet. Trump suggested that the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal were not illegal campaign contributions, as federal prosecutors claim, but instead a "simple private transaction" that are only being scrutinized because investigators have not been able to find evidence of collusion between his 2016 campaign and Russia. "No Smocking Gun…No Collusion." (Washington Post)

  • The incoming chair of the House judiciary committee: Trump is "at the center of a massive fraud" against the American people. Jerrold Nadler said Trump committed impeachable offenses if it is proven that he ordered the illegal payments to Daniels and McDougal to keep quiet about alleged sexual encounters. (The Guardian)

Notables.

  1. Trump told James Mattis to submit a $750 billion defense budget proposal for the 2020 fiscal year. Trump previously called for a reduction in defense spending, but now he appears to have reversed course. Mattis and other top military leaders have been fighting to preserve the current $733 billion proposal, and Trump has called for a top line of $716 billion and even $700 billion as recently as October. (Politico)

  2. Trump's preferred choice to replace John Kelly turned down the chief of staff role. Nick Ayers currently serves as Pence's chief of staff, and said that he is instead leaving the administration entirely at the end of the year to spend more time with his family in Georgia. Trump didn't appear to have an obvious second choice lined up, but some believe he is eyeing North Carolina Republican Mark Meadows, who serves as the chairman of the far-right House Freedom Caucus. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is also under consideration. (New York Times / The Guardian / Axios / CNBC)

  3. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have shifted their focus from Michael Cohen's crimes to the role of Trump Organization executives in those crimes. Cohen pleaded guilty in August to campaign finance violations and other crimes and has assisted prosecutors in their investigation. Cohen told prosecutors that the Trump Organization's CFO was involved in discussions about hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougall, on which prosecutors are now focusing. Now, prosecutors have renewed their requests for documents and other materials related to those payments. (New York Times)

  4. The Supreme Court declined to review whether states can cut off public funding for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from their Medicaid programs. (Politico / CNN / Washington Post)

  5. Jamal Khashoggi's last words: "I can't breathe." The translated transcript notes the sounds of Khashoggi's body being dismembered by a saw. (CNN)

  6. Jared Kushner offered Prince Mohammed bin Salman advice about how to weather the storm after Khashoggi was killed, urging the prince to resolve his conflicts around the region and avoid further embarrassments. (New York Times)

Day 687: Undisciplined.

1/ Paul Manafort told "multiple," "discernible lies" to the FBI and the special counsel's office concerning five different matters after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors. Federal prosecutors accused Manafort of lying about his "contact with administration officials" and his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian tied to Moscow's intelligence services. Manafort met with Kilimnik twice during the campaign. Robert Mueller's team said Manafort made multiple false statements that were "not instances of mere memory lapses" over the course of 12 meetings with the FBI and the special counsel after signing a plea agreement in September. (NBC News / New York Times / The Guardian / Washington Post / CNN)

  • READ: Mueller's filing on Manafort (CNN)

2/ Federal Prosecuters with the Southern District of New York said that while Michael Cohen gave federal investigators "relevant and useful" information, he still deserves a "substantial" prison term of about four years for his "extensive" criminal conduct. Prosecutors said Cohen "repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends" and "repeatedly declined to provide full information about the scope of any additional criminal conduct in which he may have engaged or had knowledge." Mueller also revealed that Cohen told them that a well-connected Russian national offered Cohen "political synergy" with the Trump campaign in November 2015. The person claimed to be a "trusted person" in the Russian Federation offering the campaign "synergy on a government level." Federal prosecutors also implicated Trump in the illegal payments that violated campaign finance laws to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, saying Cohen "acted in coordination and at the direction of Individual-1," who we know as the person currently serving as president of the United States. (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / The Guardian / ABC News / CNN / Bloomberg)

  • READ: Sentencing memorandums for Cohen. (CNN)

  • 5 takeaways from the Cohen and Manafort filings. (Washington Post)

  • Mueller's indictments so far: At least 33 people and three companies have been charged so far as a result of the special counsel’s investigation into 2016 election tampering. (Politico)

  • A political consultant is challenging federal law barring foreign involvement in U.S. elections, saying the provision is unconstitutional because Congress can't regulate the role played by non-citizens in state and local elections. Legal scholars say the appeal represents a serious challenge to the statute, which could undermine the law at center of the Mueller probe. (Politico)

3/ Mueller cited Trump's time in the White House as relevant to the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election, saying Cohen provided valuable information "concerning his contacts with persons connected to the White House during the 2017–2018 time period." Following Mueller's memos, Trump inexplicably tweeted: "Totally clears the President. Thank you!" While Trump did not explain his comment, federal prosecutors did say in the court filing that Cohen committed campaign finance crimes "in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump. [See item #2] (NBC News)

4/ Hours before Mueller filed his memos, Trump kicked off the day by attacking the investigation in a series of angry, error-laden tweets alleging that Mueller is biased, full of "Conflicts of Interest," and is best friends with "Leakin' Lyin' James Comey." The eight-tweet tirade did not include any supporting evidence. (NBC News / Daily Beast / The Guardian)

  • Rex Tillerson: Trump is "undisciplined," "doesn't read briefing reports," and repeatedly tries to do illegal things. "So often, the president would say, 'Here's what I want to do, and here's how I want to do it,'" Tillerson said, "and I would have to say to him, 'Mr. President, I understand what you want to do, but you can't do it that way. It violates the law.'" Trump responded by calling Tillerson "dumb as a rock" and "lazy as hell." Tillerson previously called Trump a "moron." (Washington Post / NBC News / Politico)

5/ Trump also claimed that his lawyers are preparing a "major Counter Report" to rebut Mueller's findings in the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign. According to Trump, his lawyers have already completed 87 pages, adding, "obviously cannot complete until we the see the final Witch Hunt report." Trump's statement contradicts Rudy Giuliani, who said he hasn't had time to consider drafting a response plan, let alone work on a "counter report." Giuliani added that he spent the summer answering Mueller's questions, describing the process as "a nightmare" that took "about three weeks to do what would normally take two days." (Washington Post / The Atlantic)

6/ CNN received a bomb threat and had to be evacuated as Trump attacked the media on Twitter as "the enemy of the people." Trump's all-caps "FAKE NEWS - THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!" tweet was sent at 10:07 pm. A short time later, Don Lemon abruptly went to commercial break as CNN's New York studio was evacuated because of a bomb threat. The New York Police Department said the threat was not substantiated. Trump appears to be responding to a report that the White House does not have a plan for how to respond to the Mueller report. (Vox / CNN)

7/ John Kelly is expected to resign immediately as chief of staff in the coming days. Kelly and Trump have reached an impasse and neither sees the situation as tenable as the two have also stopped speaking entirely in recent days. Nick Ayers, who currently serves as Pence's chief of staff, is seen as a leading candidate to replace Kelly. (CNN / Reuters / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Politico)

  • Mueller's team interviewed Kelly in recent months about potential obstruction of justice. The questions centered on Trump's attempt to fire Mueller in June 2017. (CNN)

poll/ 71% of Republicans believe Mueller's investigation is a "witch hunt," while 82% of Democrats and 55% of independents see the investigation as "fair." Overall, 54% of Americans believe the Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign is fair. (NPR)


Notables.

  1. George Papadopoulos was released from prison after serving 12 whole days for lying to investigators about his contact with individuals tied to Russia during the 2016 campaign. Papadopoulos will have 12 months of supervised release, serve 200 hours of community service, and pay a $9,500 fine. (CNN)

  2. James Comey met behind closed doors with the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. Lawmakers are expected to question Comey on a range of topics, including his memos about interactions with Trump, the details of his firing, the origins of the FBI's Russia probe, and whether bias contributed to the decisions to focus on Trump and to conduct surveillance on Carter Page. (Washington Post)

  3. Trump named William Barr as his next attorney general. If confirmed by the Senate, Barr will take over from Matthew Whitaker, who has served in an acting capacity since Jeff Sessions was forced out. (The Guardian / New York Times / Washington Post)

  4. Trump named Army Gen. Mark Milley as his nominee to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Milley will replace current chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, who still almost 10 months left in his term. (Politico)

  5. The Justice Department hasn't filed required paperwork stating when Jeff Sessions left office. Federal law requires the vacancy and any acting appointment to be reported "immediately" to the Government Accountability Office. This reporting is important because Matthew Whitaker, acting attorney general, can only serve for 210 days. (BuzzFeed News)

  6. Trump nominated former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert as the next ambassador to the United Nations. Nauert currently serves as the State Department spokeswoman. Her post as UN ambassador will be downgraded from its current cabinet-level status. (Bloomberg / New York Times / The Guardian)

  7. The Trump administration finalized a rollback of school lunch regulations, relaxing restrictions on products allowed. The changes will impact 99,000 schools and institutions that feed 30 million children every year. (ABC News)


🔥 Hot takes.

Caution: Opinions and analysis ahead. Proceed at your own risk.

Day 686: Strong signals.

1/ Congress passed a two-week spending bill to extend the government's funding through Dec. 21 and avoid a partial shutdown. Lawmakers face an impasse over whether to meet Trump's demand for $5 billion to build a wall along the border with Mexico, which Democrats have resisted. Trump has threatened to force a partial government shutdown if Congress does not give him his wall money. (Wall Street Journal / Reuters / Washington Post)

2/ A bipartisan group of senators are trying to punish Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi while also curtailing U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and suspending arms sales to the Kingdom. Trump, meanwhile, has downplayed assertions that Prince Mohammed was responsible for Khashoggi's murder at the Saudi consulate. (Bloomberg / Reuters / CNN)

3/ Trump blamed Robert Mueller's Russia investigation for his low approval rating, claiming that "without the phony Russia Witch Hunt […] my approval rating would be at 75% rather than the 50% just reported by Rasmussen." Trump's average approval rating is 43.3%, according to Real Clear Politics. And, according to FiveThirtyEight, Trump's approval rating is 42.1%. (Politico)

  • A Trump campaign adviser was questioned about his relationship with a Kremlin-controlled broadcaster, which U.S. intelligence authorities have called Russia's principal propaganda arm. Mueller's investigators have questioned Ted Malloch about his appearances on RT. (The Guardian)

4/ Trump and the NRA used the same consultants to execute complimentary TV advertising strategies during the 2016 presidential election. The NRA used a media strategy firm called Red Eagle Media, while the Trump campaign purchased ads through a firm called American Media & Advocacy Group, which were aimed at the same demographic as the NRA spots. Both firms are affiliated with the conservative media-consulting firm National Media Research, Planning and Placement, with both the NRA's and the Trump campaign's ad buys were also authorized by the same person at National Media. The arrangement is likely a violation of campaign finance laws. (Mother Jones)

poll/ 67% of voters are concerned about the recent climate change report that concludes that global warming is already "transforming where and how we live." 58% agree with the scientific consensus that climate change is being caused by human activity. (Politico)

  • 📌 The Re-up: Day 685. Global emissions of carbon dioxide have reached the highest levels on record. Global emissions grew 1.6% in 2017 with 2018 expected to increase 2.7%. The U.S. is the world's second-largest emitter of carbon emissions, but that hasn't stopped the Trump administration from moving to roll back regulations designed to limit those emissions from vehicle tailpipes and power-plant smokestacks. As United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said this week at the opening of the 24th annual U.N. climate conference: "We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change." (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 678. Trump – again – dismissed his own government's report on the devastating impacts of climate change and global warming, saying he doesn't see climate change as a man-made issue and that he doesn't believe the scientific consensus. "One of the problems that a lot of people like myself," Trump said, "we have very high levels of intelligence but we're not necessarily such believers." He continued: "You look at our air and our water, and it's right now at a record clean." (Washington Post)

  • 📌Day 676. The National Climate Assessment concludes that global warming is already "transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us." The findings from the landmark scientific report, issued by 13 federal agencies, are at odds with the Trump administration's environmental deregulation agenda, which Trump claims will lead to economic growth, and its plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The report predicts that the effects of global warming could eliminate as much as 10% of the U.S. economy by the end of the century, and warns that humans must act aggressively now "to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades." The first report, released in November 2017, concluded that there is "no convincing alternative explanation" for the changing climate other than "human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases." Trump recently questioned the science of climate change, saying that "I don't know that it's man-made" and that the warming trend "could very well go back." (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN)

  • 📌Day 627. A U.N. report on the effects of climate change predicts a strong risk of an environmental crisis much sooner than expected. The report finds that the atmosphere could warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, which would cause sea levels to rise, intensify droughts, wildfires, and poverty, and cause a mass die-off of coral reefs. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050. The use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1% and 7% by 2050. Renewable energy would have to increase to about 67%. Trump has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, vowing to increase the burning of coal, and he intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement. The world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark and "there is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the report said. (New York Times / Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. The Trump administration proposed loosening rules on carbon emissions for new coal power plants. Under the existing Obama-era rule, new coal plants would have to burn some natural gas, which emits less carbon, or install carbon capture equipment. The proposal would allow new coal plants to emit up to 1,900 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of electricity, up from 1,400 pounds now. (Reuters)

  2. The Trump administration moved forward with plans to ease restrictions on oil and natural gas drilling that were put in place to protect a bird that is close to endangerment. The greater sage grouse is a chickenlike bird that roams across nearly 11 million acres in 10 oil-rich Western states. Trump's plan would limit the grouse's protected habitat to 1.8 million acres. (Associated Press / New York Times)

  3. Canada arrested Huawei's chief financial officer on a U.S. request for extradition the same day Trump and President Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day pause in raising tariffs to allow for trade negotiations. Meng Wanzhou was arrested for allegedly shipping U.S.-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of U.S. export and sanctions laws. (Bloomberg / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

  4. The Dow dropped nearly 800 points before rebounding over concerns that trade talks between the U.S. and China could collapse and result in trade war escalation. Trump took to Twitter to express optimism about the state of trade negotiations, claiming that China is sending "very strong signals." (ABC News / New York Times / CNBC / Washington Post)

  5. Former attorney general William Barr is Trump's leading candidate to replace Jeff Sessions. Barr served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under then-President George H.W. Bush. (Washington Post / Reuters)

  6. An undocumented immigrant has worked as a maid at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., since 2013 using fake documents to secure employment. After Trump became president, one of her managers told her to get both a new green card and new Social Security card because there were problems with her current ones. When she told the manager that she did not know how to obtain new forgeries, her manager suggested she speak with a maintenance employee to acquire new documents. Her manager lent her the money to replace the one that had "expired." (New York Times)

  7. Pat Cipollone will start as the new White House counsel on Monday after a nearly two-month delay since his appointment. Trump appointed Cipollone in October as Don McGahn's replacement. Cipollone will start his new job just as House Democrats are preparing to assume their new committee chairmanship roles in January. (Politico)

  8. Democrats plan to send Mueller the transcripts of testimony by some of Trump's closest associates when they take control of the House next month. Democrats want Mueller to review the transcripts for evidence and possible falsehoods. The list of testimony transcripts includes Jared Kushner, Trump Jr., Roger Stone, Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks, Keith Schiller, and others. (Reuters)

  9. The Supreme Court is hearing a case with implications on Trump's pardon power. At stake is whether to overturn the "separate sovereigns" doctrine, which lets a state and the U.S. government press separate prosecutions involving the same conduct. Eliminating the doctrine would mean that a presidential pardon could block some state charges as well. However, the Supreme Court appeared unlikely to change its existing rules. For Paul Manafort, a presidential pardon could keep him out of federal prison, but it would not free him from being prosecuted on similar state charges. Trump hasn't ruled out a pardon for Manafort. (Bloomberg / NBC News)

Day 685: Substantial assistance.

1/ Robert Mueller's office recommended that Michael Flynn serve no jail time because he provided "substantial assistance" with the Russian probe. A court filing submitted by the special counsel's office says Flynn provided "firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials." Flynn gave 19 interviews to Mueller's team and other investigators and, as a result, Mueller asked a federal judge not to sentence Flynn to prison. Flynn also provided details about other criminal investigations, but those details were heavily redacted from the court filing in order to keep information about ongoing probes secret. The redactions suggest there is more to come in the probe into Russian election interference. (Reuters / New York Times / CNN / Axios / NBC News / Washington Post / CNBC)

  • Mueller's team also disclosed details about Flynn's efforts to cover up his ties to Turkey while he was Trump's national security adviser. A central part of Flynn's involvement with the Turkish government was his attempts to kidnap a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania and return him to Turkey to face punishment for allegedly orchestrating a failed coup attempt against Turkish President Erdogan. Flynn's decision to hide the fact that he was working for Turkey "impeded the ability of the public to learn about the Republic of Turkey's efforts to influence public opinion about the failed coup, including its efforts to effectuate the removal of a person legally residing in the United States." (NBC News)

  • Prosecutors in Manhattan are ramping up their investigation into foreign lobbying by two firms that did work for Paul Manafort. Mueller referred the case to authorities because it fell outside his mandate of determining whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia. (Associated Press)

2/ Global emissions of carbon dioxide have reached the highest levels on record. Global emissions grew 1.6% in 2017 with 2018 expected to increase 2.7%. The U.S. is the world's second-largest emitter of carbon emissions, but that hasn't stopped the Trump administration from moving to roll back regulations designed to limit those emissions from vehicle tailpipes and power-plant smokestacks. As United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said this week at the opening of the 24th annual U.N. climate conference: "We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change." (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • 📌 The Re-up: Day 678. Trump – again – dismissed his own government's report on the devastating impacts of climate change and global warming, saying he doesn't see climate change as a man-made issue and that he doesn't believe the scientific consensus. "One of the problems that a lot of people like myself," Trump said, "we have very high levels of intelligence but we're not necessarily such believers." He continued: "You look at our air and our water, and it's right now at a record clean." (Washington Post)

  • 📌Day 676. The National Climate Assessment concludes that global warming is already "transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us." The findings from the landmark scientific report, issued by 13 federal agencies, are at odds with the Trump administration's environmental deregulation agenda, which Trump claims will lead to economic growth, and its plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The report predicts that the effects of global warming could eliminate as much as 10% of the U.S. economy by the end of the century, and warns that humans must act aggressively now "to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades." The first report, released in November 2017, concluded that there is "no convincing alternative explanation" for the changing climate other than "human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases." Trump recently questioned the science of climate change, saying that "I don't know that it's man-made" and that the warming trend "could very well go back." (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN)

  • 📌Day 627. A U.N. report on the effects of climate change predicts a strong risk of an environmental crisis much sooner than expected. The report finds that the atmosphere could warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, which would cause sea levels to rise, intensify droughts, wildfires, and poverty, and cause a mass die-off of coral reefs. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050. The use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1% and 7% by 2050. Renewable energy would have to increase to about 67%. Trump has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, vowing to increase the burning of coal, and he intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement. The world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark and "there is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the report said. (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ Trump joined the three living former presidents and first ladies for the funeral of former president George H.W. Bush. Trump shook hands with the Obamas but didn't seem to acknowledge the Clintons or Carters. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, stared straight ahead. Fox News anchor Chris Wallace noted that "a chill had descended" on the front row when Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived. Despite earning about 80% of the evangelical vote in 2016's presidential election, the Trumps did not participate in the Apostles' Creed or sing the hymns during the funeral. (BuzzFeed News / The Hill / Newsweek)

4/ Trump traveled 250 yards in a limo as part of an eight-vehicle motorcade to visit with George W. Bush for 23 minutes across the street. The weather was overcast and cold, but there was no rain. The cost of the trip is unknown. (Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. New satellite images reveal North Korea has expanded a key long-range missile base. Despite five months of denuclearization, the Yeongjeo-dong missile base and a previously unreported site remain active and have been continuously upgraded. (CNN)

  2. Istanbul's chief prosecutor filed warrants for the arrest Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's top aide and the deputy head of its foreign intelligence on suspicion of planning the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. (Reuters)

  3. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were accused of misleading senators on the murder of Khashoggi. Last week, Pompeo said there was no definitive proof that the crown prince was responsible for Khashoggi's murder, while Mattis said that there was "no smoking gun." The CIA, however, determined with "high confidence" that the crown prince ordered the killing. (Politico)

  4. Saudi-funded lobbyists booked 500 nights at Trump's D.C. hotel shortly after his 2016 election, sending military veterans to Washington and have them lobby against a law the Saudis opposed. The lobbyists spent more $270,000 on six groups of visiting veterans at the Trump hotel, which Trump still owns. (Washington Post)

  5. A Democratic member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee called for an emergency hearing to examine allegations of election fraud in North Carolina's 9th District. Last week the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics voted against certifying Republican Mark Harris' 905 vote win over Democrat Dan McCready in the state's 9th Congressional District. State election officials are now investigating charges that a political operative working for the Harris campaign oversaw workers illegally collect mail-in absentee ballots from voters. (Washington Post / CNN)

  6. Giuliani tried to blame his typo on Twitter "invading my text with a disgusting anti-President message" after he accidentally created a link to G-20.In in one of his tweets. A Twitter user noticed that the domain was unclaimed, so they bought it and created a website with the simple message: "Donald J. Trump is a traitor to our country," allowing anyone who clicked on the link in Giuliani's tweet to view the website. Giuliani suggested that the incident was proof that Twitter employees are "committed cardcarrying anti-Trumpers." Giuliani ended his tweet with a call for "FAIRNESS PLEASE." (New York Times)

  7. Jeff Sessions might be done with politics, saying he doesn't miss being a senator and won't be deciding anytime soon about running. [Editor's note: Good riddance.] (Politico)

  8. Trump isn't worried about the national debt, because "I won't be here" when America has to pay its creditors back. The U.S. owes roughly $21 trillion in debt, but Trump has repeatedly shrugged those financial obligations off during meetings about the national debt. "Yeah," Trump told his aides, "but I won't be here." (Daily Beast)

Day 684: Loose ends.

1/ The National Republican Congressional Committee suffered a major hack during the 2018 election, exposing thousands of emails to an "unknown entity." Four senior NRCC aides had their email accounts surveilled for months by a suspected "foreign agent" and despite learning about the hack in April, the NRCC didn't tell GOP leadership about it until yesterday after a Politico inquiry. The NRCC said it withheld the information from party leaders so they conduct their own investigation. (Politico / Washington Post / CNN)

2/ A bipartisan group of senators accused the Saudi crown prince of complicity in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi following a closed-door briefing with CIA director Gina Haspel. Lawmakers said evidence presented by the CIA overwhelmingly pointed to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's involvement in the assassination, but they were divided about what steps to take next. (Washington Post / New York Times / Axios / ABC News / The Guardian)

3/ Robert Mueller's prosecutors recently told defense lawyers they are "tying up loose ends" in their investigation. The special counsel is planning to file sentencing memos this week about Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and Michael Cohen. In the Manafort case, Mueller could file his memo under seal in order to avoid disclosing additional crimes his office believes Manafort committed when he lied to prosecutors and broke his cooperation deal. (Yahoo News / CNN / CNBC)

4/ Mueller is expected to make a sentencing recommendation for Michael Flynn today. The memo should describe the crimes the former national security adviser committed that led to his guilty plea after 24 days on the job and how he has helped the Russia probe. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. He will be sentenced by a federal judge on Dec. 18. Flynn's sentencing was delayed four times after Mueller said he needed more time "due to the status of the investigation." (Reuters / CNN / ABC News / The Guardian)

  • 📌 The Re-Up: Day 25. Michael Flynn resigned as National Security Adviser after it was revealed that he had misled Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Flynn served in the job for less than a month. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 26. Trump knew Flynn misled officials on Russia calls for "weeks," the White House says. The comment contrasts the impression Trump gave aboard Air Force One that he was not familiar with a report that revealed Flynn had not told the truth about the calls. White House counsel Don McGahn told Trump in a January briefing that Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions with Russia. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 22. Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials. Flynn's communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election. (Washington Post)

5/ Maryland and the District of Columbia issued subpoenas for Trump's financial records related to his D.C. hotel as part of an ongoing lawsuit alleging that the president's business violated the Constitution's ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments. The Trump hotel is the Old Post Office building, which is leased from the federal government. The lease says that no elected official may hold that lease. The attorneys general in Maryland and Washington plan to serve as many as 20 companies and government agencies with subpoenas. (Washington Post / Associated Press / NPR / Politico)

6/ Paul Manafort tried to get Ecuador to hand over Julian Assange in exchange for debt relief from the U.S. Manafort originally flew to Ecuador in May 2017 to convince then-incoming President Lenín Moreno to let him broker an energy deal between China and Ecuador. But the talks shifted to Ecuador's desire to rid itself of Assange, who has been staying the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012. Manafort suggested that he could negotiate a deal to handover Assange, which fell apart once it became clear that Manafort was a major target of Mueller's Russia investigation. There is no evidence that Trump was aware of or involved in Manafort's dealings with Ecuador. (New York Times)

  • Roger Stone invoked the Fifth Amendment as he declined to share documents and testimony with the Senate Judiciary Committee. Stone is under scrutiny Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election over allegations that he had advanced knowledge of WikiLeaks' dump of Clinton campaign emails. (Politico)

Notables.

  1. The White House wants to end federal subsidies and tax credits for electric cars and renewable energy sources. Larry Kudlow, Trump's economic adviser, predicted that the subsidies would be gone within the next few years. "It's just all going to end in the near future," Kudlow said. "I don't know whether it will end in 2020 or 2021." (Reuters)

  2. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen expects to keep her job thanks to her "tough" response to the caravan of Central American migrants headed toward the U.S. that Trump turned into a midterm campaign issue. (Politico)

  3. Michael Avenatti will not run for president in 2020 after all. "After consultation with my family and at their request, I have decided not to seek the Presidency of the United States in 2020," Avenatti said. "I will continue to represent Stormy Daniels and others against Donald Trump and his cronies and will not rest until Trump is removed from office, and our republic and its values are restored." (Law & Crime)

  4. Trump's use of Air Force One to campaign for Republican candidates during the midterms cost taxpayers about $17 million. Presidents using Air Force One for campaign purposes are supposed to pay for a portion of the operating cost from their political party or reelection campaign. Instead, the Trump campaign reimbursed the Treasury roughly $112,000 for air travel. (Quartz)

  5. Trump complained about the cost of an "uncontrollable" arms race with Russia and China, despite previously bragging about his increase in military spending. (Associated Press)

  6. Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would suspend its obligations to the 1987 Treaty on Intermediate-range Nuclear Force in 60 days unless Russia returns to compliance. If Russia fails to meet the deadline, the U.S. would be free to develop and test new ground-based missiles, Pompeo said. (Wall Street Journal)

  7. Trump declared himself a "Tariff Man" and threatened to hit China with more tariffs if a trade deal with Beijing falls apart. (CNBC / The Guardian)

  8. The Dow responded by falling nearly 800 points. (Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

Day 683: Compromised.

1/ Trump called for a "full and complete" sentence for Michael Cohen after his former lawyer asked to not be sent to prison. Cohen's lawyers argued that his cooperation with Robert Mueller warranted a sentence of "time-served." Cohen was also in "close and regular contact" with White House staff and Trump's legal team while preparing his statement to Congress about Trump's efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 campaign. In seeking leniency, Cohen's attorneys claim his false statement to Congress was based on Trump and his team's attempts to paint interactions with Russian representatives "as having effectively terminated before the Iowa caucuses of February 1, 2016." Cohen's attorneys, however, say he had a "lengthy substantive conversation with the personal assistant to a Kremlin official following his outreach in January 2016, engaged in additional communications concerning the project as late as June 2016, and kept [Trump] apprised of these communications." Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 12 after pleading guilty to tax evasion, making false statements to a bank, campaign finance violations, and lying to Congress. Trump tweeted that all of those charges were "unrelated to Trump." (Reuters /Politico / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  • Cohen believed Trump would offer him a pardon if he stayed on message during conversations with federal prosecutors. That was before Cohen implicated Trump under oath in the illegal hush-money scheme with Stormy Daniels, which could be used as part of Mueller's obstruction of justice probe in determining whether Trump tried to illegally influence a witness in the investigation. (CNN)

  • Trump's lawyers want Stormy Daniels to pay their $340,000 legal bill they claim they earned after successfully defending Trump against her frivolous defamation claim. (Associated Press)

2/ Trump praised Roger Stone for not cooperating with Mueller, tweeting that it's "nice to know that some people still have 'guts!'" Stone said Sunday that there's "no circumstance in which I would testify against the president." Stone has denied multiple times that he knew WikiLeaks was going to release hacked emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign. (Politico / Axios)

3/ Kellyanne Conway's husband accused Trump of witness tampering after Trump praised Stone for vowing to never testify against him. "Witness tampering: File under '18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1512,'" George Conway wrote, listing the federal criminal statute about "tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant." (New York Post)

4/ The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said the committee has made "a number of referrals" to Mueller's office for prosecution. Sen. Mark Warner added that while he doesn't know whether Cohen was instructed to lie to Congress, Cohen's plea contradicts Trump's multiple denials during the campaign that he did not have any business links to Russia. Warner called it a "very relevant question that the American people need an answer to." (CBS News)

  • The incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee: Cohen's cooperation is proof that Russia had "leverage" over Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. "The fact that he was lying to the American people about doing business in Russia and the Kremlin knew he was lying gave the Kremlin a hold over him," Rep. Jerry Nadler said. "One question we have now is, does the Kremlin still have a hold over him because of other lies that they know about?"(NBC News)

  • The leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee: Cohen's cooperations confirms that "the president and his business are compromised." According to Rep. Adam Schiff, "there is now testimony, there is now a witness, who confirms that in the same way Michael Flynn was compromised, that the president and his business are compromised." Cohen admitted to misleading investigators about the Trump Organization's efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. "[W]hat the president was saying," Schiff added, "what Michael Cohen was saying and others were saying about when this business deal ended was not true. And what's more, the Russians knew it wasn’t true." He continued: "It means that the president, whether he won or lost, was hoping to make money from Russia, was seeking at the same time to enlist the support of the Kremlin to make that money." (ABC News)

  • James Comey agreed to testify to Congress about the FBI's investigations during the 2016 campaign as long as lawmakers release the full transcript of his testimony within 24 hours. Comey and his attorney filed a legal challenge last week to the Republican-led effort to compel him to testify. His attorney argued that the legal action was "to prevent the Joint Committee from using the pretext of a closed interview to peddle a distorted, partisan political narrative about the Clinton and Russian investigations through selective leaks." As part of the deal, Comey will be free to make all or part of his testimony available to the public. (NBC News / Reuters / ABC News / New York Times)

5/ The CIA has "medium-to-high confidence" that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman "personally targeted" Jamal Khashoggi and "probably ordered his death." Prince Mohammed sent at least 11 messages to his closest adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, who supervised the 15-man team that killed Khashoggi, in the hours before and after the journalist's death in October. The leak of the intelligence report has infuriated Gina Haspel, the CIA director. In August 2017, Prince Mohammed told associates that if he couldn't persuade Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia, then "we could possibly lure him outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements," according to the CIA assessment. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

poll/ 46% of voters approve of Trump's job performance – up from his October numbers, when 44% approved of the job Trump was doing as president. 54% don't approve. (The Hill)


Notables.

  1. Trump intends to formally notify Canada and Mexico of his intention to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement in six months in order to force Congress to pass his new trade deal. Trump is using the threat of disrupting the entire North American economy to get the deal passed. (Politico)

  2. The U.S. and China agreed to hold off on new tariffs. Trump agreed to postpone a plan to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, while the Chinese agreed to an unspecified increase in their purchases of American industrial, energy and agricultural products. Trump and President Xi Jinping, however, remain far apart on basic trade policy issues and neither show signs of backing down on their demands. (New York Times)

  3. All of the world leaders at the G20 Summit in Argentina — except for Trump — released a joint statement reaffirming their commitment to fighting climate change. The U.S. did join a separate portion of the communique that focused on energy and the role it plays in shaping the future of the planet. (Axios)

  4. The House and Senate plan to vote this week to push the government shutdown deadline back two weeks and delay a fight over Trump's border wall until right before Christmas. Congress has until Friday to approve a funding extension before funding for the federal government runs out. (Politico / CNBC / CNN / Washington Post)

  5. Trump and Putin had an "informal" meeting at the G20 Summit. "As is typical at multilateral events," said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, "President Trump and the First Lady had a number of informal conversations with world leaders at the dinner last night, including President Putin." Trump previously canceled a formal meeting with Putin over Russia's recent seizure of Ukrainian ships and the detention of their crews. "I answered his questions about the incident in the Black Sea," said Putin. "He has his position. I have my own. We stayed in our own positions." (The Hill / Fox News)

Day 680: Peripheral awareness.

1/ Trump Jr.'s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee conflicts with Michael Cohen's version of events regarding negotiations of a prospective Trump Tower in Moscow. In Cohen's version, he says the discussions with at least one Russian government official continued through June 2016. Trump Jr. testified in September 2017 that talks surrounding a Trump Tower in Moscow concluded without result "at the end" of 2014 and "certainly not [20]16. There was never a definitive end to it. It just died of deal fatigue." Trump Jr. also told the Senate committee that he was only "peripherally aware" and didn't know that Cohen had sent an email to Putin's aide, Dmitry Peskov. In Cohen's guilty plea, he said he briefed Trump's family members about the continued negotiations. (NPR)

  • 📌 The Re-up: Day 223. The Senate Intelligence Committee wants Michael Cohen to testify as part of its investigation into Russia’s meddling. Cohen has been in the spotlight this week following new revelations about his outreach to Russian officials for help with a proposal for a Trump Tower in Moscow. Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort are also likely to appear for closed-door interviews. Trump Jr. agreed to testify privately before the Senate judiciary committee in the “next few weeks.” (Politico)

  • 📌 Day 229. The House and Senate intelligence committees are expected to conduct closed-door interviews with Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort and Trump Jr. in the coming weeks now that Congress has returned from the August recess. The two panels could possibly hold public hearings this fall. In addition, Trump Jr. is set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The three committees are competing for information and witnesses with little coordination between them and Mueller's investigation, leading to conflicts over how they can share information. (Politico / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 230. Trump Jr. will meet with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday to discuss the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. It's the first time someone from Trump's inner circle will speak with the committee members about the campaign’s alleged attempts to engage with Kremlin surrogates. Committee members still hope to interview Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner about the meeting they held at Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer claiming to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Kushner and Manafort have already spoken to the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 482. Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee he never mentioned the Trump Tower meeting to his father or the offer of compromising information about Hillary Clinton. He also said he couldn't "recall" if he discussed the Russia investigation with his father. Trump Jr. told the committee he didn't think there was anything wrong with meeting a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower ahead of the 2016 presidential election, saying "I didn't think that listening to someone with information relevant to the fitness and character of a presidential candidate would be an issue, no." (Associated Press)

2/ The Trump Organization wanted to give Putin a $50 million penthouse in the proposed Trump Tower Moscow as the company continued to negotiate the real estate development during the 2016 campaign. Michael Cohen discussed the idea with Dmitry Peskov, who serves as Putin's press secretary, hoping that giving the penthouse to Putin would encourage other wealthy buyers to purchase their own. The plan fizzled when the project failed to materialize, and it is not clear whether Trump knew about the plan to give the penthouse to Putin. (BuzzFeed News / CNN)

  • The House Intelligence Committee wants to investigate the Trump Organization's plan to give Putin a $50 million penthouse when Democrats take control of the committee in the new year. (BuzzFeed News / The Guardian / Politico)

3/ Ivanka and Trump Jr. are both under increased scrutiny for their roles in the proposed Moscow project. Trump Jr. and Ivanka were involved in the project at some point before Jan. 2016, but it is still unclear how deeply they were involved or how long they worked on the project after that. It is also unclear whether or not they worked with Michael Cohen on the deal. (CNN / Yahoo News)

4/ Investigators have publicly cast Trump as a central figure in Robert Mueller's investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign. Trump even has his own legal code name: "Individual 1." Documents reveal that investigators have evidence that Trump was in close contact with his most trusted aides and advisers as they dealt with both Russia and WikiLeaks, as well as evidence that they tried to cover their tracks. (Washington Post)

  • "Trump was totally caught off guard by the Cohen plea," according to a former White House staffer. "The Cohen news is very bad," and the Trump team is worried that Mueller may have laid a perjury trap. A person close to the president described the White House as "an untethered situation." (Vanity Fair)

5/ Mueller is also bearing down on Roger Stone and his relationship with WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. Mueller is focusing on Stone's role as a potential go-between for the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, which published thousands of DNC emails that were stolen by Russian intelligence officers. Mueller's team has evidence that Stone may have known in advance about the release of the emails, and investigators may also be looking into potential witness intimidation by Stone. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ Mueller's office is considering retrying Paul Manafort and bringing new criminal charges, contending that he obstructed justice and committed additional federal crimes since entering a plea agreement with the special counsel in September. Prosecutors will file a more detailed explanation of what they believe Manafort lied about to investigators on Dec. 7. Manafort will be sentenced in March 2019 after he pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiracy and witness tampering. Manafort is currently in jail in Alexandria, Virginia. (Politico / CNN / CNBC / ABC News)

  • James Comey asked a U.S. court to block a subpoena from House Republicans for his testimony, saying he wants to testify in public rather than behind closed doors. (Bloomberg)

Notables.

  1. The acting attorney general championed a patent firm in 2014 while fielding fraud complaints about it. Matthew Whitaker was an advisory board member of World Patent Marketing, which the FTC sanctioned in 2017 and described as an "invention promotion scheme" that was "bilking millions of dollars from consumers." (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  2. Ryan Zinke responded to criticism about his various ethical scandals by calling a Democratic lawmaker a drunk, accusing Rep. Raúl Grijalva of using "$50,000 in tax dollars as hush money to cover up his drunken and hostile behavior." Grijalva had called on Zinke to resign. (Politico)

  3. The number of children who were uninsured in the U.S. in Trump's first year in office rose for the first time in nearly a decade. 276,000 more children were without health insurance due to GOP-led efforts to curb Medicaid expansion. (ABC News)

  4. Six Trump administration officials violated the Hatch Act for tweeting support for Republicans or Trump on their government Twitter accounts, according to the Office of Special Counsel, which declined to take disciplinary action. (NBC News)

  5. Roughly two million federal workers were warned that it may be illegal for them to discuss impeaching or resisting Trump, according to a memo distributed by the Office of Special Counsel. (New York Times)

  6. The Trump administration approved five requests from companies to conduct seismic tests off the Atlantic shore that could kill tens of thousands of dolphins, whales, and other marine animals. Seismic testing maps the ocean floor and estimates the location of oil and gas. (Washington Post)

  7. The U.S., Canada, and Mexico signed a new North American trade pact, ending 15 months of contentious talks between three countries. The agreement faces uncertain prospects in Congress next year, where Democrats will control the House. (Politico / Reuters / Washington Post)

Day 679: "Stayed away."

1/ Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress, admitting that he continued to engage in negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow well into the 2016 presidential campaign. Cohen previously said talks regarding the Moscow project stalled in January 2016, when in fact negotiations continued through June with Cohen traveling to Russia for meetings on the project. Cohen also told Congress that when the project allegedly stalled, he emailed Dmitry Peskov, a top aide to Putin, seeking help, but claimed he never received a response. That was also false. Cohen and Peskov discussed the project for 20 minutes by phone. Prosecutors also said that Cohen continued to have contact in 2016 with Felix Sater, a Russian developer assisting with the project. Cohen briefed Trump on the status of the project more than three times. In July 2016, Trump tweeted: "For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia." And, in January 2017, Trump told reporters that he had no deals in Russia because he had "stayed away." In exchange for pleading guilty and continuing to cooperate with Robert Mueller, he hopes to receive a lighter sentence. It's Cohen's second guilty plea in four months. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / ABC News / Politico / CNN / NBC News)

  • 📌 The Re-up: Day 221. Trump's company was pursuing a plan to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow while he was running for president. Discussions about the Moscow project began in September 2015 until it was abandoned just before the presidential primaries began in January 2016, emails show. The details of the deal had not previously been disclosed. The Trump Organization has turned over the emails to the House Intelligence Committee, pointing to the likelihood of additional contacts between Russia and Trump associates during the campaign. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 221. Trump's business associate promised that Putin would help Trump win the presidency if he built a Trump Tower in Moscow. “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected,” Felix Sater, a Russian immigrant, wrote to Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, in 2015. “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote in an email. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.” At the time, Sater was a broker for the Trump Organization and was paid to deliver real estate deals. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 221. Trump discussed a proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow with his company’s lawyer three times. The project was abandoned in January 2016 “from solely a business standpoint” and had nothing to do with Trump’s campaign his attorney Michael Cohen told the House intelligence committee. "I made the decision to terminate further work on the proposal," Cohen said. “The Trump Tower Moscow proposal was not related in any way to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.” (Bloomberg)

  • 📌 Day 221. Trump's attorney sent an email to Putin’s personal spokesman to ask for help advancing a stalled Trump Tower project in Moscow. Michael Cohen sent the email in January 2016 to Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s top press aide, at the recommendation of Felix Sater, a Russian-American businessman who was serving as a broker on the deal. "I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals," Cohen wrote. "I thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to hearing from you soon." The email marks the most direct documented interaction of a top Trump aide and a senior member of Putin’s government. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 221. Four months into the presidential campaign, Trump signed a “letter of intent” to pursue building a Trump Tower in Moscow. The involvement of then-candidate Trump in a proposed Russian development deal contradicts his repeated claims that his business had “no relationship to Russia whatsoever." The Trump Organization signed a non-binding letter of intent in October 2015. (ABC News)

  • 📌 Day 222. Michael Cohen said he didn't inform Trump that he had sent the email to Putin’s top press official asking for "assistance" in arranging a licensing deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow. The Trump Organization attorney sent the email in January 2016 to Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s top press aide, at the recommendation of Felix Sater, a Russian-American businessman who was serving as a broker on the deal. Cohen said he never heard back from Peskov and the project never got off the ground. (Wall Street Journal / Politico)

  • 📌 Day 223. The Kremlin confirmed that Trump’s personal lawyer reached out during the 2016 presidential campaign requesting assistance on a stalled Trump Tower real estate project in Moscow. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said they received Michael Cohen’s email, but the Kremlin didn't reply. Peskov said that he had seen the email but that it was not given to Putin. (Associated Press / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 278. Trump's personal lawyer met with the House Intelligence Committee today. Michael Cohen emailed Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, during the presidential campaign seeking help getting a Trump Tower built in Moscow. Peskov said he never responded to the email. (NBC News)

  • Cohen is the 33rd person Robert Mueller has charged. (FiveThirtyEight)

2/ Trump called Cohen a "weak" and "not a very smart person" for cooperating with Mueller, saying his former lawyer is "lying […] to get a reduced sentence." For the fourth straight morning, Trump attacked Mueller's investigation, musing whether it will "just go on forever." When asked why Trump ever hired Cohen, the president replied: "A long time ago he did me a favor." (Politico / Washington Post / CNBC)

  • Trump: Rosenstein belongs in jail, because "he should have never picked a special counsel." Trump declined to say whether he would fire Rosenstein. (Politico)

3/ Trump's written responses to Mueller about building a Trump Tower in Moscow during the campaign reportedly align with what Cohen said in court, according to Trump's lawyers. Rudy Giuliani attempted to explain why Trump would call Cohen a liar if they had the same understanding of the facts, saying: "Cohen has just told us he's a liar. Given the fact that he's a liar, I can't tell you what he's lying about." (New York Times)

4/ Trump abruptly canceled a planned meeting with Putin shortly after Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court to lying to Congress about his efforts to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign. He cited Moscow's seizure of Ukrainian assets and personnel for the cancellation. (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

5/ Trump made several calls from a blocked number in the middle of the night to Roger Stone during the 2016 campaign. The call logs were turned over to Mueller and draw a direct line between Stone and Trump, which has rattled Trump's legal team and showed how closely the special counsel is scrutinizing their relationship. (Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. The Department of Veterans Affairs told congressional staffers that it will not reimburse veterans who were paid less than they were owed as a result of delayed or deferred GI Bill payments. VA officials promised the opposite earlier this month. The VA said it can't make the payments it owes without auditing its previous education claims because that would delay future payments. (NBC News)

  2. The Senate Judiciary Committee cancelled a hearing on judicial nominees as Jeff Flake's demand for a bill to protect Mueller continues. Flake is holding firm to his vow to vote against judicial nominees on the floor and in committee unless Mitch McConnell schedules a vote on the bipartisan special counsel legislation. (Politico)

  3. More than 4 in 10 companies plan to raise prices to offset the higher cost of production due to Trump's trade war. About 1 in 10 companies said the tariffs would encourage them to move more jobs offshore. (CNBC)

  4. Federal agents raided the Chicago City Hall office of Trump's former tax lawyer. It's not yet clear whether the search has anything to do with Trump, but Ed Burke did work for Trump for more than a decade, obtaining $14 million in property tax relief for the Chicago Trump Tower. (Chicago Sun-Times / Fortune / Vox / Washington Examiner / The Hill)

  5. Trump: "I miss New York." (Politico)

Day 678: Guts.

1/ Trump told Robert Mueller that Roger Stone did not tell him about WikiLeaks and that he was not told about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr., campaign officials, and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump added a caveat that his responses were to the best of his recollection. For comparison, Trump also does not "remember much" from the meeting with George Papadopoulos, where Papadopoulos offered to arrange a meeting with Putin. Trump, however, has previously claimed to have "one of the great memories of all time," using it as justification for not using notes during his meeting with Kim Jong Un, and blaming Sgt. La David Johnson's widow when he stumbled over the solider's name during a condolence call. (CNN)

2/ Paul Manafort's attorney repeatedly briefed Trump's legal team about their discussions with Mueller after Manafort signed a cooperation agreement with the special counsel two months ago. The briefings made tensions worse between Manafort and the special counsel after prosecutors learned about them. While Manafort's attorney's discussions with Trump's lawyers didn't violate any laws, they did contribute to Manafort's deteriorating relationship with Mueller. (New York Times)

  • Trump claimed he has never discussed a pardon for Manafort, but it's "not off the table." In August, Trump said he "would consider" pardoning Manafort, because he "feels bad." (New York Post / CNN)

3/ Senate Republicans blocked a vote on a bill to protect Mueller, despite a threat from Jeff Flake to withhold support for all of Trump's judicial nominees unless Mitch McConnell allows for a vote on the protection bill. The Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill on a bipartisan basis, 14-7, this spring, but McConnell has argued that it's not necessary, because he doesn't believe Trump wants to fire Mueller. (NBC News / CNN / Politico)

  • Trump feels no urgency to nominate a new attorney general. Republicans have asked Trump move quickly to nominate a successor to Jeff Sessions. Trump, however, is content with Matthew Whitaker as acting head of the Justice Department, who currently oversees Mueller's Russia investigation. Whitaker can stay in the job for 210 days from Sessions' resignation or longer if a replacement is in the confirmation process. (Bloomberg)

4/ Trump – again – dismissed his own government's report on the devastating impacts of climate change and global warming, saying he doesn't see climate change as a man-made issue and that he doesn't believe the scientific consensus. "One of the problems that a lot of people like myself," Trump said, "we have very high levels of intelligence but we're not necessarily such believers." He continued: "You look at our air and our water, and it's right now at a record clean." (Washington Post)

  • 📌 The Re-up: Day 676. The National Climate Assessment concludes that global warming is already "transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us." The findings from the landmark scientific report, issued by 13 federal agencies, are at odds with the Trump administration's environmental deregulation agenda, which Trump claims will lead to economic growth, and its plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The report predicts that the effects of global warming could eliminate as much as 10% of the U.S. economy by the end of the century, and warns that humans must act aggressively now "to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades." The first report, released in November 2017, concluded that there is "no convincing alternative explanation" for the changing climate other than "human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases." Trump recently questioned the science of climate change, saying that "I don't know that it's man-made" and that the warming trend "could very well go back." (New York Times / Associated Press/ Washington Post / CNN)

  • 📌 The Re-up: Day 627. A U.N. report on the effects of climate change predicts a strong risk of an environmental crisis much sooner than expected. The report finds that the atmosphere could warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, which would cause sea levels to rise, intensify droughts, wildfires, and poverty, and cause a mass die-off of coral reefs. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050. The use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1% and 7% by 2050. Renewable energy would have to increase to about 67%. Trump has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, vowing to increase the burning of coal, and he intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement. The world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark and "there is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the report said. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • The acting EPA chief credits Trump for a 2.5% decline in carbon emissions from 2016 to 2017. Trump took office in January 2017. Andrew Wheeler also noted "a 14% reduction in CO2 emissions in the United States since 2005," which includes the Obama administration's implementation of strict environmental policies, which the EPA and Trump administration have tried to reverse, change, or eliminate. Wheeler also said he has not finished reading the report. (CNN)


Notables.

  1. The Trump administration waived FBI fingerprint checks for caregivers and mental health workers in charge of thousands of teens at a migrant detention camp. None of the 2,100 staffers working at a tent city holding camp with more than 2,300 migrant teenagers have gone through the rigorous FBI fingerprint background check process. "Instead," reads an HHS memo, the camp is "using checks conducted by a private contractor that has access to less comprehensive data, thereby heightening the risk that an individual with a criminal history could have direct access to children." The federal government is also allowing the facility to forgo mental health care requirements that mandate at least one mental health clinician for every 12 children. Instead, the camp has one for every 100 kids. (Associated Press)

  2. Trump blamed the Federal Reserve for the GM plant closures and layoffs, as well as the recent declines in the stock market. Trump said he is "not even a little bit happy" with Jerome "Jay" Powell, who Trump picked to head the central bank. "So far," Trump said, "I’m not even a little bit happy with my selection of Jay. Not even a little bit. And I’m not blaming anybody, but I'm just telling you I think that the Fed is way off-base with what they're doing." He continued: "I'm doing deals, and I'm not being accommodated by the Fed. They're making a mistake because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else's brain can ever tell me." (Washington Post)

  3. The Senate advanced a bipartisan bid to pull U.S. support for the Saudi Arabia-led forces in Yemen. The measure passed 63-37, signaling a rebuke to Trump and a reversal for the Senate, which rejected the same measure nine months ago. 19 senators switched their votes from the March vote following an "inadequate" briefing by Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Pompeo repeated the Trump administration's claim that there was no "direct reporting" connecting Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to Kahshoggi's murder. The Trump administration had been urging senators against withdrawing military support for the war in Yemen. (NBC News / Politico / New York Times)

  4. Trump threatened to cancel his upcoming summit with Vladimir Putin over Russia's recent maritime skirmish with Ukraine. Trump said he is waiting for a full report on the incident, during which Putin captured three Ukrainian ships and their crews in the Black Sea on Sunday, before making a final decision on whether he will cancel the planned summit in Argentina this week. The report "will be very determinative," Trump said. "Maybe I won’t have the meeting. Maybe I won’t even have the meeting." Russia said that it still expects the meeting to go ahead as planned. (Washington Post / Associated Press)

  5. Contributions to the NRA went down by $55 million in 2017, according to the gun-rights group's latest tax records. The NRA reported $98 million in contributions in 2017, down from almost $125 million in 2016. In addition to the drop in contributions, membership dues were also down by roughly $35 million. (Daily Beast)

  6. Trump – again – threatened that he would "totally be willing" to shut down the government if he doesn't get the $5 billion for his wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Democratic leaders will only approve $1.6 billion for for border security measures. "I will tell you, politically speaking, that issue is a total winner," Trump said, citing U.S. border agents firing tear gas on migrants protesting near the border as evidence of support for more security. Trump also said the $5 billion would only be for a physical barrier and that "the number is larger for border security." (Politico / CNN)

Day 677: Gone rogue.

1/ Paul Manafort violated his cooperation agreement with Robert Mueller by repeatedly lying to federal investigators, according to a court filing by the special counsel's office. Prosecutors claim Manafort's "crimes and lies" about "a variety of subject matters" relieve them of any promises made to Manafort as part of the plea agreement. Manafort cannot withdraw his guilty plea and without a deal, he now faces at least a decade in prison after pleading guilty in September to conspiring to defraud the U.S. and conspiring to obstruct justice. In August, a federal court jury in Alexandria, Va., convicted the former Trump campaign chairman on eight felony counts and deadlocked on 10 others. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / ABC News / CNN)

2/ Manafort allegedly held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadoran embassy in London. Manafort met with the WikiLeaks founder around March 2016 – about the same time he joined Trump's presidential campaign. Several months later, WikiLeaks published the Democratic emails stolen by Russia. Manafort also met with Assange in 2013 and 2015. It's unclear why Manafort met with Assange or what they discussed. Manafort and WikiLeak both denied that Manafort had met with Assange. [Editor's Note: Something about this story doesn't smell right.] (The Guardian / CNBC)

  • Jerome Corsi emailed Roger Stone two months before WikiLeaks released emails stolen from the Clinton campaign, saying "Word is (Julian Assange) plans 2 more dumps…Impact planned to be very damaging." On July 25, 2016, Stone emailed Corsi, directing him to "Get to (Assange) [a]t Ecuadorian Embassy in London and get the pending (WikiLeaks) emails." Corsi passed the directive along to conservative author Ted Malloch. Eight days later, Corsi emailed Stone saying that WikiLeaks had information that would be damaging to Clinton's campaign and planned to release it in October. (NBC News)

  • Corsi claimed he received "limited immunity" from Mueller in order to talk about a "cover story" he crafted for Stone to help explain Stone's Aug. 21, 2016, tweet saying it would "soon be [the] Podesta's time in the barrel." Corsi also claimed he has a joint defense agreement with Trump. (Daily Caller / Slate)

  • Corsi rejected a deal offered by Mueller to plead guilty to one count of perjury, saying: "They want me to say I willfully lied. I'm not going to agree that I lied. I did not. I will not lie to save my life. I'd rather sit in prison and rot for as long as these thugs want me to." Corsi, who is associated with Roger Stone, said he was offered a deal on one count of perjury. (The Guardian)

  • Mueller's team has been investigating a meeting between Manafort and Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno in Quito in 2017. They're specifically asking if WikiLeaks or Julian Assange were discussed in the meeting. (CNN)

  • A federal judge appeared reluctant to unseal a criminal complaint against Assange due to the government's "compelling interest" in keeping the records under wraps until he is arrested. (CNN)

3/ Trump attacked Mueller after Manafort was accused of lying. Trump called the special counsel a "conflicted prosecutor gone rogue" and claimed Mueller is doing "TREMENDOUS damage" to the criminal justice system. Trump also accused the special counsel team of forcing witnesses to lie. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, meanwhile, said she was not aware of any discussions about a potential presidential pardon for Manafort. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg)

4/ The Senate could vote on a bill to protect Mueller. Jeff Flake has said he will oppose all of Trump's judicial nominees until there is a vote on a bill to codify some protections for special counsel investigations. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said Republicans are willing to hold a vote "if that's what it's going to take" to get more of Trump's nominations through the Judiciary Committee. (Roll Call / Politico)


Notables.

  1. Trump threatened to cut subsidies for GM after the company said it was planning to cut up to 14,800 jobs and end production at several North American factories. (Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Bloomberg)

  2. Fox News coordinated its interview questions before on-air interviews with Scott Pruitt. In one instance, the EPA approved part of the show's script. (Daily Beast / Slate / ThinkProgress)

  3. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said "it's awfully tough" for Ivanka Trump to comply with government email rules. Bob Goodlatte suggested that Ivanka's use of a personal email account to conduct government business was "very different" from the private email server Hillary Clinton used during her time as secretary of State. (Politico)

  4. House Republicans are meeting with Trump today in an attempt to avoid a government shutdown on Dec. 7. Republican leaders promised Trump that they would fight to secure more funding for his border wall after the midterms. Democrats, however, say Trump's $5 billion price tag is too high. Senate GOP leaders have discussed the possibility of spreading the $5 billion out over two years. Trump hasn't ruled the idea out, but it's not clear whether Democrats will concede. (Politico)

  5. House Republicans released a 297-page tax plan they hope to pass during the lame-duck session. The bill would impact Americans' retirement savings, multiple business tax breaks, and would redesign the IRS. The House Republicans could vote on the proposal as early as this week. (Politico / CNBC / Reuters)

  6. The White House is preventing the CIA director from briefing the Senate on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Gina Haspel won't take part in a Senate briefing by Mike Pompeo and James Mattis on U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia behind closed doors on Wednesday. (The Guardian)

Day 676: Substantial damages.

1/ The National Climate Assessment concludes that global warming is already "transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us." The findings from the landmark scientific report, issued by 13 federal agencies, are at odds with the Trump administration's environmental deregulation agenda, which Trump claims will lead to economic growth, and its plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The report predicts that the effects of global warming could eliminate as much as 10% of the U.S. economy by the end of the century, and warns that humans must act aggressively now "to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades." The first report, released in November 2017, concluded that there is "no convincing alternative explanation" for the changing climate other than "human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases." Trump recently questioned the science of climate change, saying that "I don't know that it's man-made" and that the warming trend "could very well go back." (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN)

  • 📌 The Re-up: Day 627. A U.N. report on the effects of climate change predicts a strong risk of an environmental crisis much sooner than expected. The report finds that the atmosphere could warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, which would cause sea levels to rise, intensify droughts, wildfires, and poverty, and cause a mass die-off of coral reefs. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050. The use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1% and 7% by 2050. Renewable energy would have to increase to about 67%. Trump has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, vowing to increase the burning of coal, and he intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement. The world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark and "there is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the report said. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Trump: "I don't believe" the climate report. (Axios)

2/ The Trump administration claimed it reached a deal with Mexico's incoming government to hold asylum seekers in Mexico while their claims are processed through U.S. courts. The incoming Mexican government, however, denied that it reached an agreement with the Trump administration, known as Remain in Mexico, and insisted that talks of a deal were premature. (Washington Post / The Guardian / USA Today / NBC News)

3/ U.S. border agents fired tear gas on migrants protesting near the U.S.-Mexico border after some of them attempted to cross using a train border crossing. The fumes were carried by the breeze toward unarmed families hundreds of feet away. Mexico's Interior Ministry said around 500 migrants were involved in the march for faster processing of asylum claims for Central American migrants, but it was a smaller group of migrants who broke away and tried the train crossing. The border was shut down in both directions for several hours. (Associated Press / New York Times / CNN)

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis declined last month to approve a Department of Homeland Security request to use military force to protect border agents on the southwest border. DHS instead went over Mattis' head and asked John Kelly to get approval for the use of lethal military force. Kelly is not in the military chain of command. (Daily Beast)

4/ A judge denied Trump's request to throw out a lawsuit alleging he used the Trump Foundation for personal and political purposes. The suit alleges that Trump, along with Ivanka and Trump Jr., engaged in "extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Mr. Trump's personal and business interests, and violations of basic legal obligations for nonprofit foundations." A lawyer for the Trump Foundation tried to have the case thrown out, arguing that a sitting president can't be sued and that the Trump family didn't knowingly do anything wrong. He claimed the suit was an act of political bias. (NBC News / Reuters / NBC News / CNN)

poll/ 59% of Americans disapprove of the way Trump is handling race relations. 35% approve. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ 60% of American disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president. 38% approve. (Gallup)


Notables.

  1. Jared Kushner directed the Department of Defense and State to inflate the value of the arms deal between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia from around $14.5 billion to $110 billion. (ABC News)

  2. Trump launched 238 drone strikes during his first two years in office on Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. In 2009 and 2010, "Drone President" Obama launched 186 drone strikes on Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. Once in office, Trump relaxed the burden of proof requirements for targets put in place by the Obama administration, which counterterrorism experts say explains the increase in strikes. (Daily Beast)

  3. The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to take up three cases challenging Trump's decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military. The move is an attempt to bypass federal appeals courts and bring the case directly to the high court for a decision. District courts across the country have so far prevented the policy from going into effect, and the D.C. Circuit is scheduled to hear arguments in early December. (CNN / Reuters / Washington Post / New York Times / BuzzFeed News)

  4. Jerome Corsi rejected a deal from Robert Mueller to plead guilty to one count of perjury. He claimed he was forgetful when investigators asked him whether he knew beforehand that WikiLeaks was going to publish emails stolen from Democratic computers during the campaign. He said he did not want to plead guilty to intentionally lying. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  5. George Papadopoulos was ordered to start his 14-day prison sentence today for lying to federal investigators in the Russia probe, Papdopoulos has asked to delay the start of his sentence while a constitutional challenge to the special counsel's investigation of Russian election interference remains unresolved. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)

  6. The head of Russian military intelligence died "after a long and serious illness." In March, the Trump administration sanctioned Igor Korobov, citing the GRU's involvement "in interfering in the 2016 U.S. election through cyber-enabled activities." (Meduza / The Guardian)

  7. The Office of Special Counsel is looking into whether acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from accepting political contributions. According to the Office of Special Counsel guidance, "penalties for Hatch Act violations range from reprimand or suspension to removal and debarment from federal employment and may include a civil fine." The office has no connection to the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. (CNN)

  8. The White House deputy communications chief will continue to receive payments from his $8.4 million Fox News severance package over the next two years while being paid by the White House at the same time. Bill Shine's financial disclosure form shows he will also receive a bonus and stock options package worth about $3.5 million this year and again in 2019. Shine was accused in multiple lawsuits of enabling and helping to cover up alleged sexual harassment by Fox News executives. (Hollywood Reporter / Daily Beast / USA Today / Associated Press)

Day 671: Sad irony.

1/ The White House authorized U.S. military troops deployed at the Mexican border to use lethal force and conduct law-enforcement operations. John Kelly's "Cabinet order" expanded the authority of troops at the border to include "a show or use of force (including lethal force, where necessary), crowd control, temporary detention, and cursory search" in order to protect border agents. The order could conflict with the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the military from acting as law enforcement on U.S. soil. (Military Times / Axios)

2/ The White House attacked "activist judges" for temporarily blocking Trump's attempt to refuse asylum to migrants who cross the border illegally. Trump also blamed Monday's ruling against his administration on an "Obama judge," who wrote that Trump's "rule barring asylum for immigrants who enter the country" outside a port of entry "irreconcilably conflicts" with federal immigration laws and "the expressed intent of Congress." Chief Justice John Roberts pushed back on Trump's characterization, saying the U.S. doesn't have "Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges," adding that an "independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for." (NBC News / Washington Post / Associated Press)

3/ The House Intelligence Committee's incoming Democratic majority is looking to hire money-laundering and forensic accounting experts for the purposes of examining unanswered financial questions about Trump and Russia. (Daily Beast)

4/ The bipartisan leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee demanded that Trump say whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Republican Sen. Bob Corker and Democrat Bob Menendez specifically asked whether the administration believed that bin Salman was involved in the murder. Under the Magnitsky Act, Trump can be required to determine whether a global leader was responsible for human rights violations. (Politico)

poll/ 15% of Americans say they are "looking forward" to talking about politics at Thanksgiving, 40% "hope to avoid" politics and 45% don’t really care. (CBS News)


Notables.

  1. A federal judge blocked a Mississippi state law that banned most abortions after 15 weeks, ruling that it "unequivocally" violated women's constitutional rights. Judge Carlton Reeves wrote that "the fact that men, myself included, are determining how women may choose to manage their reproductive health is a sad irony not lost on the court." (Reuters / CNN/ NPR)

  2. A federal judge in Detroit declared that a law banning female genital mutilation is unconstitutional. He dismissed charges against two doctors and six others accused of subjecting at girls to the cutting procedure, writing that "as despicable as this practice may be," Congress did not have the authority to pass the law that criminalizes female genital mutilation, and that it's a matter for the states to regulate. (USA Today / Reuters)

  3. Both parties have reached an impasse as a partial government shut down looms two weeks away. Trump wants Republicans to secure at least $5 billion to pay for his border wall, which is much more than Democrats are willing to give. (Politico)

  4. U.S. farmers are having trouble selling massive stores of grain that would usually be sold to Chinese buyers. As the trade dispute with China continues, farmers across the country are either letting their crops rot or plowing them under instead of harvesting as they wait and hope for better prices next year. (Reuters)

  5. Robert Mueller still wants to question Trump about his actions in the White House, in addition to the written answers Trump submitted in response to questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Rudy Giuliani signaled that the Trump team would fight any questions they believe violate executive privilege – especially if they relate to potential obstruction of justice. (Politico / CNN)

  6. Mueller asked a federal judge to order George Papadopoulos to start serving time in prison on Monday as scheduled. Papadopoulos asked to delay his two-week prison sentence while a constitutional challenge to the special counsel's appointment in a separate case in Washington is resolved. Mueller's team responded that Papadopoulos waived his rights to appeal when he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. (Washington Post)


📌 The Re-up: Thanksgiving Day Edition.

A few stories worth your attention that were drowned out by the daily shock and awe. But that's not all – these topics also make for great turkey talk. You can thank me later.

  1. Trump inherited his family's wealth through fraud and questionable tax schemes, receiving the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father's real estate empire. Trump has repeatedly claimed that "I built what I built myself." Trump and his siblings used fake corporations to hide financial gifts from their parents, which helped Fred Trump claim millions in tax deductions. Trump also helped his parents undervalue their real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars when filing their tax returns. In total, Fred and Mary Trump transferred more than $1 billion in wealth to their children and paid a total of $52.2 million in taxes (about 5%) instead of the $550+ million they should have owed under the 55% tax rate imposed on gifts and inheritances. Trump also "earned" $200,000 a year in today's dollars from his father's companies starting at age 3. After college, Trump started receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year, which increased to $5 million a year when he was in his 40s and 50s. Trump has refused to release his income tax returns, breaking with decades of practice by past presidents. There is no time limit on civil fines for tax fraud. [Editor's note: This is a must read. An abstract summary does not suffice.] (New York Times)

  2. A U.N. report on the effects of climate change predicts a strong risk of an environmental crisis much sooner than expected. The report finds that the atmosphere could warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, which would cause sea levels to rise, intensify droughts, wildfires, and poverty, and cause a mass die-off of coral reefs. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050. The use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1% and 7% by 2050. Renewable energy would have to increase to about 67%. Trump has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, vowing to increase the burning of coal, and he intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement. The world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark and "there is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the report said. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  3. Trump won't take action against Saudi Arabia or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the death of Jamal Khashoggi, issuing an exclamation-point laden statement that defended the Kingdom and effectively closed the door on the issue. Trump questioned the CIA's assessment that Mohammed ordered Khashoggi's assassination, saying: "It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn't!" Regardless, Trump said, the U.S. "intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia" despite calling the "crime" against Khashoggi "terrible" and "one that our country does not condone." The statement was subtitled "America First!" (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / NPR / NBC News)

  4. The Trump administration plans to redefine the legal definition of gender as strictly biological, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with. The effort by the Department of Health and Human Services would establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, effectively narrowing the definition of gender and deny federal recognition and civil rights protections to transgender Americans. (New York Times)

  5. Ivanka Trump repeatedly used a private email account to conduct government business in 2017. A White House review found her personal email use included exchanges with cabinet secretaries and forwards of her schedule to her assistant, with hundreds of messages being in violation of federal records rules. Ivanka claimed she didn't know the rules about using a personal email account for government business. [Obligatory editor's note: But her emails.] (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)


Programming note: WTF Just Happened Today will not publish Thursday or Friday. For the latest, check the Current Status – a news tool I built so you always know what the fuck just happened today in politics. Have a safe and happy holiday. I'll see you Monday.

Day 670: Steadfast.

1/ Trump won't take action against Saudi Arabia or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the death of Jamal Khashoggi, issuing an exclamation-point laden statement that defended the Kingdom and effectively closed the door on the issue. Trump questioned the CIA's assessment that Mohammed ordered Khashoggi's assassination, saying: "It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn't!" Regardless, Trump said, the U.S. "intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia" despite calling the "crime" against Khashoggi "terrible" and "one that our country does not condone." The statement was subtitled "America First!" (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / NPR / NBC News)

  • READ: Trump's statement on the Saudi crown prince and the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. (White House)

2/ Ivanka Trump repeatedly used a private email account to conduct government business in 2017. A White House review found her personal email use included exchanges with cabinet secretaries and forwards of her schedule to her assistant, with hundreds of messages being in violation of federal records rules. Ivanka claimed she didn't know the rules about using a personal email account for government business. (Washignton Post / New York Times / NBC News)

  • Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee plan to investigate Ivanka's use of a personal email account to determine whether she violated federal law. (The Hill / Washington Post)

3/ A federal judge temporarily blocked the Trump administration from refusing asylum to immigrants crossing the U.S. border illegally. U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar rejected Trump's Nov. 9 proclamation that said anyone who failed to cross into the U.S. at a designated port of entry would not be granted asylum. "Whatever the scope of the President’s authority," Judge Tigar wrote, "he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden." The ruling will remain in effect for one month barring any further appeals. (Associated Press / CNN / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ Trump submitted his written answers to Robert Mueller's questions "regarding the Russia-related topics of the inquiry," according to Trump's attorney, Jay Sekulow. Mueller has not ruled out trying to compel Trump to sit for an interview after reviewing the written answers. (Bloomberg / CNBC / New York Times / Associated Press)

poll/ 70% of Americans think Trump should allow the Russia investigation to continue. 52% of Americans think Congress should pass legislation to protect Mueller from being fired, while 67% of Republicans disagree. 51% of Americans think the Russia investigation is politically motivated. (CBS News)


Notables.

  1. Trump wanted to order the Justice Department in April to prosecute Hillary Clinton and James Comey. The White House counsel at the time, Don McGahn, pushed back, saying Trump had no authority to order a prosecution, and that while he could request an investigation, that could prompt accusations of abuse of power. (New York Times)

  2. The acting attorney general received more than $1.2 million as the leader of a charity that reported having no other employees. Matthew Whitaker worked for a charity called the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust for three years, starting in 2014. (Washington Post)

  3. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer requested that the Justice Department inspector general investigate communications between Whitaker and the White House beginning in 2017, when Whitaker was appointed chief of staff to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (ABC News / Politico)

  4. The FBI now classifies the far-right organization known as the Proud Boys as an extremist group. The group has be designated as an "extremist group with ties to white nationalism," according to documents produced by Washington state law enforcement. The document also warns that the Proud Boys are "actively recruiting in the Pacific north-west" and that they have "contributed to the recent escalation of violence at political rallies held on college campuses, and in cities like Charlottesville, Virginia, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington." (The Guardian)

Day 669: A failure to abide.

1/ The CIA concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, contradicting the Saudi government's claims that he was not involved in the killing. The evidence included an intercept showing a member of the 15-person team calling an aide to Prince Mohammed and saying "tell your boss" that the mission was accomplished. Trump called Saudi Arabia a "truly spectacular ally," telling senior White House officials that he wants Prince Mohammed to remain in power as a check on Iran. Trump also claimed that the CIA "haven't assessed anything yet," but "as of this moment we were told that [Prince Mohammed] did not play a role." (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Politico)

  • Trump won't listen to what he called the "suffering tape" of Khashoggi's murder inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Trump also maintained that the crown prince told him "maybe five different times" and "as recently as a few days ago" that he had nothing to do with the killing. (Washington Post)

  • The White House official responsible for U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia resigned. Kirsten Fontenrose had pushed for tough sanctions against the Saudi government in the response to the killing of Khashoggi. (New York Times)

2/ Trump probably won't sit down for an in-person interview with Robert Mueller, saying "we've wasted enough time on this witch hunt and the answer is, probably, we're finished." Trump also claimed he didn't know that his Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker opposed the Mueller investigation, but said Whitaker is "right" about his criticism of the special counsel's investigation. The two have had multiple conversations about the probe over the last year. (Fox News / New York Times / NBC News)

  • Kellyanne Conway said Trump is "not afraid" to sit down with Mueller, because "it just doesn’t seem necessary." (The Hill)

3/ Trump won't stop Whitaker from curtailing Mueller's investigation into possible collusion by Trump campaign officials with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump said he would "not get involved" if Whitaker moved to restrict it. (Bloomberg / Reuters)

4/ A group of Senate Democrats are suing to block Whitaker from serving as acting attorney general, saying the appointment is unconstitutional. They're asking a federal judge to remove him because the appointment violates the Constitution since Whitaker has not been confirmed by the Senate. Adam Schiff added that not only is Whitaker's appointment "flawed," but "that he was chosen for the purpose of interfering with the Mueller investigation. He auditioned for the part by going on TV and saying he could hobble the investigation." (Associated Press / Daily Beast / The Guardian)

5/ Trump called the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman "little Adam Schitt" after the administration spent a week complaining about the need for decorum as part of its tiff with CNN and Jim Acosta, whose press credentials Trump revoked earlier this month. The White House did not comment on whether Trump misspelled Schiff's name intentionally. Melania Trump's office, who has spearheaded anti-cyberbullying efforts through her "Be Best" initiative, also did not comment. (Vox / CNN / Politico)

6/ After first threatening to suspend Acosta's press pass again after the current restraining order expires, the White House reversed course and "fully restored" Acosta's credentials. On Friday, Judge Timothy J. Kelly ruled that Acosta's right to due process had been violated when the White House suspended his pass. After the ruling, the White House sent Acosta a formal letter outlining a "preliminary decision" to again suspend his pass once the temporary order expires, citing a "fail[ure] to abide" by "basic, widely understood practices" when asking follow-up questions and not giving up the microphone right away. CNN and Acosta asked a federal judge for an emergency hearing to allow the judge to enter a more permanent preliminary injunction. The White House instead told CNN they would restore Acosta's press credentials as long as he follows new rules at presidential news conferences, which include asking just one question at a time and "physically surrendering the microphone." (Washington Post / NBC News / Axios / CNN)


Notables.

  1. Trump criticized the retired Navy SEAL who led the raid on Osama bin Laden, saying that he should've caught bin Laden sooner. Adm. Bill McRaven called Trump's attack on the news media "the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime." Trump responded by calling the now-retired four-star admiral a "Hillary Clinton fan" and scoffing that it would "have been nice if we got Osama Bin Laden a lot sooner." (Fox News / NBC News / CNN)

  2. Trump revived his threat to shut down the federal government next month if Congress fails to give him the $20 billion needed to build his border wall. Trump asked lawmakers for $5 billion for new wall construction in fiscal 2019, which Democrats opposed. The Senate compromised with $1.6 billion for the wall. (Washington Post)

  3. The 5,800 troops Trump sent to the Southwest border will start coming home just as some members of the refugee caravan arrive at the border. All the troops should be home by Christmas. (Politico)

  4. Trump claimed Finland's president told him they rarely have forest fires because they "spend a lot of time raking." Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said he never discussed that with Trump. During his visit to California, Trump declined to blame the deadliest and most devastating wildfire in the state's history on climate change, instead declaring: "I have a strong opinion: I want great climate." (Politico / CNN / Associated Press / The Guardian)

Day 666: Decorum.

1/ Trump said he answered Robert Mueller's written questions himself "very easily," but he hasn't submitted them because "you have to always be careful when you answer questions with people that probably have bad intentions." Rudy Giuliani said there are at least two dozen questions that relate to activities and episodes from before Trump's election. Trump spent more than five hours in meeting over three days this week with his attorneys working out written answers for Mueller about alleged collusion between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Despite telling reporters that "the questions were very routinely answered by me," Trump's temper boiled during all three meetings. Seemingly out of nowhere, Trump targeted Mueller on Twitter yesterday, calling the special counsel team "thugs" and the investigation a "witch hunt." (Associated Press / Reuters / CNN / Washington Post / The Guardian)

  • Senate Republicans are urging Trump to quickly nominate a permanent attorney general to end bipartisan concern over the future of the special counsel. The challenge, apparently, is persuading Trump to trust the traditional choices he doesn't have a personal relationship with, like former attorney general Bill Barr or former deputy attorney general Mark Filip. (Politico)

  • Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker assured Lindsey Graham that he won't end Mueller's investigation, despite previously publicly disparaging the special counsel. (Bloomberg)

  • Dick Cheney's former top national security aide has come under scrutiny from Mueller. The special counsel has been looking into the communications and political dealings of John Hannah, the former Cheney adviser who later worked on Trump's State Department transition team, including his interactions with Lebanese-American businessman and fixer George Nader, who brokered meetings between foreign dignitaries and the Trump campaign, as well as Joel Zamel, social media "guru" with deep ties to Israeli intelligence. (Daily Beast)

  • George Papadopoulos asked a federal judge to keep him out of prison until a constitutional challenge to Mueller's investigation is resolved. The former Trump campaign adviser pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is scheduled to serve a 14-day sentence starting on Nov. 26. (Washington Post)

2/ The Justice Department inadvertently revealed that it secretly filed criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The disclosure came in an unrelated court filing where prosecutors inadvertently pasted text from a similar court filing into the wrong document. The filing abruptly switched on the second page to discussing someone named "Assange," who had been charged under seal that was the subject of significant publicity, lived abroad, and would need to be extradited. It's unclear what Assange, who's been living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012, has been charged with, but the charges likely center around the publication of emails from Democrats during the 2016 presidential campaign, and may involve the Espionage Act, which criminalizes the disclosure of national defense-related information. "The court filing was made in error," said a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney's office in Virginia. "That was not the intended name for this filing." (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / The Guardian)

3/ A federal judge ruled in favor of CNN and Jim Acosta, ordering the White House to temporarily restore the press credentials that Trump had taken away last week. The suit alleges that CNN and Acosta's First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated by last week's suspension of his press pass. The White House said it would follow the court order and "temporarily reinstate the reporter's hard pass," as well as "develop rules and processes to ensure fair and orderly press conferences in the future." The judge, Timothy J. Kelly of Federal District Court in Washington, ruled that the Trump administration had most likely violated Acosta's due process rights, but declined to weigh in on the First Amendment issues cited by CNN. "We want total freedom of the press," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. If journalists don't "behave," Trump said, "we'll end up back in court and we'll win." Trump added: "We have to practice decorum." (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / The Hill)


Notables.

  1. Florida election officials ordered a hand recount of ballots in the U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson and Governor Rick Scott. A machine count showed the two candidates divided by a margin of less than 0.25 percent. Meanwhile, the race between Republican Ron DeSantis and Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum is down to an 0.41 percent lead for DeSantis. (Reuters)

  2. Chuck Grassley will move from the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Finance Committee next year. Lindsey Graham is in line to replace him as chairman of the Judiciary. (Politico)

  3. Besty DeVos has received around-the-clock security from U.S. Marshals since she was confirmed, which could cost taxpayers $19.8 million through Sept. 2019. Jeff Sessions first approved the protection on Feb. 13, 2017. No other cabinet member receives an armed detail. (NBC News)

  4. The Pentagon failed its first-ever comprehensive audit. The audit found U.S. Defense Department accounting discrepancies that could take years to resolve. Some 1,200 auditors examined financial accounting on a wide range of spending, including on weapons systems, military personnel, and property. "We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it," said Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan. "It was an audit on a $2.7 trillion dollar organization, so the fact that we did the audit is substantial," he added. (Reuters)

  5. North Korea announced a "successful" and "highly significant" test of an "ultramodern tactical weapon." It didn't appear to be a test of a nuclear device or a long-range missile with the potential to target the U.S. (ABC News / Associated Press)

  6. A Mississippi Senator said she thinks it's a "great idea" to make it harder for "liberal folks" to vote. Last week, Cindy Hyde-Smith "joked" that if she was invited "to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row." She has refused to apologize for her "public lynching" comment, and claims her voter suppression comment was the result of "selectively edit[ing]." (Washington Post)

  7. The Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross can be compelled to testify in a case regarding the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The addition of the question has been challenged in six lawsuits around the country. (Washington Post)

  8. Another Trump adviser is writing a tell-all book about his time in the White House. The book by Cliff Sims, who joined the West Wing staff on Day One as a special assistant to the president, is set to be published in January. (Politico)

  9. Trump offered to nominate Mira Ricardel as ambassador to Estonia after Melania forced the deputy national security adviser out of the White House. Ricardel turned down the posting, but has since been offered nearly a dozen jobs from which to choose. (Bloomberg)

  10. Trump plans to nominate acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler as the permanent head of the environmental agency. Wheeler previously represented coal and energy-industry interests as a lobbyist. (USA Today / New York Times)

  11. Trump honored a campaign donor with the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation's highest civilian commendation. Miriam Adelson and her husband, Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate and one of the nation's most powerful Republican donors, gave Trump's presidential campaign $30 million in the final months of the 2016 race. They also donated $100 million to the Republican Party during this past election cycle. (NBC News / New York Times)

  12. Trump has been asking aides and advisers whether they think Pence is loyal. While Trump hasn't suggested dropping Pence from the 2020 ticket, outside Trump advisers have suggested that Pence may have used up his usefulness. Others believe that asking about Pence's loyalty is a proxy for asking about whether Nick Ayers is trustworthy, who Trump has considered replacing John Kelly with. (New York Times)

Day 665: The envy of the world.

1/ Trump made up an accusation that Robert Mueller was "horribly threatening" witnesses to force them to cooperate in the Russia probe. The renewed attack on the special counsel comes one day after Mitch McConnell blocked an effort to protect Mueller's work. Trump called Mueller's investigation "A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!" and "a total mess" that has "gone absolutely nuts." Trump also defended his administration, saying it "is running very smoothly" and not "in chaos" or having a "meltdown," but rather the U.S. under his presidency has become "the envy of the world." He provided no evidence to support his claim. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / HuffPost)

  • Mueller's team is investigating witness tampering by Roger Stone. Mueller is exploring whether Stone tried to intimidate and discredit a witness who contradicted his story about his contacts with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the 2016 presidential campaign. (Wall Street Journal)

  • In a two-paragraph legal filing, Mueller said former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates is cooperating with prosecutors on "several ongoing investigations," and it's not appropriate to start his sentencing process. (Bloomberg)

  • Text messages show Stone discussed WikiLeaks with a friend six days before it began releasing the Clinton campaign's hacked emails. The text messages appear to show Randy Credico providing regular updates to Stone on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's plans to release the hacked emails. In the exchange, Credico tells Stone on Oct. 1, 2016, that "Hillary's campaign will die this week" because of "big news Wednesday." Nothing about Clinton was released that Wednesday, but two days later, on Oct. 7, WikiLeaks dropped its first dump of emails stolen from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. (NBC News)

2/ A federal judge denied a Russian firm's motion to dismiss charges filed by Mueller's team. The special counsel has accused Concord Management and Consulting of funding a propaganda operation to sway the 2016 presidential election in Trump's favor. Concord was charged with conspiring to defraud the U.S. government by hiding its election-related activities and failing to register as a foreign agent trying to influence the U.S. political process. Concord is controlled by Russian businessman Evgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch with close ties to Putin. (Reuters / Politico / CNN)

3/ Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for five people involved in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Another six suspects have been indicted. Saudi officials denied that King Salman or his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had any knowledge of the operation. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

4/ The Trump administration sanctioned 17 Saudis accused of involvement in the killing of Khashoggi. Neither the U.S. nor Saudi's implicated Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom Turkey has indirectly accused of ordering Khashoggi's death. (New York Times / Washington Post)

5/ The White House asked the Justice Department and FBI for ways to legally extradite an enemy of Turkish President Recep Erdogan in order to placate Turkey over the murder of Khashoggi. Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. for almost two decades. Erdogan accused Gulen of being behind a failed coup against his government in 2016. (NBC News)

6/ A federal judge ruled that Florida voters have until Saturday to correct their rejected mail-in and provisional ballots, saying the state's law requiring signatures on ballots to match those on file is being applied unconstitutionally. More than 4,000 ballots across 45 counties in Florida were not counted because of inconsistent signatures. In 22 other counties, the number is unknown. In the Senate race, Gov. Rick Scott (R) leads Sen. Bill Nelson (D) by fewer than 13,000 votes. In the gubernatorial race, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) leads Andrew Gillum (D) by nearly 34,000 votes. (Washington Post / ABC News / BuzzFeed News)

7/ The same judge denied a request to extend the deadline for elections officials to complete a machine recount despite Palm Beach County's election supervisor saying they would not meet the deadline. Judge Mark Walker of the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee called Florida "the laughingstock of the world election after election and we chose not to fix this." Counties that do not complete the machine recount in time will revert to the unofficial results tabulated on Saturday. Races that remain within one quarter of one percentage point after the deadline will proceed to a manual recount, and will have until Sunday at noon to review ballots. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Reuters)

8/ Palm Beach County missed the deadline for recounting votes in the state's Senate, governor's and agriculture-commissioner races. Counting machines overheated and stopped working at least twice this week. Florida will now manually recount the results in the U.S. Senate race, where about 12,600 votes separated Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson from Republican Rick Scott, the state's governor. (Washington Post / ABC News)


Notables.

  1. Trump will meet with Kim Jong Un for a second summit. The condition of the meeting does not include a requirement that North Korea provide a complete list of its nuclear weapons and missile sites. (NBC News)

  2. Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti was arrested for felony domestic violence. Officers in West Los Angeles took an incident report involving an allegation of domestic violence from an unidentified victim. Avenatti denied ever being "physically abusive," and called the felony allegation against him "completely bogus." (Politico / CNBC / BuzzFeed News)

  3. A federal judge will rule on restoring Jim Acosta's press pass on Friday, postponing a decision on granting CNN's request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. (Politico / ABC News / CNN)

  4. Trump nominated a handbag designer to be the next ambassador to South Africa. Lana Marks is a member of Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. Marks has no prior diplomatic experience. (Reuters / CNN / HuffPost)

  5. A man started shouting "Heil Hitler, Heil Trump" during intermission at a performance of "Fiddler on the Roof." The play is based on Yiddish stories and tells the tale of a Jewish family in Russia during the early 1900s. (Baltimore Sun / Talking Points Memo)

  6. A 10-year-old Muslim girl found notes in her elementary school cubby that said "You're a terrorist" and "I will kill you." (CNN)

  7. Hate crimes in America rose 17% last year – the third consecutive year that such crimes increased. (Washington Post)

Day 664: Discretion.

1/ The White House argued that Trump has "broad discretion to regulate access to the White House for journalists" in response to a lawsuit by CNN over the suspension of Jim Acosta's press pass. The lawsuit alleges that the ban violates CNN and Acosta's First and Fifth Amendment rights and they're asking for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction that would restore his access right away. Almost every major news organizations has sided with CNN. (CNN)

  • Fox News supports CNN's lawsuit against the Trump administration. "Secret Service passes for White House journalists should never be weaponized," Fox News President Jay Wallace said in a statement. "While we don't condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the President and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people." (Axios / Politico)

  • First Amendment lawyers say courts have a history of defending access for journalists, and the White House's shifting justifications for revoking Acosta's press pass won't help it in the coming legal fight. (Politico)

2/ The Justice Department defended the legality of Trump's appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, arguing that the appointment is consistent with the Constitution, federal statutes and past precedent in a 20-page memorandum opinion. The memo's disclosure comes a day after Maryland asked a Federal District Court judge to issue an injunction and declare that Rod Rosenstein the acting attorney general. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

  • The incoming ranking members of several House committees opened an investigation into Whitaker's involvement in World Patent Marketing, which was charged last year by the Federal Trade Commission with promoting an "invention-promotion scam." Whitaker was on the advisory board for World Patent Marketing. (Politico / House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform)

  • Whitaker walked away from a taxpayer-subsidized apartment-rehabilitation project in Iowa after years of cost overruns, delays and other problems. The city of Des Moines pulled an affordable housing loan that Whitaker's company had been awarded, and another lender began foreclosure proceedings after Whitaker defaulted on a separate loan for nearly $700,000. (Associated Press)

  • Whitaker praised Trump in his first public speech as acting attorney general, telling an audience that "under President Trump their 401(k)s are doing pretty good right now." (CNN)

3/ Sen. Lindsay Graham said he supports a bill to protect Robert Mueller's investigation from any politically motivated firings. Graham also said that he would urge Mitch McConnell to allow a vote on the bill. "I would certainly vote for it," Graham said. "I don’t see any movement to get rid of Mueller. But it probably would be good to have this legislation in place just for the future." Chuck Grassley, meanwhile, said he supports the bill, but he won't lobby McConnell to allow the measure to move forward. (Reuters)

4/ Jeff Flake threatened to vote against Trump's judicial nominees if legislation to protect Mueller does not receive a Senate floor vote. Flake said he will not vote to confirm nominees on the Senate floor or advance them in the Senate Judiciary Committee after Chris Coons unsuccessfully attempted to force a Senate vote on the special counsel legislation. Mitch McConnell objected to the request for a vote from Flake. (CNN / Axios)

5/ Roger Stone claimed multiple times during the 2016 presidential race that he was in communication with Trump and his campaign. Stone and Trump spoke weekly, which is now being scrutinized by Robert Mueller. Stone repeatedly said during the campaign that he had communicated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange through a "backchannel," "intermediary" or "mutual acquaintance." Mueller's office is also exploring whether Stone tried to intimidate and discredit a witness who is contradicting his version of events about his contacts with WikiLeaks. (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 37% of voters want to see Trump reelected, compared to 58% of voters who want someone new in the Oval Office come January 2021. Trump's overall job rating stands at 43% approve and 49% disapprove. (Monmouth University Poll)

poll/ 53% of Americans said the midterm election results were a rejection of Republican policies. 62% said it would be good for the country to have Democrats in charge of the House. (CNN)


Notables.

  1. Trump endorsed a bipartisan House bill that would reform the federal prison system and ease some mandatory minimum sentences. (New York Times / Reuters / Washington Post)

  2. Rep. Elijah Cummings says one of his first priorities when Congress returns will be to investigate why the Trump administration decided to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. "There are certain things that mandate that we look at immediately. One of them is the census, because that’s right around the corner," Cummings said. Last month, Cummings asked for an official probe into why the Commerce Department added the question to the census, which critics say could serve to depress responses to the census from immigrants, many of whom live in Democratic-leaning communities. (Reuters)

  3. Lawyers suing Trump over his decision to end special protections shielding certain immigrants from deportation are seeking unaired footage from "The Apprentice" to allege the move was racially motivated. Lawyers for Civil Rights has issued subpoenas to MGM Holdings and Trump Productions for any footage in which Trump "uses racial and/or ethnic slurs." (NBC News)

  4. Trump criticized British Prime Minister Theresa May when she called Air Force One for not doing enough to contain Iran after the U.S reimposed sanctions. Trump questioned May's approach to Brexit, and complained that U.S. trade deals with European nations were not fair. (Washington Post)

  5. Betsy DeVos plans to overhaul how colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual assault and harassment. The new rules, set for release before Thanksgiving, will bolster the rights of the accused, including the ability to cross-examine their accusers. The rules will also reduce liability for universities, tighten the definition of sexual harassment, and allow schools to use a higher standard in evaluating claims of sexual harassment and assault. (Washington Post)

  6. Florida Gov. Rick Scott will recuse himself from certifying his own election. Scott led Bill Nelson by fewer than 13,000 votes in unofficial results before the recount started. (CNN)

  7. Without evidence, Trump accused people, who "have absolutely no right to vote," of changing their clothes and returning to cast additional ballots in disguise. "Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again," Trump explained while calling for more voter ID laws. Then, Trump suggested that "if you buy a box of cereal — you have a voter ID." (Daily Caller)

Day 663: Grandstanding.

1/ CNN sued Trump and several White House aides asking the court to restore Jim Acosta's access to the White House. Trump suspended Acosta's press pass last week after a confrontation during a press conference. The suit alleges that Acosta's and CNN's First and Fifth Amendment rights are being violated by the White House's ban. "This is not a step we have taken lightly. But the White House action is unprecedented," CNN president Jeff Zucker said. Sanders responded by saying that CNN is "grandstanding" by suing. She added that the administration will "vigorously defend" itself. (CNN / Washignton Post / New York Times)

  • The White House changed its justification for revoking Acosta's press pass. Acosta was initially accused of putting his hands on an intern, but now Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggests that the decision to revoke Acosta's access was because he refused to yield the microphone. (Washington Post)

2/ Maryland asked a federal judge to declare Rod Rosenstein the acting attorney general instead of Matthew Whitaker, arguing that the selection of Jeff Sessions' former chief of staff violated federal law and exceeded the appointment authority outlined in the Constitution. Trump installed Whitaker as acting attorney general last week after ordering Sessions to resign from the post. (NBC News / Reuters)

  • Whitaker will consult with Justice Department ethics officials about possible recusal from overseeing Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Whitaker has faced pressure from Democrats to step aside from overseeing the special counsel investigation, due to critical comments he made about the investigation before joining the Justice Department last year. (CBS News)

3/ Trump is considering replacing John Kelly and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Kelly has had repeated disputes with Melania Trump over staffing issues and travel requests, and clashed with national security adviser John Bolton and his deputy, Mira Ricardel, deputy national security adviser. Nick Ayers, currently Mike Pence's chief of staff, is among those being considered for the job. Trump has told advisers that he wants to replace Nielsen, who is a close ally of Kelly. Forcing Nielsen out could result in Kelly quitting. Ricardel is also expected to be fired. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  • Melania Trump called for Ricardel to be fired. "It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House," a spokeswoman said in a statement. Ricardel reportedly clashed with members of Melania's staff over seating on a plane during her recent trip to Africa.(Washington Post) / The Guardian)

  • Trump is considering the former ICE director for Homeland Security secretary. Thomas Homan once recommended charging so-called sanctuary city politicians "with crimes" and defended separating children from their parents at the border. (Politico)

  • 👋 Who The Fuck Has Left The Trump Administration

4/ A Roger Stone associate expects to be indicted by Robert Mueller soon. Jerome Corsi is one of more than a dozen people associated with Roger Stone who have been questioned by Mueller's investigators. Corsi said he doesn't know what he'll be charged with other than the special counsel indicating that he will be charged in the coming days. Corsi has been cooperating with the Mueller investigation since receiving a subpoena in late August. (Associated Press / ABC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • Mueller is seeking information about Nigel Farage and whether Russia attempted to influence the June 2016 vote to leave the European Union,, according to Corsi. Farage was behind Britain's vote to leave the European Union. (The Guardian)

Notables.

  1. A federal judge delayed certification of Georgia's election results, ordering the state to first review all provisional ballots. Unofficial returns show that Brian Kemp, the Republican nominee in the governor's race, holds a lead of about 58,000 votes. He can afford to lose only 21,000 votes before facing a runoff election against the Democratic candidate, Stacey Abrams. About 21,190 provisional ballots were cast in Georgia. (New York Times / NBC News)

  2. Kyrsten Sinema defeated her Republican opponent in the race for a Senate seat in Arizona, giving Democrats their first elected senator in Arizona in 30 years. Sinema, a Democrat, will replace Republican Sen. Jeff Flake and become the first woman to represent Arizona in the Senate. (Axios / USA Today / The Guardian / New York Times / NBC News)

  3. Betsy DeVos was sued for failing to cancel student debt owed to for-profit colleges that have been shut down. The lawsuit comes a month after a federal judge ruled that the regulation should immediately go into effect. The judge called the delays "arbitrary and capricious." (CNN)

  4. The Trump administration closed an office that kept track of released Guantánamo inmates and has lost track of several of them, including one who has returned to a terrorist-held part of Syria. (McClatchy DC)

  5. Trump mocked the French for needing the U.S. to rescue them from the Germans in both world wars. The tweet comes after Trump joined world leaders commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I where French President Emmanuel Macron publicly criticized Trump's idea of "nationalism." (Bloomberg)

  6. Trump blamed the Secret Service for his canceled visit to a World War I cemetery in France, claiming that he suggested driving after it was deemed unsafe to take a helicopter. "By the way," Trump tweeted, "when the helicopter couldn't fly to the first cemetery in France because of almost zero visibility, I suggested driving. Secret Service said NO." (ABC News / USA Today)

Day 662: Infected.

1/ Trump called for Florida to suspend its legally required recount and declare the Republican candidates for Senate and governor the winners of their respective races. Without evidence, Trump claimed that "many ballots are missing or forged," and that "an honest vote count is no longer possible – ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!" In the governor's race, unofficial results showed Ron DeSantis leading Democratic mayor, Andrew Gillum, by 0.41%, and in the Senate race, Republican governor Rick Scott leads incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson by 0.14%. Florida's 67 counties are required to complete their recounts by Thursday. (ABC News / The Guardian / Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC)

  • The election overseer for Palm Beach County in Florida says there is no way the machine recount will be finished by Thursday's deadline. "It's impossible," said the supervisor of elections. Both parties seem to agree that completing the recount in time to meet the deadline is not going to happen. Palm Beach County GOP Chairman Michael Barnett said the inability to meet the deadline was "good news for Republicans because our candidates are ahead." (CNN)

  • Stacey Abrams filed a new lawsuit in federal court asking a judge to delay Georgia's vote certifications by one day to give officials time to count any votes that were wrongly rejected. If the suit is successful, officials would have until Wednesday to restore at least 1,095 votes that weren't counted. Neither campaign can agree on how many votes remain to be counted. (ABC News)

2/ Without evidence, Rick Scott accused Bill Nelson of trying to "commit fraud to try to win this election." State elections and law enforcement officials say there is no evidence suggesting Scott's allegations are true. Florida's Senate race is one of three statewide contests headed to an automatic recount after the unofficial deadline for counties to report results passed. (The Guardian / CNN / Politico)

  • Gillum withdrew his concession to Republican former Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Florida governor's race. (CNN)

  • Nelson called on Scott to recuse himself from "any role" in the recount that will determine the winner of their race. The recount is overseen by Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Republican who was appointed to his position in 2012 by Scott. (NBC News)

  • Scott has filed at least five lawsuits against county election officials alleging that some ballots were counted after the Saturday noon deadline and requesting that voting tabulation equipment be impounded after the machine recount is completed. (CNN)

  • An ethics complaint asserts that Scott broke state law when he held a press conference in front of the governor's mansion on Nov. 8 to claim that he would not "sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal" his Senate race. A group of Florida voters and organizations have also filed a lawsuit that alleges Scott has abused his power as governor for threatening to not count legal votes. (Politico / BuzzFeed News)

3/ Trump properties received at least $3.2 million during midterms from campaigns and PACS. The Republican National Committee spent at least $1.2 million at Trump properties while the Trump campaign has spent more than $950,000 at the properties since the start of 2017. (CNN)

4/ A year before Jamal Khashoggi was killed, Saudi intelligence officials close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed using private companies to assassinate enemies of the kingdom. Saudi officials have claimed that Khashoggi's death was a rogue killing ordered by an official who has since been fired. Turkish officials say Mohammad al-Otaibi, Saudi Arabia's consul general in Istanbul at the time, as an accessory to the killing of Khashoggi has been established through his early denials and refusal to give investigators access to the consulate after Khashoggi's disappearance. Otaibi was not among the Saudis arrested or fired. (New York Times / Washignton Post)

  • Canadian intelligence has heard the audio recordings of the killing of the Khashoggi. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country had shared the audio recordings with a number of countries, including the U.S., France, Germany and Saudi Arabia. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that his country's intelligence services have listened to the recordings. (NBC News / NPR / BBC)

5/ North Korea has continued its ballistic missile program at 16 hidden bases identified in new satellite images. The existence of the ballistic missile bases contradicts Trump's assertion that North Korea was "no longer a nuclear threat" following his June summit with dictator Kim Jong Un. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Washignton Post)

6/ Michael Cohen and his criminal defense lawyer, Guy Petrillo, met Robert Mueller's investigators. Cohen's meeting with Mueller's team is the latest in a series of sitdowns since pleading guilty in August to federal criminal charges, including campaign contribution violations related to payments to two women at Trump's behest. Cohen has participated in multiple interview sessions totaling more than 40 hours with investigators from Mueller's office and federal prosecutors in New York City. (ABC News / CNBC)

poll/ 61% of Democrats see Republicans as "racist/bigoted/sexist." 31% of Republicans say they view Democrats the same way. (Axios)


Notables.

  1. Trump doesn't want to give any more federal relief funding to Puerto Rico, because he thinks the island's government is using the relief money to pay off its debt. It's not. (Axios)

  2. Trump blamed California's wildfires on "poor" forest management despite nearly 60% of California's forests being under federal management. He also threatened to cut off federal funding due to "gross mismanagement." (ABC News / NBC News)

  3. Democrats in the House have at least 85 different topics for potential subpoena and investigation, including Trump's taxes, his role in payments to two women who alleged that they had affairs with him, his family business, and his targeting of the press. One senior Democratic source said the Democrats are preparing a "subpoena cannon." New York Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler added that if Trump is found to have violated campaign finance laws with hush payments, it "might very well be an impeachable offense." (Axios / ABC News / The Guardian / CNN)

  4. Trump blamed the stock market downturn on the prospect of "Presidential Harassment by the Dems." (Washington Post)

  5. Half of the Republicans who wrote the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are no longer in Congress. Of the 24 Republican tax-cut authors, four lost their seats in the midterms, three retired, three ran for another office, and two left mid-term. (Yahoo News)

Day 659: Inconvenient facts.

1/ Trump was involved in "nearly every step" of the hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal and he may have violated federal campaign-finance laws in the process. David Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., offered to use the National Enquirer to buy their silence, eventually paying McDougal $150,000 after Trump asked Pecker to kill her story. As a presidential candidate, Trump "directed deals in phone calls and meetings" related to the two women with Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty in August to campaign-finance violations. Cohen also admitted that he arranged payments to Daniels and McDougal at the direction of "a candidate for federal office" with the intention of influencing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. (Wall Street Journal)

2/ Trump claimed that he did not discuss Robert Mueller's Russia probe with Matthew Whitaker before appointing him acting attorney general. Trump defended Whitaker, calling him a "highly respected man," but also said "I don't know Matt Whitaker." Trump has been in more than a dozen meetings with Whitaker in the Oval Office. (Washington Post / Politico / CNBC / NBC News)

  • Whitaker previously served on the advisory board of a company that "bilked thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars." World Patent Marketing was fined nearly $26 million after the FTC accused it of scamming customers. The FBI is conducting a criminal investigation and Whitaker has "unquestionably recused from any investigation or prosecution of World Patent Marketing." (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / Wall Street Journal)

  • Trump called George Conway "Mr. Kellyanne Conway" after he wrote an op-ed arguing that Trump's appointment of Whitaker is unconstitutional because he wasn't confirmed by the Senate. George is the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. (ABC News)

3/ A federal appellate court panel ordered Mueller to explain how the firing of Jeff Sessions could influence the case between the special counsel and Andrew Miller, the former Roger Stone aide who is challenging Mueller's appointment on constitutional grounds. The judges will likely ask for supplemental briefing to address the legal issues tied to the handover from Rod Rosenstein to Whitaker. (Politico)

  • Mueller's team is "not getting what they want" from Paul Manafort, despite a cooperation agreement that requires participation in "interviews, briefings, producing documents, [and] testifying in other matters." (ABC News)

4/ Trump signed a presidential proclamation blocking migrants who cross into the U.S. illegally from seeking asylum. The proclamation is aimed primarily at several thousand migrants traveling north through Mexico in caravans. The new rules will change longstanding asylum laws that allow people who are fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries to seek protection in the U.S. and prevent people from seeking that protection if they don't enter the country at an official port of entry. (New York Times / Politico / ABC News)

5/ Before resigning, Jeff Sessions signed a memorandum limiting the use of consent decrees between Justice Department officials and local police departments. Consent decrees allow federal law enforcement officials to use court-enforced agreements to overhaul local police departments accused of civil rights abuses and violations. Sessions added three new requirements for the agreements: top political appointees must sign off on the deals, department lawyers must show evidence of additional violations beyond unconstitutional behavior, and the deals must have a sunset date. (New York Times)

6/ Trump threatened to revoke more press passes, saying he doesn't know how long Jim Acosta's credentials will be suspended, "but it could be others also." Trump went on to attack April Ryan from American Urban Radio Networks, calling her a "loser" who "doesn't know what the hell she is doing," and then bashed CNN reporter Abby Phillip for asking Trump if he wants Whitaker to "rein in Mueller." Trump replied: "What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question […] you ask a lot of stupid questions." (CNN / Politico / The Hill)


Notables.

  1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is "up and working" after being released from the hospital. (The Hill / Reuters)

  2. Trump is telling people he wants to replace Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross by the end of the year. Trump is considering former wrestling executive Linda McMahon, as well as Ray Washburne, who he appointed as head of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation as possible replacements. (CNBC)

  3. Trump said he has no plans to fire Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Earlier this week, Trump said he would be "looking at different people for different positions" after the midterms, mentioning Zinke in particular. (Politico)

  4. Zinke is exploring potential roles at Fox News, the energy industry, and other business sectors as it becomes increasingly likely that he will leave his role as Secretary of the Interior as ethics investigations into his behavior in office continue to mount. (Politico)

  5. The Pentagon's No. 3 official resigned. John Gibson, the Department of Defense's chief management officer, submitted his resignation on Monday and will leave Nov. 30. Gibson served in the role for less than nine months. (The Hill)

  6. A federal judge blocked construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, saying the Trump administration "simply discarded" and ignored "inconvenient facts" about how the project would impact climate change. Two days after taking office, Trump signed an executive order approving the project that had been blocked by Obama because of environmental concerns. (New York Times / Washington Post)

Day 658: Above the law.

1/ Robert Mueller's team has begun writing its final report. Trump and his lawyers, meanwhile, have been reviewing his written answers to questions from the special counsel. Mueller is required to produce a "confidential report" at the end of his investigation, which includes "the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel." With Jeff Sessions being replaced with Matt Whitaker, who has been openly critical of Mueller, it is not clear whether the report will release it at all, or in what form. (CNN)

  • Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow claimed there will be "no effect day-to-day" on Mueller's investigation. Whitaker has taken responsibility for supervising Mueller's probe even though he has written critically about the special counsel's work and publicly criticized it. (Bloomberg)

  • Whitaker will not recuse himself from overseeing Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. It's also unlikely that Whitaker would approve any subpoena of Trump as part of the investigation. (Washington Post)

  • Kellyanne Conway's husband argued that Trump's pick of Whitaker was unconstitutional and that he should to be subject to Senate confirmation before serving. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Trump is considering former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to replace Sessions. (CNN / CNBC)

  • Progressive groups are calling for nationwide protests today at 5 p.m. local time to demand protection for Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. The protests will be held under the banner, "Nobody is Above the Law," and will be led by the activist group MoveOn. The protests were triggered by Trump's decision to fire Jeff Sessions and replace him with Matthew Whitaker, who will now have authority over the Russia investigation. Sessions recused himself after he was first appointed in 2016, giving Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein oversight of the probe. Whitaker has publicly called for Mueller's probe to be reigned in. (Reuters)

2/ Trump hasn't decided whether he'll answer any of Mueller's questions, according to Rudy Giuliani. If Trump declines to answer the questions, Mueller would be forced to make a decision about whether to subpoena the sitting president and force a historic legal fight. (Politico)

3/ Trump suspended the White House press credentials of CNN's Jim Acosta after a heated exchange at a press conference yesterday. Acosta refused to give up the microphone and challenged Trump on his characterization that the Central American migrant caravan was "an invasion." Acosta was later refused access when he tried to re-enter the White House and was asked to hand over his "hard pass," which gives journalists access to the premises. Sarah Huckabee Sanders falsely claimed that Acosta had placed "his hands on a young woman" who was responsible for giving the microphone to reporters asking questions. (New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ Sanders tweeted a doctored video to support her accusation that Acosta was aggressive toward a White House aide. While the edited video makes it look like Acosta swiftly chopped down on the arm of the aide, the original video shows Acosta's arm move only as a response to the aide grabbing for the microphone. In the original video, Acosta says, "Pardon me, ma'am," when she grabs for the mic. Acosta's statement is not included in the video Sanders shared. The White House Correspondents' Association called the White House's reaction "out of line to the purported offense" and urged that Acosta's press pass be restored. Trump called Acosta a "a rude, terrible person." The video was posted by the editor-at-large for fake news site Infowars. (Washington Post / NBC News / HuffPost)

5/ A federal appeals court ruled that the Trump administration can't end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The ruling from a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a federal district judge's decision in January that Trump lacked the authority to eliminate the program. (Reuters / USA Today / CNN)

6/ A gunman killed a dozen people inside a crowded country-music bar in Southern California while firing seemingly at random. The gunman was identified as Ian David Long, a 28-year-old Marine veteran who earlier this year was cleared by a mental-health specialist after an encounter with police. He was found dead inside after apparently killing himself. (Washington Post / NBC News / The Guardian)


Notables.

  1. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fell and fractured three ribs. She was admitted to the hospital for treatment and observation. (CNBC / CNN / New York Times / NPR)

  2. Christine Blasey Ford continues to be the "target of constant harassment and death threats" after accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when the two were in high school. Ford has moved four times, hire a private security detail, and hasn't been able to return to her job as a professor at Palo Alto University. (NPR)

  3. Brian Kemp, the Republican candidate for Georgia governor, resigned as secretary of state to begin his transition to governor despite the race being too close to call. Kemp holds a narrowing 50.3% to 48.7% lead over his opponent Stacey Abrams. In his role as secretary of state, Kemp oversaw Georgia's elections – an inherent conflict of interest. (ABC News / Axios / CNN / NBC News)

  4. The EPA removed more than 80 climate change websites. Since April 2017, the EPA's climate change site said it was being updated to reflect the views of the Trump administration. In October 2018, the EPA removed the "updating" mention as well as links to the outgoing Obama administration's climate change website archive. (Mashable)

  5. The Trump administration issued a pair of federal rules that allow some employers to deny insurance coverage for contraception to their employees on religious or moral grounds. The rules provide exceptions to the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide essential health benefits at no charge to consumers, including birth control. (Washington Post)

Day 657: Presidential harassment.

1/ Democrats won back the House for the first time in eight years, picking up at least 27 seats to give the party a check on Trump and the GOP's economic policy. "Tomorrow will be a new day in America," Nancy Pelosi said in a victory speech. "Today is more than about Democrats and Republicans. It's about restoring the Constitution's checks and balances to the Trump administration." Some key races are still too close to call as of Wednesday morning. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNBC)

  • Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the pro-Russia Republican incumbent, lost to Democrat Harley Rouda in California's 48th House district. (Daily Beast / New York Times)

  • The Nevada brothel owner who died last month won in the race for Nevada's 36th Assembly District. County officials will appoint a Republican to take his place in the seat. (NBC News)

  • Trump described the midterm election as "great" for Republicans, but vowed to turn the tables on Democrats who investigate him and his administration. "If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!" Trump tweeted. Mitch McConnell cautioned Democrats against engaging in "presidential harassment." (Washington Post)

2/ Republicans increased their majority in the Senate, building on their one-seat majority in the chamber by winning Democratic seats in Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri. (New York Times / The Guardian / Washington Post)

  • Ted Cruz narrowly defeated Beto O'Rourke. With 99% of precincts reporting, Cruz had 50.9%, or 4,228,832 votes, and O'Rourke had 48.3%, or 4,015,082 votes. (New York Times / Politico)

  • The Florida Senate race between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott is headed to a recount. The two candidates are separated by fewer than 35,000 votes, with Scott holding the slim lead. (Politico)

  • Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester is the apparent winner in his bid for re-election to a third term. Tester voted no on Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court. (CNBC)

  • Mitt Romney won a U.S. Senate seat in Utah. (NBC News)

3/ Democrats flipped at least 7 governorships. The race remained too close to call in Georgia, where Democrat Stacey Abrams was running to become the first African American female governor. Democrats flipped the governorships in Wisconsin, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Illinois, Nevada and New Mexico. (Washington Post)

  • Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for Georgia governor, refused to concede the race and said she was prepared to face Brian Kemp in a runoff. With 100% of precincts reporting, Kemp had 50.4%, or 1,971,884 votes, and Abrams has 48.7 percent, or 1,907,302 votes. Under Georgia law, if no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, then the top two vote getters advance to a runoff election. Kemp, who oversees elections as secretary of state, has until Nov. 20 to officially certify the election. A candidate cannot officially request a recount until the certification. Abrams is seeking to become the first African-American woman elected governor in U.S. history. He campaign said they believed thousands of absentee and mail-in ballots are still coming in. (NBC News)

  • Under Kemp, Georgia purged more than 1.5 million voters from the rolls – 10.6% of voters – from 2016 to 2018. The state shut down 214 polling places, mostly minority and poor neighborhoods, and from 2013 to 2016, the state blocked the registration of nearly 35,000 Georgians, including newly naturalized citizens. (The Atlantic)

  • Kemp's voter card said "invalid" when he tried to vote. He had to go back and get another card after unsuccessfully trying to vote. (WSBTV / The Hill)

  • The first openly gay man was elected governor in Colorado. Jared Polis will also be the state's first Jewish governor. (BuzzFeed News / Vice News)

  • Democrat Laura Kelly defeated Kris Kobach in the race to be the next governor of Kansas. Kobach was the vice-chair of Trump's now-disbanded commission on voter fraud. (Talking Points Memo)

4/ At least 111 women were elected to office, including the first Native American and first Muslim women. At least 96 women were elected – surpassing the current record of 84 – with 40 women of color headed to the House. Maine and South Dakota also elected their first female governors. The GOP elected several women, with Marsha Blackburn becoming Tennessee's first female senator. In New York, Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at age 29, followed shortly by Iowa Democrat Abby Finkenauer. (Politico / Bloomberg / Axios)

  • A list of of firsts for women: The next Congress will include the first Muslim women, the first Native American women, and the youngest woman ever elected to that body. (NPR)

  • Democrats Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland became the first Native American women elected to Congress. (CNN)

  • Sharice Davids is the first openly LGBTQ Kansan elected to Congress. (NBC News)

  • Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are the first muslim women elected to Congress. (BuzzFeed News / CNN)

  • Ocasio-Cortez is youngest woman elected to Congress. (CNN)

  • The Kentucky county clerk who defied the Supreme Court and was jailed in 2015 for her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples lost her re-election for Rowan County clerk. Kim Davis lost by fewer than 700 votes among nearly 7,800 cast. (New York Times / The Hill)

  • The GOP congressman, who once lamented that he could no longer call women "sluts," lost to a woman. Jason Lewis lost his seat to Democrat Angie Craig. (CNN)

5/ Florida voters reinstated voting rights for an estimated 1.5 million former felons. Amendment 4 automatically reinstates voting rights for people with felony convictions upon completion of their sentences, including prison, parole and probation. Excluded are those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense. (CNBC)

6/ Jeff Sessions resigned at Trump's request. Matthew Whitaker – Sessions's chief of staff – will take over as acting attorney general and assume oversight of Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible collusion by Trump's campaign. Rod Rosenstein was overseeing the probe because Sessions had recused himself from any involvement with the special counsel. A DOJ spokesperson indicated that Whitaker would take over "all matters under the purview of the Department of Justice" – including the Mueller probe. Trump has repeatedly attacked Sessions for recusing himself from oversight of the probe in 2017 after it was revealed that he had met more than once with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during the 2016 campaign despite saying he had not met with any Russians during his confirmation hearing. Mueller, meanwhile, has been looking into Trump's previous statements about wanting to fire Sessions or force his resignation to determine whether those acts are part of a pattern of attempted obstruction of justice. Whitaker by law can serve as acting attorney general for a maximum of 210 days. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

  • In a 2017 opinion piece, Whitaker called for Mueller to "limit the scope of his investigation." Whitaker also previously discussed how a Sessions replacement could reduce Mueller's budget "so low that his investigation grinds to almost a halt." (Washington Post)

  • The incoming Democrat set to take control of the House Judiciary Committee pledged to scrutinize Sessions's firing and the promotion of his chief of staff to acting attorney general. (Mother Jones)

7/ House Democrats are prepared to open multiple investigations of Trump when they take control in January. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to focus on health care, beginning with an investigation of Sessions's refusal to defend the Affordable Care Act against a lawsuit from Republican-led states. The House Intelligence Committee is expected to revisit Russian election meddling. The Education and Workforce Committee will likely examine Betsy DeVos's efforts to relax regulations for for-profit colleges and limit student loan forgiveness, and the Ways and Means Committee could use a 1924 law to request Trump's tax returns and then make them public with a simple majority vote. (Washington Post / Politico)

  • Trump said he would take a "warlike posture" to any attempts by Democrats to investigate his administration. "They can play that game, but we can play it better, because we have a thing called the United States Senate." Sarah Huckabee Sanders also warned that Democrats shouldn't "waste time" investigating Trump, urging them to not "be the party of resist and obstruct" but rather work with Trump to "solve some of the big problems that we've been leading on over the last two years." Trump promised to make "beautiful" deals with Democrats. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / Daily Beast / ABC News)

8/ Trump Jr. told friends he expects to be indicted by Mueller soon. One former West Wing official who testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, said "I'm very worried about Don Jr.," fearing that Mueller could demonstrate that Trump Jr. perjured himself after he testified that he never told his father beforehand about the June 2016 Trump Tower with Russian officials promising "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. Mueller is expected to submit his final report to the Justice Department in the coming months. John Kelly and former White House counsel McGahn urged Trump to wait until Mueller issues his report to fire Sessions. (New York Magazine / Politico / Vanity Fair)

9/ Two more associates of Roger Stone testified before Mueller's grand jury. Mueller is aggressively pursuing the question of whether the longtime adviser to Trump had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks's plans to release hacked Democratic emails. At least nine Stone associates have been contacted by prosecutors so far. (Washington Post)


🔥 Hot Takes and 📊 Exit Polls.

  1. Suburbs defect as Trump's base holds. The divergent outcomes in the House and Senate exposed an ever-deepening gulf separating rural communities from America's cities and suburbs. (New York Times)

  2. The 2018 midterm elections were a referendum on Trump. Two-thirds of voters said the president was a factor in how they voted. (Washington Post)

  3. Checks and balances are coming. Trump will face new levels of scrutiny from Congress, but despite Democratic gains he looks in a strong position for 2020. (The Guardian)

  4. Health care trumps the economy. 41% of voters cited health care as their most important issue, while 23% named immigration, and 21% named the economy – the only time in at least a decade that it hasn't topped the list. (NBC News)

  5. Historically high turnout and young voter surge for Democrats. 60% of white men voted for the Republican party while white women were split between the two parties. (The Guardian)

  6. Trump a major factor in 2018 midterm election voting. 44% of midterm voters approve of Trump's job performance. (CBS News)

  7. 41% approve of Robert Mueller's handling of the Russian investigation into interference in the 2016 election. 46% disapprove. 41% think the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is mostly while 54% think it's politically motivated. (NBC News)


Notables.

  1. Trump will meet with Putin this weekend in Paris. The French had asked the Americans and Russians not to hold the meeting for fear that it would overshadow an event to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. (New York Times)

  2. Ivanka Trump's fashion brand won 16 new trademarks from the Chinese government – three months after announcing that her brand was shutting down. (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)

  3. Trump is expected to sign an executive order to revamp the U.S. asylum system this week. According to the directive, asylum seekers will be required to go to a port of entry to make a claim. Current U.S. law requires "any alien who is physically present" in the country to apply for asylum within a year of arriving. (Wall Street Journal)

Day 656: Setting a tone.

🗳 Dept. of Midterms 2018.

I'll be keeping this space updated throughout the midterms with the latest polls and live blogs.

  1. Forecasts and Results: New York Times / Real Clear Politics / Five Thirty Eight: House / Senate

  2. Live Blogs: Washington Post / Five Thirty Eight / New York Times / The Guardian / CNN / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Politico / ABC News

  3. How to watch the midterms: A normal person's guide to how the midterms will unfold, hour by hour. (Five Thirty Eight / BuzzFeed News / CNN / Bloomberg)

  4. What time do the polls close? The first polls close at 6 p.m. ET with the last closing seven hours later in Alaska. (New York Times / Politico)

  5. Races to watch and how to follow them. (Bloomberg / CNN / ABC News / Politico)

  6. What's at stake, explained. (Vox)


1/ More than 36 million people voted early this year, almost 10 million more people than during the 2014 midterms. Some experts believe early voting could surpass 40 million people by the time all the ballots are counted. (Politico)

2/ Trump and Jeff Sessions issued baseless warnings about the threat of voter fraud in the midterm elections. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the U.S. (Washington Post)

3/ Facebook suspended 115 accounts believed to be engaged in "coordinated inauthentic behavior." Law enforcement believes the accounts may be linked to foreign entities. Almost all the Facebook pages appear to be in French or Russian. (USA Today / Politico)


Notables.

  1. U.S. military personnel will not be "involved in the actual mission of denying people entry to the United States" at the southern border, according to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "There is no plan for US military forces to be involved in the actual mission of denying people entry to the United States," Gen. Joseph Dunford said. "There is no plan for soldiers to come in contact with immigrants or to reinforce Department of Homeland Security as they're conducting their mission." (CNN)

  2. The White House asked the Supreme Court to rule on the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program before three pending cases at the federal appellate level complete the normal appeals process. DACA is currently accepting renewals but not new applicants. If the program ends, about 700,000 protected individuals could be deported. (NPR)

  3. Motel 6 will pay up to $7.6 million to Hispanic guests after regularly providing guest lists to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Motel 6 also agreed to a two-year consent decree barring it from sharing guest data with immigration authorities absent warrants, subpoenas, or threats of serious crime or harm as part of its preliminary settlement with eight Hispanic plaintiffs. (Reuters)

  4. Cesar Sayoc is scheduled to appear in court in New York today to face charges that he mailed pipe bombs. Prosecutors will ask the judge to hold Sayoc without bail because he is considered dangerous to the public. Sayoc faces nearly 50 years in prison if he is convicted of the five federal charges filed against him in New York. (Associated Press)

  5. Trump: "I would like to have a much softer tone," but "I have no choice." Trump blamed the current vitriol in political discourse on the election season, then at a rally later Monday called the Democratic candidate for Ohio governor, a "bad person," revived his "Pocahontas" insult for Elizabeth Warren, attacked the news media, demanded that security remove protesters, and criticized Dianne Feinstein's role in Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing. (Reuters)

Day 655: Political stunt.

Today in one sentence: Democrats are expected to take control of the House of Representatives but fall short in the Senate; national polls show that 55% of voters prefer Democratic control of the House; some polls, however, show the Democratic edge shrinking; at least 31 million people have voted early nationwide; and U.S. intelligence officials have seen no evidence of any attempts to tamper with the midterm election systems.


🗳 Dept. of Midterms 2018.

With one day to go, I'll be keeping this space updated throughout the midterms with the latest polls and live blogs.

  1. Forecasts: New York Times / Real Clear Politics / Five Thirty Eight: House / Senate

  2. Live Blogs: Washington Post / The Guardian / CNN / Bloomberg

  3. Voter Guide: How, when and where to vote on Tuesday. (New York Times / Bloomberg)

  4. How to watch the midterms: A guide. (Five Thirty Eight)

  5. Races to watch and how to follow them. (Bloomberg / CNN)

  6. What's at stake, explained. (Vox)

  7. 5 possible outcomes and what they'd mean. (Washington Post)

  8. Election Day misinformation. What to look for. (New York Times)


The Latest.

  1. The Georgia secretary of state and Republican candidate for governor accused Democrats of allegedly trying to hack the state's voter registration system. Brian Kemp, who is in a tight race with Stacey Abrams, alleged that the state Democratic Party made a "failed attempt to hack the state's voter registration system" and announced that his office was opening an investigation. Kemp said his office also alerted the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, but he offered no evidence to back up his allegation. Democrats called it a "political stunt" days before the election. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)

  2. U.S. intelligence officials have seen no evidence of attempts to tamper with the voting systems or election infrastructure. (NBC News)

  3. This year's early voting numbers in at least 12 states have already surpassed those from the 2014 midterm election. First-time voters have cast 5% or more of the early vote in 10 states. (CNN)

  4. At least 31 million people have voted early nationwide. At this point in the 2014 midterms, 19 million voted early. (CNN)

  5. Early voter turnout in Texas surpassed the entire turnout in the 2014 midterm election. Over 4.5 million people in Texas cast in-person ballots in this year's early voting period and more than 360,000 people have cast mail-in ballots in 30 counties alone. (Texas Tribune)

  6. Georgia and Texas voting machines have inexplicably deleted some people's votes for Democratic candidates or switched them to Republican votes. Experts blamed the errors on outdated software and old machines. (Politico)

  7. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted nine House races toward Democrats. (The Hill)

  8. 55% of voters prefer Democratic control of the House while 42% want Republicans to stay in power. (CNN)

  9. 50% of likely voters say they prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress, while 43% want Republicans in charge – down from Democrats' 9-point advantage in October. (NBC News)

  10. 43% of registered voters would vote for the Democratic congressional candidate in their district on a generic congressional ballot compared with 40% who would vote for the Republican candidate. (Politico)

  11. Trump's approval rating stands at 39%, with 55% disapproving – slightly worse than in early October, when 41% approved of his performance and 52% disapproved. (CNN)


Notables.

  1. The Trump administration expects a number of Cabinet secretaries and top White House aides to be fired or actively pushed out after the midterms. Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein, Sarah Sanders, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross all face uncertain futures. (Washington Post)

  2. Financial penalties against banks and big companies have declined sharply during the first 20 months of the Trump presidency. There has been a 62% drop in penalties imposed by the S.E.C. and a 72% decline in corporate penalties from the Justice Department's criminal prosecutions compared to the Obama administration. (New York Times)

  3. U.S. businesses paid $4.4 billion in tariffs in September – up more than 50% from a year ago. The increase was driven by $1.4 billion in Trump administration tariffs on Chinese imports and foreign steel and aluminum. (CNBC)

  4. NBC aired the racist anti-immigration political ad approved by Trump. After airing the ad, both NBC and Fox News pulled it. CNN, however, rejected the ad outright, saying "that this ad is racist." (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

  5. A Navy reconnaissance plane in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian fighter jet in an unsafe manner. (CNN)

  6. Trump's deployment of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border is estimated to cost $220 million by year-end. A Pentagon risk assessment found that the caravan did not pose a threat to the United States. (CNBC / Washington Post)

  7. About "200 unregulated armed militia members [are] currently operating along the southwest border," according to a planning document for Army commanders leading the 5,200 troops Trump deployed at the border. The groups "operate under the guise of citizen patrols supporting" border officials. (Newsweek / HuffPost)

  8. A group of Idaho teachers dressed up as a wall with the phrase "Make America Great Again" on it for Halloween. The district Superintendent called the costumes "clearly insensitive and inappropriate." (CNN)

  9. Trump's name was invoked in direct connection with 17 cases of criminal violent acts, threats of violence, or allegations of assault. Nearly all of the cases – 16 out of 17 – include court documents and direct evidence of someone echoing presidential rhetoric, not protesting it. The suspects and perpetrators in the 17 cases are mostly white men, while the victims represent a variety of minority groups, including African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, and gay men. (ABC News)

  10. Trump dismissed his administration's National Climate Assessment. Trump didn't read the report, but said he believes climate change will "probably" change back. (Axois)

Day 652: Too stupid.

1/ Trump once told Michael Cohen that he thinks black people are "too stupid" to vote for him and suggested that all countries run by blacks are "shitholes." Cohen also claimed that Trump remarked that "only the blacks could live like this" as they drove through a "rougher" Chicago neighborhood in the early 2000s. (Vanity Fair)

2/ The Trump administration will reimpose all U.S. sanctions on Iran that had been lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear agreement. The sanctions will take effect on Monday, but eight "jurisdictions" will be granted six-month waivers, Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, said. Shortly after the announcement, Trump tweeted a poster of himself with the words "Sanctions Are Coming" with the font from the popular HBO show, Game of Thrones. (Associated Press / New York Times / CNN / Axios)

  • HBO: We "would prefer our trademark not be misappropriated for political purposes." HBO's official Twitter account followed up soon after, asking, "How do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki?" (CNBC / Los Angeles Times)

3/ The FBI recovered a suspicious package addressed to billionaire Tom Steyer resembling those allegedly sent by Cesar Sayoc. Steyer is a Democrat known for his ads calling for the impeachment of Trump. (CNN / Reuters)

4/ The Nigerian Army used Trump's speech to justify fatally shooting rock-throwing protesters. The Nigerian army posted a video of Trump's anti-migrant speech from Thursday in which he said rocks would be considered firearms if thrown toward the American military at the border. The army has been accused of killing 45 protesters. (New York Times / BuzzFeed News)

5/ Trump walked back his threat that troops could shoot at migrants approaching the border if they threw rocks. "I didn't say shoot," Trump claimed. "I didn't say shoot," Trump claimed. "But if they do [throw rocks at troops] they're gonna be arrested for a long time." (CNN / USA Today / Bloomberg)

6/ Trump blamed journalists for "creating violence" in the country. His comment comes a week after more than a dozen attempted pipe bombs were sent to Trump's critics and a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11. Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to clarify Trump's remarks: "No, the president is not placing blame" that the news media was at fault for the attempted pipe bomb attacks. "I mean, that is outrageous than anybody other than the individual who carried out the crime would hold that responsibility." (NBC News / Washington Examiner)

poll/ 49% say the way Trump speaks encourages political violence, while 19% see him as discouraging it. 29% say he's neither encouraging nor discouraging violence. (ABC News)


Notables.

  1. A federal judge denied Trump's request to stay a lawsuit alleging he is in violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause and ordered evidence-gathering to begin. Maryland and Washington attorneys general want to know how much money Trump's hotel in Washington receives from foreign governments and how profits flow to his trust. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  2. Top Democrats are promising investigations, not impeachment proceedings, if they win back control of the House next week. Nancy Pelosi and her lieutenants say they're more interested in exercising the broad oversight powers of the majority party instead of focusing on trying to impeach Trump. They plan to use subpoenas and public hearings to drag senior administration officials and force them to testify about alleged wrongdoings in front of the public eye. (NPR)

  3. U.S. intelligence agencies and the Pentagon are prepared to launch a cyber attack against Russia if the country is caught interfering in the 2018 midterm elections. The effort is one of the first major cyber battle plans organized under the new government policy that allows offensive cyber operations to be worked out in advance among key agencies. (Center for Public Integrity)

  4. The U.S. economy added 250,000 jobs in October. Wages grew by 3.1% since last year – the largest annual jump in nine and a half years not adjusted for inflation. The unemployment rate stayed at 3.7% – the lowest it has been since December 1969. Average hourly earnings went up by 5 cents an hour over the last month, with an 83-cent increase year-over-year. (CNN Business / CNBC / Reuters)

  5. Former CIA Director John Brennan endorsed Texas senate candidate Beto O'Rourke over Ted Cruz. "I believe Beto O'Rourke is the type of individual Texans need in the U.S. Senate to represent their best interests," Brennan tweeted. The statement marks the first time Brennan has endorsed a candidate in a midterm election. (NBC News)

  6. Trump's racist ad campaign that accuses Democrats of opening U.S. borders to let in undocumented immigrants who kill police officers narrowly avoids violating campaign finance laws. The ad fails to mention who paid for it, but campaign finance experts say Trump may have found a loophole in the laws by limiting the distribution of the video to social media. (ABC News)

  7. The cop killer from Trump's immigration ad entered the country while George W. Bush was president and released by Joe Arpaio "for reasons unknown." The racist video falsely accusing Democrats of allowing Luis Bracamontes who murdered two police officers into the country. Arpaio was pardoned last year by Trump. (Sacramento Bee / HuffPost / Washington Post)

Day 651: Doing a service.

1/ Roger Stone was in communication with Steve Bannon about upcoming WikiLeaks disclosures during the 2016 presidential race. After WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange publicly claimed to have hacked emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, Bannon emailed Stone on Oct. 4: "What was that this morning???" Stone responded that Assange feared for his personal safety, but would be releasing "a load every week going forward." Last week, Robert Mueller's team interviewed Bannon for a third time, including about his communications with Stone. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

  • Earlier this week Stone claimed he never discussed WikiLeaks with anybody from the Trump campaign. "There are no such communications," Stone said, "and if Bannon says there are, he would be dissembling." (Washington Post)

  • 📖Read the emails between the Trump campaign and Roger Stone. (New York Times)

  • Jerome Corsi met with Mueller's investigators and is scheduled to appear before the federal grand jury probing Russia interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Friday. Corsi is one of at least 11 individuals associated with Stone who have been contacted by the special counsel. (ABC News)

2/ Trump tweeted a racist video falsely accusing Democrats of allowing a man who murdered two police officers into the country. The ad shows Luis Bracamontes, a Mexican man who had previously been deported but returned to the U.S. and killed two California sheriff's deputies, in court with text overlays that say he "killed our people!" and that "Democrats let him into our country" and "Democrats let him stay." It's followed by footage of people who appear to be part of a migrant caravan pushing down gates with text then asks: "Who else would Democrats let in?" The ad offers no evidence for claims that Democrats let Bracamontes, who was deported twice, into the country. (ABC News / CNN / The Guardian)

3/ Before Saudi Arabia acknowledged that Jamal Khashoggi's death was a "terrible mistake" and a "terrible tragedy," the crown prince claimed that Khashoggi was a dangerous Islamist. In a phone call with both Jared Kushner and national security adviser John Bolton, Prince Mohammed bin Salman argued that Khashoggi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohammed is expected to retain power despite an international consensus that he's responsible for the killing. (Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ Trump's deployment of an additional 5,200 troops to the southern border could cost as much as a million dollars per day. Troops are expected to be stationed at the border for 45 days. (Newsweek)

5/ Without evidence, Trump claimed that he "wouldn't be surprised" if George Soros is funding the caravan of Central American migrants moving toward the U.S. Republican congressmen, cable-news personalities, and Trump Jr. have been pushing the idea that Soros, a wealthy, liberal Jewish donor, was funding the caravan. (The Hill / Washington Post)

  • 🎉 Base motivations: Trump claimed that he will take executive action next week to end what he calls an "abuse" of the asylum system, saying that "massive tent cities" could be erected at the southern border to hold people who cross into the country illegally in detention indefinitely. Trump also said that soldiers at the border may shoot at migrants who commit violence. (Bloomberg / Washington Post)

6/ Trump: "I always want to tell the truth. When I can, I tell the truth." Trump has made more than 5,000 false or misleading statements during his nearly two years in office. During the same interview, Trump claimed he is "pretty good at estimating crowd sizes," which is how he knows the group of migrants traveling north through Central America is "a lot bigger than people would think." (ABC News)

  • Trump suggested that he might invoke a state of national emergency in order to justify using the military to arrest and detain migrants and refugees at the southern border. When asked what role active duty military personnel would play, since U.S. law prohibits the U.S. Army from being used to enforce domestic law, Trump said "Well it depends, it depends." He continued: "National emergency covers a lot of territory. They can't invade our country. You look at that it almost looks like an invasion. It's almost does look like an invasion." (ABC News)

7/ Trump claimed that calling the press the "enemy of the people" is his only way to fight back "when people write stories about me that are so wrong." He said he thinks he's "doing a service" by attacking the press, and that he wouldn't have been elected if he hadn't done it during the 2016 campaign. "If they would write accurately about me," he continued, "I would be the nicest president you've ever seen. It would be much easier." (Axios)

poll/ 56% of voters said Trump has done more to divide the country than unite it. 64% said the media have done more to divide the country. (Politico)

poll/ 47% of American believe that Russia will try to influence the midterm elections. 48% believe Russians would try to help Republicans, while 15% say Russia would try to help Democrats. (Politico)


Notables.

  1. Federal judges ordered Ohio to allow voters who had been purged for not voting over a six-year period to participate in the midterm elections. The state sent confirmation notices to voters that they'd be removed from county voter rolls after not voting in three federal elections. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel said the state "did not adequately advise registrants of the consequences of failure to respond." (NBC News)

  2. National Security Adviser John Bolton called Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua a "Troika of Tyranny," declaring Jair Bolsonaro's recent election in Brazil a "positive sign" for Latin America. Bolsonaro has made numerous homophobic and sexist remarks, and supports military rule. (Axios)

  3. Trump's top economic adviser opposes the federal minimum wage, arguing that it's a "terrible idea" and that raising it would "damage" small businesses by forcing their payroll to increase. Larry Kudlow also said that he would oppose any attempt to work with Democrats in Congress to raise the federal minimum wage should they take back the House or Senate in the 2018 midterm elections. (Washington Post)

  4. The EPA approved the use of a weedkiller prone to drifting and damaging nearby crops and wild vegetation. Farmers started using dicamba because glyphosate, their previous favorite weedkiller, isn't working as well anymore. (NPR)

  5. Trump said he had a "long and very good conversation" with Chinese President Xi Jinping, claiming trade "discussions are moving along nicely." (Wall Street Journal / Politico)

  6. Trump wants to offer a former Fox News anchor the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations job. Heather Nauert, currently the State Department spokeswoman, would take over from Nikki Haley, who announced last month that she would step down at the end of the year. (CNN / ABC News)

Day 650: Maximum harm.

1/ The suspect in the shooting that left 11 people dead at a Pittsburgh synagogue was charged in a 44-count indictment with murder, hate crimes and other offenses that could bring the death penalty. Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life synagogue armed armed with Glock .357 handguns and a Colt AR-15 rifle, and told police he was there to "kill Jews." (Washington Post / Associated Press)

2/ Pipe bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc "conducted a domestic terror attack," according to federal prosecutors. Sayoc researched the addresses of his targets online and had photos of them on his cellphone. Sayoc allegedly intended to "maximize harm" to his 15 targets. Justice Department prosecutors said Sayoc began planning the "domestic terror attack" in July while living in his van, which was covered with photos praising Trump. (NBC News / ABC News)

3/ The Trump administration doesn't plan to renew the anti-domestic terror program, which funds the development of new approaches to prevent terrorism before it begins. The Department of Homeland Security said it has no plans to continue the program past the end of its funding in July 2019 and has told grant recipients that the funding was a "one-time" opportunity. (NBC News)

4/ Jamal Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered as soon as he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul as part of a premeditated plan to kill the Saudi journalist and dispose of his body, according Turkey's public prosecutor. The statement from Irfan Fidan is the first official description by a Turkish official about Khashoggi's death and follows two days of meetings with Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor, Saud al-Mojeb. A senior Turkish official said Mojeb did not give Fidan the location of Khashoggi's body or the identity of the "local collaborator" who helped dispose of the Khashoggi's remains. The Saudis have shifted their story about Khashoggi's fate, initially denying any knowledge, then suggesting that "rogue" killers were responsible for Khashoggi's death, before acknowledging that Khashoggi was killed in a premeditated murder. (CNN / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Associated Press)

  • A group of Republican senators want to stop to talks on selling U.S. nuclear power equipment to Saudi Arabia in response to the Khashoggi killing. (Bloomberg)

5/ Trump may deploy 10,000 to 15,000 military personnel to the border with Mexico in response to the caravan of Central American migrants. The deployment would double the number of active-duty troops operating there, and be roughly equivalent to the size of the U.S. military's presence in Afghanistan, and three times the size of the presence in Iraq. Yesterday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that the military was deploying 5,239 troops to support the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection, in addition to the 2,092 members of the National Guard already there. (Washington Post / Politico)

6/ Trump blamed former White House Counsel Don McGahn for Robert Mueller's appointment. Trump surprised McGahn in August by tweeting McGahn's planned departure on Twitter, since McGahn had not discussed his plans with Trump directly. McGahn has also cooperated with Mueller's probe, participating in several interviews spanning 30 hours. (CNN)

  • The Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating Steve Bannon's activities during the 2016 presidential campaign, looking into what Bannon might know about any contacts between Russia and George Papadopoulos and Carter Page. (Reuters)

poll/ 31% of voters ages 18 to 34 say they will definitely vote this month, 26% say they'll probably vote, and 19% say they will probably or definitely not vote this year. (NBC News/GenForward)


Notables.

  1. Facebook approved fake political ads by reporters posing as all 100 U.S. Senators. Facebook added a "Paid for by" transparency disclosure to the political ads to indicate to users who paid for the ads that show up in their news feeds. The "Paid for by" feature is easily manipulated, however, allowing anyone to lie about who is paying for a political ad, or to pose as someone paying for the ad. (Vice News)

  2. Trump attacked Paul Ryan for saying Trump "obviously" can't end birthright citizenship with an executive order. "Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about!" (New York Times / Washington Post)

  3. A 20-year-old pro-Trump media personality and disgraced hedge fund prodigy named Jacob Wohl and a Republican lobbyist named Jack Burkman were involved in the plot to smear Robert Mueller with false sexual assault allegations. Wohl allegedly created a fake company called Surefire Intelligence and attempted to pay women to make false allegations against the special counsel. The case has been referred to the FBI for further investigation. (Vox / The Atlantic / GQ)

Day 649: Blatantly unconstitutional.

1/ Trump traveled to Pittsburgh to offer condolences to the families of the 11 victims of the mass shooting at Tree of Life synagogue hours after the first funerals were held. Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto explicitly asked Trump not to visit and did not appear with Trump. Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Pat Toomey also all declined to appear with Trump. More than 1,000 people declared Trump "unwelcome in our city and in our country." Earlier, Trump said: "I really look forward to going. I would have done it even sooner, but I didn't want to disrupt any more than they already had disruption." (CNN / NPR / Washington Post)

  • Robert Bowers complained about immigrant "invaders" six days before the shooting. There is no invasion, but right-wing media has been heavily using the word "invasion" in relation to the Central American migrant caravan this month. (CNN)

  • Shep Smith breaks with Fox News on the migrant caravan: "There is no invasion. No one is coming to get you. There is nothing at all to worry about." The migrants are "more than two months away — if any of them actually come here," Smith added.(HuffPost)

  • The Kansas man convicted of a 2016 plot to massacre Somali Muslim refugees asked for a more lenient sentence, arguing that Trump's rhetoric should be taken into account as the "backdrop" for the case. (Washington Post)

  • Pence hosted an election event with a so-called "Christian rabbi." Instead of opening up with prayers for the 11 Jews shot dead, Loren Jacobs praised Jesus Christ and then offered prayers for four Republican candidates. (Yahoo News)

2/ In an attempt to energize his base before the midterm elections, Trump claimed he can defy the constitution and end birthright citizenship via executive order. Trump said he discussed the idea with the White House counsel and that "it's in the process, it will happen, with an executive order." (Axios / Politico)

3/ The consensus among legal scholars is that Trump cannot end birthright citizenship by executive order. To end the constitutional right to citizenship for babies born in the U.S. to non-citizen, Trump would have to find a way around the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which states: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." Amendments to the Constitution cannot be overridden by presidential action. (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post)

  • Paul Ryan: "Obviously" Trump cannot end birthright citizenship by executive order. It would involve a "very, very lengthy" constitutional process to change the 14th Amendment, which was adopted in 1868 to protect citizenship rights for freed slaves. (CNN)

  • The American Civil Liberties Union called Trump's plan "blatantly unconstitutional." (Twitter)

  • Lindsey Graham said he will introduce legislation to support Trump's plan to limit birthright citizenship. (Reuters)

4/ Trump falsely claimed that America is the "only country in the world with birthright." At least 30 countries worldwide offer it, including Canada and Mexico. (Daily Beast / Axios)

poll/ 40% of voters under 30 said they will definitely vote this year. In 2014, 26% said they would definitely vote. Trump holds a 26% approval rating among those age 18 to 29. (Washington Post)

  • Voting machines in five Texas counties have been changing ballots. The state blamed voters for the error, saying they were using the selection wheel before the screen finished rendering. (Washington Post)

Notables.

  1. Robert Mueller asked the FBI to investigate a claim by a woman who was offered money to make up sexual harassment claims against him. The scheme was brought to the special counsel's attention by journalists who were told about it by a woman alleging that she had been offered roughly $20,000 by a GOP activist named Jack Burkman "to make accusations of sexual misconduct and workplace harassment against Robert Mueller." (The Atlantic)

  2. The Interior Department's Inspector General referred Ryan Zinke to the Justice Department for further investigation. Justice Department prosecutors will now explore whether a criminal investigation is warranted. An agency's inspector general only refers cases to the Justice Department when it has determined that there could be potential criminal violations. (Washington Post)

  3. Trump wants Stormy Daniels to pay $342,000 for his attorney fees after defeating her defamation lawsuit. U.S. District Judge S. James Otero threw out the lawsuit earlier this month over a tweet by Trump in which he accused Clifford of "a total con job." The judge awarded Trump "reasonable" attorneys’ fees. (Bloomberg)

  4. The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to delay a trial over adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. (Washington Post)

  5. Fewer than 1,000 U.S. defense jobs would be created as a result of Trump's $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, despite Trump's claims that the deal would create "500,000 jobs." One forecast shows the potential for up to 10,000 new jobs in Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)

  6. Trump called Florida's Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum a "thief" who runs a corrupt city. Trump provided no evidence to support that claim, or his claim that Gillum was under investigation by the FBI. The Tallahassee city government, where Gillum is mayor, is currently being investigated, but there is no evidence that Gillum is personally under scrutiny, nor has he been charged with any wrongdoing. (NBC News)

  7. The U.S. is preparing additional tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports if Trump and Xi Jinping fail to "make great deal with China" and reconcile the ongoing trade dispute. Trump added that "it has to be great because they've drained our country." (Bloomberg / CNBC) / Reuters)

  8. Trump: "If you want your stocks to go down, I strongly suggest voting Democrat." (CNBC)

Day 648: Purveyor of hate speech.

1/ A man armed with a semiautomatic assault-style rifle shot and killed 11 people during Shabbat services at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the deadliest attack on Jews in the history of the United States. Robert Bowers was charged with 29 counts of federal crimes of violence and firearms offenses. He also faces state charges, including 11 counts of homicide. Bowers told police during the shootout: "I just want to kill Jews." (Washington Post / The Guardian / CNN)

2/ Trump: "If there was an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop him." Trump added that the shooting "has little to do" with gun laws, but, "if they had protection inside, the results would have been far better." (CNN / New York Times / ABC News)

  • Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto: Armed guards are not the answer. "We should try to stop irrational behavior from happening at the forefront," Peduto said. "And not try to create laws around irrational behavior to continue." He added: "I don't think that the answer to this problem is solved by having our synagogues, mosques and churches filled with armed guards or schools filled with armed guards." (NBC News)

3/ The former president of the Pittsburgh synagogue labeled Trump the "purveyor of hate speech" and said he would not be welcome in the city. Lynette Lederman's comments followed an open letter signed by a coalition of local Jewish leaders that states: "President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism." More than 30,000 people have signed the open letter. (The Guardian / Washington Post)

4/ Trump will visit Pennsylvania to commemorate the the victims of the mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue despite Pittsburgh's mayor requesting that the trip be postponed until after the funerals are held. (NPR / Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ Trump called for unity but blamed the media for the "anger and outrage" in the country, accusing the press of being "the true Enemy of the People" for what he called "fraudulent" reporting regarding the wave of pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats and the gunman who massacred Jewish worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue. The media is "doing everything in their power to blame Republicans, Conservatives and me for the division and hatred that has been going on for so long in our Country," Trump wrote in a separate tweet, claiming "it is their Fake & Dishonest reporting which is causing problems far greater than they understand!" Sarah Sanders also accused the media of blaming Trump for the pipe bombs and synagogue shooting. (Washington Post / Politico)

6/ A third suspicious package was mailed to CNN. The package was intercepted at a post office in Atlanta, where the network is headquartered, and was "similar in appearance to" the ones addressed to John Brennan and James Clapper. (NBC News / The Guardian / CNN)

poll/ 54% of Americans believe that Trump's decisions and behavior as president have encouraged white supremacist groups. 69% say they would like Trump's speech and behavior to be more consistent with his predecessors, or that he has damaged the dignity of the office. (Public Religion Research Institute)

poll/ 58% of Americans disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president. 40% approve. (Gallup)

poll/ 55% of Americans are either not confident that the country's election systems are secure. 45% of Americans say they are somewhat confident that the election systems are secure. (Pew Research Center)


Notables.

  1. The U.S. military will deploy more than 5,000 troops to the southwest border in anticipation of the arrival of the caravan of migrants currently in Mexico. Trump tweeted: "This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!" (Wall Street Journal / ABC News / Washington Post / Politico)

  2. A new lawsuit accuses Trump, Trump Organization, Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump of using the Trump name to encourage vulnerable people to invest in sham business opportunities. The 160-page complaint alleges that Trump and his family received payments from three business entities in exchange for promoting get-rich-quick schemes that harmed investors as legitimate opportunities. (New York Times)

  3. Former President Jimmy Carter called on Brian Kemp to resign as Georgia's Secretary of State in order to avoid damaging public confidence in the outcome of his contested race against Democrat Stacey Abrams. Stepping aside, Carter wrote a letter to Kemp, "would be a sign that you recognize the importance of this key democratic principle and want to ensure the confidence of our citizens in the outcome." (NBC News)

  4. Sarah Huckabee Sanders falsely claimed that Trump won the presidential election by an "overwhelming majority" of 63 million votes. Trump lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes: 65.8 million Americans voted for Hillary Clinton. (The Hill)

  5. Trump's private schedules show he has up to nine hours a day of unstructured "executive time." Official meetings, policy briefings and public appearances consumed barely more than three hours of his day. (Politico)

Day 645: This "Bomb" stuff.

1/ Trump is considering an executive order to close the southern border to Central Americans and deny them the opportunity to seek asylum, similar to 2017's "travel ban." The proposed order has not been finalized, but would put in place new rules that would disqualify migrants from claiming asylum who cross the border in between ports of entry. Current U.S. law allows foreign nationals fleeing persecution to apply for asylum once they reach American soil. (San Francisco Chronicle / ABC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 The Re-Up: Day 8. Trump executive order suspends admission of all refugees for 120 days while a new system is put in place to tighten vetting for those from predominantly Muslim countries and give preference to religious minorities. Trump said that the goal is to screen out “radical Islamic terrorists” and that priority for admission would be given to Christians. (Washington Post)

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to provide additional U.S. troops on the U.S.-Mexcio border. The Pentagon sent about 2,000 troops to the border earlier this year. (Wall Street Journal)

2/ FBI agents arrested Cesar Sayoc Jr., a registered Republican voter, in connection with the 13 suspected mail bombs sent to Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, George Soros, Cory Booker, John Brennan, Robert De Niro and other critics of Trump. Agents also seized his white van, which had most of its windows covered in pro-Trump stickers, including Trump standing on a tank in front of fireworks and an American flag, crosshairs over the faces of Clinton, Michael Moore and Obama, and a "CNN Sucks" sticker. Authorities said they were looking at "right-wing paraphernalia" found at the scene. In 2002, Sayoc was arrested for allegedly making a threat to throw, place, project or discharge a destructive device. (CNBC / Miami Herald / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

  • Jeff Sessions: "I don't know" why the Sayoc targeted Democrats, adding that it "appears to be partisan but that will be determined by the facts as the case goes forward." Sayoc was charged with five counts, including illegal mailing of explosives and making threats against former presidents. (CNN / Reuters / Associated Press)

  • Two more suspicious packages, addressed to Sen. Cory Booker and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, were intercepted. Booker's package was addressed to his office in Camden, NJ, while Clapper's was addressed to CNN's New York offices. Law enforcement officials are treating the bombs as a matter of domestic terrorism. (CNN / CNBC / NBC News)

3/ Trump tweets that 'this "Bomb" stuff' is hurting Republicans in the midterms because the "news [is] not talking [about] politics." Trump's allies have suggested – without evidence – that the packages are the work of liberals to undercut Republicans ahead of the November election. A few hours after his tweet, Trump said these "terrorizing acts are despicable" and "the bottom line is that Americans must unify." (New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian)

4/ FBI Director Chris Wray: "These are not hoax devices." Wray confirmed that 13 improvised explosive devices were sent, each with roughly 6 inches of PVC pipe, a small clock, wiring, and potential explosive material. (CNN / Talking Points Memo)


Notables.

  1. George Papadopoulos is considering withdrawing from a cooperation agreement he entered into with Robert Mueller. The former Trump-campaign adviser said he believes he has been "set up" by the government and that his plea deal was the result of inadequate counsel. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI about his conversations with a foreign professor. (Politico)

  2. Papadopoulos requested immunity to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Legal experts believe the former Trump-campaign adviser is worried that his testimony could implicate him in a crime. (The Atlantic)

  3. Trump spent $10,000 in charity money on a portrait of himself because no one else wanted it. During a 2014 auction benefiting the Unicorn Foundation at his Mar-a-Lago country club in Florida, Trump opened the bidding on the portrait with a $10,000 bid. Nobody else bid. Trump billed the Donald J. Trump Foundation for the cost. (New York Post)

  4. The Trump administration admitted that it failed to account for at least 14 migrant children who were separated from their families at the southern border. The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement told a federal court that it separated 2,668 children from their parents instead of 2,654. The latest HHS filing said it "recently completed another review of case management records to ensure that its characterization of certain children in ORR care remain accurate." (The Hill / Politico)

  5. National security adviser John Bolton said Putin has been invited to visit Washington, D.C., early next year. It would be Putin's first visit to the White House since September 2005. (Politico)

  6. Trump complained that Twitter reduced his follower count, accusing the company of "total bias." Trump did not provide evidence to support his claim, but added that "a few weeks ago [Twitter] was a Rocket Ship, now it is a Blimp!" (Politico)

Day 644: Boring.

1/ Trump dismissed a report that Chinese and Russian spies were eavesdropping on his cellphone conversations, calling the report "boring" and "soooo wrong!" Trump's aides have repeatedly warned him that his calls from his personal iPhone are not secure and that Chinese and Russian spies are listening, but Trump refuses to give up his iPhone. U.S. officials said they have been concerned for months that Trump discusses sensitive information on an unsecured cellphone with informal advisers, including Sean Hannity of Fox News. "I only use Government Phones," Trump tweeted in response to the reports, "and have only one seldom used government cell phone." (New York Times / NBC News)

  • 📌 Chinese and Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on Trump's cellphone calls, despite aides repeatedly warning him that his personal iPhone is not secure. (Day 643)

  • China suggested that Trump exchange his iPhone for a cellphone made by Chinese manufacturer Huawei, "if they are really concerned about security issues." (Talking Points Memo)

  • Trump's tweet claiming that he only uses his government phones was sent from an iPhone. Trump has two iPhones: one for Twitter and other basic web apps, and one for making phone calls. (Yahoo News)

2/ At least 10 pipe bombs have been sent to high-profile Democrats and critics of Trump: George Soros, Obama, Biden, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, John Brennan, Maxine Waters, and Robert De Niro. All of the 10 packages that have been discovered had the return address for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democratic congresswoman from Florida. None of the packages exploded. (Reuters / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Two suspicious packages addressed to Joe Biden were intercepted at post offices in Delaware. Law enforcement officials are trying to track down the package, which has been deemed suspicious because one of them was misaddressed and shipped to the return address, just like some of the other packages. (CNN / The Hill)

  • Two suspicious packages were intercepted on their way to Maxine Waters. (Reuters)

  • Another suspicious package was sent to a restaurant owned by Robert De Niro. The device arrived at the Tribeca Grill in Manhattan early Thursday morning. (BBC)

  • The explosive device sent to CNN's offices in New York included an ISIS flag meme that has been circulating in right-wing online circles since 2014. The image features a black flag with the Arabic symbols replaced by the silhouettes of three women and an inscription in the middle that reads, "Get 'Er Done," which is comedian Larry the Cable Guy's catchphrase. (NBC News)

3/ Trump blamed the "Mainstream Media" and "Fake News" for the "anger" in the U.S. a day after CNN and Democrats were the targets of explosive devices. "A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News," Trump tweeted. "It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!" (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

  • Lou Dobbs: suspicious packages mailed to Democrats and CNN are "fake news." He called them "fake bombs" in a tweet, which he later deleted. (CNN)

  • Newt Gingrich: The media has "earned" the label "the enemy of the people." (Axios)

4/ Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor claimed that Jamal Khashoggi's murder was now "premeditated." Saudi officials have shifted the official story of his disappearance, saying that Khashoggi left the consulate alive, that he might have been the target of "rogue" agents, and that he had been killed accidentally in fistfight. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • The Saudi intelligence chief blamed for the murder of Khashoggi met with Michael Flynn and members of the transition team shortly before Trump's inauguration. Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri and the team discussed a strategy for eroding and ending the current Iranian regime. The January meetings have also come under scrutiny by Robert Mueller's office as part of his probe. (Daily Beast)

5/ Text messages show that Roger Stone tried to get a presidential pardon for Julian Assange. In January, Stone texted Randy Credico that he is "working with others to get JA a blanket pardon. It's very real and very possible. Don't fuck it up." Stone claims that Credico was his back channel to WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign, a claim Credico denies. (Mother Jones)

  • Mueller's team is investigating whether Jerome Corsi knew stolen emails would be leaked and passed information about them to Roger Stone. Mueller has obtained communications suggesting that Corsi might have had advance knowledge that the emails of Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman had been stolen and handed to WikiLeaks. (NBC News)

Notables.

  1. Trump is preparing to order at least 800 Army troops to the southern border to help border patrol authorities stop a caravan of migrants from Central America moving through Mexico toward the U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis is expected to sign deployment orders as soon as today. (CNN / NBC News / New York Times)

  2. Chuck Grassley referred Michael Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, alleging that they made "materially false" statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee about Brett Kavanaugh. (CNBC / Politico / Axios / Washington Post)

  3. Trump plans to propose changes to how Medicare pays for certain drugs. The move is meant to address the issue of "foreign freeloaders," who he says drive up the cost of healthcare in the U.S. (Politico)

  4. A former GOP congressional candidate in Wisconsin was arrested for "trying to buy radioactive material with the intent to kill someone." Jeremy Ryan, who ran against Paul Ryan in 2014, was arrested for allegedly attempting to buy a "lethal dose of a radioactive substance" online between March and October 2018 and is facing up to life in prison if convicted. (Daily Beast / WKOW)

Day 643: Despicable acts.

1/ The Secret Service intercepted packages containing "potential explosive devices" addressed to Obama and Hillary Clinton, similar to the one found at the home of George Soros on Monday. All three devices are of similar pipe-bomb-style construction. The Secret Service said "the packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such." Contrary to reports, a suspicious package was not sent to the White House. (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / NBC News / CNBC / Associated Press)

  • 📌 The Re-up: Day 642. An explosive device was found in a mailbox outside a home of billionaire George Soros in Westchester County, New York. The bomb was "proactively detonated" by the bomb squad. The case has been turned over to the FBI. (The Hill / New York Times)

2/ A similar device was sent to CNN's headquarter in New York, addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan. The package contained a white powder. Brennan doesn't work for CNN, but is a national security and intelligence analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. CNN's New York bureau in the Time Warner Center was evacuated. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post)

  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the live explosive package sent to the Time Warner Center in New York City an "act of terror." (CNBC)

  • A package addressed to Rep. Maxine Waters was intercepted at a Congressional mail facility. (New York Times)

  • Suspicious packages were found outside the San Diego Union-Tribune. The building and nearby businesses were briefly evacuated. The boxes were filled with everyday items that included children's books and a football. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

3/ The return address on the packages addressed to Soros, CNN, Obama, and the Clintons listed Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who currently serves as a representative for Florida's 23rd congressional district and is the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. Wasserman Schultz's office was also evacuated after a suspicious package was discovered. It was misaddressed to Eric Holder and returned to Wasserman Schultz's office, because that was the return address on the package. (CBS New York / Miami Herald / CNN)

4/ Trump and the White House condemned the "attempted violent attacks," calling them "despicable acts." He added that "threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America." In a statement, Sarah Huckabee Sanders denounced the "terrorizing acts" against Obama, the Clintons and "other public figures." Pence tweeted that the "attempted attacks" are "cowardly" and "despicable." Trump retweeted Pence's statement, adding: "I agree wholeheartedly!" (Politico / Associated Press / The Hill / CNBC)

  • Pro-Trump groups called the bomb threats merely a "false flag" operation and a convenient political stunt set up by Democrats two weeks before Election Day. (Daily Beast)

5/ Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called the killing of Jamal Khashoggi a "heinous crime that cannot be justified." He maintained his innocence, however, calling Khashoggi's murder "really painful to all Saudis" and to "every human being in the world." He accused unidentified critics of trying to use the case to "drive a wedge" between Saudi Arabia and Turkey. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

6/ Trump called the murder of Jamal Khashoggi "a total fiasco," saying Saudi Arabia should never have thought about killing Khashoggi in the first place because "everything else they did was bad too." (Associated Press)

7/ Chinese and Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on Trump's cellphone calls, despite aides repeatedly warning him that his personal iPhone is not secure. Trump has two official iPhones that have been secured by the National Security Agency, but he uses a personal iPhone because it can store contacts on it. As a presidential candidate, Trump regularly attacked Hillary Clinton for her use of an unsecured email server while she was secretary state. (New York Times)

poll/ 56% of Americans think Trump has been too soft on Saudi Arabia in response to the killing of Khashoggi. 78% of Democrats, 55% of independents, and 37% of Republicans said Trump's response to the killing was "not tough enough." 56% of Republicans think Trump's response is "about right." (Axios/SurveyMonkey)

poll/ 35% of voters said Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation made them more likely to vote for a Democratic congressional candidate, compared to 27% who said it made them more likely to vote for a Republican congressional candidate, and 37% of voters said the confirmation wouldn't affect their vote. (USA Today)


Notables.

  1. Jeff Flake said he didn't believe Brett Kavanaugh, but voted for him anyway. Asked on "The View" if he believed if Christine Blasey Ford was telling the truth during her testimony, Flake responded: "I don't know. I don't know if I believed him either." (HuffPost)

  2. The acting EPA administrator told the oil and gas industry that the "new EPA" is "removing regulatory barriers and leveling the playing field for American companies." Andrew Wheeler, who replaced Scott Pruitt, said that the EPA has initiated 28 "major deregulatory actions" and is developing 49 more. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

  3. The EPA said small amounts of a herbicide found in breakfast cereals is not a health risk. The World Health Organization, however, listed glyphosate as a "probable carcinogen" in 2015. (ABC News)

  4. Yesterday, Pence said it's "inconceivable that there are not people of Middle Eastern descent" in the caravan. Pence did not offer evidence to support Trump's claim that people from the Middle East were traveling with the caravan. (The Hill)

  5. Trump admitted that there is "no proof" of "Middle Easterners" in the caravan of Central American migrants traveling through Mexico toward the U.S. border. He said he has "very good information" that "there could very well be" people from the Middle East in the caravan. (ABC News)

  6. A federal court ruled that part of Trump's executive order to end federal grant funding for sanctuary cities is unconstitutional. The ruling follows a U.S. appeals court decision in August that also found Trump's executive order unconstitutional. (The Hill)

  7. China plans to wean off U.S. soybeans in response to a soybean shortage stemming from the ongoing trade dispute between the two countries. China is the biggest buyer of soybeans in the world and uses them as a source of protein for its livestock. More than a third of China's soybeans currently come from the United States. (CNN)

  8. A federal court blocked Georgia from throwing out absentee ballots and applications because of signature mismatches. Voters who had their absentee ballots rejected can now contest the state's initial determination and confirm their identity. (USA Today)

  9. Trump is expected to sign opioids legislation into law. More than 72,000 Americans died of drug-overdose deaths in 2017 – up nearly 7% from 2016. (CNN)

  10. Congress postponed a closed-door interview with Rod Rosenstein, saying the time allotted for the session was too short. The House Judiciary and Oversight committees will be rescheduled and could become a public hearing rather than a closed-door interview. (Reuters)

  11. Trump directly accused Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell of endangering the U.S. economy by raising interest rates. "Every time we do something great, he raises the interest rates," Trump said, adding that Powell "almost looks like he’s happy raising interest rates." (Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

  12. The S&P 500 and Dow erased all of their gains for 2018. The Dow has dropped 7.1% in October and the S&P 500 has pulled back 8.9%. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, has dropped 11.7%. (Bloomberg / CNBC)

Day 642: Cover-up.

1/ Trump called the Saudi operation to kill Jamal Khashoggi one of "worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups," saying "they had a very bad original concept." He added that "somebody really messed up," but he would "leave it up to Congress" to punish Saudi Arabia. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / Reuters / The Hill)

  • The U.S. will revoke the visas of some of the Saudi officials allegedly responsible for Khashoggi's death. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. intends to hold people accountable for the "horrific" act of killing Khashoggi. [Editor's note: This story is developing…] (Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

2/ The Saudi cover story fell apart because the Khashoggi "body double" wore the wrong shoes. Video footage shows a man exiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul Oct. 2 wearing a fake beard and glasses, as well as the pants, shirt and jacket that Khashoggi was seen wearing when he entered the building earlier in the day. "It was a flawed body double, so it never became an official part of the Saudi government's narrative," a diplomat said. (CNBC / Washington Post)

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: The killing of Khashoggi was a "planned" and "brutal" murder. Erdogan called on Saudi Arabia to extradite 18 suspects to Turkey to face justice for the crime. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Saudi Arabia's crown prince received a standing ovation after making an unannounced appearance at a global investment conference. Mohammed bin Salman is suspected of playing a role in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. (New York Times)

3/ Khashoggi's cut-up and disfigured remains were found in the garden of the Saudi consul general's home in Istanbul. The account contradicts Saudi officials, who said the body was rolled up in a carpet and handed over to a local operative to dispose of the evidence. (Sky News / New York Post)

  • 📌 The Re-up: Day 637. A frequent companion of Saudi Arabia's crown prince entered the country's consulate in Istanbul hours before Khashoggi arrived. Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb was also seen outside the Saudi consul general's home, leaving a Turkish hotel with a large suitcase, and leaving Istanbul — all in the same day. (New York Times)

4/ Trump: "I'm a nationalist." Speaking at a rally in Texas in support of Ted Cruz's reelection campaign, Trump defined "a globalist [as] a person that wants the globe to do well," adding that they're "frankly not caring about the country so much." The comment marked the first time Trump associated himself with the political ideology. (CNN / Politico / Bloomberg)

  • Trump on Ted Cruz: "He's not Lyin' Ted anymore. He's beautiful Ted." Trump previously mocked the appearance of Cruz's wife, linked Cruz's father to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, called Cruz "Lyin' Ted", called him "unhinged," "a little bit of a maniac," and "a totally unstable individual." (HuffPost / New York Times)

  • Trump vowed to send as many troops as necessary to the U.S.-Mexican border to block the caravan of Central American migrants, calling them "an assault on our country." (USA Today)

  • Trump falsely accused Puerto Rico of using federal hurricane relief funds to pay off the island's debt. Puerto Rico is slated to receive $82 billion in federal relief as it rebuilds from Hurricane Maria. (Politico / Associated Press / Washington Post)

5/ Putin wants to hold direct discussions with Trump, suggesting they meet in Paris next month, where they'll both be to mark the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. National Security Advisor John Bolton held firm that the U.S. would withdraw from the 31-year-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. (CNBC / Washington Post / Reuters / CNN)

  • Trump vowed to outspend Russia and China in building up its nuclear arsenal "until they come to their senses." Trump added: "We have more money than anybody else, by far." (Bloomberg / CNN)

  • Pence declined to rule out the idea of deploying a nuclear weapons in space, saying "what we want to do is continue to advance the principle that peace comes through strength." In August, Trump announced a plan to create the "Space Force" – the sixth branch of the military – by 2020. (Reuters / Washington Post)

6/ Trump on protections for transgender people: "I'm protecting everybody. I want to protect our country." (Reuters)

  • 📌 The Re-up: Day 641. The Trump administration plans to redefine the legal definition of gender as strictly biological, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with. The effort by the Department of Health and Human Services would establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, effectively narrowing the definition of gender and deny federal recognition and civil rights protections to transgender Americans. (New York Times)

Notables.

  1. Brett Kavanaugh once lobbied in support of a judge who is now reviewing more than a dozen ethics complaints filed against him. Kavanaugh worked on the judicial campaign to secure a lifetime appointment for Timothy Tymkovich while he was a senior staff member for George W. Bush. (The Guardian)

  2. An explosive device was found in a mailbox outside a home of billionaire George Soros in Westchester County, New York. The bomb was "proactively detonated" by the bomb squad. The case has been turned over to the FBI. (The Hill / New York Times)

  3. The U.S. Cyber Command took its first countermeasure against Russian operatives to stop them from interfering in the upcoming midterm elections. The campaign attempts to deter Russian operatives from spreading disinformation by telling them that American agents know who they are and what they're doing. (New York Times)

  4. Republicans voters have outpaced Democratic voters in early voting in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, Tennessee and Texas. Republicans typically dominate early voting by absentee ballots, while Democrats tend to have the advantage with in-person early voting. (NBC News)

  5. Wilbur Ross won't have to answer questions about his decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Several states and civil rights groups are suing to stop the administration from adding the question to the form. The Supreme Court refused to consider one of the challenges, making it unlikely that Ross will have to be deposed in the case. (Washington Post)

  6. A white woman demanded to see the passports of a family speaking Spanish at a Virginia restaurant, yelling at them to "Go back to your fucking country. You do not fucking come over here and freeload on America." (Washington Post)

  7. The Florida man arrested for groping a woman on a flight defended himself by claiming Trump said "it's OK to grab women by their private parts." Bruce Michael Alexander was charged with abusive sexual contact and faces a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. (NBC News)

  8. The FBI has not been able to locate any photos of Robert Mueller and James Comey "hugging and kissing each other," according to a Freedom of Information Act request. Last month, Trump claimed to have "100 pictures of [Mueller] and Comey hugging and kissing each other. You know, he's Comey's best friend." (BuzzFeed News)

Day 641: A great mind.

1/ Saudi Arabia's foreign minister denied that Mohammed bin Salman ordered Jamal Khashoggi's killing, calling it a "rogue operation" by individuals who "made a mistake." Adel al-Jubeir denied that the crown prince had any prior knowledge of the operation and said that the agents involved "weren't people closely tied" to him. (Washington Post)

2/ Surveillance video: A Saudi agent walked out of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul wearing Khashoggi's clothes, a fake beard, and glasses in order to create a misleading trail of evidence. The man in the video, identified as Mustafa al-Madani, was part of the 15-man team that flew to Istanbul to confront Khashoggi. He was seen leaving the consulate through the back door and later at the Blue Mosque. Several members of the team have ties to the crown prince. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ Jared Kushner said the White House is still "fact-finding" about the circumstances of Khashoggi's death, declining to say whether he believes Saudi Arabia's explanation that Khashoggi accidentally died during a fistfight inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. "Once we have all the facts, we'll make an assessment." (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Steven Mnuchin met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite announcing that he was withdrawing from a conference in Saudi Arabia this week. (Washington Post)

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed to halt all German arms exports to Saudi Arabia, calling what happened to Khashoggi a "monstrosity." (Reuters)

4/ The Trump administration plans to redefine the legal definition of gender as strictly biological, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with. The effort by the Department of Health and Human Services would establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, effectively narrowing the definition of gender and deny federal recognition and civil rights protections to transgender Americans. (New York Times)

  • The Education Department is expected to narrow the definition of sexual assault that schools are required to consider, providing more rights to those accused of assault. (Wall Street Journal)

5/ Robert Mueller's team continues to pursue conflicting accounts about Roger Stone's communication with WikiLeaks. During the presidential campaign, Stone claimed he was in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, predicting that WikiLeaks would release information related to Hillary Clinton. Stone suggested that his friend Randy Credico "was my principal source regarding the allegedly hacked emails published by WikiLeaks." Credico has denied the claim, telling Mueller's grand jury that Stone told him during the 2016 campaign that he had a secret back channel to WikiLeaks. Investigators are also looking into whether Stone shared information that he believed was from WikiLeaks with members of Trump's presidential campaign. (Washington Post / CNN)

poll/ 47% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing – an all-time high. (CNBC)

poll/ Democrats hold a 9-point lead among likely voters over Republicans in congressional preference. 50% of likely voters prefer Democrat to control Congress after the November elections, versus 41% who want Republicans to stay in charge — up 1 point from Democrats’ lead in the September. (NBC News)


Notables.

  1. Trump claimed that Republicans are planning "very major tax cut" for the middle class before the midterms. Congress, however, is out of session until after November's midterm elections. Last week, the Treasury Department announced that the government ended the 2018 fiscal year with a $779 billion deficit. (Reuters / Washington Post / Axios)

  2. The Missouri Republican Party sent mailers to 10,000 voters with false information about when absentee ballots are due. The mailers, sent to likely Republican voters, encouraged voters to return their mail-in ballots "today." Mail-in ballots for the state aren't due until Wednesday, Oct. 31. (Kansas City Star)

  3. Trump is preparing to call the midterm elections "illegitimate" if Democrats take control of the House or Senate, according to Carl Bernstein. "Trump is already talking about how to throw legal challenges into the courts, sow confusion, declare a victory actually, and say that the election's been illegitimate." (Washington Examiner)

  4. Trump tweets about non-existent voter fraud, warning people to "cheat at your own peril. Violators will be subject to maximum penalties, both civil and criminal!" (CNN)

  5. The EPA will withdraw an Obama-era proposal aimed at regulating how waste from uranium milling is disposed in order to reduce the spread of radon. Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the now-scrapped proposal "would have imposed significant burdens on uranium miners." (The Hill)

  6. Trump blamed Mexico and Democrats for the so-called caravan of migrants heading to the southern U.S. border, threatening to cut off or reduce aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador as citizens flee gang violence and poverty. Trump also attempted to stoke fear about the caravan, claiming that it now includes "unknown Middle Easterners." (Politico / The Hill / New York Times)

  7. Mikhail Gorbachev: The U.S. withdrawing from the nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia is not the work of "a great mind." Trump said the U.S. would withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty because Russia has violated the agreement. (New York Times / Reuters / Politico)

Day 638: Discord.

1/ The Justice Department charged a Russian national with conspiracy for her role in an "information warfare" campaign designed to interfere with the midterm elections. Elena Khusyaynova managed the finances of an operation the Justice Department identified as "Project Lakhta," which was designed "to sow discord in the U.S. political system" and interfere in the 2016 and 2018 elections. The operation was "a Russian umbrella effort funded by Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and two companies he controls, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and Concord Catering," the Justice Department said, which pushed arguments and misinformation online about immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control, the NFL national anthem protests, among other things. Prigozhin, known as "Putin's chef," and 12 other Russians were indicted by Robert Mueller in February on charges of interfering in the 2016 presidential election. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times / Wall Street Journal) / NBC News)

2/ Top U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies warned that they're concerned about "ongoing campaigns" by Russia, China and Iran to interfere with the midterm elections and 2020 race. The joint statement by the Justice Department, FBI, Homeland Security Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence said there is no "evidence of a compromise or disruption of infrastructure that would enable adversaries to prevent voting, change vote counts or disrupt our ability to tally votes in the midterm elections." (Bloomberg / Washington Post)

  • Georgia is using amateur handwriting analysis to reject would-be voters if their signatures looks different from the signature on their voter-registration card. (Slate)

  • In July 2017, Georgia purged 107,000 people from the voter rolls for not voting in prior elections. In total, the Georgia removed more than half a million people — 8% of Georgia's registered voters — from the voter rolls. (American Public Media)

  • A radio ad in support of an Arkansas Republican claims that white Democrats want to go back to "lynching black folk again." Rep. French Hill disavowed of the ad, which was paid for by the Black Americans for the President's Agenda political action committee. (NBC News)

3/ Saudi Arabia acknowledge that Jamal Khashogg is dead, claiming it was "a fistfight that led to his death" at the consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia detained 18 people in connection with Khashoggi's death. King Salman removed Saud al-Qahtani, an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and deputy intelligence chief Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri. (New York Times / BBC / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

4/ Republicans and conservative commentators are attempting to smear Khashoggi in order to protect Trump from criticism for his handling of the journalist's murder by Saudi Arabia. House Republicans allied with Trump have been privately sharing articles from right-wing outlets disparaging Khashoggi. Conservative commentators, meanwhile, have been making insinuations about Khashoggi's background, saying he was "tied to the Muslim Brotherhood," was a "longtime friend" of terrorists, and "not a good guy." Trump said sanctions "could be considered," but claimed $450 billion in investments are at stake. (Washington Post) / Bloomberg)

  • Steven Mnuchin will take part in an anti-terror finance meeting in Saudi Arabia next week. Yesterday, the treasury secretary announced that he would not attend the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh – a separate event. The event Mnuchin plans to attend will include participation by Saudi security services who are under investigation in Khashoggi's death. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump praised Rep. Greg Gianforte for body-slamming a reporter. Gianforte pleaded guilty last year to misdemeanor assault charges related to the incident. "Any guy that can do a body slam," Trump said to during a rally in Missoula. "He's my kind of guy." (Associated Press / The Guardian / New York Times / Axios)

poll/ 49% of Trump voters believe men face either "a great deal" or "a fair amount" of discrimination in America today – more than LGBTQ people (41%), African-Americans (38%), or women (30%). (NBC News)

poll/ 25% of Americans believe Brett Kavanaugh told the entire truth during his Senate Judiciary Committee testimony. 43% disapprove of Kavanaugh's confirmation while 35% approve. (Associated Press)

  • 🤔 A group of witches plan to place a hex on Kavanaugh this weekend. The event is sold out. (The Guardian)

Notables.

  1. Rod Rosenstein will sit for a transcribed interview with leaders of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees Oct. 24. The interview will be conducted under oath, but Rosenstein will not be legally compelled to answer any questions. (Politico / Roll Call / CNN)

  2. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke tried to skirt or change department policies in order to justify taxpayer-funded trips with his wife, according to a report by the Interior's inspector general. The Interior spent $25,000 to send a security detail with Ryan and Lola Zinke when they traveled on vacation in Turkey last year. (Politico / Washington Post)

  3. A top official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development resigned after being reassigned as acting inspector general at the Interior Department. HUD Assistant Secretary Suzanne Tufts is a GOP operative with no experiencing investigating allegations of unethical behavior. (Politico)

  4. Paul Manafort was rolled into court for a hearing about his sentencing date in a wheelchair. He was also missing his right shoe. (NBC News / ABC News)

  5. The U.S. suspended another military exercise with South Korea in an effort to aid negotiations with North Korea regarding its nuclear program. (Bloomberg)

  6. The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to throw out a lawsuit filed accusing the government of ignoring climate change. The suit was filed in 2015 by a group of young people who said the government violated their right to "a climate system capable of sustaining human life." (Reuters / NBC News)

  7. Trump plans to tell Russia the U.S. will exit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The U.S. argues that Russia is in violation of the treaty for deploying nuclear weapons to intimidate former Soviet states and that the treaty constrains the United States from deploying weapons to counter the intermediate-range weapons that China has deployed. (New York Times)

Day 637: Personal commitments.

1/ Trump: It "certainly looks" as if Jamal Khashoggi is dead. Trump said there would be "very severe" consequences if the Saudis killed him, but that it was still "a little bit early" to draw conclusions about who ordered the killing. (Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Republican lawmakers are threatening to sanction and end arms sales to the Saudis, despite Trump's objection to canceling a $110 billion arms deal. He claims the deal would create 500,000 U.S. jobs. Additionally, a bipartisan group of senators have invoked the 2016 Magnitsky Act, giving the administration 120 days to respond to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about potential sanctions against officials responsible for human rights violations. (Bloomberg)

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will not attend next week's investment conference in Saudi Arabia after talking with Trump and Pompeo. (CNBC / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ U.S. intelligence agencies are confident that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the disappearance and murder of Khashoggi. While spy agencies haven't been able to collect direct evidence about whether Mohammed ordered the killing of Khashoggi or if his intention was to have Khashoggi captured and taken back to Saudi Arabia, circumstantial evidence points to the prince's involvement. (New York Times)

3/ Mike Pompeo said the U.S. will give Saudi Arabia "a few more days" to investigate the death of Khashoggi while the Saudi royal family looks for an explanation that doesn't implicate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Pompeo said the Saudis could be trusted to "conduct a complete, thorough investigation," because they "made a personal commitment to me, and the Crown Prince also made a personal commitment to the president." Asked if his administration was trying to give the Saudis room to come up with an explanation absolving Mohammed, Trump said: "I'm not giving cover at all. They are an ally." (NBC News / Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

  • The U.S. received $100 million from Saudi Arabia the same day Mike Pompeo arrived in Riyadh to discuss Khashoggi's disappearance. Saudi Arabia publicly pledged the payment to support U.S. stabilization efforts in northeastern Syria in August, but the timing of the transfer raised questions about a potential payoff as Riyadh tries to manage the fallout over Khashoggi's disappearance. (Washington Post)

4/ Saudi Arabia might blame a high-ranking intelligence adviser for the killing of Khashoggi. Blaming Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, an advisor to the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, would provide the crown prince with plausible explanation for the killing. (New York Times)

  • A frequent companion of Saudi Arabia's crown prince entered the country's consulate in Istanbul hours before Khashoggi arrived. Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb was also seen outside the Saudi consul general's home, leaving a Turkish hotel with a large suitcase, and leaving Istanbul — all in the same day. (New York Times)

  • One of the 15 suspects in the alleged murder of Khashoggi died in a "suspicious traffic accident." Mashal Saad al-Bostani was a member of the Saudi Royal Air Force and one of the 15 suspects who landed in Istanbul on Oct. 2 – the day that Khashoggi disappeared – and left the same day after visiting the Saudi consulate. (Yeni Safak / Business Insider / New York Post)

  • At least nine of 15 suspects identified by Turkish authorities worked for the Saudi security services, military or other government ministries. (New York Times)

5/ Aras Agalarov formed a U.S. shell company a month before the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr. and Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Kremlin-linked Russian attorney offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton. The Russian billionaire moved almost $20 million to a U.S. bank account 11 days after the meeting using a company he formed anonymously with the help of an accountant who has had clients accused of money laundering and embezzlement. (The Guardian)

  • 📌 The Re-up: Day 601. Federal investigators are looking into a series of suspicious financial transactions involving people who attended the 2016 Trump Tower meeting. The transfers reveal how Aras Agalarov, a Russian billionaire with strong ties to Trump and Putin, used overseas accounts to distribute money through a web of banks to himself, his son, and at least two people who attended the meeting. Investigators are focusing on two bursts of activity: one occurring shortly before the Trump Tower meeting and one immediately after the 2016 election. (BuzzFeed News / The Hill)

Notables.

  1. Trump threatened to deploy the military to the U.S.-Mexico border and upend the reworked trade deal with Mexico and Canada if Central American countries don't stop a convoy of Honduran migrants making its way toward the U.S. Trump also threatened to "CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!"(Bloomberg / The Guardian / Washington Post)

  2. John Kelly and national security adviser John Bolton got into a shouting match in the West Wing after Trump sided with Bolton over deploying the military to the border. (CNN / Bloomberg)

  3. Don McGahn is out as White House counsel. McGahn planned to leave the White House this fall, but his exit was expedited after Trump announced Patrick Cipollone as his successor. Cippolone served as a Justice Department lawyer under the George H.W. Bush administration. (CNN / New York Times)

  4. 👋 Who The Fuck Has Left The Trump Administration. A timeline of all the departures so far… (WTF Just Happened Today Community Forum)

  5. Robert Mueller is pushing Paul Manafort to provide information about Roger Stone, who may have communicated with Julian Assange or WikiLeaks about releasing hacked emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign. Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel as part of pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy. He is also awaiting sentencing on 18 counts of financial crimes. (ABC News)

  6. Trump's lawyers called a sexual assault lawsuit by a former "The Apprentice" contestant "meritless" and "politically-motivated." Summer Zervos alleges that Trump groped and kissed her without her consent in 2007. (ABC News)

  7. Trump was more involved in stopping a long-term plan to move the FBI to the D.C. than previously known. Prior to the election, Trump wanted to move the FBI headquarters moving out of Washington, D.C. so he could acquire the land and redevelop the property. After being sworn in, he became ineligible to obtain the property and moved to block competitors from acquiring the land. The Trump International Hotel is located a block away from the current FBI headquarters. (CNN / NPR)

  8. The Trump Organization sued the estate of a man who died in a Trump Tower apartment fire for $90,000 in unpaid maintenance fees. (NBC News)

Day 636: Natural instinct.

1/ Robert Mueller is expected to issue findings after the midterm elections on whether Trump's 2016 campaign colluded with Russia and if Trump obstructed justice during the probe. Rod Rosenstein has indicated that he wants Mueller's probe to conclude as soon as possible. The findings may not be made public since Mueller can only present the findings to Rosenstein, who can then decide what is shared with Congress and what is publicly released. Trump, meanwhile, has signaled that he may replace Jeff Sessions and there are rumors that Rosenstein could resign or also be fired by Trump after the election. (Bloomberg)

  • 📌 The Re-up: Day 613. Rod Rosenstein did not resign, but "offered to resign" in discussions with John Kelly. Rosenstein and Trump will meet on Thursday to discuss the deputy attorney general's future at the Justice Department. Rosenstein went to the White House this morning for a meeting where he "expect[ed] to be fired." The news follows reports that Rosenstein discussed the idea of wearing a wire last year to secretly record Trump in order to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the President from office. Rosenstein has been overseeing Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with those efforts. Noel Francisco, the solicitor general, would take on oversight of Mueller's investigation and could fire or limit the investigation. (Axios / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

2/ Rosenstein defended Mueller's investigation as "appropriate and independent," contrasting Trump's description of the probe as a "witch hunt" and "rigged." Rosenstein added that the investigation has revealed a widespread effort by Russians to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. (Wall Street Journal)

3/ A senior Treasury Department employee was charged with leaking confidential government reports about suspicious financial transactions related to Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, the Russian embassy and accused Russian agent Maria Butina. Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards disclosed suspicious activity reports related to Mueller's investigation of possible collusion between Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia. SARs are submitted by banks to alert law enforcement to potentially illegal transactions. (Reuters / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

  • 📌 The Re-Up: Day 601. Federal investigators are looking into a series of suspicious financial transactions involving people who attended the 2016 Trump Tower meeting. The transfers reveal how Aras Agalarov, a Russian billionaire with strong ties to Trump and Putin, used overseas accounts to distribute money through a web of banks to himself, his son, and at least two people who attended the meeting. Investigators are focusing on two bursts of activity: one occurring shortly before the Trump Tower meeting and one immediately after the 2016 election. (BuzzFeed News / The Hill)

  • A federal judge rejected Paul Manafort's request to wear a suit to his sentencing hearing, because the former Trump campaign chairman is now a convicted felon who has lost the right to wear street clothing in all his court proceedings. (Politico)

4/ Trump asked Turkey for audio and video recordings related to missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi – "if it exists." Turkish officials claim they have audio recordings that prove Khashoggi was beaten, drugged, killed and beheaded in the Saudis' Istanbul consulate. Saudi officials have denied any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi. Before leaving Riyadh, Mike Pompeo said the Saudis didn't want to discuss "any of the facts" in Khashoggi disappearance. (Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CBS News)

  • Saudi Arabia promised the Trump administration $100 million to help efforts to stabilize areas in Syria this summer — the money was deposited the same day that Mike Pompeo landed in Riyadh for meetings with the kingdom's leaders about Khashoggi. (New York Times)

  • Pompeo said Saudi officials pledged to hold any wrongdoers accountable, but suggested that any possible U.S. response would be weighed against its "important relations" with the kingdom. Paul Ryan, meanwhile, called Khashoggi's disappearance "really disturbing" and that the episode "could be a real setback" for Saudi Arabia, but predicted that a great deal of the kingdom's relationship with the U.S. "will persist no matter what." (Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. Trump won't accept blame if Republicans lose control of the House in the midterms. "No, I think I'm helping people," Trump said regarding his campaigning and endorsements of Republican candidates. "I don't believe anybody's ever had this kind of an impact," despite supporters telling him "'I will never ever go and vote in the midterms because you're not running and I don't think you like Congress.'" Earlier this month, Trump urged supporters to vote, telling the crowd, "Pretend I'm on the ballot." (Associated Press / Washington Post)

  2. A Jefferson County senior center ordered 40 African-American senior citizens to get off a bus taking them to vote. Jefferson County's administrator said the county government considered the event a "political activity," which isn't allowed during county-sponsored events. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / The Hill)

  3. Mitch McConnell said Republicans could try again to repeal the Affordable Care Act if they win enough seats in the midterm elections. He called the failed 2017 effort to repeal the healthcare law a "disappointment." (Reuters)

  4. A federal judge ordered the immediate implementation of an Obama-era rule designed to help students defrauded by for-profit colleges have their federal student loans forgiven. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos initially delayed the rules in 2017 while the Education Department worked on its own set of regulations, which a different federal court called "arbitrary and capricious" and ordered the department to reverse. (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  5. Trump accused Michael Cohen of lying under oath and giving "totally false" testimony in his August plea deal to campaign finance violations. Cohen alleged that he coordinated with Trump on a hush-money scheme to silence Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Trump characterized Cohen as just "a PR person who did small legal work" for him, who only struck a deal to "achieve a lighter sentence." (NBC News)

  6. Cohen met with state and federal law enforcement officials investigating Trump's family business and charitable organization. The group included the federal prosecutors from the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, who charged Cohen in August, and officials from the New York Attorney General's office. (CNN)

  7. Trump will withdraw from a 144-year-old postal treaty that allowed Chinese companies to ship small packages to the U.S. at a discounted rate. The White House claimed the treaty gives countries like China and Singapore an unfair advantage by flooding U.S. markets with cheaper e-commerce packages. (New York Times / Politico)

  8. Trump will ask each of his Cabinet secretaries to cut 5% of their respective budgets. On Monday, the Treasury Department reported a $779 billion budget deficit for fiscal year 2018 — a six-year high and a 17% jump from the prior period. (CNBC / Bloomberg / Reuters)

  9. Trump claimed he has a "natural instinct for science" when it comes to climate change. Trump's scientific description of climate change was that it "goes back and forth, back and forth." (Politico)

Day 635: Totally denied.

1/ Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman will support a "thorough, transparent, and timely investigation" into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that Bin Salman "totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate." Trump sent Pompeo to Saudi Arabia as the kingdom was preparing to acknowledge that Khashoggi died at the consulate as a result of an interrogation that went wrong. (Politico / Reuters / New York Times)

2/ Trump said that Saudi Arabia being blamed for the disappearance Khashoggi is "another case of "guilty until proven innocent." Trump has vowed "severe punishment" if the Saudis killed Khashoggi, but he's also speculated that "rogue killers" could be responsible. Trump added: "We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned." (Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)

  • The Trump administration needs Saudi Arabia's help to implement new sanctions against Iran on Nov. 4. The Saudis could see a significant increase in oil revenues as Congress considers economic or military sanctions against the kingdom for its role in Khashoggi's death. Sanctioning the Saudis would undercut the Iran policy and send the price of gasoline and heating oil significantly higher. (New York Times)

3/ The body of Jamal Khashoggi was cut into pieces after he was killed two weeks ago at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to a Turkish official. Saudi Arabia has insisted that Khashoggi left the building alive, but police searching the Saudi Consulate found evidence that Khashoggi was killed there. An autopsy specialist carrying a bone saw was among 15 Saudi operatives who flew in and out of Istanbul the day Khashoggi disappeared. (CNN / New York Times / Associated Press)

  • Four of the suspects in the disappearance of Khashoggi are linked to the Saudi crown prince's security detail. A fifth is a forensic doctor who holds senior positions in the Saudi Interior Ministry. (New York Times)

4/ Jared Kushner is "deeply involved" in the White House response to Khashoggi's disappearance and has been working closely with Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton. Kushner also has a close relationship with Prince bin Salman and has been lobbying Saudi Arabia to participate in the Khashoggi investigation. (Yahoo News)

5/ A federal judge dismissed Stormy Daniels' libel lawsuit against Trump, saying Trump's tweet that she had lied about being threatened to keep quiet about their alleged relationship was "rhetorical hyperbole" and is protected by the First Amendment. Daniels was ordered to pay Trump's legal fees for the case. (Washington Post / Politico)

6/ Trump celebrated the dismissal of Stormy Daniels' defamation suit by calling her "Horseface" and threatening to "go after" her and "her 3rd rate lawyer." Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, responded by calling Trump a "disgusting misogynist" and a "liar" who has dishonored his family and country. (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / The Hill)

7/ Trump called Elizabeth Warren a "phony" and a "fraud" while referring to her as "Pocahontas (the bad version)" a day after she publicly released the results of a DNA test intended to prove her Native American ancestry. The DNA test concluded that there was "strong evidence" that Warren had a Native American in her family tree dating back six to 10 generations, making her between 1/64th and 1/1,024 Native American. The Cherokee Nation, meanwhile, criticized Warren's use of a DNA test as "inappropriate." (The Guardian / Politico / Washington Post / HuffPost / The Hill)

8/ Mitch McConnell called the rising federal deficits "not a Republican problem" and instead blamed Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. In December 2017, Republicans passed a tax cut. which is projected to add more than $1 trillion to the debt over a decade. (Bloomberg / The Hill / Washington Post)

  • Trump escalated his criticism of the Federal Reserve, calling the central bank his "biggest threat" because it is raising interest rates "too fast." (Politico)

poll/ Ted Cruz leads his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O'Rourke, 52% to 45% among likely voters. 9% of likely Texas voters say there's a chance they could change their mind before Election Day. (CNN)


Notables.

  1. Jim Mattis: Trump told me he supports me "100 percent." Trump called to give Mattis the assurance after he mentioned during an interview on "60 Minutes" that his Secretary of Defense might be leaving. (NBC News / Associated Press)

  2. A coalition of free-press advocates are suing Trump, seeking an order directing the president not to use his office to exact reprisals against the press – the kind of behavior those courts have found unlawful. (Politico)

  3. Mitch McConnell ruled out a vote on Trump's NAFTA replacement before 2019, setting up a potential fight with Democrats next year if they win the House in midterm elections on Nov. 6. (Bloomberg / CNBC)

  4. Trump threatened to cancel aid to Honduras "if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped." A group of hundreds of Honduran migrants are fleeing poverty and gang violence in Honduras. (Politico)

  5. The White House is replacing the Interior Department's inspector general, according to an internal Housing and Urban Development email regarding the staffing change. The acting inspector general at the Interior Department will oversee four ongoing investigations into Secretary Ryan Zinke's conduct. Acting inspectors general do not need Senate confirmation. (NBC News / Washington Post)

  6. Trump's reelection campaign has raised at least $106 million. Between the RNC, Trump's campaign committee, and joint fundraising committees, they've raised more than $337 million with at least $88 million of it in cash. (Washington Post)

  7. The Trump campaign has more than doubled its election-related spending over the last three months. The campaign spent $7.7 million between July and the end of September – up from the $3.6 million it spent during the previous three months. The Trump campaign and the RNC have raised more than $18 million in the last quarter alone. (New York Times)

Day 634: Who cares.

1/ Trump suggested that "rogue killers" may be responsible for the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi because King Salman "firmly denied any knowledge" of what happened. "It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers," Trump said. "Who knows?" During an interview with "60 Minutes," Trump said that even though the Saudis denied involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance, it was still possible that they were responsible. "We're going to get to the bottom of it, and there will be severe punishment." (New York Times / Politico / CBS News)

2/ The Saudis are preparing to admit that Khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation gone wrong. Previously, Saudi authorities had maintained Khashoggi left the consulate the same afternoon of his visit, but provided no evidence to support the claim. Multiple sources said the Saudis are discussing a plan to admit that Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, but that the operation was carried out without clearance in an effort to absolve Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of responsibility by giving him plausible deniability to say he didn't order the killing and didn't know about it.(CNN) / NBC News)

3/ Jared Kushner appears to have paid almost no federal income taxes from 2009 to 2016. Kushner used a tax-minimizing loophole that kept his tax bill low by reporting real estate losses based on "significant depreciation," according confidential financial documents. Nothing in the documents indicate that Kushner broke the law. Despite Kushner Companies being profitable, Kushner has been losing money for years as far as the IRS is concerned, because the losses were driven by depreciation. Real estate investors deduct a portion of the cost of their buildings from their taxable income every year. (New York Times)

  • 📌 The Re-up: Trump inherited his family's wealth through fraud and questionable tax schemes, receiving the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father's real estate empire. Trump has repeatedly claimed that "I built what I built myself." Trump and his siblings used fake corporations to hide financial gifts from their parents, which helped Fred Trump claim millions in tax deductions. Trump also helped his parents undervalue their real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars when filing their tax returns. In total, Fred and Mary Trump transferred more than $1 billion in wealth to their children and paid a total of $52.2 million in taxes (about 5%) instead of the $550+ million they should have owed under the 55% tax rate imposed on gifts and inheritances. Trump also "earned" $200,000 a year in today's dollars from his father's companies starting at age 3. After college, Trump started receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year, which increased to $5 million a year when he was in his 40s and 50s. Trump has refused to release his income tax returns, breaking with decades of practice by past presidents. There is no time limit on civil fines for tax fraud. [Editor's note: This is a must read. An abstract summary does not suffice.] (New York Times)

4/ Sen. Elizabeth Warren released the results of a DNA test that provides "strong evidence" of Native American ancestry dating back six to 10 generations. Warren has been mocked by Trump and other Republicans for claiming she has Native American blood. (Boston Globe / NPR / Washington Post)

5/ Trump denied offering Warren $1 million to take a test proving her Native American heritage. "Who cares?" Trump said when asked about Warren's DNA test. "I didn't say that. You better read it again." At a rally in July, Trump said: "And we will say, 'I will give you a million dollars, paid for by Trump, to your favorite charity if you take the test and it shows you're an Indian … we'll see what she does. I have a feeling she will say no but we will hold it for the debates." (Washington Post / CNN / The Hill)

poll/ 41% approve of the job Trump is doing – up from 36% in late August. 54% disapprove of his work in office. (ABC News)

poll/ 46% of Americans think Trump will win a second term while and 47% say he won't. In March, 54% of adults said they thought Trump would lose his bid for a second term. (CNN)

poll/ 77% of registered voters say they are certain to vote in the midterm elections next month or have already voted. 54% of voters say they prefer the next Congress to be in Democratic hands as a way of providing a check on Trump – from 60 percent in August. (Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. Trump said it doesn't matter whether Christine Blasey Ford was telling the truth, "because we won. It doesn't matter." Ford testified that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school during the 1980s, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee that she thought she would "accidentally be killed" by Kavanaugh. (CBS News / CNN / NBC News / The Hill)

  2. A Trump campaign donor and Mar-a-Lago member gave $150,000 to help current and former Trump aides caught up in Robert Mueller's Russia probe. (Politico)

  3. A top National Security Council aide is leaving the White House after roughly five months on the job. Fred Fleitz served as John Bolton's chief of staff. (The Hill / CNN)

  4. Trump suggested that Defense Secretary James Mattis could be one of the next administration officials to leave. "At some point," Trump said, "everybody leaves." (CBS News)

  5. The federal budget deficit grew to $779 billion in Trump's first full fiscal year as president – the highest level in six years. The deficit rose nearly 17% year over year, from $666 billion in 2017, and is on pace to top $1 trillion a year before the next presidential election. (CNBC / Bloomberg / New York Times)

  6. Trump said that Sears had been mismanaged for years before it declared bankruptcy. Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin was a member of Sears's board from 2005 until December 2016. (Bloomberg)

  7. A Republican lawmaker took a student's cell phone from him while he was being asked about voter suppression in the state. The student asked Sen. David Perdue: "Hey, so, uh, how can you endorse a candidate — " before Perdue snatched the cell phone from his hands. Perdue eventually gave the phone back to the student and walked away without answering the question. (Washington Post)

  8. The Department of Homeland Security said there's been an increasing number of attempted cyber attacks on U.S. election databases ahead of next month's midterms. The federal government does not know who is behind the attacks. (NBC News)

  9. Trump hung a fictional painting in the White House that shows him seated at a table with past Republican presidents. Rep. Darrel Issa gave the painting to Trump, which is called "The Republican Club" by Andy Thomas. (Daily Beast)

Day 631: Optics.

1/ The Trump administration is considering new rules to separate parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border. One option is for the government to detain asylum-seeking families together for up to 20 days, then give parents a choice to stay in family detention together or allow children to be taken to a government shelter so relatives or guardians can seek custody. Some inside the White House and Department of Homeland Security are concerned about the "optics" of the so-called "binary choice" option. (Washington Post)

2/ Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross discussed adding a citizenship question to the U.S. census with Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach despite previously saying he hadn't spoken with anyone at the White House about the addition. Ross original claimed that a citizenship question would allow the government to better enforce the Voting Rights Act, which is meant to protect voters from discriminatory policies. However, emails reveal that Ross was instead concerned that not adding a citizenship question "leads to the problem that aliens who do not actually 'reside' in the United States are still counted for congressional apportionment purposes." (Washington Post)

3/ Wilbur Ross shifted his explanation for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, saying he now recalls discussing it with Steve Bannon. Ross faces a court order to provide a deposition to the plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to remove the question from the census. (New York Times / NPR / Politico)

4/ Trump could fire Jeff Sessions and then replace him with a temporary attorney general who would then reduce Robert Mueller's budget "so low that his investigation grinds to almost a halt." Matthew Whitaker made the comments in July 2017. Trump is considering as many as five candidates to replace Sessions if he leaves as attorney general, including Whitaker. Trump declined to deny that he is considering replacing Sessions with Whitaker, but he has talked with Whitaker about replacing Sessions in the past. (Washington Post)

5/ Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a Hatch Act complaint against Sarah Huckabee Sanders for using her official government Twitter account to tweet a photo of herself with Kanye West, who was wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat in the Oval Office. The Hatch Act prohibits any executive branch employee from "us[ing] his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election." (The Hill / CREW)

poll/ 51% of Americans disapprove of Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court – and 53% favor further investigation by Congress that could lead to efforts to remove him from office. 58% of women and 47% of men support an investigation. (ABC News / Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. The Turkish government told U.S. officials that they have audio and video recordings that prove Jamal Khashoggi was tortured and killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The recordings show that Khashoggi was detained inside the consulate by a Saudi security team before being killed and dismembered. "You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic" on the audio recording, one person with knowledge of the recording said. "You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered." (Washington Post)

  2. Trump on Khashoggi: "It's in Turkey, and it's not a citizen, as I understand it." Trump later added: "Again, this took place in Turkey, and to the best of our knowledge, Khashoggi is not a United States citizen. Is that right?" (Washington Post)

  3. Two Arizona Republicans tried to make a donation to a Democratic congressman as members of the Communist Party in an attempt to link him to the far left. Two men walked into first-term Democrat Tom O'Halleran with a jar of $39.68 and insisted that the Northern Arizona University Community Party wanted them to get a receipt for the donation. When O'Halleran's finance director drove to the local Republican field office to return the money, one of the men appeared from inside the offices and was identified as the man who tried to donate the money. (The Guardian)

  4. Senate Democrats agreed to confirm 15 lifetime federal judges in exchange for the ability to go into recess through the midterms, allowing Democrats to campaign. (Politico)

  5. Georgia sued for placing 53,000 voter applications – 70% by African-Americans – on hold weeks before November's midterm election. The lawsuit charges that the "exact match" method that Secretary of State Brian Kemp uses to verify new voter registrations is discriminatory. (NBC News)

  6. Melania Trump said she has "more important things to think about" than her husband's alleged affairs, adding that the allegations are "not concern and focus of mine" because she's "a mother and a first lady." (ABC News / CNN / The Guardian)

  7. Trump made 129 false claims last week – his second-most-dishonest week as president. (Toronto Star)

Day 630: Highly unusual.

1/ U.S. intelligence intercepts indicate that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia ordered an operation to coax Jamal Khashoggi back to the kingdom in order to capture him. Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi government, disappeared last week after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. A bipartisan group on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee invoked the Magnitsky Act to force the Trump administration to investigate the disappearance of Khashoggi, which requires the administration to respond within 120 days of potential sanctions against officials responsible for human rights violations. Trump said he is reluctant to cut off arms sales to Saudi Arabia, believing it "would be hurting" the U.S. economy. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN / Bloomberg)

2/ Trump pledged to "weed out" individuals inside his administration who he doesn't like or trust. When asked if that included Jeff Sessions, Trump replied that he is focused on the midterm elections. Melania Trump, meanwhile, said Trump has people working in his administration she doesn't trust and it is hard for the president to govern when "you always need to watch your back." Melania added that she is "the most bullied person on the world." #BeBest (Politico / ABC News / CNN / Washington Post)

3/ Trump spoke with Jeff Sessions' own chief of staff about replacing him as attorney general. It is not clear whether Trump wanted Matthew Whitaker to take over on an interim basis or to be nominated in a more permanent capacity. White House officials say they expect both Sessions and Rosenstein to remain in their positions at least until after the midterms. (Washington Post)

4/ Trump is considering as many as five candidates to replace Jeff Sessions if he leaves as attorney general. The candidates include Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Transportation Department general counsel Steven Bradbury, former Attorney General Bill Barr, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and Janice Rogers Brown, a retired appeals court judge from the District of Columbia Circuit. Sessions isn't currently planning to leave, but has privately said he expects to be asked to resign. (Wall Street Journal)

5/ Georgia's Secretary of State is holding more than 53,000 voter registration applications – nearly 70% from black voters – due to the state's "exact match" law, which requires that information on the application must match information on file with the Georgia Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration. Brian Kemp's office has cancelled over 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012 and nearly 670,000 registrations in 2017 alone. (Associated Press)

poll/ 35% of young Americans ages 18-29 say they are absolutely certain to vote in the midterms, while 81% of seniors 65+ say they're certain to vote. 69% of Americans say their feelings about the state of the country are primarily negative. (The Atlantic / Public Religion Research Institute)


Notables.

  1. Trump's legal team is preparing written answers to questions provided by Robert Mueller related to the investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians. The two sides have still not agreed on whether Trump will be interviewed in person regarding obstruction of justice related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey. (CNN)

  2. The judge in one of Paul Manafort's criminal cases wants to move ahead with sentencing and whether Mueller's prosecutors will retry him on deadlocked counts. Manafort's plea deal, however, deferred sentencing until after his cooperation with Mueller's team concluded. It also pushed off the decision to retry him on 10 of the 18 counts that Virginia jurors couldn't agree on. Judge T.S. Ellis called the timeline in Manafort's plea deal "highly unusual," saying it didn't adhere to the usual schedule in his court. A hearing is set for next week. (Associated Press / NBC News)

  3. Trump accused Hillary Clinton of colluding with Russia during the 2016 election campaign. "There was collusion between Hillary, the Democrats and Russia," Trump claimed during a campaign rally in Erie, Pennsylvania. His supporters chanted "lock her up." (NBC News)

  4. Andrew McCabe says the FBI is stalling publication of his book, "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump." The former deputy director of the FBI said he has been singled out for what he calls "irregular unfair treatment." McCabe was fired in March for what the Justice Department called a lack of candor following an inspector general report accusing him of misleading investigators. He has denied any wrongdoing. (ABC News / NBC News)

  5. Michael Cohen changed his party registration from Republican to Democrat. Trump's former attorney pleaded guilty in August to eight criminal counts of tax fraud, making false statements to a bank and campaign finance violations. He implicated Trump by suggesting that the violations were at his direction. (Axios)

  6. Trump blamed the stock market correction on the "out of control" Federal Reserve, criticizing chairman Jerome Powell for "going loco." Trump said he won't fire Powell, but is "just disappointed." Presidents for more than two decades had avoided publicly criticizing the Fed's interest-rate policies as a way of demonstrating respect for the institution's independence. The Dow traded 200 points lower, bringing its two-day losses to more than 1,000 points (Bloomberg / CNBC)

  7. Instead of discussing prison reform, Kanye West plunged into a 10-minute rant in the Oval Office, referring to himself as "a crazy motherfucker" akin to "tasting a fine wine" with "complex notes" for supporting Trump, complimented the president for making him "a Superman cape" by way of the red "Make America Great Again" hat, pitched the president on replacing Air Force One with a hydrogen-powered "iPlane 1" that he'd like Apple to design, and repeatedly complimented Trump, saying the president "is on his hero's journey right now." After West finished his soliloquy, Trump said: "That was quite something." (Reuters / NPR / Rolling Stone / BuzzFeed News)

Day 629: Inevitable.

1/ Trump claimed the Democratic Party's push for "Medicare for All" would "eviscerate" and "gut Medicare with their planned government takeover of American health care," in a rare presidential op-ed published by USA Today. The op-ed included numerous debunked claims and factual inaccuracies while simultaneously linking to information that directly refuted his claims. Trump suggested that "Medicare would be forced to die" under the plan, devastating the health care industry, and "inevitably lead[ing] to the massive rationing of health care." Medicare provides health care to Americans older than 65 and those with disabilities. (CNN / NBC News)

  • Fact-checking Trump's op-ed. (Washington Post)

  • The Trump administration plans to take down healthcare.gov for maintenance during the sign-up period for the Affordable Care Act. The administration did the same thing last year and drew criticism for it, but officials say the maintenance periods are routine and intended to occur during the slowest periods. (The Hill)

2/ Trump said he will speak to Saudi officials about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying he was "concerned." While the Saudi government claims that Khashoggi left the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul after his visit last week, top Turkish security officials concluded that Khashoggi was assassinated in the consulate on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi royal court. Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen living in exile in the United States, was a vocal critic of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Fifteen Saudi agents had arrived on two charter flights the day Khashoggi disappeared and all 15 left just a few hours later. The Trump administration has been largely silent in part because Saudi Arabia is a close American ally and Trump has repeatedly expressed his enthusiasm for Mohammed bin Salman. (New York Times / Politico)

3/ State court judges may be able to grant custody of migrant children to American families without notifying their parents, according to a report drawing on hundreds of court documents, immigration records and interviews in the U.S. and Central America. More than 300 parents were deported to Central America without their children this summer, many of whom allege they were ordered to sign a waiver they didn't understand, which affected their rights to reunify with their children. (Associated Press)

4/ Melania Trump: Women "need to have really hard evidence" before saying they're victims of sexual assault. "I do stand with women," the first lady said, "but we need to show the evidence. You cannot just say to somebody, 'I was sexually assaulted,' or, 'You did that to me,' because sometimes the media goes too far, and the way they portray some stories it's, it's not correct, it's not right." During the 2016 presidential campaign, at least 13 women accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment or sexual assault. (CNN)

  • FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate that the White House limited the Brett Kavanaugh investigation. The FBI's "supplemental update to the previous background investigation was limited in scope and that … is consistent with the standard process for such investigations going back a long ways," Wray said. (Politico)

  • Chief Justice John G. Roberts referred more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints filed recently against Kavanaugh to a federal appeals court in Colorado. The 10th Circuit will likely dismiss the complaints now that Kavanaugh has joined the Supreme Court. (Washington Post)

poll/ 46% of voters believe the Senate "made the wrong decision" in confirming Brett Kavanaugh, while 40% said it was the right decision. Among Democrats, 78% say the Senate made the wrong decision compared to 73% of Republicans who support the decision. Following the nomination, 77% of Democrats say they are "very motivated" to turn out and vote in the midterms. 68% of Republicans say they're "very motivated." (Politico)

  • Democratic voter turnout in this year's House primaries increased in each of the 19 competitive, comparable House districts compared to 2014, and doubled in more than two thirds of them. (Axios)

poll/ 55% of Americans think Trump is just venting when he calls the press "enemies of the people." 45% said they believe he is being serious. (Los Angeles Times)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Trump campaign argued that it can't be held legally responsible for the WikiLeaks publication of DNC emails because the First Amendment protects the campaign's "right to disclose information – even stolen information." The lawsuit, filed by two Democratic donors and a former employee of the Democratic National Committee, alleges that the Trump campaign and Roger Stone coordinated release and exploitation of the hacked emails with Russia and WikiLeaks, thereby violating the plaintiffs' privacy. (The Atlantic)

  2. The Republican operative who tried to obtain Hillary Clinton's emails had established a relationship with Michael Flynn as early as 2015, according to emails and interviews. Peter Smith told associates during the presidential campaign that he was using Flynn's connections to help him on the email project. (Wall Street Journal)

  3. A Roger Stone aide says he feels "great" about taking his case to the Supreme Court now that Kavanaugh is on the bench. Andrew Miller, who worked for Stone and was subpoenaed to testify before Robert Mueller's grand jury, is challenging the constitutionality of the special counsel's probe. He filed a suit to invalidate Mueller's authority to act as a prosecutor. A federal judge ruled against him and held him in contempt, so he appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. (CNN)

  4. A federal judge sentenced Richard Pinedo to six months in prison and six months of home confinement after he pleaded guilty to a felony identity fraud tied to Russian trolls. It's the most severe penalty handed down yet in Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling. (Politico)

  5. The infamous Russian troll factory was set on fire by an unknown suspect wielding a Molotov cocktail. The troll farm, run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as Putin's "cook," rebranded itself as a media company last year with 16 news websites generating more than 30 million pageviews every month. (Moscow Times)

  6. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will introduce legislation this week to fully fund Trump's $23.4 billion border wall. The bill is currently in draft form, but is expected to be released within the next few days. The House would not be able to consider the bill until after the midterm elections. (CNN)

  7. Trump said the Federal Reserve "has gone crazy" for raising interest rates. The comment comes after the Dow plunged more than 800 points – the worst drop since February. The tech sector, in particular, had its worst day in seven years. The Fed has raised interest rates three times this year and one more is expected before year-end. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC)


📌 The Re-Up.

A few stories worth your attention that were drowned out by the daily shock and awe. Updated occasionally.

  • Day 621: Trump inherited his family's wealth through fraud and questionable tax schemes, receiving the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father's real estate empire. Trump has repeatedly claimed that "I built what I built myself." Trump and his siblings used fake corporations to hide financial gifts from their parents, which helped Fred Trump claim millions in tax deductions. Trump also helped his parents undervalue their real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars when filing their tax returns. In total, Fred and Mary Trump transferred more than $1 billion in wealth to their children and paid a total of $52.2 million in taxes (about 5%) instead of the $550+ million they should have owed under the 55% tax rate imposed on gifts and inheritances. Trump also "earned" $200,000 a year in today's dollars from his father's companies starting at age 3. After college, Trump started receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year, which increased to $5 million a year when he was in his 40s and 50s. Trump has refused to release his income tax returns, breaking with decades of practice by past presidents. There is no time limit on civil fines for tax fraud. [Editor's note: This is a must read. An abstract summary does not suffice.] (New York Times)

  • Day 627: A U.N. report on the effects of climate change predicts a strong risk of an environmental crisis much sooner than expected. The report finds that the atmosphere could warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, which would cause sea levels to rise, intensify droughts, wildfires, and poverty, and cause a mass die-off of coral reefs. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050. The use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1% and 7% by 2050. Renewable energy would have to increase to about 67%. Trump has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, vowing to increase the burning of coal, and he intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement. The world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark and "there is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the report said. (New York Times / Washington Post)


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  3. Check your voter registration deadline here or here.


⚠️ Why I'm not covering Hurricane Michael. The scope of what WTF Just Happened Today covers is defined like a set of concentric circles. I start with Trump at the center, expanding outward to include news about his administration followed by the judicial and legislative branches of government. I'll cover natural disasters, like hurricanes and wildfires, as they become intertwined with Trump and his administration (i.e. their response). Breaking news moves fast and rather than regurgitating outdated reporting once a day here, it's better to get your information from the local news outlets reporting from the ground about their communities.

Day 628: Hidden genius.

1/ Rick Gates requested proposals in 2016 from an Israeli company to create fake online identities and use social media to manipulate and influence the election. Gates joined the Trump campaign along with Paul Manafort. Both have been indicted on multiple charges of financial fraud and tax evasion. One proposal from the company, known as Psy-Group, called for the creation of fake online personas to target and persuade 5,000 delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention by attacking Ted Cruz. Another called for opposition research and "complementary intelligence activities" aimed at Clinton and her close allies. There is no evidence that the Trump campaign acted on the proposals, but Psy-Group owner Joel Zamel did meet with Trump Jr. in August 2016. (New York Times)

2/ Nikki Haley resigned as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and will leave at the end of the year. Trump said that Haley informed him about six months ago that she would "take a break" at the end of her first two years. Haley said she doesn't plan to run for president against Trump in 2020 and will support Trump's re-election. Trump plans to name a successor in two to three weeks (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Axios / NBC News / CNN)

  • After announcing her resignation, Haley called Jared Kushner a "hidden genius that no one understands." She added: "We're a better country because [Jared and Ivanka Trump are] in this administration." (The Hill / Axios)

  • 👋 Who The Fuck Has Left The Trump Administration. A timeline of all the departures so far… (WTFJHT Community Forum)

3/ Trump said he thought there was no one "more competent in the world" than Ivanka Trump for the U.N. ambassador job. While he thinks his daughter would make for an "incredible" ambassador, he also acknowledged that he "would be accused of nepotism." (NBC News / Axios)

  • Senior White House officials have talked with Dina Powell about replacing Haley as U.N. ambassador. Powell is a Goldman Sachs executive and Trump's former deputy national security advisor. (CNBC)

poll/ 54% of likely voters say they support the Democrat in their district while 41% back the Republican in a generic ballot. 62% of Democrats say they're enthusiastic to vote while 52% of Republicans are excited to vote. (CNN)

poll/ 34% of young people ages 18-24 say they are "extremely likely" to vote in the midterm elections – up from 19.9% of 18-to-29 year olds who voted in 2014's midterms. 45% want to vote for a Democratic candidate in 2018 while 26% plan to support a Republican. (Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The acting EPA administration repeatedly engaged with racist and conspiratorial content on Facebook and Twitter over the past five years. Andrew Wheeler brushed off his interactions, saying he doesn't remember "liking" or retweeting the inflammatory content. (HuffPost)

  2. The Trump administration will remove a federal ban on the summer sales of high-ethanol gasoline blends. The policy change would allow year-round sales of gasoline blends with up to 15% ethanol – 5% higher than typical blends. The EPA currently bans high-ethanol blends during the summer because they contribute to smog on hot days. The move is seen as a reward to Sen. Chuck Grassley, who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee and presided over Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court. (CBS News)

  3. Trump apologized "on behalf of our nation" to Kavanaugh "for the terrible pain and suffering" that he and his family endured during the confirmation process. Trump claimed that Kavanaugh was "proven innocent" and said that the confirmation process was based on "lies and deception." (NBC News / ABC News)

  4. More than a thousand noncitizens may have been registered to vote in California due to a processing error. The California Department of Motor Vehicles admitted that a mistake had caused as many as 1,500 noncitizens to be registered to vote in the state. A Canadian citizen and legal permanent resident of the U.S. first brought attention to the mistake after he received a letter in the mail telling him he was registered to vote. (ABC News / Los Angeles Times)

  5. Trump's trade war with China has cost Ford $1 billion. The automaker may have to cut production of some models and potentially eliminate some U.S. jobs as a result. (NBC News)

  6. Kanye West will visit the White House to discuss job opportunities for former convicts with Trump and Jared Kushner. West also hopes to discuss increasing manufacturing jobs in the Chicago area. (New York Times / Reuters)


📌 Re-upping.

A few stories worth your attention that were drowned out by the daily shock and awe. Updated occasionally.

  • Day 621: Trump inherited his family's wealth through fraud and questionable tax schemes, receiving the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father's real estate empire. Trump has repeatedly claimed that "I built what I built myself." Trump and his siblings used fake corporations to hide financial gifts from their parents, which helped Fred Trump claim millions in tax deductions. Trump also helped his parents undervalue their real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars when filing their tax returns. In total, Fred and Mary Trump transferred more than $1 billion in wealth to their children and paid a total of $52.2 million in taxes (about 5%) instead of the $550+ million they should have owed under the 55% tax rate imposed on gifts and inheritances. Trump also "earned" $200,000 a year in today's dollars from his father's companies starting at age 3. After college, Trump started receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year, which increased to $5 million a year when he was in his 40s and 50s. Trump has refused to release his income tax returns, breaking with decades of practice by past presidents. There is no time limit on civil fines for tax fraud. [Editor's note: This is a must read. An abstract summary does not suffice.] (New York Times)

  • Day 627: A U.N. report on the effects of climate change predicts a strong risk of an environmental crisis much sooner than expected. The report finds that the atmosphere could warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, which would cause sea levels to rise, intensify droughts, wildfires, and poverty, and cause a mass die-off of coral reefs. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050. The use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1% and 7% by 2050. Renewable energy would have to increase to about 67%. Trump has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, vowing to increase the burning of coal, and he intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement. The world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark and "there is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the report said. (New York Times / Washington Post)


🗳 Register to vote:

  1. If you're not sure if you're registered, check your registration status on vote.org.

  2. If you haven't registered, use vote.org, TurboVote, or pick up a registration form at your local post office or library.

  3. Check your voter registration deadline here or here.

Day 627: "An insult to the American public."

1/ The Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court in a 50-48 vote. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted "present," although she said she opposed the nomination. Joe Manchin was the lone "yes" vote from the Democrats. Kavanaugh is the first justice nominated by a president who lost the popular vote, confirmed by senators representing less than half of the country, while also having his nomination opposed by a majority of the country. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian / NPR)

  • Chief Justice John Roberts has already received more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints against Kavanaugh. Roberts has chosen not to refer the complaints to a judicial panel for investigation. (Washington Post)

  • The campaign to impeach Justice Kavanaugh has begun. A petition to impeach Kavanaugh gathered more than 125,000 signatures, but while it takes majority of the House to impeach a federal official, removing them requires a two-thirds supermajority of the Senate – or 67 votes. (Newsweek / NBC News)

2/ Trump called the allegations against Kavanaugh "a hoax that was set up by the Democrats." He said talk of impeaching Kavanaugh was "an insult to the American public." (The Hill / Washington Post)

  • Mitch McConnell called for an investigation into the leak of Christine Blasey Ford's letter to Diane Feinstein, which alleges that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while the two were in high school. (Politico)

  • John Kelly formed a working group to prepare for the possibility of investigations if Democrats win the House. "Subpoenas flowing into a White House create paralysis," said Neil Eggleston, Obama's White House counsel. "The whole system stops while everyone tries to comply with subpoenas and prepare to testify." (Axios)

  • Susan Rice said she'll decide after the midterm elections on whether to run and try to unseat Susan Collins in 2020, who was the deciding vote to confirm Kavanaugh. Rice was Obama's national security adviser. (ABC News / Washington Post)

  • Ford has not been able to return to her home due to constant threats, according to her attorneys. "They are not living at home […] The threats have been unending, it's deplorable." Ford "still believes [coming forward] was the right thing to do." (HuffPost)

3/ Trump won't fire Rod Rosenstein after all, saying they have a "very good relationship." Trump and Rosenstein met following reports that Rosenstein wanted to wiretap the president and using the 25th Amendment to remove him from office. Rosenstein oversees the Russia probe led by Robert Mueller, whose work Trump has labeled a "witch hunt." (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Politico)

4/ A U.N. report on the effects of climate change predicts a strong risk of an environmental crises much sooner than expected. The report finds that the atmosphere could warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, which would cause sea-levels to rise, intensify droughts, wildfires, and poverty, and cause a mass die-off of coral reefs. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050. The use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1 and 7% by 2050. Renewable energy would have to increase to about 67%. Trump has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, vowing to increase the burning of coal and intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement. The world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark and "there is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the report said. (New York Times / Washington Post)

poll/ 51% of Americans oppose Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court with 41% supporting it. Among Democrats, 91% opposed his nomination, while 89% of Republicans support it. (CNN)


Notables.

  1. North Korea will allow inspectors to visit a nuclear testing site that Kim Jong Un says he destroyed, according to Mike Pompeo. North Korea has not yet agreed to provide a full inventory of their nuclear arsenal, a move widely seen as the first step toward denuclearization. Additionally, South Korea said Trump and Kim agreed to a second summit. (New York Times)

  2. A Republican operative raised at least $100,000 in an effort to obtain Hillary Clinton's stolen emails just weeks before the 2016 election. In an email, Peter W. Smith sent wire instructions to "fund the Washington Scholarship Fund for the Russian students" with the donations days after WikiLeaks and DCLeaks began releasing emails damaging to Clinton's campaign. Robert Mueller's office has been investigating Smith's activities. He killed himself in May 2017 – 10 days after describing his efforts to a reporter. (Wall Street Journal)

  3. Federal officials froze all of Oleg Deripaska's U.S.-based assets, including his mansions in Washington, D.C. and New York City. Deripaska is close with Putin and is allegedly involved in murder, money-laundering, bribery and racketeering. (New York Post)

  4. Fox News hired Hope Hicks as Chief Communications Officer. After she left the White House in February, former Fox News executive Bill Shine took over as deputy chief of staff for communications. (Fox News / CNBC / Variety)

  5. 🇷🇺 What We Learned Last Week in the Russia Probe: GOP operative and anti-Trumper, Cheri Jacobus, said the investigation of an email hacking/catfishing scheme that targeted her has been forwarded to Robert Mueller; Russia's Deputy Attorney General, who allegedly directed the foreign operations of Natalia Veselnitskaya, died last week in a mysterious helicopter crash in Russia; the pilot of the helicopter had two bullet wounds; the Russian sovereign wealth fund leader with whom Erik Prince met in the Seychelles, Kirill Dmitriev, "reached out to at least three additional individuals in close contact with the Trump transition team" in the days before Trump's inauguration; GOP operative Peter Smith, who killed himself in an alleged suicide, solicited and raised at least $100k in his search for Clinton's emails; Randy Credico told the Senate Intelligence Committee he would plead the 5th in response to a subpoena; Reddit's CEO admitted that "suspicious" Russian accounts have been active within the past month on the platform; Russian state TV and Russian trolls supported Kavanaugh and condemned what they call "malignant feminism"; Representative Eric Swalwell wrote an op-ed for the Fresno Bee accusing Devin Nunes of burying evidence on Russian meddling to protect Trump and endorsing his opponent, Andrew Janz; a coalition of voting rights activists announced they are filing a federal lawsuit against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp for "using a racially-biased methodology" to remove roughly 700,000 voters from the state's voter rolls; and California's Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Friday banning companies from secretly using automated social media accounts to sell products or influence elections. (WTF Just Happened Today)


🗳 How to register to vote:

  1. If you're not sure if you're registered, check your registration status on vote.org.

  2. If you haven't registered, use vote.org, TurboVote, or pick up a registration form at your local post office or library.

  3. Check your voter registration deadline here or here.

Day 624: Rock bottom.

1/ The Senate voted 51-49 to advance Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination. Republican Lisa Murkowski voted not to advance the nomination. She called the cloture vote "a mistake," saying Kavanaugh is "not the best man for the court at this time." Flake told reporters he would support Kavanaugh on the final vote, "unless something big changes." A final floor vote is expected to take place on Saturday. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Susan Collins will support Kavanaugh's nomination, effectively ensuring enough votes for his confirmation. During a lengthy speech, Collins said the confirmation process has "been in steady decline for more than 30 years," with Kavanaugh's nomination hitting "rock bottom." She said it's her "fervent hope" that Kavanaugh will "work to lessen the divisions in the Supreme Court." Collins added that "the MeToo movement is real," that "it matters," is "needed and it is long overdue," but that Christine Blasey Ford's "allegations fail to meet the more-likely-than-not standard" and "I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the court." (CNBC / NBC News / Associated Press / Washington Post)

  • A group of Mainers have raised more than $2 million for Collins' future Democratic opponent. (Crowdpac)

3/ Joe Manchin will also vote "yes" on Kavanaugh's nomination, announcing his decision immediately after Collins. Manchin is a Democrat up for re-election in a red state. Machin said he had "reservations about this vote given the serious accusations against Judge Kavanaugh and the temperament he displayed in the hearing," but "found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him." (Axios / The Hill)

4/ Kavanaugh said that he "might have been too emotional" during his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, arguing that he will be an "independent, impartial judge" in an op-ed he wrote for the Wall Street Journal. (Wall Street Journal)

  • The American Bar Association is re-evaluating Kavanaugh's "well-qualified" rating. In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the ABA referred to "new information of a material nature regarding temperament" stemming from Kavanaugh's hearing. (Business Insider)

5/ Trump mocked former Senator Al Franken for folding "like a wet rag" and resigning following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct last year. (New York Times)


Notables.

  1. The unemployment rate fell to 3.7%, the lowest level since December 1969. The Labor Department reported 134,000 new jobs in September, down from 270,000 in August. (CNBC / Politico / New York Times)

  2. The U.S. trade deficit widened to 6.4% to a six-month high of $53.2 billion in August despite the White House slapping China with $200 billion worth of tariffs. (CNBC)

  3. The Trump administration plans to pay Mexico $20 million to deport migrants from their country in order to prevent them from reaching the U.S. (ABC News)

Day 623: Unfathomable.

1/ The White House is "fully confident" that Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed by the Senate after receiving the FBI report. The White House said it found no evidence in the FBI report corroborating Christine Blasey Ford's allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh. Mitch McConnell scheduled a procedural vote for Friday. If the motion passes, senators will have 30 hours to debate Kavanaugh's confirmation before making the final decision. (Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

  • More than 1,700 law professors signed onto a letter opposing Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court. The letter to the Senate says "the unprecedented and unfathomable demeanor of Judge Kavanaugh" during his hearing last week displayed a lack of judicial restraint and should disqualify him from serving on the nation's highest court. (Politico / Washington Post)

  • A group of 100,000 Christian churches called for Kavanaugh's nomination to be withdrawn, saying he "exhibited extreme partisan bias and disrespect towards certain members of the committee and thereby demonstrated that he possesses neither the temperament nor the character essential for a member of the highest court in our nation." The National Council of Churches represents 45 million churchgoers in the U.S. (Fortune)

  • Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens doesn't think Kavanaugh belongs on the Supreme Court, saying his performance during the Senate confirmation hearing suggests he lacks the temperament for the job. (Palm Beach Post)

  • A former Kavanaugh classmate at Yale said the Supreme Court nominee lied under oath about his drinking and the meaning of his yearbook entries. "Brett Kavanaugh stood up under oath and lied about his drinking and about the meaning of words in his yearbook," writes James Roche. "He did so baldly, without hesitation or reservation." Roche said there is "zero chance" that Deborah Ramirez made up her accusation that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party. He also said Kavanaugh lied about never blacking out from drinking, and about the definition of the word "boofing." (CNN)

2/ Sens. Susan Collins and Jeff Flake called the FBI report "reassuring" and "thorough," adding that they see "no additional corroborating information" to back up Ford's allegations. Democrats called the report "incomplete," saying the FBI – at the White House's direction – limited the investigation to protect Kavanaugh. The two Republican senators said they are still undecided about how to vote, but a "yes" vote from both would secure Kavanaugh's seat on the Supreme Court. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News)

  • 48 Senators publicly support Kavanaugh's nomination – all Republicans. There are three undecided Republicans – Collins, Flake, and Lisa Murkowski – and one undecided Democrat – Joe Manchin. Kavanaugh needs to pick up at least two of those four votes to advance. Heidi Heitkamp said she will vote "no" on Kavanaugh's nomination. (Politico / Reuters / CNN)

3/ There is a single copy of the FBI's findings available to Senators to review in a vault in the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. The report cannot leave the room, senators can't bring their phones into the SCIF, and if they take notes, the notes must be left in the room when they leave. All 100 senators, four majority committee staffers, four minority committee staffers, and one committee clerk are cleared to view the report. Sen. Dick Durbin called the process "bizarre," although it's a standard process for FBI background reports. This FBI report will likely never be made public. (CNN / MSNBC / Business Insider)

  • Sen. Robert Menendez called the FBI investigation a "bullshit investigation." The New Jersey senator added that "you don't get corroboration if you don't talk to corroborating witnesses at the end of the day, and obviously that didn't happen here." (NJ.com)

Notables.

  1. A federal judge blocked the Trump administration from ending Temporary Protective Status for more than 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. The judge ruled that those TPS recipients and their children would "indisputably" face "irreparable harm and great hardship" if they were to lose protected status. (Politico / New York Times / CNN / NBC News)

  2. Pence accused China of "meddling in America's democracy" because "China wants a different American President." Pence claimed that China is engaging in "a comprehensive and coordinated campaign to undermine support for the president" by using "covert actors, front groups, and propaganda outlets to shift Americans' perception of Chinese policies." (NBC News / Reuters / Politico)

  3. The U.S. Navy wants to put on a global show of force in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait to warn China that the U.S. is prepared to deter and counter their military actions. One official described it as "just an idea." (CNN)

  4. The Justice Department indicted seven Russian military intelligence officials for trying to hack anti-doping agencies in the U.S., Canada and Europe. The agencies exposed Russia's state-sponsored doping scheme that resulted in the country's athletes being banned from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil and the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. (New York Times / CNBC / CNN / Reuters)

  5. A Russian official linked to the lawyer who met senior Trump campaign officials at Trump Tower in 2016 died in a helicopter crash outside of Moscow. Russian Deputy Attorney General Saak Albertovich Karapetyan was linked to Natalia Veselnitskaya in a Swiss court case earlier this year for running a foreign recruitment operation that involved bribery, corruption, and double agents. It's unclear why Karapetyan and two others took off after nightfall in adverse conditions. (Daily Beast)

  6. Robert Mueller's team gained possession of radio interviews between Roger Stone and radio host Randy Credico, who Stone claimed was his back channel to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The radio interviews took place between August 2016 and April 2017 on local New York station WBAI. Credico has denied Stone's claim that he was the intermediary between Stone and Assange. Mueller is investigating Stone's possible involvement in Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. (CNN)

Day 622: Appalling.

1/ The FBI hasn't interviewed Brett Kavanaugh or Christine Blasey Ford because it doesn't have authority from the White House, despite Trump's comment Monday that "the FBI should interview anybody that they want, within reason." The White House has indicated to the FBI that testimony from Kavanaugh and Ford is sufficient. (Bloomberg)

  • Senate Democrats suggested that previous FBI background checks on Kavanaugh included evidence of inappropriate behavior. Eight of the 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee asked Sen. Chuck Grassley to correct his previous statement that "nowhere in any of these six FBI reports … was there ever a whiff of ANY issue … related in any way to inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse." The Democrats said the information is "not accurate." (Washington Post)

2/ The FBI is expected to wrap up its investigation into sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh today. Ford has not been interviewed by the FBI. Her attorneys have demanded that the FBI interview her and other witnesses to the alleged incidents. Agents completed a first batch of interviews of four individuals closest to the alleged events, including Mark Judge, and are now interviewing Tim Gaudette, a Georgetown Preparatory School classmate of Kavanaugh who lived in the home where the July 1 party marked on Kavanaugh's 1982 calendar was held. Another friend from Kavanaugh's high school days, Chris Garrett, has also completed an FBI interview. Mitch McConnell plans to vote later this week and has vowed that "only senators will be allowed to look at" the FBI's final report. (Politico / Washington Post)

  • McConnell rejected a request to have the FBI brief all senators on its report on sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, saying "I believe it would be used to further delay this nomination. Republican Senator John Kennedy called for McConnell to either make the FBI's report public or release an independent synopsis of its findings. (The Hill / Reuters)

  • If the FBI report reaches the Senate by Wednesday, McConnell will file cloture today on the Kavanaugh nomination. The cloture vote would happen on Friday and, if successful, a final vote on Kavanaugh could take place Saturday night at the earliest. (Politico)

3/ The FBI has not contacted at least 40 potential corroborators or character witnesses about the allegations made against Kavanaugh by Ford and Deborah Ramirez. Two sources, however, say more interviews are happening with a focus on Kavanaugh's high school friends who are listed as attending a July 1, 1982, party. (NBC News / CNN)

  • Kavanaugh wrote a letter to his Georgetown Prep friends in 1983 and recommended that one of them "warn the neighbors that we're loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us." Kavanaugh and his seven friends were staying in Ocean City, Maryland, for "Beach Week." (New York Times)

  • Two of Kavanaugh's former law school classmates are withdrawing their support for him because of "the nature" of his recent testimony. And, three of Kavanaugh's former clerks who previously supported him told the Senate Judiciary Committee they want to clarify that they are "deeply troubled" by the sexual assault allegations against him. (HuffPost)

  • Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee released an explicit statement about Julie Swetnick's sex life by Dennis Ketterer, who said he was involved in a relationship with Swetnick in 1993. Swetnick alleges that Kavanaugh was at a house party in 1982 where she was gang raped. In his statement, Ketterer said Swetnick told him that she enjoyed group sex and had first engaged in it during high school. Ketterer said the remark "derailed" their relationship. (Washington Post)

4/ At a Mississippi rally Trump repeatedly mocked Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, for not remembering certain details when she was questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee about the incident. "How did you get home?" Trump asked the crowd. "I don't remember. How'd you get there? I don't remember. Where is the place? I don't remember. How many years ago was it? I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. What neighborhood was it in? I don't know. Where's the house? I don't know. Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? I don't know." (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)

  • Jeff Flake called Trump's ridiculing of Ford "appalling," saying "there's no time and no place for remarks like that." Susan Collins added that "the president's comments were just plain wrong." (Washington Post / NBC News)

poll/ 41% of Americans oppose Kavanaugh's nomination, 33% support it, and 26% don't have an opinion. (Reuters)

poll/ 45% of Americans believe Ford is telling the truth compared to 33% who believe Kavanaugh. (NPR)

poll/ 56% of Republicans would still consider voting for a candidate accused of sexual harassment as long as they agreed with them on the issues. 81% of Democrats would "definitely not" vote for a candidate accused of sexual harassment. (NBC News)


Notables.

  1. The International Court of Justice ruled that sanctions against Iran by the U.S. violated the friendship treaty that was signed by both countries in 1955. The United Nations' highest court ordered the U.S. to ease sanctions on Iran and to not tamper with humanitarian aid efforts by using sanctions, which are due to increase significantly next month. (Politico)

  2. In response, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. would cancel the treaty. (New York Times)

  3. Two prosecutors with expertise in money laundering cases left Robert Mueller's team and returned to their previous positions. Mueller's team is now down to 13 staffers. (ABC News / Politico)

  4. Rod Rosenstein will meet with the House Judiciary and Oversight committees on October 11 for a joint panel about reports that he proposed to secretly record Trump early last year. (Politico)

  5. A man was arrested in Logan, Utah, as part of the investigation into envelopes filled with ricin that were sent to the Pentagon and Trump. (Salt Lake Tribune)

  6. The White House called the article by The New York Times on Trump's exploitive use of tax schemes and fraud during the 1990s a "misleading attack" on the president's family. Sarah Huckabee Sanders then touted Trump's economic accomplishments. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father, helped his parents dodge taxes by setting up a "sham corporation" to take improper tax deductions, and helped undervalue their real estate holdings. (Politico)

  7. New York City "is looking to recoup" any taxes that Trump should have paid for money he received from his father. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city and state would work together on an investigation. (Bloomberg)

  8. The EPA excluded its top science officials when it rewrote its rules about what kind of scientific studies could be used to protect public health. The proposed rule would allow the EPA to only consider studies where the underlying data is publicly available and can be reproduced by other researchers, which would exclude studies that include proprietary information or confidential information about patients participating in private-sector research. (Washington Post)

Day 621: Tired of winning.

1/ Trump inherited his family's wealth through fraud and questionable tax schemes, receiving the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father's real estate empire. Trump has repeatedly claimed that "I built what I build myself." Trump and his siblings used fake corporations to hide financial gifts from his parents, which helped his father claim millions in tax deductions. Trump also helped his parents undervalue their real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars when filing their tax returns. In total, Fred and Mary Trump transferred more than a $1 billion in wealth to their children and paid a total of $52.2 million in taxes (about 5%) instead of the $550+ million they should have owed under the 55% tax rate imposed on gifts and inheritances. Trump also "earned" $200,000 a year in today's dollars starting at age 3 from his father's companies. After college, Trump started receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year, which increased to $5 million a year when he was in his 40s and 50s. Trump has refused to release his income tax returns, breaking with decades of practice by past presidents. There is no time limit on civil fines for tax fraud. [Editor's note: This is a must read. An abstract summary does not suffice.] (New York Times)

  • 11 takeaways from the investigation into Trump's wealth. (New York Times)

  • A federal judge ruled that a group of nearly 200 Democratic senators and representatives have the legal standing to sue Trump to prove he violated the U.S. Constitution's emoluments clause by doing business with foreign governments while in office. (Washington Post / USA Today)

2/ The New York State Tax officials are investigating the allegations that Trump and his family committed "instances of outright fraud" in order to transfer millions of dollars. "The Tax Department is reviewing the allegations in the NYT article and is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation," a spokesman from New York State Department of Taxation and Finance said. (CNBC)

3/ Paul Manafort met with Robert Mueller's office as part of his cooperation agreement. Following his guilty plea last month to conspiracy against the U.S. and conspiring to obstruct justice, Manafort is required to cooperate "fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly … in any and all matters as to which the government deems the cooperation relevant." (Politico)

4/ The intermediary between Roger Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Senate Intelligence Committee that he will plead the Fifth Amendment in response to its subpoena for testimony and documents. Randy Credico spent more than two hours last month testifying before Robert Mueller's grand jury about stolen Democratic emails. Stone, a longtime Trump adviser, said Credico was his intermediary to Assange and WikiLeaks. (Politico)

5/ Trump directed an effort to prevent Stormy Daniels from publishing a description of her alleged sexual encounter with him. In February, Trump instructed his then-lawyer Michael Cohen to seek a restraining order against Daniels through a confidential arbitration proceeding and to coordinate the legal response with his son, Eric Trump. Direct involvement by Trump and his son suggests that Trump's ties to his company continued into 2018, contradicting public statements made at the time by the Trump Organization, the White House, and Michael Cohen. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ The Trump administration is denying visas to the unmarried same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and foreign staff working at the United Nations, making marriage a requirement for foreign couples to remain in the U.S. together. Diplomats with same-sex partners will have until the end of December to get married, or their partners will be sent home in January. Couples could be exposed to prosecution if they return to a country that criminalizes homosexuality or same-sex marriages. 12% of U.N. members states allow same-sex marriage. (Foreign Policy / USA Today / CNN / HuffPost)

poll/ 49% of voters support the Democratic candidate in their local race for the U.S. House of Representatives while 42% support the Republican candidate. Overall, 50% of voters want Democrats to control the U.S. Senate. 53% of Americans disapprove of the job Trump is doing. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ In the South, 48% of voters support the Republican congressional candidate over the Democratic candidate. 43% support the Democratic candidate. 52% of Southern voters approve the job Trump is doing, compared with 49% who disapprove. (NBC News)

bonus/ Trump: "THE ONLY REASON TO VOTE FOR A DEMOCRAT IS IF YOU'RE TIRED OF WINNING!" Trump issued the all-caps message shortly before departing for an event in Philadelphia. (The Hill)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The White House corrected the official transcript from Trump's press conference in the Rose Garden to include his insult of a female reporter. The transcript initially showed Trump telling Cecilia Vega that she wasn't "thanking" him for calling on her. In reality, Trump told Vega that she was "not thinking. You never do." (Politico / CNN)

  2. The EPA proposed relaxing radiation exposure guidelines, saying it could have a "positive effect on human health." (Associated Press)

  3. The Department of Homeland Security couldn't track separated families because a central database never existed., according to a report by the department's Office of Inspector General. Instead, "a manually-compiled spreadsheet" was maintained by Health and Human Services, Customs and Border Protection, and ICE personnel where they sent information about migrant children in emails as Microsoft Word attachments. (New York Times)

  4. The Pentagon received two pieces of mail that tested positive for ricin, a highly toxic compound that causes nausea, vomiting and internal bleeding of the stomach and intestines, followed by failure of the liver, spleen and kidneys, and death by collapse of the circulatory system. The two envelopes were addressed to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and to the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson. All mail delivered to the Pentagon was put into quarantine. (CNN)

  5. The U.S. accused Russia of developing a banned cruise missile system that could allow Russia to launch a nuclear strike capable of hitting Europe or Alaska. The U.S. ambassador to NATO said Washington is committed to a diplomatic solution but would consider a military strike if Russian continues development of the medium-range system. (Reuters)


👨‍⚖️ Dept. of Kavanaugh.

  1. Christine Blasey Ford's attorneys demanded that the FBI interview her and act on investigative leads they have provided for the inquiry into allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. The FBI has not returned calls from Ford's lawyers and she's not included in its current list of potential witnesses to interview. "It is inconceivable that the FBI could conduct a thorough investigation of Dr. Ford’s allegations without interviewing her, Judge Kavanaugh, or the witnesses we have identified in our letters to you," attorneys Debra Katz and Michael Bromwich wrote to FBI officals. (NBC News / Politico)

  2. Mitch McConnell: "We'll be voting this week." The Senate Majority Leader said "the time for endless delay and obstruction has come to a close." The FBI's investigation could be wrapped up as soon as Wednesday. (The Hill) / Wall Street Journal)

  3. Text messages between Brett Kavanaugh and a former classmate at Yale shows Kavanaugh and his team were working behind the scenes to refute Deborah Ramirez's allegations against him before they were made public. Kerry Berchem tried to get the text messages to the FBI so they can be reviewed as part of the new investigation, but has yet to be contacted by the FBI. The texts suggest that Kavanaugh was personally communicating with former classmates about the allegations before they were made public in a New Yorker article. (NBC News)

  4. Julie Swetnick, speaking publicly for the first time, said she was raped at a party that Kavanaugh and Mark Judge attended, but "cannot specifically say that he was one of the ones who assaulted me." Swetnick said Kavanaugh "was very aggressive — very sloppy drunk, very mean drunk. I saw him — go up to girls and paw on them, try to, you know, get a little too handsy, touching them in private parts. I saw him try to shift clothing." (NBC News)

  5. Republican Sen. Susan Collins called on the FBI to investigate Julie Swetnick's allegations against Kavanaugh as part of its probe. "Senator Collins was encouraged by the president's statements that he would give the FBI agents the latitude they need to do their work," said a spokesperson for Sen. Collins. "It makes sense to start with the four named witnesses from the hearing and then the FBI can follow any leads that it believes need to be pursued, as Senators Flake, Murkowski, and Collins indicated at the time this agreement was made." (Portland Press Herald)

  6. As an undergraduate at Yale in 1985, Kavanaugh was involved in an altercation at a local bar and was accused of throwing ice at another patron. The incident led the New Haven Police Department to question Kavanaugh and four other men. Kavanaugh was not arrested in connection with the incident. (New York Times)

  7. Two ethics complaints have been filed against Kavanaugh in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court on which he sits. One complaint charges that Kavanaugh's attacks on his accusers in written testimony submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 26 "demonstrate his lack of fitness to be a judge." The other complaint involves allegations made by Kavanaugh during his initial confirmation hearing. The complaints are being administered by Merrick Garland. (Law and Crime)

  8. Trump lamented that it's a "scary time for young men in America" while he was defended Kavanaugh. Trump told reporters that "it's a very scary situation where you're guilty until proven innocent." (The Hill / ABC News)

Day 620: A new dawn.

1/ The U.S., Mexico, and Canada reached a deal to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement, which will be known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Trump called the agreement "historic news," "an extraordinary agreement," and "a new dawn," claiming that it "solves the many deficiencies and mistakes in NAFTA" and that it's "the most important" trade deal ever agreed to by the U.S. The new trade deal leaves much of the old NAFTA deal intact. Congressional approval, however, is uncertain if Democrats retake control of the House since Congress won't vote to ratify the agreement until 2019. The deal was reached with Canada shortly before a midnight Sunday deadline imposed by the Trump administration. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / Politico / BBC)

2/ Trump said he supports a "very comprehensive" but "quick" FBI investigation into the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh as long as it's "within reason," because "we don't want to go on a witch hunt, do we?" Trump, the White House, and Senate Republicans initially asked the bureau to limit interviews to four people: Mark Judge and P.J. Smyth, high school friends of Kavanaugh's; Leland Keyser, a high school friend of Christine Blasey Ford; and Deborah Ramirez, another of the accusers. The White House, however, has reportedly authorized the FBI to expand its investigation, which Trump wants completed by the end of the week. In a letter to the White House and FBI, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee listed more than two dozen people they wanted interviewed as part of the investigation. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / The Guardian)

3/ Sens. Jeff Flake and Chris Coons said that if the FBI investigation finds Kavanaugh lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee then his nomination would likely not move forward. During an interview, Flake and Coons were asked, "If Kavanaugh is shown to have lied to the committee, nomination's over?" Flake responded, "Oh yes." Coons added: "I would think so." (CNN / Washington Post)

  • One of Kavanaugh's Yale classmates issued a statement saying the Supreme Court nominee was not truthful about his drinking during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Chad Ludington claimed Kavanaugh made a "blatant mischaracterization" about his drinking while in college. (CNN / New York Times)

4/ Trump called the FBI investigation a "blessing in disguise," because "the FBI has a chance reveal a lot of different things," including who leaked the papers. Trump suggested it was Sen. Dianne Feinstein "because certainly her body language was not exactly very good when they asked her that question." The reporter at The Intercept who first broke the story about Ford's allegations tweeted: "Feinstein's staff did not leak the letter to The Intercept." (NBC News / Axios)

poll/ 48% of American voters say Kavanaugh should not be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, while 42% say he should be confirmed. 48% of voters believe Ford while 41% believe Kavanaugh. (Quinnipiac)


Notables.

  1. Hundreds of migrant children were moved from shelters in various states into a tent city in West Texas. The children were loaded onto buses in the middle of the night and moved from private shelters or foster homes to a camp in Tornillo, Texas. (New York Times)

  2. Devin Nunes' family dairy farm in California was actually secretly relocated to Iowa more than a decade ago and relies heavily on the work of undocumented immigrants. Nunes is the head of the House Intelligence Committee. (Esquire)

  3. Secretary of Defense James Mattis canceled his trip to China for an annual security meeting after China refused a request by an American warship to make a port visit to Hong Kong in October. (CNBC / New York Times)

  4. Trump to a female reporter: "You're not thinking. You never do." He then refused to let Cecilia Vega, ABC News, ask a question about the FBI investigation into Kavanaugh. During the press conference, Trump claimed the news media has treated him "unbelievably unfairly," saying "they're worse now than ever. They're loco." (Washington Post / Politico)

Day 617: Aggressive and belligerent.

1/ The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-10 to approve the Kavanaugh nomination, sending it to the full Senate for consideration. Jeff Flake asked that the full Senate "delay the floor vote […] in order to let the FBI continue to do an investigation," suggesting that he would not vote for Kavanaugh on the Senate floor without an investigation. He suggested that there were other Republicans who felt the same. Chairman Chuck Grassley abruptly adjourned the committee citing the "two-hour rule" despite confusion by senators about what they had voted for, including Dianne Feinstein, who asked: "What?" (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)

  • Dianne Feinstein described Kavanaugh's testimony as "aggressive and belligerent," adding that she's "never seen a nominee for any position behave in that manner." (CNBC)

  • Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee plan to investigate Kavanaugh if they retake the House majority in November. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) would become chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, which has the authority to subpoena witnesses and documents related to Kavanaugh. (HuffPost)

  • Leaked emails show a Republican aide declined to take phone calls from Deborah Ramirez and her legal team, who alleges that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a party in college. Republicans on the Judiciary Committee claimed that they had "made eight requests" for evidence from Ramirez only to be "stonewalled" by her attorneys. Mike Davis, the senior Republican committee staffer, demanded that Ramirez produce evidence in written form before any conversation about her testifying would be allowed to proceed. (New Yorker)

2/ Trump agreed to order the FBI to investigate the allegations against Kavanaugh. "I've ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh's file," Trump said in a statement released by Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week." (CNN / Reuters / Axios)

3/ Mark Judge said he will cooperate with an FBI investigation. Judge is Kavanaugh's high school friend, who Ford alleges was in the room during the assault. Judge previously told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he didn't want to testify in public. (Associated Press)

4/ The Senate will take a procedural vote on Saturday to keep the nomination on track pending the outcome of the investigation. (Washington Post)


🔥 Earlier Today.

  1. Trump told senators "to do what they think is right" regarding Kavanaugh's Senate confirmation vote. "I'm going to let them handle that." He added that he is "totally reliant" on Senate leaders to determine whether or not to have the FBI investigate the allegations against Kavanaugh. "I don't know if this is going to continue onward or if we're going to get a vote." He called Christine Blasey Ford a "compelling" and "very credible witness." (Daily Beast / BuzzFeed News / Axios / CBS Philly / CNBC)

  2. Senate Republican leaders agreed to delay Kavanaugh's confirmation vote one week to allow for a "supplemental" FBI background investigation into sexual assault allegations. Mitch McConnell formally asked the White House to instruct the FBI to do a supplemental background check. Trump is the only person who can direct the FBI to do the additional background investigation of Kavanaugh. (Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / NBC News)

  3. Lisa Murkowski said she supported Flake's call for a delay and an FBI investigation. Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate, making it difficult for Mitch McConnell to push ahead with two defecting Republican senators. (Washington Post / Politico / Talking Points Memo)

  4. The American Bar Association called on the Senate to postpone a vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation until the FBI can complete an investigation into Ford's allegations of sexual assault. "The basic principles that underscore the Senate's constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI," the ABA wrote in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The ABA previously gave Kavanaugh its highest rating of unanimously "well-qualified" for the Supreme Court. (CNN / CBS News / New York Times / Washington Post)

  5. The Jesuit Review rescinded its endorsement of Kavanaugh and called for his nomination to be withdrawn, stating that it "is no longer in the best interests of the country." Kavanaugh repeatedly referenced the Jesuit education he received at Georgetown Prep in yesterday's hearings. (America: The Jesuit Review of Faith and Culture)

  6. The dean of Yale Law School called on the Senate to postpone Kavanaugh's confirmation vote until the allegations against him can be investigated. In a statement, Dean Heather Gerken said: "I join the American Bar Association in calling for additional investigation" and that "proceeding with the confirmation process without further investigation is not in the best interest of the Court or our profession." Yale Law School is Kavanaugh's alma mater. (BuzzFeed News)

  7. Senators Joe Donnelly and Jon Tester, two red-state Democrats, said they would vote against Kavanaugh's Senate confirmation. Donnelly, Joe Manchin, and Heidi Heitkamp were the three Democrats to support Neil Gorsuch's confirmation. Heitkamp's stance on Kavanaugh remains unclear. (Washington Post / CNN/ Reuters)

  8. The White House can't say "for certain" that they have enough Senate votes to confirm Kavanaugh. "We're getting there," Raj Shah said. Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, as well as Democrat Joe Manchin, have not yet said how they will vote on the Supreme Court nominee's confirmation. (Politico)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump signed an $854 billion spending bill to keep the federal government open through Dec. 7, averting a government shutdown before the November midterm elections. (Associated Press)

  2. Election machines used in more than half of U.S. states are vulnerable to a cyberattack, which was disclosed more than a decade ago. A company spokeswoman said it stopped manufacturing the systems in 2008. (Wall Street Journal)

  3. The House voted to permanently extend the tax cuts for individuals and unincorporated businesses from Trump's 2017 tax law. The legislation passed on a vote of 220-191. Three Democrats voted for the legislation and ten Republicans voted against it. (The Hill / Politico)

  4. A Trump Victory Committee donor claimed to be "actively involved" in the presidential campaign and offered to brief a high-ranking Russian official in the final months of the campaign. A series of emails reveal that Simon Kukes, a Russian-born American businessman, requested a face-to-face meeting with Vyacheslav Pavlovsky, vice president of the state-owned Russian Railways. (NBC News)

  5. The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena for former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe's memos, as well as "all documents supporting" claims the FBI made in its application to conduct surveillance on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. (Washington Post)

  6. A cooperating witness in Robert Mueller's probe said he "lives in a constant state of fear" after providing testimony that led to Russian nationals being indicted. Richard Pinedo pleaded guilty to charges of identity fraud in February for his role in unwittingly selling bank accounts to Russians. (ABC News)

  7. The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the transcripts of interviews it conducted as part of its Russia investigation. The 53 transcripts could be released as soon as next week, provided the intelligence community doesn't take issue with releasing the information. (Washington Post / Reuters)

  8. Farmers said aid from the Trump administration won't cover the lost sales due to tariffs. U.S. farm income is expected to drop 13% this year, to $66 billion, despite the USDA saying it would pay farmers nearly $5 billion to offset losses from global trade disputes. (Wall Street Journal)

  9. The EPA will combine the Office of the Science Advisor with the agency's research office in order to "reduce redundancies." (CNN)

  10. The Trump administration predicts the earth's temperature will rise by 7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. Instead of using the analysis to fight climate change, the administration argued that the fate of the planet is already sealed. (Washington Post)

Day 616: "I am terrified."

1/ Christine Blasey Ford testified that she is "100%" certain that Brett Kavanaugh was her attacker, and that she believed he "was going to rape me" and "was going to accidentally kill me." Ford began her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by telling senators: "I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified." (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

  • Ford's testimony in one sentence: Ford broke her silence after 36 years; described how she was "100%" sure that it was Kavanaugh and Mark Judge who locked her in a bedroom before Kavanaugh "got on top" of her; called it her "civic duty" to come forward despite feeling "terrified"; and described the "uproarious laughter" that Kavanaugh and Judge had at her expense.

  • READ: Christine Blasey Ford's opening statement (NPR)

  • 🔥 LIVE BLOGS: Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / New York Times / NBC News / ABC News

2/ In a fiery 45-minute opening statement to the committee, Kavanaugh called the confirmation process "a national disgrace" and said that the sexual assault allegations against him are part of "a calculated and orchestrated political hit." Kavanaugh claimed that his family and his "name have been totally and permanently destroyed" by this process, but he "will not be intimidated into withdrawing." Kavanaugh said he prepared his remarks himself. (Politico / Washington Post)

  • Kavanaugh's testimony in one sentence: Kavanaugh was combative with Democrats, refused to answer questions directly; claimed he'd "do whatever the committee wants" regarding an FBI investigation, but rolled his eyes and stayed quiet for a long time when asked if an investigation was a good idea; denied ever blacking out from drinking; denied every being alone in a room with Ford and his friend Mark Judge; and called Swetnick's allegations "a joke" and "a farce."

  • READ: Brett Kavanaugh's prepared remarks (CNN)

3/ Trump called the accusations against Kavanaugh "all false," but that he could "always be convinced" and "could be persuaded" otherwise" because "it's possible [Ford's testimony] will be convincing." Some Republicans are hoping the White House pulls Kavanaugh's nomination, calling today a "total disaster." Trump, however, said he would only withdraw Kavanaugh's nomination "if I thought he was guilty of something" and that the "false" allegations of sexual misconduct against him "impact my opinion" of Kavanaugh. Trump was reportedly "riveted" watching Kavanaugh's opening statement, telling people in his inner circle,"this is why I nominated him." (NPR / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico / Washington Post)

4/ Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee interviewed two men who claim they, not Brett Kavanaugh, were the ones who assaulted Ford. The two suggested that Ford's allegations against Kavanaugh may have been a case of mistaken identity – a conspiracy floated last week by conservative legal commentator Ed Whelan, a longtime friend of Kavanaugh's. Neither man intends to come forward publicly. (Washington Post / The Hill / NY Post / BuzzFeed News)

5/ Sen. Susan Collins questioned why the Senate Judiciary Committee has not subpoenaed Mark Judge, a close friend of Kavanaugh's and an alleged witness to the incidents described by Ford and Julie Swetnick. The Republican senator told colleagues in a private meeting that she was troubled by the latest accusations by Swetnick, who said that she witnessed Kavanaugh and Judge try to get teenage girls "inebriated and disoriented so they could then be 'gang raped.'" Collins is a key swing vote and joins GOP Senators Jeff Flake and Lisa Murkowski, who have expressed reservations about Kavanaugh's nomination. Kavanaugh can't lose more than one GOP senator if all Democrats vote against his nomination. (CNN / New York Times)

  • Mark Judge's book validates Ford's timeline of the alleged assault by Kavanaugh. "I did see Mark Judge once at the Potomac Village Safeway after the time of the attack," Ford testified, adding that if she knew when Judge worked there she could provide more information about when the attack occurred. In Judge's book, he described working at a grocery store the summer before senior year for a few weeks. He mentions someone named "Bart O'Kavanaugh," who vomited in a car after a party. Ford said she saw Judge at Safeway "six to eight weeks" after the alleged assault. (Washington Post)

6/ An anonymous fourth accuser alleged that Brett Kavanaugh physically assaulted a woman in the D.C. area in 1998 while he was drunk. The sender of the anonymous letter described an incident between her daughter, Kavanaugh, and several friends in which "they were all shocked when Brett Kavanaugh, shoved her friend up against the wall very aggressively and sexually" as they were leaving a bar. The author of the letter said there were "at least four witnesses including my daughter." (NBC News)

7/ Four Republican governors called for the Senate to delay the Kavanaugh vote and take its time to examine the sexual assault allegations against the nominee. The four are Larry Hogan of Maryland, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, John Kasich of Ohio, and Phil Scott of Vermont. (Politico)


Notables.

  1. The House Intelligence Committee will vote on Friday to release dozens of interview transcripts from its now-defunct Russia investigation. The transcripts are from interviews that were conducted between June 2017 and March 2018, and will include testimony from Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks, Roger Stone, and other people who have been close to Trump. The committee is expected to refer the transcripts to the intelligence community for assessment and redaction, which could lead to a rolling release schedule that continues through October. Republicans have called for the documents to be released before the November election. (Politico / Reuters)

  2. Trump postponed his meeting with Rod Rosenstein this week in order to not distract from the Kavanaugh congressional hearings. Trump and Rosenstein will meet next week meeting to discuss the deputy attorney general's future at the Justice Department. (CNBC / New York Times)

  3. House Democrats are preparing to force a vote on a plan to Robert Mueller's investigation from interference by Trump. The proposal would force Republicans to go on the record and decide whether to consider the Mueller-protection proposal or sideline it. (Politico)

  4. Trump claimed that he declined a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of a self-imposed Oct. 1 deadline to strike a new NAFTA deal between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Canada's government said it never requested a meeting. (CNBC)

  5. Trump held a solo press conference on Wednesday, his fourth since taking office. During the rambling 81-minute news event, Trump discussed everything from his plans for Rod Rosenstein, to trade relations between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, to the allegations against Kavanaugh, which he called a "big, fat con job," and more. (Washington Post / New York Times / Mother Jones)

Day 615: "A total low-life."

1/ In a sworn declaration, a third accuser said that between 1981 and 1983 she witnessed efforts by Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge to get girls "inebriated and disorientated" so they could be "gang raped" in side rooms at house parties by a "train" of boys who were lined up and waiting for their "turn" inside the room. Julie Swetnick swore that Kavanaugh and Judge would "'spike' the 'punch' at house parties" with "drugs and/or grain alcohol," and that she witnessed Kavanaugh "being overly aggressive with girls," not taking "No" for an answer, and being "verbally abusive towards girls by making crude sexual comments" intended to demean them. In her declaration, Swetnick describes an incident in 1982 in which she alleges she was the victim of a "gang rape" Kavanaugh was present for. "During the incident, I was incapacitated without my consent and unable to fight off the boys raping me," Swetnick says. "I believe I was drugged using Quaaludes or something similar placed in what I was drinking." Kavanaugh's first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, said Judge was present when Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulted her 36 years ago. All 10 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee called for Trump to "immediately withdraw the nomination or order an FBI investigation into all the allegations." (New York Times / CNBC / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Yahoo News / ABC News)

  • Read the sworn declaration by Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick: "In approximately 1982, I became the victim of one of those "gang" or "train" rapes where Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present." (NBC News)

2/ Kavanaugh dismissed Swetnick's allegations as "ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone," claiming he is the victim of "grotesque and obvious character assassination." "I don't know who this is and this never happened," Kavanaugh said. In prepared testimony ahead of Thursday's Senate hearing, Kavanaugh admits that he was "not perfect" in high school and "in retrospect, I said and did things in high school that make me cringe now." Kavanaugh denied Ford's allegation "immediately, unequivocally, and categorically." (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico)

  • Full transcript: Brett Kavanaugh's opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Politico)

3/ Trump attacked Michael Avenatti as a "third rate lawyer" who is "making false accusations" because he's "looking for attention." Avenatti also represents Stormy Daniels, who was paid by Trump's personal attorney to remain quiet about an affair she allegedly had with Trump a decade ago. Trump capped off the tweet by calling Avenatti "a total low-life!" Avenatti responded by calling Trump a "habitual liar and complete narcissist" and a "disgrace as a president." (The Hill)

4/ Kavanaugh's second accuser is willing to testify publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee, her attorney said. Deborah Ramirez's lawyer expressed concern about her testifying before the FBI is able to conduct an investigation into her claims, saying "we can't even talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee about what that would look like" because "they certainly haven't invited her" to testify. Senate Republicans blew off a scheduled phone call yesterday to discuss Ramirez's claims that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were in college. (Axios / The Hill / CNN / Good Morning America)

5/ Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee selected Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to question Kavanaugh and Ford. Mitchell is chief of the special victims division of the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, where she has worked for 26 years. Dr. Ford will testify under oath on Thursday, and Kavanaugh will testify separately later in the day. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Senate Democrats have had no contact with Christine Blasey Ford ahead of her Senate Judiciary Committee testimony on Thursday. Ford's attorneys have been in contact with aides from both parties, but there has been no coordination between Ford's camp and Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee. (Politico)

  • Ford's attorneys have sworn and signed declarations from four people she told about her claims of sexual assault by Kavanaugh dating back to 2012. The documents were sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee. (USA Today)

  • Jeff Flake said he does not believe that Kavanaugh is a "serial sexual predator," but called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to have an open mind because both Kavanaugh and Ford are "human beings." (USA Today / Politico)

6/ A Democratic senator is seeking an injunction to stop a full Senate vote on Kavanaugh's nomination, citing "unprecedented obstruction of the Senate's advice and consent obligation" by the White House and Mitch McConnell. Jeff Merkley argued the handling of Kavanaugh's nomination is "an assault on the separation of powers" and violates the Constitution because the White House has interfered with the Senate's responsibility by blocking access to documents and labeling some "committee confidential." Merkley's filing is unlikely to succeed in stopping the vote. (Politico / The Hill)

  • Chuck Grassley has scheduled a committee vote on the nomination for Friday and Mitch McConnell is planning to keep the Senate in session this weekend so he can begin the process of bringing Kavanaugh's nomination up for a final vote early next week. Senate Democrats accused Grassley and McConnell of pre-judging Ford's testimony before they heard it. (Politico)

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein accused Kavanaugh of misleading the Senate about his handling of grand jury secrets during his time working for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr in the late nineties. Feinstein charges that by directing officials to speak to reporters during the Bill Clinton investigation, Kavanaugh may have violated grand jury secrecy laws, even though he told Sens. Feinstein and Whitehouse during his testimony earlier this month that he never broke those rules. (Politico / The Hill)

poll/ 59% of Americans oppose Kavanaugh's confirmation if Ford's claims are true, while 29% said they would support his confirmation either way. Among Democratic men, 54% believe Ford. 57% of Republican women believe Kavanaugh. (NPR / Marist / PBS NewsHour)

poll/ 49% of Americans ages 15-34 say they are anxious about the midterm elections, 36% say they feel helpless, and 24% say they are proud. Overall, 64% of young Americans say they're interested in the upcoming elections. (Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research)


Notables

  1. Trump told advisers he is open to keeping Rod Rosenstein as deputy attorney general and that he wants to hear directly from Rosenstein about reports that he discussed secretly recording the president and recruiting cabinet members to remove him from office. (Wall Street Journal)

  2. Rudy Giuliani posed for pictures with a Canadian white nationalist mayoral candidate. Faith Goldy is a far-right YouTuber running for mayor in Toronto. She posted photos with Giuliani to her Instagram on Tuesday and tweeted about the encounter: "Just like Giuliani cleaned up the streets of NYC, our tough on crime playbook is going to run illegal guns & gangs right out of Toronto!" (Daily Beast)

  3. Former national security adviser H. R. McMaster called it "wholly appropriate" for Gary Cohn to remove documents from Trump's desk. Cohn removed a letter from Trump's desk that would have pulled the U.S. out of a trade agreement with South Korea. (Washington Examiner)

  4. The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency spent $150,000 on government vehicles for personal use to travel to his home in North Carolina and drive him and his family around Hawaii. Kirstjen Nielsen ordered Brock Long to repay the government "as appropriate." (Wall Street Journal)

  5. Sen. Orrin Hatch weighed in on a Supreme Court case that could prevent state and federal courts from prosecuting someone for the same crime. Hatch filed a brief on Sept. 11 in which he says the doctrine should be overturned. Overturning the dual-sovereignty doctrine established in Gamble v. United States would theoretically allow Trump to pardon people like Manafort for his federal crimes and simultaneously protect him from actions at the state level. (The Atlantic)

  6. The EPA placed the head of the Office of Children's Health Protection on administrative leave. The children's health office is tasked with regulations and programs that account for the vulnerabilities of children, babies and fetuses. An EPA spokesman declined to give a reason for the action. (New York Times)

  7. Trump backed down from his threat to shut down the government if Congress didn't appropriate money for his border wall, saying "we're going to keep the government open." Trump previously called the bipartisan spending bill "ridiculous." (Washington Post)

  8. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he's hearing a "rising chorus of concerns" from businesses about Trump's trade war with China. On Monday, Trump's 10% tariffs on about $200 billion of imports from China took effect. In retaliation, China instituted tariffs on U.S. goods worth $60 billion. (CNBC)

  9. Trump accused China of interfering in the midterm elections, telling the United Nations Security Council that "they do not want me or us to win, because I am the first president to ever challenge China on trade." (New York Times)

Note: My browser crashed before I could save my last WTFJHT update. I'm not even sure what I lost. So instead of pulling my hair out, we're just going to end here. For the latest, visit Current Status.


🗳 Register to Vote. Yesterday was National Voter Registration Day and thanks to Trump's helpful tweet "REMEMBER THE MIDTERMS!", here's your WTF reminder to register to vote today.

  1. If you're not sure if you're registered, check your registration status on vote.org.

  2. If you haven't registered, use vote.org, TurboVote, or pick up a registration form at your local post office or library.

Day 614: But that's okay.

1/ Brett Kavanaugh's high school yearbook page lists him as the treasurer of the "100 Kegs or Bust' club" and a "Renate Alumnius" – a reference to Renate Schroeder, then a student at a nearby Catholic girls' school. "Renate" appears at least 14 times in Georgetown Preparatory School's 1983 yearbook, including on individuals' pages and in a group photo of nine football players. Two of Kavanaugh's classmates say the Renate mentions were football players' boasting about their supposed sexual conquests with girls. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

2/ Kavanaugh claimed he "never sexually assaulted anyone" in high school because he was a virgin at the time and "did not have sexual intercourse, or anything close to sexual intercourse, in high school or many years thereafter." Kavanaugh appeared on Fox News with his wife at his side to fight the "smears" against him and declare: "I'm not going anywhere." (New York Times / ABC News / USA Today / NBC News / Washington Post)

3/ Trump accused Democrats of playing "a con game" and using "false acquisitions" to derail Kavanaugh's nomination. Trump also dismissed the allegation of Deborah Ramirez – the second woman to accuse Kavanaugh of wrongdoing – saying "she was totally inebriated" and "all messed up" when Kavanaugh allegedly exposed himself at a dorm party and "thrust his penis in her face and caused her to touch it." Trump later deleted his misspelled tweet and corrected himself to say Democrats are using "an array of False Accusations the likes of which have never been seen before." Trump called Kavanaugh "a wonderful man," and urged voters to "REMEMBER THE MIDTERMS!" (Politico / New York Times / CNBC / CNN)

4/ A third woman is expected to publicly accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in the next 48 hours, according to Michael Avenatti, the woman's attorney. Avenatti is currently representing multiple clients and "at least one" is prepared to come forward "relating to what she witnessed and experienced concerning Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge, and ultimately we're going to let the American public decide who's telling the truth." (The Guardian / CNN)

  • Lisa Murkowski: "It's not about whether or not Judge Kavanaugh is qualified. It is about whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed." Murkowski is a key Republican swing vote and one of two Republican women in the Senate who supports abortion rights. (New York Times)

5/ The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court at 9:30 a.m. on Friday. Senate Republicans have also hired a female attorney to question Christine Blasey Ford at Thursday's hearing on a sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh, but are declining to release her name. (Politico)

6/ Trump bragged that his "administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country" at the United Nations General Assembly – world leaders laughed at him. "I didn't expect that reaction," Trump continued, acknowledging the laughter, "but that's okay." (Politico / ABC News / Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. Ted Cruz was heckled out of a restaurant in D.C. by protesters. A video posted to Twitter shows activists chanting "We believe survivors!" and demanding to know Cruz's stance on Kavanaugh's confirmation. Cruz told the crowd: "God bless you." (Daily Beast / CNN)

  2. Ted Cruz was spotted looking at a photo of Rep. Beto O'Rourke, his Democratic opponent in the race for a U.S. Senate seat. O'Rourke is within four percentage points of Cruz. (Politico / Vice News)

  3. A Justice Department spokesperson drafted a statement in the voice of Jeff Sessions to announce Rosenstein's departure as Deputy Attorney General. The statement does not include the word "resignation." Part of the statement reads: "Rod Rosenstein has served the Department of Justice with dedication and skill for 28 years. His contributions are many and significant. We all appreciate his service and wish him well." The White House received the statement yesterday. (Axios)

  4. The White House's deputy press secretary plans to leave after Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings. Raj Shah has been leading the communications efforts in support of the confirmation process since Kavanaugh's nomination in July. (Yahoo News)

  5. Mike Pence spoke at a conference hosted by a group designated as an "anti-LGBT hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He is the first vice president to address the Values Voter Summit, and last year Trump became the first sitting president to do so. (NBC News)

Day 613: Lingering stench.

1/ A second woman publicly accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were both freshmen at Yale during the 1983-84 academic school year. Deborah Ramirez said Kavanaugh exposed himself and shoved his penis in her face without her consent at a dorm party. Kavanaugh's roommate at the time said he "cannot imagine [Ramirez] making this up" and that Kavanaugh was "frequently, incoherently drunk." After learning of Ramirez's allegation last week, Senate Republicans called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to accelerate its confirmation vote. (New Yorker)

  • Michael Avenatti tweeted that he represents "a woman with credible information" about Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge, who Christine Blasey Ford alleges was in the room at the time of Kavanaugh's alleged assault. Avenatti said he has "significant evidence" that Kavanaugh and Judge "would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs." (Axios / Politico)

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to delay the Kavanaugh nomination. In her letter, Feinstein asked "that the newest allegations of sexual misconduct be referred to the FBI for investigation, and that you join our request for the White House to direct the FBI to investigate the allegations of Ford as well as these new claims." (Washington Post)

2/ Kavanaugh and the White House denied Ramirez's allegation, calling it "a smear, plain and simple." Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he "will not be intimidated into withdrawing" his nomination because of "false and uncorroborated" allegations against him. Ford told lawmakers that "fear will not hold me back from testifying" against Kavanaugh. Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to declare that the Senate will move forward with a vote on Kavanaugh's nomination, accusing Democrats of running "a smear campaign" to derail the confirmation. (CNN / ABC News / Politico / Reuters / New York Times)

3/ Christine Blasey Ford agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Blasey will appear Thursday before a committee of 21 senators for questioning, but no decision has been reached about whether Republicans would use staff attorneys to question Ford about her claim. All the Republicans on the panel are men. (New York Times / Politico)

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham: Ford's testimony won't change my vote. Graham said he wasn't prepared to "ruin this guy's life based on an accusation." (Politico)

  • Kavanaugh will turn over calendars from the summer of 1982 to the Senate Judiciary Committee that don't list a party matching Christine Blasey Ford's account. Kavanaugh's team acknowledged that he could have attended a party he did not list. (New York Times)

4/ Trump called the allegations against Kavanaugh "totally political" and said he believes Kavanaugh "all the way." Trump defended his nominee as "a fine man, with an unblemished past," despite at least two women accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault. (Politico / CNN / ABC News)

  • Mitch McConnell called Trump on Friday to say his tweets about Kavanaugh weren't helpful. Trump said that if Ford's attack "was as bad as she says," then she would have filed charges immediately. (CNN)

  • Ben Carson claimed that socialists plotting to take over America are responsible for the recent allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh. The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development said the allegations "make perfectly good sense" because "going all the way back to the Fabians" there have been "people who've wanted to fundamentally change this country." Now that they see their chance to control the courts slipping away, they "are like wet hornets, just completely lost control off the deep end." The Fabian Society, a British socialist organization, was founded in the 19th century. It is no longer has an active chapter in the U.S. (CNBC)

5/ Rod Rosenstein did not resign, but "offered to resign" in discussions with John Kelly. Rosenstein and Trump will meet on Thursday to discuss the deputy attorney general's future at the Justice Department. Rosenstein went to the White House this morning for a meeting where he "expect[ed] to be fired." The news follows reports that Rosenstein discussed the idea of wearing a wire last year to secretly record Trump in order to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the President from office. Rosenstein has been overseeing Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with those efforts. Noel Francisco, the solicitor general, would take on oversight of Mueller's investigation and could fire or limit the investigation. (Axios / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

  • On Friday, Trump promised to get rid of the "lingering stench" at the Justice Department and FBI following reports that Rod Rosenstein discussed secretly recording Trump last year. "You've seen what happened in the FBI and the Department of Justice. The bad ones, they're all gone. They're all gone," Trump said at a political rally in Missouri. "But there is a lingering stench and we're going to get rid of that, too." Trump did not explicitly mention Rosenstein in his comments. (Associated Press)

  • Trump wanted to fire Rosenstein in order to take Brett Kavanaugh out of the news cycle, according to a source familiar with Trump's thinking. "The strategy was to try and do something really big." Trump's allies, meanwhile, have been urging him to pull Kavanaugh's nomination in order to save Republicans' electoral chances in the midterms. (Vanity Fair)

poll/ 52% of voters prefer that Democrats control Congress following the midterm elections, 40% want Republicans to control Congress, and 8% are not sure. (NBC News)


Notables.

  1. Rob Goldstone said he believes the Trump Tower meeting could have been a set-up by Russian intelligence. Goldstone said Trump Jr. was willing to accept "opposition research" he believed was coming from the Russian government. (NBC News)

  2. Roger Stone attempted to contact WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange following the Democratic National Committee email leaks. Stone emailed Jerome Corsi nine days after the first batch of emails were published to suggest that Ted "Malloch should see Assange." Malloch is a London-based conservative author. (ABC News)

  3. The White House is considering an executive order instructing federal antitrust and law enforcement agencies to open probes into Google, Facebook, and other social media companies. Trump has complained that "Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices." (Bloomberg)

  4. A new Trump administration rule would make it more difficult for immigrants to obtain green cards if they legally use public benefits, like food stamps or Medicaid. Millions of immigrants who rely on public assistance for food and shelter could be forced to choose between accepting financial help or obtaining a green card to legally live and work in the U.S. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)

Day 610: As bad as she says.

1/ Trump questioned Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's credibility and contended that if the alleged attack "was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed," adding: "Why didn't someone call the FBI 36 years ago?" Trump also challenged Dr. Ford to produce law enforcement reports "so that we can learn date, time, and place!" of the attack. Trump added Brett Kavanaugh is "a fine man, with an impeccable reputation, who is under assault by radical left wing politicians." (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • Susan Collins said she was "appalled" by Trump's tweets criticizing Dr. Ford for not coming forward sooner with her allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. The Maine senator is a key swing vote in the larger Senate vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. (Press Herald)

  • White House officials: "You have no idea" how hard it's been to keep Trump from attacking Dr. Ford. A few hours before Trump's tweets, a White House official said: "Hopefully he can keep it together until Monday. That's only, like, another 48 hours right?" (Axios)

2/ The Senate Judiciary Committee agreed to meet some but not all of Dr. Ford's conditions in order for her to testify next week about her allegation of sexual assault in the 1980s by Brett Kavanaugh. Republicans have not agreed with Ford's lawyers that she should only be questioned by lawmakers – not an outside counsel – at Wednesday's proposed hearing. (Politico / USA Today / CNN)

  • Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's attorney says her appearance at a hearing on Monday is "not possible" but she could testify later in the week. Ford's lawyer sent a request to top Senate Judiciary Committee staffers asking to set up a call with them to "discuss the conditions under which [Ford] would be prepared to testify next week." Ford has been receiving death threats and has been forced to move out of her home. "She wishes to testify," her attorney wrote to the committee, "provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety. A hearing on Monday is not possible and the committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event." Kavanaugh also sent a letter to the committee, saying that he will attend the hearing on Monday "so that I can clear my name." (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times)

  • Sen. Diane Feinstein's office has received threats of bodily and sexual harm against her and her staff as a result of her involvement submitting the allegations against Kavanaugh to the FBI. Some of the threats name specific employees. Feinstein is the second woman senator, after Sen. Susan Collins, whose office has reported receiving such threats. "My office has received some pretty ugly voicemails, threats, terrible things said to my staff," Collins said on Wednesday. (McClatchy DC)

3/ Mitch McConnell predicts that "in the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the U.S. Supreme Court" despite Ford not yet testifying. The Senate Majority Leader said "We're going to plow right through it and do our job." (Washington Post / ABC News / CNN)

4/ Rod Rosenstein raised the idea of wearing a wire last year to secretly record Trump in the White House and expose the chaos in the administration, according to memos written by Andrew McCabe, then the acting FBI director. Rosenstein also discussed recruiting Jeff Sessions and John Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security, to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office. Rosenstein called the report "inaccurate and factually incorrect," adding: "Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment." At least one person who was present for the discussions said Rosenstein was joking. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

5/ Trump reversed his demand to immediately declassify documents related to the Russia investigation, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court application to wiretap Carter Page. Less than a week later, Trump tweeted that the Justice Department inspector general would instead review the documents, adding that he "can always declassify if it proves necessary." Trump said that while DOJ officials told him the "declassification" of documents "may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe," he received calls from "key Allies," who asked him not to release the documents. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)

6/ Robert Mueller is investigating $3.3 million in bank transactions between two of the men who orchestrated the Trump Tower meeting. On June 3, 2016, the money was moved from Aras Agalarov, a billionaire real estate developer close to both Putin and Trump, to Irakly "Ike" Kaveladze, a longtime Agalarov employee who was once investigated for money laundering – the same day that Trump Jr. received an email from Rob Goldstone offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government's "support for Mr. Trump." In that email, Goldstone told Trump Jr. he was writing on behalf of a mutual friend, Emin Agalarov – Aras' son. The Trump Tower meeting occurred six days later. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Another Roger Stone associate met with Mueller's federal grand jury. Jerome Corsi is one of at least 11 individuals associated with Stone who have been contacted by the special counsel. His name has surfaced in connection with WikiLeaks. (ABC News)

  • Russian diplomats tried to help Julian Assange escape the U.K. The plan called for the WikiLeaks founder to be smuggled out of Ecuador's London embassy in a diplomatic vehicle and transported to another country – possibly Russia, where he wouldn't be extradited to the U.S. (The Guardian)


Notables.

  1. John Dowd, who at the time was heading Trump's legal team, help pay legal fees for Paul Manafort and Richard Gates. He initially tried to divert money from the White House legal defense fund, but Trump's advisers objected over concerns it could appear aimed at stopping the two former aides from cooperating with investigators. (Wall Street Journal)

  2. Federal immigration officers from July to September arrested 41 undocumented immigrants who came forward to care for undocumented children held in U.S. custody. An ICE official confirmed that the move to fully vet those who step up to care for undocumented children has served as another opportunity to track down and arrest more undocumented immigrants. (CNN)

  3. The Trump administration imposed sanctions against the Chinese military for purchasing fighter jets and missile systems from Russia. The purchases breach U.S. sanctions designed to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Chinese government has demanded that the sanctions be withdrawn. (Reuters)

  4. Top Democrats promised to investigate Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's business dealings, travels, political activities and industry relations if the party wins back the House in the midterms. "Zinke is one the most ethically challenged members of the Cabinet and maybe one of the most ethically challenged secretaries of the Interior we've had in living memory," said Rep. Gerry Connolly. Connolly said there is "rich material here to look into his behavior and his fitness for continued service in the office." (Politico)

  5. The U.S. and Mexico are prepared to move ahead on a new trade agreement without Canada, according to a Trump economic adviser. There is a little more than a week to go before a U.S.-imposed Oct. 1 deadline to publish the updated NAFTA deal, and the U.S. and Canada have still not agreed on terms. (Reuters / CNBC)

Day 609: Such an outstanding man.

1/ Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is "prepared to testify next week" as long as senators offer "terms that are fair and which ensure her safety." In an email sent to committee staff members, Ford's attorney reiterated that it is their "strong preference" that the FBI conduct "a full investigation" before her testimony. (New York Times)

2/ Senate Republicans plan to move forward with Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation despite sexual assault allegations by Ford. Trump, in defending Kavanaugh, said it was "very hard for me to imagine anything happened" with Ford because Kavanaugh "is such an outstanding man." Sen. Chuck Grassley said a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing would begin at 10 a.m. Monday, and gave Ford a deadline of 10 a.m. Friday to submit prepared remarks if she plans to testify. While Ford has not officially declined the committee's invitation, her attorney has asked for a "full, nonpartisan investigation." (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ Trump insists there is no role for the FBI in investigating Ford's claim. Trump said that investigating Ford's accusation that Brett Kavanaugh covered her mouth while trying to strip her bathing suit off during a high school party in the 1980s "is not really their thing." Former government officials, however, have come forward to contradict Trump's claim that the FBI cannot investigate the allegations against Kavanaugh. While Republican leaders in the Senate have echoed Trump's claim, several officials involved in nomination and background check processes say it's actually common. (Politico / NBC News)

4/ Sen. Dean Heller called the sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh a "little hiccup" and that he hopes "all senators" will address the accusations "in good faith" so they can "get through this" and "off to the races." The Nevada Republican went on to call Trump "a great leader" despite saying he was "99 percent against Trump" in October 2016. Heller is considered the most vulnerable Senate Republican seeking reelection this year. (Washington Post / The Hill / New York Times)

5/ A former classmate of Ford walked back her claims that she knew about Brett Kavanaugh's alleged assault at the time it happened. "That it happened or not, I have no idea," said Cristina Miranda King. "I can't say that it did or didn't." In a now-deleted Facebook post, King previously said: "The incident DID happen, many of us heard about it in school." (NPR)

6/ Senator Claire McCaskill will vote against Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court, but not because of the allegations against him. McCaskill cited Kavanaugh's "positions on several key issues, most importantly the avalanche of dark, anonymous money that is crushing our democracy," as the reason for her "no" vote. McCaskill says Kavanaugh "revealed his bias against limits on campaign donations" and that she is "uncomfortable about his view on Presidential power," as well as his "position that corporations are people." The Missouri Democrat is running for re-election this year in a state Trump won in 2016. Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate and could still confirm Kavanaugh's appointment even if all Democrats oppose his nomination. (NPR / Politico / CNN)

7/ Michael Cohen met with Robert Mueller's team multiple times over the last month for interview sessions lasting several hours. The special counsel has focused on Trump's dealings with Russia, including the investigation into collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Mueller's team is also interested in knowing whether Trump discussed the possibility of a pardon with Cohen, who is voluntarily participating in the meetings without any guarantee of leniency from prosecutors. (ABC News)

poll/ 38% of voters say they oppose Kavanaugh's nomination to serve on the Supreme Court compared to 34% who support his nomination. (NBC News)


Notables.

  1. Trump told Spain's Foreign Minister to "build a wall across the Sahara" in order to curb migration from Africa. When Spanish diplomats pointed out that the Sahara stretched for 3,000 miles, Trump responded by saying: "The Sahara border can't be bigger than our border with Mexico." The US/Mexico border is roughly 2,000 miles long. (The Guardian / Bloomberg / CNN)

  2. The Department of Health and Human Services wants to reallocate $266 million in funds to pay for housing for detained immigrant children. Funds would be diverted from National Cancer Institute, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, Head Start, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other refugee support programs. (Yahoo News)

  3. Jeff Sessions announced new limits on the ability of immigration judges to dismiss deportation cases, saying judges "have no inherent authority to terminate removal proceedings even though a particular case may pose sympathetic circumstances." (Reuters)

  4. The U.S. says it is ready to resume talks with North Korea after Kim Jong Un pledged on Wednesday to dismantle key missile facilities and suggested that he would close the Yongbyon nuclear complex. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo invited North Korea's foreign minister to meet in New York next week to discuss the possibility of North Korea denuclearizing by January 2021. (Reuters)

  5. Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis (R) is dealing with his campaign's fifth race-related controversy after newly unearthed tweets showed one of his campaign allies using a racial slur to describe Barack Obama. "FUCK THE MUSLIM N—–," wrote Steven Alembik, who has donated more than $20,000 to DeSantis' campaign. A DeSantis campaign spokesperson said that they "adamantly denounce this sort of disgusting rhetoric." (The Hill / Politico)

  6. Trump has named retiring Rep. Darrell Issa to head the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. Issa is the former House Oversight Committee chairman, and has been in Congress for nine terms. He built a name for himself by clashing with the Obama administration for years and by accusing top officials at the IRS of targeting conservative groups for political purposes. (Politico)

  7. A Pennsylvania state representative introduced a bill to ban public school teachers from discussing politics in the classroom. Will Tallman said his bill would stop teachers from discussing "legislation, regulations, executive orders or court cases involving any level or branch of government." (Morning Call)


🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺

The Russia story so far: What we know and what it means. (New York Times)

What We've Learned in the Russia Probe: Week of Sept 9 - 15. (WTF Just Happened Today)

The Trump Russia Investigation. Everything we've learned so far. (WTF Just Happened Today)

Day 608: "What happens at Georgetown Prep, stays at Georgetown Prep."

1/ The Trump administration is unable to account for nearly 1,500 additional migrant children who were placed with sponsors after leaving federal shelters. The revelation comes months after a similar admission in April concerning an initial 1,475 children. Since 2016, HHS officials have called sponsors to check on migrant children 30 days after placements. The department has said it is not legally responsible for children after they are released from government custody. (New York Times)

2/ Dr. Christine Blasey Ford wants the FBI to investigate her allegations against Brett Kavanaugh before senators hold a hearing. Ford has not yet confirmed whether she will attend a public hearing on Monday. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Ford's letter to the FBI says she has "been the target of vicious harassment and even death threats" and has been forced to leave her home. (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Kavanaugh in 2015: "What happens at Georgetown Prep, stays at Georgetown Prep." Kavanaugh made the remarks during a speech he gave at Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law. (Politico)

  • One of Ford's former classmates wrote a Facebook post saying she remembers hearing about the alleged assault by Kavanaugh. Cristina Miranda King says she has no first-hand information to corroborate Ford's claims. "I did not know her personally but I remember her," King wrote. "This incident did happen." King has since taken down her post. (NBC News / Law & Crime)

3/ Sen. Chuck Grassley canceled a meeting at which members of the Senate Judiciary Committee were expected to vote to advance Kavanaugh's confirmation. The meeting was originally scheduled for Thursday morning. A new date has not yet been announced. (CNBC / Time)

4/ The FBI and DOJ are expected to defy Trump's order to declassify and release unredacted versions of Carter Page's FISA warrant and text messages sent by James Comey and other agency officials. The agencies are expected to submit their documents and propose redactions to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which will package the materials and send them to the White House for approval and release. Doing so would put the agencies in direct conflict with Trump, who has the power to declassify the materials on his own. (Bloomberg / Daily Beast)

  • Trump said exposing potential corruption in the Russian investigation could become one of the "crowning achievements" of his presidency and called the investigation "a cancer in our country." (The Hill)

5/ A new federal court ruling requires political nonprofits to disclose many of their political donors. The Supreme Court refused to intervene and grant an emergency request to stay a ruling by a federal judge in the District of Columbia. The judge threw out a decades-old FEC regulation allowing nonprofits to keep their donors hidden unless the donations were earmarked for specific purposes. (Washington Post / NPR)

poll/ A growing number of Americans don't want Kavanaugh to be appointed to the Supreme Court. Thirty-six percent of adults surveyed said they oppose Trump's nominee — up six points from a similar poll conducted last month. Thirty-one percent said they were in favor of Kavanaugh's appointment. (Reuters/Ipsos)


Notables.

  1. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao flew on Federal Aviation Administration planes instead of commercial flights on seven occasions in 2017, costing taxpayers almost $100,000. Newly released records show that one set of flights to and around Europe by Chao and her staff cost an estimated $68,892. (Politico)

  2. A senior FEMA official has been suspended without pay in relation to a DHS inspector general investigation into improper use of government vehicles by FEMA administrator Brock Long. John Vetch was informed of his suspension last Friday, just as FEMA was coordinating the response to Hurricane Florence. (Politico)

  3. Trump again lashed out at Jeff Sessions. He criticized the Attorney General on a wide range of issues, including immigration and Sessions' 2017 decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. "I don’t have an Attorney General," Trump said. "It’s very sad." (The Hill)

  4. Kim Jong-un told South Korean president Moon Jae-in he would commit to taking concrete steps toward denuclearization but stopped short of promising to completely relinquish his nuclear weapons. Kim's offer includes a promise to "permanently dismantle" facilities central to fuel production for North Korea's nuclear arsenal. (New York Times)

  5. In a new book, Stormy Daniels writes that Trump didn't “even want to be president.” And, yes, as per The Guardian, the tell-all memoir has Daniels writing in "sometimes excruciating detail about the president’s genitals." We'll save most of the salacious descriptions for the book and leave you only with Daniels' evocation of "the mushroom character in Mario Kart.” (Daily Beast / The Guardian)

Day 607: A great gentleman.

1/ Trump ordered the declassification of the FISA application targeting Carter Page and the release of James Comey's text messages related to the Russia investigation. Trump also called for the release of a senior Justice official's notes from the investigation, as well as unredacted text messages from Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. (Politico / CNN)

2/ The Trump administration plans to cap the number of refugees allowed into the United States next year at 30,000, the lowest ceiling since the refugee program was created in 1980. The new low represents a reduction of one-third, from 45,000. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the move, arguing the ceiling should not be the "sole barometer” by which one measures the country's humanitarianism. (New York Times / Politico)

3/ Trump says he feels "terribly" for Brett Kavanaugh and that Kavanaugh is "not a man who deserves this," in reference to upcoming Senate testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when the two were in high school. Trump called Kavanaugh "a great gentleman" and expressed concern for Kavanaugh's wife and daughters. (Washington Post)

4/ After slapping 10-percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, Trump threatened to impose tariffs on virtually all remaining Chinese imports. "We don’t want to do it," Trump said, "but we probably — we'll have no choice." The threat came after China responded to the latest escalation of the ongoing trade war by imposing tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods. (South China Morning Post)


Notables.

  1. The Senate passed a short-term spending bill to keep the government open through Dec. 7 and delay a fight over Trump's border wall. The bill was attached to a larger budget package that includes full-year 2019 funding for the Pentagon, as well as the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The House is expected to take up the bill next week. (Washington Post / The Hill)

  2. Mueller's plea deal with Paul Manafort took unusual steps to prevent Trump from pardoning his former campaign chairman. The deal contains language that would discourage Trump from pardoning Manafort and limit the impact of a pardon if Trump decides to do so anyway. (Politico / NY Post)

  3. Ted Cruz leads Beto O'Rourke by nine points among likely voters, 54–45. One percent of those polled were undecided. (Texas Tribune / Quinnipiac)

Day 606: Full steam ahead.

1/ The author of the letter accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct came forward to tell her story. Christine Blasey Ford is a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California who alleges Kavanaugh and a friend sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s. "I thought he might inadvertently kill me," Ford said. "He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing." Ford said she felt a "civic responsibility" to speak out about the Supreme Court nominee. (Washington Post / CBS News)

  • Kavanaugh says he is willing to answer questions under oath about Ford's allegations. Both Kavanaugh and Ford have said they would be willing to testify to Congress about the alleged incident. (CNN)

  • Trump has told allies he believes there is a "conspiracy" by Democrats to derail Kavanaugh's nomination process. A senior White House aide says things are still "full steam ahead" for Kavanaugh. (Daily Beast)

2/ Sen. Jeff Flake wants to delay the vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation until Ford has a chance to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Flake is part of the GOP's one-vote majority on the committee. "For me," Flake said, "we can't vote until we hear more." (CBS News / Politico)

3/ Trump's tax cuts have resulted in the repatriation of only 3.5 percent of the cash he predicted they would bring back to the United States. By ending the practice of taxing U.S. companies when they brought home foreign profits, Trump said, "Over $4 [trillion], but close to $5 trillion, will be brought back into our country." The latest analysis shows $143 billion has been repatriated. Two-thirds of the profits are from two companies: networking giant Cisco Systems and a drug company called Gilead Sciences. (Daily Beast / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Ted Cruz's Senatorial campaign sent out hundreds of thousands of donation mailers disguised as official court summonses. The outside of the envelopes read "SUMMONS ENCLOSED—OPEN IMMEDIATELY" and include a return address of "official county summons." The mailers are legal as long as they contain a clear disclaimer indicating who paid for the communication. (Newsweek)


Notables.

  1. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has nearly doubled the number of promotion opportunities for top U.S. diplomats in an attempt to ease relations with the State Department workforce. State employees felt alienated under former Secretary Rex Tillerson's leadership. (Reuters)

  2. Michael Bloomberg is considering a 2020 presidential run as a Democrat. Bloomberg has aligned himself with Democrats in the midterm election and has committed to spend $80 million to help Democrats retake control of the House. (New York Times)

Day 603: Full cooperation.

1/ Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to financial crimes, violating foreign lobbying laws, and attempting to obstruct justice. He agreed to fully cooperate with Robert Mueller, though the details surrounding what kind of information Manafort agreed to provide the special counsel remain unclear. Manafort also agreed to forfeit multiple properties and bank accounts, participate in interviews, provide documents, and testify to the grand jury. Analysts noted the plea deal is "pardon proof" and that the $47 million forfeiture pays for the entire Mueller investigation. (ABC News / NBC News / Washington Post / emptywheel)

2/ Jared Kushner defended the eviction of the Palestine Liberation Organization from its Washington offices by insisting that punishing Palestinians would not affect the chances of a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. "There were too many false realities that were created — that people worship — that I think needed to be changed," Kushner said during an interview. "All we’re doing is dealing with things as we see them and not being scared out of doing the right thing." (New York Times)

3/ Details emerged about the secret letter concerning Brett Kavanaugh's alleged high-school sexual misconduct, and Republicans released a letter defending his character. The defense letter—sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee—was signed by 65 women who knew Kavanaugh in high school; it argues he always "treated women with respect." Kavanaugh has denied the allegations. (New York Times / Associated Press)

4/ Retired Adm. Bill McRaven resigned from the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Board, days after criticizing Trump for revoking John Brennan's security clearance. McRaven led the Osama bin Laden raid in 2011. In a Washington Post op-ed last month, he wrote he would "consider it an honor" if Trump would revoke his security clearance, too, so he could add his name "to the list of men and women who have spoken up" against the Trump presidency. (ABC News)


Notables.

  1. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo defeated Cynthia Nixon and clinched the Democratic gubernatorial nomination by a 30-point margin. Cuomo spent nearly $25 million to defeat Nixon in the primary. (New York Times)

  2. New York voters voted against six of the eight incumbent Democratic state senators. The incumbents outspent their challengers several times over during the race. (New York Times)

  3. Bob Woodward says he'll release audio tapes of his White House interviews if asked by his sources. Woodward says he has "boxes of recordings and documents" demonstrating the thoroughness of his sourcing. (The Hill)

Day 602: 12,800 children.

1/ Sen. Dianne Feinstein referred a letter to the FBI containing information about possible sexual misconduct between Brett Kavanaugh and a woman when the two were in high school. The letter is said to be from one of Feinstein's California constituents. Feinstein did not show the letter to any of her Democratic colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Newsweek / The Intercept / NPR / BuzzFeed News)

  • Sen. Cory Booker released another batch of confidential documents related to Kavanaugh. The 28 new documents are from Kavanaugh's time in the Bush White House and show his involvement in judicial nominations. (NBC News / Politico)

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee delayed Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation vote until next week. (Washington Post)

2/ The Trump administration quietly redirected $200 million from various DHS programs to ICE accounts despite repeated congressional warnings of ICE's "lack of fiscal discipline" and "unsustainable" spending habits. Of the $200 million, $93 million will go toward immigrant detention and $107 million will go toward deportation expenses. The news comes a day after a financial document showed the administration diverted $10 million from FEMA to ICE in June. (CNN / NBC News)

3/ Meanwhile, the number of unaccompanied minors detained at the southern border has risen to a record high. Since last summer, the administration has increased by more than five-fold the number of children detained at federally contracted shelters dedicated to migrant children. This month, there were more than 12,800 children in custody, compared to 2,400 in May 2017. (New York Times)

4/ The DHS inspector general is investigating whether FEMA administrator Brock Long misused government vehicles during his commutes from Washington to North Carolina. The IG's office, which became interested in the case after one of Long's vehicles was involved in an accident, is looking into whether he misused government resources and personnel during his regular six-hour trips home. (Politico)

5/ Trump accused Democrats of inflating Hurricane Maria's death toll in Puerto Rico. "3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico," Trump tweeted. "When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths." He claimed Democrats added anyone who died for any reason to the list of hurricane-related deaths. He added: "I love Puerto Rico!" (New York Times / CNN / CNBC)


Notables.

  1. Trump has made 5,000 false or misleading claims during his time in office. His 5,000th claim came yesterday in the form of a tweet about Robert Mueller: "Russian ‘collusion’ was just an excuse by the Democrats for having lost the Election!" (Washington Post)

  2. An audio recording revealed the NRA gave Montana Sen. Jon Tester's opponent advance notice that it would be funding efforts to help defeat Tester in the midterms. The move could represent a violation of campaign finance laws, which legally bar the NRA from coordinating its ad buys with a federal campaign. (Daily Beast)

  3. Negotiators from the House and Senate have agreed to a plan that would avoid another government shutdown as long as both sides sign it before the Sept. 30 deadline. Under the agreement, federal funding would be extended through Dec. 7. (NPR)

  4. A report from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center found that a second round of GOP tax cuts would add $3.8 trillion to the federal deficit over the next two decades. The bill, which the House Ways and Means Committee approved Thursday, would reduce federal revenue by $631 billion over the next year and by another $3.15 trillion by the year 2038. (The Hill)

Day 601: "Totally incompetent."

1/ Trump signed an executive order authorizing sanctions against foreign countries, companies, and individuals interfering with U.S. elections, as determined by U.S. intelligence agencies. The order tasks a range of agencies—including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the CIA, the NSA, and the Department of Homeland Security—with evaluating potential cases of election meddling and requires any federal agency aware of interference to submit this information to the Director of National Intelligence. (Reuters / CNBC / The Hill)

  • Three-quarters of the secret money spent in recent elections came from just 15 groups. An analysis by the campaign-finance reform group Issue One found that many of these same 15 groups remain big players in the 2018 midterm elections, although the sources of their money remain mostly hidden from the public. (USA Today)

2/ The Department of Homeland Security diverted nearly $10 million from FEMA to help ICE pay for detention and removal operations. A newly released budget document shows DHS transferred the funds—at the beginning of hurricane season—from FEMA's operations and support budget to ICE accounts to pay for detention camps and other expenses. FEMA said the money was not meant for disaster relief. A spokesperson for DHS called reporting on the budget document "a sorry attempt to push a false agenda." (New York Times / Axios / Maddow Blog / ABC News)

3/ Trump called San Juan's mayor "totally incompetent" in response to her critique of Trump, who had recently boasted of federal responses to the hurricanes that ravaged Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico last year. Carmen Yulín Cruz had taken issue with him calling the response to Hurricane Maria "an unsung success." Trump also called Puerto Rico "an inaccessible island with very poor electricity." (ABC News)

4/ Federal investigators are looking into a series of suspicious financial transactions involving people who attended the 2016 Trump Tower meeting. The transfers reveal how Aras Agalarov, a Russian billionaire with strong ties to Trump and Putin, used overseas accounts to distribute money through a web of banks to himself, his son, and at least two people who attended the meeting. Investigators are focusing on two bursts of activity: one occurring shortly before the Trump Tower meeting and one immediately after the 2016 election. (BuzzFeed News / The Hill)

5/ Scott Pruitt is in talks to consult for a Kentucky coal-mining tycoon, months after resigning as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt met with Alliance Resource Partners CEO Joseph W. Craft at least seven times in the first 14 months of his tenure as EPA chief. Under an ethics pledge, Pruitt is barred from directly lobbying the EPA for five years—but not from working as a private consultant who advises on matters related to the EPA or works to change regulatory policy at the state level. (New York Times)


Notables.

  1. Manafort is in talks with Mueller's office about a possible plea deal just days before his second trial begins. The negotiations are not guaranteed to result in a deal. Meanwhile, prosecutors submitted a list of evidence they want to present at trial, including memos showing the depth of Manfort's relationships with his Ukrainian employers. (Washington Post / CNN)

  2. The Trump administration is making it harder for Christian refugees to enter the United States. Despite Trump's promise to help vulnerable Christians around the world, many groups remain in legal limbo. The number of Christian refugees allowed to enter the United States has dropped by more than 40 percent over the last year. (NBC News)

  3. A GOP Congressman from New Jersey suggested being raised in an orphanage would be a better option than growing up with LGBTQ parents. Rep. Chris Smith made the remarks in May when addressing a group of students at a high school. (Asbury Park Press)

  4. Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine announced he will vote against Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation. "After this intensive process," King said, "I have determined that I cannot support this nomination." (Politico)

Day 600: Reckless escalation.

1/ Trump began the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks by tweeting a defense of himself in the Russia investigation while also attacking the FBI. In a string of tweets that appeared to quote from a segment on Fox News, Trump blamed FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page for employing a "media leak strategy" to undermine his administration. He then blamed the FBI and Justice Department for doing "NOTHING" about it. Almost two hours later, Trump tweeted: "17 years since September 11th!" (NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

  • A history of Trump's comments about 9/11. For instance, in November 2015 he claimed, without evidence, that "thousands and thousands" of Muslims in New Jersey had celebrated the news of the attacks. (HuffPost)

  • Trump bragged that one of his buildings was now the tallest in downtown Manhattan hours after the World Trade Center collapsed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. "40 Wall Street actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and it was actually, before the World Trade Center, was the tallest," Trump said during a telephone interview on the afternoon of Sept. 11 with local New Jersey television station WWOR. "And then, when they built the World Trade Center, it became known as the second-tallest. And now it’s the tallest." (Washington Post / HuffPost)

  • Trump pumped both fists after deplaning Air Force One in Pennsylvania, where Trump paid tribute to victims of crashed Flight 93. (CNN / CNBC / The Independent)

2/ The Trump administration plans to make it easier for energy companies to release methane into the atmosphere. The EPA plans to weaken an Obama-era requirement that companies monitor and repair methane leaks, while the Interior Department wants to repeal a restriction on intentional venting and burning of methane by drilling operations. Methane is among the most potent greenhouse gases and is roughly 25 times more effective than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere. (New York Times)

  • The United Nations Secretary-General: "We face a direct existential threat" because "climate change is moving faster than we are." António Guterres urged world leaders to combat "the defining issue of our time." (Common Dreams)

3/ The number of White House aides Trump trusts is "much smaller" following allegations that there is a "resistance" inside the Trump administration trying to subvert his agenda. Trump Jr. said he believes the New York Times op-ed authored by an anonymous senior administration official was written by a "low-level person," and that the Justice Department should investigate the author. He called the op-ed "pretty disgusting" and "sad." (Politico / ABC News / Washington Post)

4/ Trump said his administration is "totally prepared" for Hurricane Florence, which he described as "tremendously big and tremendously wet" with "tremendous amounts of water." Trump called the federal government's "incredibly successful" response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico a year ago "one of the best jobs that's ever been done." Nearly 3,000 people died. Meanwhile, the general who oversaw the military response to Hurricane Katrina, said "I will not bet any money that we are prepared." (Roll Call / ABC News / The Hill)

poll/ 36% approve of the way Trump is handling his job, down from 42% in August. Trump's approval with independents went from 47% last month to 31% now. (CNN)


Notables.

  1. Officials consider Russia to be the main suspect behind the mysterious "attacks" on U.S. personnel in Cuba and China. The U.S. believes sophisticated microwaves or other electromagnetic weapons were used against government employees, which led to brain injuries. There is not enough conclusive evidence, however, for the U.S. to officially blame Moscow for the alleged attacks. (NBC News)

  2. Trump has canceled a planned trip to Ireland in November due to "scheduling reasons." However, immediately after Trump's visit was announced, the leader of Ireland's Green Party called on the Irish people to "show their disgust and rejection of the Trump administration's policies by turning out […] in large-scale mass protest around the country." (CNBC)

  3. The Trump administration is considering sanctions against senior Chinese officials and companies over Beijing's detention of hundreds of thousands of Muslims in large internment camps. It would be the first time the Trump administration has taken action against China over human rights issues. (New York Times)

  4. Two political action committees based in Maine raised over a million dollars for Sen. Susan Collins nonexistent opponent if she votes to confirm Brett Kavanaugh. Collins' Democratic opponent raised $2.3 million during Maine's most recent Senate campaign. (Daily Beast)

  5. The Trump administration is expected to close the Palestine Liberation Organization's office in Washington. Senior Palestinian officials strongly condemned the decision and described it as a "reckless escalation." (Wall Street Journal)

  6. Trump told Gary Cohn to "just run the presses" and "print money" in order to lower the national debt, according Bob Woodward's new book, Fear: Trump in the White House. The federal deficit, meanwhile, grew $222 billion – or 32% – in the first 11 months of the fiscal 2018 year to $895 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO now estimates that the deficit will approach $1 trillion by the end of this fiscal year. An earlier analysis projected that deficits wouldn't reach $1 trillion until 2020. (CNBC / The Hill / Axios)

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)

  • 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)


Notables.

  1. 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)

  2. 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)

  3. 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)

  4. 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)

  5. 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)

  6. 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)

  7. 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)

Day 596: Your fault.

1/ Trump called on Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department to investigate and uncover the author of the anonymous op-ed that described an effort by members of the administration to subvert his agenda. "Jeff should be investigating who the author of that piece was because I really believe it's national security," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One. He added that he's also "looking at" possible legal action against The New York Times, though he did not elaborate. (ABC News / NBC News / CNBC / CNN / New York Times)

2/ Trump tried to refute the quotes in Bob Woodword's new book, claiming "I don't talk the way I am quoted" in Fear: Trump in the White House. "The Woodward book is a scam," Trump tweeted at 5:30am, claiming the "quotes are made up" because "I would not have been elected President" if they were true. Trump also denied that he called Sessions "mentally retarded" or a "dumb Southerner," as the book reports. However, Trump is on record calling somebody "retarded" on a Howard Stern episode in 2004, and a former deputy editor at the New York Post said Trump once described his in-laws as "an entourage of dumb Southerners." (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ Trump will not answer Robert Mueller's questions about obstruction of justice, according to Rudy Giuliani. "That's a no-go. That is not going to happen," Trump's lawyer said. "There will be no questions at all on obstruction," whether in person or in writing. (Associated Press)

4/ Hours later Giuliani walked back the comments, saying the possibility of answering questions about obstruction of justice are "not ruled in or out." One person with direct knowledge of Trump's legal strategy said that "there is no strategy" aside from PR tactics of threatening Mueller. If negotiations break down, Mueller could be forced to subpoena Trump to testify. Giuliani previously said they would fight any subpoena up to the Supreme Court, which has never definitively ruled on the question of whether a president can be forced to testify. (NBC News / Axios / Reuters)

5/ Elizabeth Warren called on White House officials to invoke the 25th Amendment and begin the process of removing Trump from office. "If senior administration officials think the President of the United States is not able to do his job," Warren said, "then they should invoke the 25th Amendment." Warren's comments come a day after an op-ed by an anonymous senior administration official who attacked Trump's "amorality" and "anti-democratic" policies, saying staff is "thwarting" Trump's "misguided impulses" and "worst inclinations." (CNN)

6/ Trump told his supporters it'll be "your fault" if he gets impeached. During a rally in Montana, Trump told supporters that they "aren't just voting for a candidate, you are voting for which party controls Congress." He then brought up "the impeachment word" and said "you didn't go out to vote – that's the only way it could happen." (CNN)

7/ Obama called Trump a "threat to democracy" and accused him and his Republican supporters of practicing "politics of fear and resentment" during a speech at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He added that the "resistance" within the administration is not the right way to stop the "crazy stuff" coming out of the White House. He blamed Republicans in Congress for being "utterly unwilling to find the backbone to safeguard the institutions that make our democracy work" and that Republicans "who know better are still bending over backwards" to protect Trump. "This is not normal," Obama continued. "How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad?" (NBC News / New York Times / Politico)

  • Trump on Obama's critical speech: "I fell asleep." (Politico)

Notables.

  1. George Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in jail, having pled guilty in October 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians. In asking for leniency, Papadopoulos said he made "a terrible mistake, for which I have paid a terrible price, and am deeply ashamed," and that he was motivated to lie to the FBI try to "create distance between the issue, myself, and the president." Papadopoulos was the first campaign adviser to be arrested in connection with Mueller's investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election. He was also ordered to pay a $9,500 fine and perform community service. His attorney said Trump "hindered this investigation more than George Papadopoulos ever did." (Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNN / New York Times)

  2. Papadopoulos "can't guarantee" that he didn't tell anyone on the Trump campaign that Russia had damaging emails about Hillary Clinton. "I might have," Papadopoulos said, "but I have no recollection of doing so." (CNN)

  3. A former Roger Stone associate and longtime Trump ally appeared before Mueller's federal grand jury. Randy Credico is one of at least 10 people associated with Stone who have been contacted by the special counsel. (ABC News)

  4. Trump "most likely" won't "shut down government over border security" after all. Trump has gone back and forth about the possibility of a government shutdown, and recently said he'd prefer to wait until after the midterms because "we need Republicans elected in the midterms. We are getting the wall done." (NBC News / Politico)

Day 595: Total meltdown.

1/ Brett Kavanaugh challenged whether Roe v. Wade was "the settled law of the land" in a leaked 2003 email he wrote while serving in the George W. Bush White House. A lawyer for Bush deemed the email "committee confidential" when turning it over to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which meant it could not be made public or discussed by Democrats during Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings this week. In the email, Kavanaugh wrote: "I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe v. Wade as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so." Following the publication of the Kavanaugh email, two Democratic senators unilaterally released several other "committee confidential" emails. (New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ Senator Cory Booker released 12 pages of confidential Kavanaugh emails on racial profiling, affirmative action, and other racial issues. Booker acknowledged that he would be "knowingly violating the rules" for releasing the "committee confidential" emails, adding: "And I understand that the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate […] I openly invite and accept the consequences … the emails being withheld from the public have nothing to do with national security." Booker then invited Republican Sen. John Cornyn to "bring the charges." (The Guardian / ABC News / CNN / The Hill)

  • Separately, Senator Mazie Hirono published a "committee confidential" email about policies for Native Hawaiians. The leak was aimed at Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, who guards the interests of Native Alaskans. In that email, Kavanaugh questioned whether Native Hawaiians should be protected like Indian tribes. (CNBC)

  • The records that Booker and Hirono published had already been cleared for public release, according to Democratic and Republican aides on the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Washington Post)

  • READ: The Kavanaugh emails released by Cory Booker. (DocumentCloud)

3/ Kavanaugh refused to answer a yes or no question about whether he had discussed Robert Mueller's investigation with one of Trump's attorneys. During a tense exchange, Sen. Kamala Harris asked Kavanaugh whether he had spoken with anyone at Kasowitz Benson & Torres, a law firm founded by Trump's personal attorney Marc Kasowitz. Kavanaugh dodged the question, responding: "Is there a person you’re talking about?" Harris responded: "I think you are thinking of someone, and you don't want to tell us." A Democratic aide said that some in the party "have reason to believe that a conversation happened and are continuing to pursue it." (Politico / CNN / The Hill)

  • Marc Kasowitz: "There have been no discussions regarding Robert Mueller's investigation between Judge Kavanaugh and anyone at our firm." Sen. Kamala Harris responded to Kasowitz's statement, saying his denial wasn't "under oath." (CNBC)

4/ The White House is in a state of "total meltdown" with Trump "absolutely livid" and reacting to the anonymous op-ed with "volcanic" anger. The op-ed by "a senior official in the Trump administration" who claims to be part of a "resistance" protecting the U.S. from its president, has set off finger-pointing within the West Wing at the highest levels of the administration. Aides and outside allies say "the sleeper cells have awoken" and that "it's like the horror movies when everyone realizes the call is coming from inside the house." (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Talking Points Memo)

  • Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo both denied authoring the anonymous op-ed published yesterday in the New York Times. "The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds," Pence's spokesperson said on Twitter. "It is sad that you have someone who would make that choice,” said Pompeo. "I come from a place where if you're not in a position to execute the commander's intent, you have a singular option, that is to leave." Social media speculation that Pence wrote the op-ed comes from the use of word "lodestar" in the piece, a word that Pence has used multiple times over the course of more than a decade. (Washington Post / HuffPost)

Notables.

  1. The Trump administration rejected an intelligence report last year showing refugees are not a significant security threat to the U.S. Hardliners inside the White House then issued their own report earlier this year that misstated the evidence and inflated the threat posed by those who were born outside the country. (NBC News)

  2. The Trump administration plans to ignore a court ruling in order to detain immigrant children with their parents indefinitely. The proposed changes by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services would end the Flores Settlement Agreement, a federal consent decree that banned indefinite detention 20 years ago. (NBC News / Washington Post)

  3. A government photographer edited photos of Trump's inauguration to make the crowd look bigger than it was after Trump intervened. The photographer cropped out the empty space "where the crowd ended" after Trump requested a new set of pictures on the first day of his presidency. The details were not included in the final report of the Interior Department inspector general's office on its inquiry into the situation. (The Guardian)

Day 594: The worst mood.

1/ A senior Trump administration official published an anonymous essay in the New York Times claiming cabinet members discussed removing Trump from office early in his presidency "given the instability many witnessed." The official criticized Trump's "amorality" and reckless decision-making, saying "there is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first" and that "Americans should know that there are adults in the room" who "fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won't." (New York Times / CNN)

2/ Trump called the unsigned op-ed a "disgrace" and "gutless." Trump attacked the New York Times for publishing an essay by an unnamed administration official who claims the president's advisers deliberately try to block Trump's misguided impulses. The anonymous official wrote that Trump's "impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic." At a White House event, Trump brought up the op-ed, saying "This is what we have to deal with" and that "they don't like Donald Trump and I don't like them." He later demanded that "the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!" (CNN / Associated Press / New York Times)

3/ Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the author of the "resistance" op-ed a "coward" who should "do the right thing and resign." Sanders accused the author of choosing to "deceive" Trump by remaining in the administration and called on the Times to "issue an apology" for publishing the "pathetic, reckless, and selfish op-ed." (Associated Press / ABC News)

4/ Trump is "in the worst mood of his presidency" and frequently calls confidants to "vent about his selection of [Jeff] Sessions and [FBI Director Christopher] Wray." Trump is criticizing Wray and painting him as another Justice Department official who refuses to protect his interests and is possibly out to undermine his presidency. (NBC News)

5/ Trump suggested that protesting should be illegal after Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing was disrupted by protesters. Trump called it "embarrassing for the country to allow protesters. You don't even know what side the protesters are on." (Washington Post)

6/ Trump called for NBC to lose its broadcast license, tweeting "I have long criticized NBC and their journalistic standards-worse than even CNN. Look at their license?" The FCC lacks legal authority to revoke broadcast licenses over news content. (Politico)

7/ Robert Mueller's office agreed to accept some written answers from Trump, according to a letter from the special counsel's office to Trump's lawyers. The questions would focus on whether his campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Mueller still intends to interview Trump in person about questions relating to obstruction of justice at a later date. Editor's note: I added this at the last minute yesterday, but wanted to include more information today. (New York Times / NPR / Washington Post)

  • Robert Mueller subpoenaed a conspiracy theorist linked to both Roger Stone and Alex Jones. Jerome Corsi is expected to testify on Friday before Mueller's grand jury about his discussions with Stone, who has been a subject of Mueller's investigation for seemingly predicting that WikiLeaks would publish material damaging to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. (New York Times)

8/ North Carolina's unconstitutionally gerrymandered congressional maps will be used in the November midterm elections. A federal court concluded that there is "insufficient time" to redraw the maps before the election, even though the same panel of federal judges ruled in August that the maps favored Republicans and were unconstitutional. (Politico / CNN)

forecast/ Democrats have a 77% chance of retaking control of the House. Republicans, meanwhile, have a 22% chance of maintaining control. (FiveThirtyEight)

poll/ 37% of voters approve of the way Trump is handling his job. 59% disapprove. (Kaiser Family Foundation)

poll/ 36% of registered voters approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president. 60% disapprove. (Washington Post)

poll/ Trump's job approval fell 5 percentage points to 36% from August to September. Republicans' approval fell from 83% in August to 76% in September. Overall, 56% of the public disapprove of the job Trump is doing, up three points from August. (IBD/TIPP)


Notables.

  • Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen called out Putin for interfering in the 2016 election, saying it was a "direct attack" on U.S. democracy. (CNN)

  • The U.K. charged two officers in Russia's military intelligence with attempted murder for poisoning a former Russian spy in England in March. Prosecutors did not request the extradition of the men from Russia, which does not send its nationals abroad for prosecution. (New York Times)

  • Putin claimed he doesn't know the two suspects behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Putin's foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said the names of the suspects "do not mean anything to me." (Associated Press)

  • The White House is discussing possible replacements for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. The news follows reports from Bob Woodward's new book, which claims that Mattis said Trump "acted like – and had the understanding of – 'a fifth- or sixth-grader.'" (Washington Post)

  • The EPA failed to justify increased spending on Scott Pruitt's 24-hour security detail, according to the EPA's inspector general. Pruitt's security costs grew by almost $2 million, from $1.6 million to $3.5 million in just 11 months. (ABC News)

  • Trump on a possible government shutdown: "If it happens, it happens." Congress is facing a Sept. 30th deadline to pass spending bills to keep the government open. (Associated Press)

*Note: I'll do a full roundup of the Kavanaugh hearings later this week when we have more perspective on what's happened. *

Day 593: We're in Crazytown.

1/ Bob Woodward's book describes Trump as an "emotionally overwrought, mercurial and unpredictable leader," his presidency as "an administrative coup d'etat," and the executive branch as having a "nervous breakdown" where senior aides hide official papers from Trump's desk so he won't sign them, all in order "to protect the country." In one instance, Gary Cohn, Trump's former top economic adviser, "stole a letter off Trump's desk" that the president wanted to sign that would have withdrawn the U.S. from a trade agreement with South Korea. In another instance, Trump ordered Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to assassinate Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, saying: "Let's fucking kill him! Let's go in. Let's kill the fucking lot of them." Mattis told Trump he would get right on it, but immediately told an aide, "We're not going to do any of that. We're going to be much more measured." John Dowd told Trump he'd be wearing an "orange jump suit" if he sat for an interview with Robert Mueller. And Woodward also reports that John Kelly once called Trump an "idiot," and told colleagues that the president was "unhinged," that "he's gone off the rails. We're in Crazytown. I don't even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I've ever had." Fear: Trump in the White House will be released on September 11th. (Washington Post / CNN)

  • SWAMP SPEAK:

  • Trump called his condemnation of white supremacists and neo-Nazis following the deadly 2017 Charlottesville rally "the biggest fucking mistake I've made." Trump was sharply criticized for initially saying that "both sides" were to blame for the violence. Trump bowed to pressure and gave a second speech in which he called racism "evil" and condemned hate groups. He told aides that it was the "worst speech I've ever given." (The Hill)

  • Trump described Jeff Sessions as a "traitor" and as a "mentally retarded" "dumb Southerner" to aides, according to Woodward's book. (ABC News)

  • Rudy Giuliani to critical Trump advisers: "Why don't they go get another job? That's the kind of disloyalty that leads to you leaving, not staying and undermining the president." (CNBC)

  • 👑 Portrait of a President: An ongoing collection of articles curated by the WTFJHT family that illuminate the Trump presidency.

2/ The White House called Woodward's book about Trump "nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the President look bad." John Kelly issued a statement denying that "I ever called the President an idiot." (CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

  • Trump complained to confidants that he didn't get to speak with Woodward before the book went to print. People close to Trump have speculated that part of the reason an interview never happened was because of a policy instituted by John Kelly after the publication of Michael Wolff's tell-all book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, which portrayed Trump as an ill-equipped leader who refused to read even one-page briefing papers. However, Trump called Woodward in early August, after the manuscript had been completed, to say he wanted to participate. Trump's last interview with Woodward was in 2016, where Trump said: "Real power is, I don't even want to use the word, fear." (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Trump: Woodward has "a lot of credibility problems." (Daily Caller)

3/ Trump attacked Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department on Twitter in connection with the indictments of two GOP congressmen on corruption charges, saying the charges could hurt the Republican Party in the midterm elections. "Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time," Trump tweeted. "Good job Jeff…" Last month, Duncan Hunter (R-CA) was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he and his wife used more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for personal expenses. Chris Collins (R-NY) was indicted on charges of insider trading. Trump called them "two very popular Republican Congressmen." (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)

4/ Robert Mueller will accept some written answers from Trump about whether his campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in U.S. elections interference, according to a letter from the special counsel's office to Trump's lawyers. Mueller's investigation will also continue despite Giuliani's claims that the probe should have ended on Sept. 1, based on an informal Justice Department guideline that encourages investigators to avoid affecting elections. The midterm elections will be held on Nov. 6. (New York Times / Bloomberg)

5/ Giuliani: The White House will likely attempt to block a full public release of Mueller's final report on his Russia investigation. Giuliani once again described the special counsel's investigation as a "witch hunt," and said that the White House would "object to the public disclosure of information that might be covered by executive privilege." When asked whether the White House would raise objections to the publication of the full report, Giuliani said, "I'm sure we will," and noted that Trump would be the one who "would make the final call." (HuffPost / New Yorker)

6/ 42,000 pages of documents related to Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, were released hours before Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings were set to begin. The Trump administration claimed executive privilege and withheld some 100,000 documents related to Kavanaugh's time in the George W. Bush administration. Before serving in the Bush administration, Kavanaugh was a key deputy to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and supported tough questioning of President Clinton about his encounters with Monica Lewinsky. Later, in 2009, Kavanaugh wrote an article for the Minnesota Law Review that claimed any civil and criminal investigations of a president should take place only once the president is out of office, because they are "time-consuming and distracting." (ABC News / New York Times)

7/ Before Kavanaugh's hearing began, Democrats pushed to adjourn and protesters repeatedly interrupted the Senate Judiciary Committee proceedings. Chuck Grassley's opening remarks were delayed for nearly 90-minutes as Democratic senators interrupted the chairman over the last-minute document dump. "The committee received just last night, less than 15 hours ago, 42,000 pages of documents that we have not had an opportunity to read, review or analyze," Sen. Kamala Harris said moments after the hearing opened. "We cannot possibly move forward with this hearing." Democrats are expected to press Kavanaugh on his positions on Roe v. Wade, the scope of executive power, health care, gun control, and same-sex marriage. Kavanaugh is not expected to offer any commitment to recuse himself from cases involving investigations of Trump, including a possible constitutional fight over a subpoena of the president. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News)

poll/ 37% of voters say the Senate should vote to confirm Kavanaugh with 29% saying the Senate shouldn't vote, and 34% are undecided. Among Republican voters, 67% support confirming Kavanaugh while 53% of Democrats say the Senate shouldn't confirm him. (Politico)

poll/ 63% of Americans think Trump and the Republican Party are out of touch with most people in the U.S. By comparison, 51% think the Democratic Party is out of touch. (Washington Post)

poll/ Democratic House candidates lead their Republican opponents nationally by 52-38% among registered voters. 60% of voters say they'd rather see the next Congress controlled by the Democrats. (ABC News)


Notables.

  1. Trump kicked off Labor Day by attacking a top union leader. Trump tweeted that AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka "represented his union poorly on television this weekend." Trump added: "It is easy to see why unions are doing so poorly. A Dem!" The attack came after Trumka appeared on Fox News and criticized Trump's attempts to overhaul NAFTA, arguing that the agreement should include Canada. "The things that he's done to hurt workers outpace what he's done to help workers," Trumka said. (ABC News)

  2. The Trump administration is rolling back worker safety regulations affecting underground mine safety inspections, offshore oil rigs, and line speeds in meat processing plants, among other things. Under Obama, workplace inspections at mines had to occur before workers started their shifts, but the Trump administration said it would allow inspections to begin while miners were already working. The Interior Department is seeking to roll back regulations for offshore oil rigs that were put in place after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, rescinding the rule that inspections of blowout preventers must only be conducted by government-approved third parties. And the Agricultural Department is considering lifting line speed requirements in hog processing plants. (Politico)

  3. Republicans are considering dropping an effort to push a second phase of tax cuts that includes a $10,000 annual cap on state and local tax deductions. Party leaders are concerned that the effort may antagonize voters in hotly contested congressional districts. (Bloomberg)

  4. The Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago is being sued by the Illinois attorney general for multiple violations of clean water laws and for endangering fish and other aquatic life in the Chicago River. The tower, one of the city's largest users of river water for its cooling systems, is accused of failing to meet several special-permit requirements that are intended to limit the number of fish pinned against intake screens or killed by sudden pressure and temperature changes. Building managers also failed to renew its permit and have been operating the cooling system without it for almost a year. "Trump Tower continues to take millions of gallons of water from the Chicago River every day without a permit and without any regard to how it may be impacting the river’s ecosystem," Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in a statement. "I filed my lawsuit to make sure Trump Tower cannot continue violating the law." (Chicago Tribune)

  5. The Kremlin dismissed Trump's warning to the Syrian government not to attack a rebel-held stronghold in Idlib province. Trump warned Bashar al-Assad and his allies in Iran and Russia on Monday not to "recklessly attack" Syria's northwestern province, saying that hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. The Kremlin responded by claiming that the province was a "nest of terrorism" and saying that the presence of militants in Idlib was undermining the Syrian peace process. Russian forces resumed air strikes against insurgents in Idlib on Tuesday after a hiatus that lasted a few weeks. (Reuters / CNN)

  6. Former Senator Jon Kyl will fill John McCain's seat. Kyl served three terms in the Senate and was the second-ranking Senate Republican when he left office in 2013. (New York Times)

  7. Nike made Colin Kaepernick the face of its 30th anniversary "Just Do It" campaign, which features a black-and-white close up of the former NFL quarterback with the quote: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything." No team has signed Kaepernick since he stirred a national debate by taking a knee during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial inequality. In 2017, Trump told supporters he wanted to see an NFL owner "get that son of a bitch off the field right now" and fire any player who refuses to stand during the national anthem. (BuzzFeed News / The Guardian)

  8. Omarosa recorded nearly every conversation she had while working in the White House, including conversations she had with "all of the Trumps." She did so using her personal cellphone, which was almost always on record mode. She carried two phones with her — her personal phone and a government-issued phone — and often put conversations she had on her work phone on speaker, allowing her to record the audio with her personal phone. (Axios)

  9. David Hogg, a Parkland school shooting survivor, helped to raise nearly $10,000 to pin a 2016 tweet from Trump attacking Sen. Ted Cruz on a billboard in Texas. In the tweet, Trump asks: "Why would the people of Texas support Ted Cruz when he has accomplished absolutely nothing for them." (Axios)

Day 589: Over a barrel.

1/ Canada: "We're not there yet" on a NAFTA deal. The Trump administration had given Canada a Friday deadline to join a preliminary, new trade agreement between the U.S. and Mexico. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would only sign a "good" NAFTA deal, while Canada's top trade negotiator added: "We're looking for a good deal, not just any deal. We will only agree to a deal that is a good deal for Canada." A spokesperson from the U.S. Trade Representative's Office described the negotiations as "ongoing," while the Trump administration told Congress that it intends to keep Canada in the pact. (New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / CNBC)

2/ Trump is unwilling to make any concessions to Canada at all on NAFTA, and said trade negotiations would be done "totally on our terms". The remark was told to Bloomberg reporters off the record, but then reported by the Toronto Star. At the time, Trump said he couldn't admit this publicly because "it's going to be so insulting they're not going to be able to make a deal." He suggested he was forcing Canadian leaders into submission by repeatedly threatening to impose tariffs. Trump followed up by lashing out on Twitter, saying he was "BLATANTLY VIOLATED" due to the leaking of his "OFF THE RECORD COMMENTS" about Canada. He then confirmed the remarks by adding "At least Canada knows where I stand!" (Toronto Star / Politico / Washington Post)

3/ Robert Mueller's investigation is pushing up against the "60-day rule," an unofficial Department of Justice policy that suggests that investigators not take any actions within two months of an election in order to avoid influencing the outcome. Rudy Giuliani previously said that if the special counsel's investigation is not completed by September, then there would be a "very, very serious violation of Justice Department rules," because Mueller "shouldn't be conducting one of these investigations in the 60-day period." The cutoff, however, is not a hard and fast rule and, according to the Justice Department's inspector general, it's "not written or described in any Department policy or regulation." Some of the evidence we've yet to see: Trump's tax returns and bank records; Trump Organization records; other Michael Cohen recordings; cellphone records related to the Trump Tower meeting. (Politico / Axios)

  • Giuliani and Trump's legal team are crafting a "counter-report" to question whether the "initiation of the [Mueller] investigation was … legitimate or not". One section of the report will allege "possible conflicts" of interest by federal law enforcement authorities, while the other section will respond to allegations of collusion and obstruction of justice. (Daily Beast / CNN)

  • Democrats are trying to bring Trump's tax returns into public view following tax fraud charges against both Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen. Trump was the first major party candidate in four decades to refuse to disclose his tax returns. (ABC News)

4/ Trump threatened to "get involved" in the Justice Department and "get in there" if the FBI doesn't "start doing their job and doing it right". Trump again accused top officials at the FBI and Justice Department of being biased against Republicans. "Our Justice Department and our FBI - at the top of each, because inside they have incredible people - but our Justice Department and our FBI have to start doing their job and doing it right and doing it now," Trump told the crowd. "I wanted to stay out, but at some point if it doesn't straighten out properly … I will get involved and I’ll get in there if I have to." (Reuters)

5/ A former associate of Paul Manafort and a Cambridge Analytica employee struck a plea deal and agreed to cooperate with Mueller's office. Sam Patten pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign lobbyist while working on behalf of a Ukrainian political party and to lying to a Senate committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Patten was a business partner of Konstantin Kilimnik, who was indicted along with Manafort on witness tampering charges. In previous court documents, Mueller's team said they believe Kilimnik was a Russian intelligence operative in 2016, when he was communicating with Manafort and Rick Gates as they worked for Trump's presidential campaign. (Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Vox)

  • Patten funneled $50,000 from a Ukrainian oligarch to Trump's Presidential Inauguration Committee using a "straw purchaser" in order to secure four tickets to the inauguration: The tickets were used by Patten, Kilimnik, the oligarch and another Ukrainian. (The Guardian / NBC News / Washington Post)

  • Two prosecutors left Mueller's team. The departures of Ryan Dickey and Brian Richardson did not have to do with any allegations of wrongdoing or political bias. (CNBC / CNN)

6/ A senior Justice Department lawyer said Christopher Steele told him two years ago that Russian intelligence believed "they had Trump over a barrel," according to multiple people familiar with the previously unreported details. Bruce Ohr, who testified behind closed doors this week to the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, also said Trump campaign aide Carter Page had met with more-senior Russian officials than previously acknowledged. Ohr's meeting with Steele occurred on July 30, 2016, and the FBI opened its counterintelligence investigation the next day, but for entirely different reasons: the report that Russian hackers had penetrated Democratic email accounts, and George Papadopoulos' contacts with Russians who said they had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of emails. Earlier this month, Trump proposed stripping Ohr of his security clearance and has asked "how the hell" he remains employed. (Associated Press / CNN)

  • House Democrats accused Republicans of misusing "sensitive" documents during their closed-door interview with Bruce Ohr. Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Elijah Cummings say Republican lawmakers "never introduced these documents into the official record, never marked them as exhibits, never explained how they obtained them, and never provided copies to Democratic staff participating in the interview." (Politico)

7/ Trump is considering Washington litigator Pat Cipollone as a replacement for White House counsel Don McGahn. Trump interviewed Cipollone earlier this week. Cipollone is a former Justice Department attorney who practices commercial litigation. (Reuters / CNN / Washington Post)

poll/ 60% of Americans disapprove of Trump's job performance. 36% approve, which matches his all-time low, and makes Trump's average approval rating lower than any president since the 1940s. 49% say Congress should begin impeachment proceedings, while 46% say Congress should not. And 53% believe Trump has tried to interfere with Robert Mueller's investigation in a way that amounts to obstruction of justice. 63% support Mueller's investigation. (ABC News / Washington Post)

Day 588: Shape up.

1/ The Trump administration has been denying passports to U.S. citizens and accusing hundreds of Latinos along the southern border of using fake birth certificates to obtain citizenship. The State Department said it "has not changed policy or practice regarding the adjudication of passport applications," but news reports suggest a dramatic shift in both immigration enforcement and the way passports are issued. Some passport applicants with U.S. birth certificates are being imprisoned at immigration detention centers and entered into deportation proceedings, while others have had their passports revoked when trying to reenter the United States. (Washington Post / CNN)

2/ Trump said Jeff Sessions's job is safe at least until the midterm elections in November. Meanwhile, Trump has been lobbying "any senator who will listen" to him about firing and replacing Sessions. It's unclear if the Senate would be able to confirm a replacement for Sessions due to its legislative schedule, which includes a government funding package and the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. (Bloomberg / Politico / CNBC)

3/ George Papadopoulos accepted a plea deal from Robert Mueller and pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts during the campaign with a professor who had "substantial connections to Russian government officials." Papadopoulos was strongly considering backing away from the deal earlier this month, but decided to accept the deal and cooperate with Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. (ABC News)

  • Roger Stone expects Robert Mueller to indict him, claiming that Mueller's team wants "to frame me for some nonexistent crime to silence me and pressure me to testify against the president." There are questions about Stone's interactions with WikiLeaks and the hacker Guccifer 2.0 during the 2016 election campaign. U.S. officials have said that WikiLeaks was acting as an agent of Russia, and Mueller has labeled Guccifer 2.0 a Russian intelligence front. (NBC News)

4/ Trump accused NBC of "fudging" his May 2017 interview where he admitted that the decision to fire James Comey was related to the Russia investigation. Comey was the FBI director at the time and was in charge of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. During the NBC interview, Trump admitted that he had "this Russia thing" in mind when he decided to fire Comey. On Thursday, Trump accused NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt on Twitter of "fudging my tape on Russia," but provided no evidence to support the accusation. (Reuters)

  • Trump appeared to admit via tweet that he tried to fire Robert Mueller. "I am very excited about the person who will be taking the place of Don McGahn as White House Councel! [sic]" Trump tweeted. "I liked Don, but he was NOT responsible for me not firing Bob Mueller or Jeff Sessions. So much Fake Reporting and Fake News!" Trump has denied that he has tried to fire Mueller in the past, calling the claims "Fake News, folks. Fake News." (Washington Post)

  • Trump teased that he was "very excited" to name Don McGahn's replacement, but isn’t ready to share the new White House counsel's name. (Associated Press)

  • Trump also lashed out at top NBC and CNN executives on Twitter and called on AT&T to fire CNN chief Jeff Zucker. "The hatred and extreme bias of me by @CNN has clouded their thinking and made them unable to function," Trump tweeted. "But actually, as I have always said, this has been going on for a long time. Little Jeff Z has done a terrible job, his ratings suck, & AT&T should fire him to save credibility!" He also predicted that NBC News chairman Andrew Lackey will be fired. "What's going on at @CNN," Trump tweeted, "is happening, to different degrees, at other networks - with @NBCNews being the worst. The good news is that Andy Lack(y) is about to be fired(?) for incompetence, and much worse. When Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia, they were hurt badly!" (Politico)

5/ Trump called on the U.S. Supreme Court chief justice to tell the head of the FISA Court to question FBI and Justice Department officials about the use of the Steele dossier in the Russia probe. "This is a fraud on the court," Trump tweeted. "The Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is in charge of the FISA court. He should direct the Presiding Judge, Rosemary Collier [sic], to hold a hearing, haul all of these people from the DOJ & FBI in there, & if she finds there were crimes committed, and there were, there should be a criminal referral by her." Judge Rosemary Collyer presides over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, which oversees electronic surveillance and search warrant requests from federal authorities. (Reuters)

6/ In 2016, Trump and Michael Cohen tried to buy all the damaging information that the National Enquirer and American Media Inc. had about Trump, dating all the way back to the 1980s. The plan was never finalized, but Trump and Cohen appear to mention it during a recorded conversation between the two that was released by Cohen's attorney last month. "It's all the stuff — all the stuff, because you never know," Cohen says on the tape. American Media Inc. chairman and CEO David Pecker has reportedly been cooperating with the special counsel's investigators for months. (Axios / New York Times)


Notables.

  1. Trump wants to move ahead with imposing tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports next week. China threatened to retaliate with duties on $60 billion of U.S. goods. The U.S. has so far imposed levies on $50 billion in Chinese goods, with Beijing retaliating in kind. Stocks fell when the news was released. (Bloomberg)

  2. Trump threatened to pull out of the World Trade Organization "if they don't shape up" and treat the U.S. better. Trump has long criticized the organization, saying earlier this year that the U.S. has been "treated very badly" by the group, describing it as an "unfair situation." (Bloomberg / CNBC)

  3. Trump canceled pay raises for almost 2 million civilian federal employees in order to "put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course." The 2.1% across-the-board pay increase was scheduled to take effect in January. In contrast to civilian employees, troops are due for a 2.6% pay increase next year, their biggest pay raise since 2009. (CNBC / Axios / Associated Press / Politico)

  4. White House ethics lawyer Stefan Passatino is leaving the Trump administration. Passatino helped several White House officials grapple with a string of ethics violations and controversies, including Kellyanne Conway's March 2017 violation of government ethics laws when she told people to "go buy Ivanka's stuff." (NBC News)

  5. Trump blamed China for derailing the rapprochement process between the U.S. and North Korea, suggesting that China is putting "tremendous pressure" on Pyongyang as a result of the ongoing trade disputes between the two economic superpowers. Trump issued four tweets – what he called a White House statement – saying that he "feels strongly that North Korea is under tremendous pressure from China because of our major trade disputes with the Chinese Government." During the same tweetstorm, Trump said his relationship with Kim Jong Un was "a very good and warm one," and referred to the Chinese leader as "China’s great President Xi Jinping." (NPR)

  6. The Justice Department sided with a group of Asian-Americans rejected by Harvard, who say the university has systematically discriminated against them by artificially capping the number of qualified Asian-Americans from attending the school to advance less qualified students of other races. In July, the Education and Justice Departments said that the Trump administration was abandoning Obama-era policies that called on universities to consider race as a factor when trying to diversify their campuses. (New York Times / Politico / Associated Press)

  7. A California man threatened to shoot Boston Globe employees in the head for their editorial response to Trump's attacks on the news media. According to a phone recording, Robert Chain called the paper and said: "You're the enemy of the people, and we're going to kill every fucking one of you." The FBI arrested Chain on Thursday in California. He owned several guns and had recently purchased a small-caliber rifle. (New York Times / Associated Press / Justice Department)

Day 587: Don't let it happen.

1/ White House counsel Don McGahn will step down after the midterms or after Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court. McGahn was the top lawyer for the Trump campaign and has repeatedly considered resigning as White House counsel. He's played the role of peacemaker between the White House and Robert Mueller's team, as well as acting as Trump's liaison to the Justice Department and Congress. Trump surprised McGahn with his Twitter announcement, since McGahn had not discussed his plans directly with Trump. McGahn's successor will likely be Emmet Flood, an attorney who advised the Clinton administration during his impeachment hearings and served as White House counsel under George W. Bush. McGahn has said privately that after he steps down he plans to continue assisting Trump throughout his reelection campaign. Trump asked former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter "several times" last year if he would take McGahn's position. Porter reportedly told him that he didn't feel "he was qualified for the role." Republicans see McGahn as a stable force and accessible official, and were dismayed by Trump's announcement. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley said he hopes "it's not true" that McGahn is leaving and urged Trump to not "let that happen." (Axios / New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ Betsy DeVos is preparing new education policies that narrow the definition of campus sexual harassment, strengthening the rights of students accused of assault, harassment or rape, while reducing the school's liability. The proposed rules would hold schools accountable only for formal complaints filed with "an official who has the authority to institute corrective measures" regarding conduct that occurred on campuses. The new rules would also establish a higher legal standard to determine whether schools improperly addressed complaints. (New York Times)

3/ Trump accused China of hacking Hillary Clinton's emails during the 2016 presidential campaign. "Hillary Clinton's Emails, many of which are Classified Information, got hacked by China," Trump tweeted. "Next move better be by the FBI & DOJ or, after all of their other missteps (Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr, FISA, Dirty Dossier etc.), their credibility will be forever gone!" In an earlier tweet, Trump joked that Russia might be the culprit: "China hacked Hillary Clinton's private Email Server. Are they sure it wasn't Russia (just kidding!)? What are the odds that the FBI and DOJ are right on top of this? Actually, a very big story. Much classified information!" Trump offered no evidence to support his claims. (Reuters)

  • The FBI refuted Trump's claim that China hacked Clinton's emails, saying "the FBI has not found any evidence that (Clinton) servers were compromised." (NBC News)

4/ Trump said his administration "did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico" despite the official death toll rising to 2,975. Last year, Trump awarded himself a "10 out of 10" on disaster recovery efforts during an Oval Office meeting with Puerto Rico's governor. (CNN)

5/ NATO is considering naming its new headquarters after the late Sen. John McCain, who made frequent visits to NATO member countries throughout his political career. McCain also criticized Russia's efforts to undermine the alliance, and voiced disappointment with Trump's handling of the U.S. relationship with NATO partners. (CNBC)

6/ Leaders from Japan and North Korea met in Vietnam last month without informing the United States. Japan decided not to tell the U.S. about the meeting because of growing concerns that it can't rely on the Trump administration to lobby on its behalf about key domestic issues in North Korea, such as the abduction of Japanese citizens. The decision to keep the U.S. out of the loop about the meeting reportedly caused "irritation" among U.S. officials. (The Telegraph)

7/ Giuliani was paid to lobby the Romanian president on behalf of a global consulting firm, but the position he was paid to take contradicted the U.S. government's official position. Giuliani was being paid by Freeh Group International Solutions when he sent a letter to President Klaus Iohannis last week criticizing the "excesses" of Romania's National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), contradicting the U.S. State Department's support for the Romanian agency. Although Giuliani did not claim to represent the views of the Trump administration, Giuliani did not disclose in the letter that he was acting on behalf of another client. (Politico)

8/ Leaked emails reveal that a former Homeland Security policy analyst who resigned last week has ties to white nationalists. The emails show that Ian M. Smith had previously been in contact with a group that included known white nationalists as they planned some of their events. One email was addressed to, among other people, prominent white nationalist leader Richard Spencer. Another email includes Jared Taylor, founder of the white nationalist publication American Renaissance. "I no longer work at DHS as of last week," Smith said when contacted via email, "and didn't attend any of the events you've mentioned." (The Atlantic)

9/ A second Trump Organization employee discussed a potential immunity deal with federal prosecutors. The employee ultimately did not receive immunity and was not called to testify before the grand jury. Allen Weisselberg was granted immunity for providing information about Michael Cohen. (CNN)

poll/ 55% of voters under 30 say they plan to vote in the midterm elections, about 25% are unsure if they'll vote, and 19% say they will probably not vote. 60% of millennials have an unfavorable impression of the Republican Party. 27% say they approve of the job Trump is doing. 44% of millennial voters have a favorable view of the Democratic Party. (NBC News / Vox)

poll/ 63% of voters think Trump should voluntarily agree to an interview with Robert Mueller. 55% say they believe Mueller's investigation will be fair and accurate, compared to only 35% who say they believe Trump's denials of collusion with Russia during his campaign. (The Hill)


Dept. of Primaries

  1. Rep. Martha McSally easily defeated former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Kelli Ward in the Arizona Republican primary election. With 58 percent of precincts reporting, McSally received 51.4 percent of the vote (196,452 votes), while Ward received 28.6 percent (109,105 votes), and Arpaio only managed to secure 20 percent (76,517 votes). (NBC News)

  2. A Trump-backed Republican and a Bernie Sanders-backed Democrat won their respective gubernatorial primaries in Florida. Rep. Ron DeSantis won the Republican nomination, while Andrew Gillum, currently the mayor of Tallahassee, will be the Democratic nominee. (Washington Post / Vox / New York Times)

  3. DeSantis warned Florida voters not to "monkey this up" by electing his Democratic opponent. If elected, Andrew Gillum would be the state's first African American governor. (NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

Day 586: Serious situation.

1/ North Carolina's congressional district maps were unconstitutionally gerrymandered in favor of Republicans and new maps may have to be drawn before the midterm elections, a panel of three federal judges ruled. The judges acknowledged that primary elections have already occurred but said they were reluctant to allow voting to take place in districts that have twice been found to violate constitutional standards. North Carolina legislators are likely to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. (Washington Post / CNN)

2/ Trump accused Google of being "RIGGED" against him because the "search results for 'Trump News'" show mostly "BAD" coverage about him from the "Fake News Media." Trump charged that Google was limiting "fair media" coverage about him and "suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good," declaring it a "very serious situation" and promising that it "will be addressed!" Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said the Trump administration is "taking a look" at whether Google should be regulated. (New York Times / Reuters / Axios / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • Google Responds: "Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don't bias our results toward any political ideology. Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users' queries. We continually work to improve Google Search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment." (CNBC)

  • Trump's Twitter tirade followed a Lou Dobbs segment that aired Monday night, in which the Fox Business host discussed an article titled "96 Percent of Google Search Results for 'Trump' News Are from Liberal Media Outlets." The article's author admitted that the data was "not scientific." (Axios / CNN)

3/ The USDA will pay $4.7 billion to farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs from China stemming from Trump's trade war. The initial payment is part of some $12 billion in aid Trump promised to farmers in July. Starting Sept. 4, the USDA's Farm Service Agency will provide payments to corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean and wheat farmers. Soybean farmers will receive $3.7 billion, pork producers will get $290 million, and cotton farmers will receive $277 million. A separate program will be used to buy $1.2 billion in products unfairly targeted by "unjustified retaliation," according to the USDA. (NPR / USA Today / ABC News / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Trump urged evangelical ministers to campaign for Republicans from the pulpit, warning them that they're "one election away from losing everything" if Republicans don't retain control of Congress. Trump threatened that Democrats "will overturn everything that we've done and they'll do it quickly and violently. And violently. There's violence." Trump also repeated his debunked claim that he had gotten "rid of" a law prohibiting churches and charitable organizations from endorsing political candidates. The law remains on the books, after efforts to kill it in Congress last year failed. (New York Times / NBC News)

5/ Trump was involved in the decision to cancel a decade-long plan to move the FBI to a new consolidated headquarters in the Maryland or Virginia suburbs, a Government Services Administration inspector general report says. The current FBI headquarters sits across the street from the Trump International Hotel. Last year, the Trump administration announced it would not relocate the FBI to the suburbs and would redevelop the current site instead. The inspector general concluded that "GSA did not include all of the costs in its Revised FBI Headquarters Plan" and the rebuilding proposal selected by the FBI would cost more, rather than less, than the plan to move the FBI to the suburbs. The inspector general also noted that GSA employees were instructed "not to disclose any statements made by the president" as part of its review of the matter, citing executive privilege. (CBS News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Roll Call / Washington Post)

poll/ 64% of Americans believe Michael Cohen's claim that Trump ordered him to make illegal payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to keep them quiet. 44% believe Congress should start impeachment proceedings. (Axios)


Notables.

  1. New York City's Department of Buildings cited Kushner Companies for 42 violations and $210,000 in fines for submitting false permit information at 17 buildings in an attempt to remove rent-regulated tenants. The company claims that the violations were "paperwork errors" and will have the opportunity to contest the citations. Tenant activists also issued a report that suggests an investment group led by Michael Cohen falsified construction permits by claiming that three buildings in Manhattan were vacant or had no rent-controlled tenants, when in fact they did. (New York Times)

  2. In June, Trump told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: "I remember Pearl Harbor." He then proceeded to condemn Japan's economic policies, bringing up the U.S. trade deficit with the country. (Washington Post)

  3. Paul Manafort's defense team met with prosecutors before he was convicted last week to discuss a second set of charges against him, but they were unable to reach a deal. The discussions over the second set of charges stalled over issues raised by Robert Mueller, although the specific issues in question remain unclear. The point of the talks was to prevent a second, related trial for Manafort, which is scheduled for Sept. 17. Prosecutors and defense attorneys have been arguing over how to describe the second case to the jury, as well as which pieces of evidence can be presented during the trial. (Wall Street Journal)

  4. Lanny Davis says he was an anonymous source for a CNN story published in July that claimed his client, Michael Cohen, privately said that Trump knew in advance about the infamous Trump Tower meeting between Trump Jr. and Russians. The story said Cohen claimed to have personally witnessed Trump Jr. informing his father about the June 2016 meeting. Davis admitted that he served as an anonymous source for multiple news outlets seeking to confirm the story after CNN published it. Now, Davis says he is not certain that the claim is accurate and he regrets his role as anonymous source and his subsequent denial of his involvement in the reporting. Other news outlets that originally confirmed CNN's reporting have since retracted their own stories, but CNN has not. "We stand by our story," CNN said in a statement, "and are confident in our reporting of it." (BuzzFeed News / The Intercept)

  5. Trump privately revived the idea of firing Jeff Sessions earlier this month. Trump's attorneys believe they have persuaded him — for now — not to fire Sessions while Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign is ongoing. (Washington Post)

  6. Trump belatedly issued a proclamation of praise for Sen. John McCain and ordered the American flag to be flown at half-staff following bipartisan criticism and public pressure. Trump had ordered the flag back to full staff two days after McCain's death, sparking outrage from both lawmakers and members of the public, including many in his own party. (New York Times / NBC News)

  7. Republican Sen. James Inhofe said John McCain was "partially to blame" for the controversy over the lowering of the White House flag to honor of his death. Inhofe said McCain was to blame "because he is very outspoken" and "he disagreed with the President." (CNN)

Day 585: A cutthroat death match.

1/ The U.S. and Mexico reached an agreement to end the North American Free Trade Agreement and replace it with the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement. Trump called the new name for the trade deal "elegant," because the NAFTA name had "a bad connotation" and was a job-killing "disaster" for the U.S. The preliminary agreement excludes Canada, as Trump has repeatedly criticized the country's trade practices. Canadian leaders have insisted they will not sign a deal that does not work in their favor. The preliminary deal will last for 16 years and be reviewed every six years. (New York Times / Reuters / Associated Press / CNBC)

2/ A former doorman at Trump World Tower is now free to discuss "information regarding Donald Trump's illegitimate child" – the one he fathered with an ex-housekeeper in the late 1980s. Dino Sajudin entered into a "source agreement" with American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, on Nov. 15, 2015, but he was "recently" released from the contract, according to his attorney. In April, Sajudin said he had previously been "instructed not to criticize President Trump's former housekeeper due to a prior relationship she had with President Trump which produced a child." At the time, AMI called Sajudin's story "not credible." (CNN / New Yorker / Source PDF)

3/ Trump refused to approve a White House statement honoring John McCain's military service, which called McCain a "hero." Sarah Huckabee Sanders, John Kelly, and other White House staffers advocated for a statement lauding McCain's career, but Tr