Charges in the Russia Inquiry

Tuesday, October 31, 2017Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 8.36.37 AM

Happy Halloween, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:

A Deluge of Developments in the Russia Inquiry

  • Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, was indicted on charges that he funneled millions of dollars through overseas shell companies and used the money to buy luxury cars, real estate, antiques and expensive suits. Also indicted was a longtime associate of Mr. Manafort’s, Rick Gates.
  • Documents were unsealed revealing that a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump during the campaign, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I.
  • According to those documents, a professor with close ties to the Russian government told Mr. Papadopoulos in April 2016 that Moscow had thousands of emails that contained “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
  • Google, Facebook and Twitter revealed new information that underlines the breadth of the Kremlin’s efforts to sow political discord using American technology platforms.
  • Tony Podesta — a major Democratic donor, lobbyist and brother of Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman, John D. Podesta — stepped down from his firm as he came under scrutiny for past work with Mr. Manafort.
  • Read a complete guide to the day’s developments »
Other News in Washington and Politics
  • Jerome H. Powell, a Fed governor, is expected to be appointed the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, two people familiar with the plans said. The Republican has deep roots in the party and in the financial industry.
  • An injunction from a United States district court judge blocked the implementation of Mr. Trump’s ban on transgender service members.
  • A judge says Mr. Trump’s criticisms of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009, have not made a fair trial impossible but may lead to a lighter sentence.
  • American commandos captured a suspect in the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, the Trump administration said, and he is being brought to the United States to face trial.
— The First Draft Team

A White House Story Reveals Shifting Stance on Tax Cuts for the Rich

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, at a news briefing on Monday.
The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, at a news briefing on Monday. Tom Brenner/The New York Times
On Monday, as news about the indictment of President Trump’s former campaign manager dominated the headlines, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, took to the podium to tell a story about journalists, bar tabs and discount beer.
The story, told at the White House press briefing, was meant to illustrate the realities of America’s progressive tax system. Instead, Ms. Sanders’ tale appears to conflict with another story that Mr. Trump likes to tell: the one about how he’s not interested in cutting taxes for the rich.
Earlier this month, in a meeting with members of the Senate Finance Committee, Mr. Trump repeated his oft-told anecdote of a chat he had with his good friend Robert Kraft, the wealthy owner of the New England Patriots, in which Mr. Kraft implored him to cut taxes for the middle class but not the rich. Mr. Trump agreed with that notion, Democrats who attended the meeting said, and declared that his coming tax bill would be focused on the middle class and not on rich people like Mr. Trump.
On Monday, though, Ms. Sanders opened her press briefing with a story that, at its core, is a defense of cutting taxes on high earners because they pay a greater share of taxes than those on the lower end of the income scale.
Read more »
Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, right, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis testified Monday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington.

No Need to Update 9/11 War Law, Trump Officials Tell Congress


Two top Trump administration officials urged Congress not to mess with a 16-year-old law that authorized the war against Al Qaeda — or at least to impose no new limits.

Supreme Court justices tried to make sense of the differences between two similar phrases in an argument on Monday about adequate legal resources for death row inmates.

Supreme Court Delves Into Semantics of English in a Capital Case


A death row inmate in Texas was denied funds for experts and investigators, and the case hinges on the phrases “reasonably necessary” and “substantial need.”

A snorkeler approaches a school of convict tang fish in the shallow waters of Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

Loss of Federal Protections May Imperil Pacific Reefs, Scientists Warn


Fisheries officials call the marine national monuments unnecessary, and their boundaries are said to be under review by the Trump administration.

Mark Halperin in 2016.

A Mirror of Today’s Political Fray in Letters From 50 Years Ago


When constituents wrote to a senator from Tennessee in the 1960s about issues like health care, immigration and racial tensions, they often made the same arguments heard in 2017 — sometimes in the very same phrases.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
Erick Erickson in Fox News:
“As long as Robert Mueller fails to turn up evidence to show Russia stole the election, the American left will continue to believe in an elaborate conspiracy. It is far easier to believe that than to believe Hillary Clinton ran a terrible campaign.”
As far as Mr. Erickson is concerned, news of Paul Manafort’s indictment does not damage the Trump administration. Even though some critics of the president may wish to tie Mr. Manafort’s baggage to President Trump, he writes, the federal prosecutors are mostly interested in financial malfeasance before the campaign. As for theories that the indictment is intended to encourage Mr. Manafort to testify against other members of the Trump campaign, Mr. Erickson argues: “If Vladimir Putin really were involved the chances of Manafort squealing on anybody are really low — and there is no evidence that there is anything to squeal about.” Read more »
From the Left
Joan Walsh in The Nation:
“Clearly, the Papadopoulos guilty plea is today’s worst news for the Trump administration. But the Manafort and Gates indictments aren’t exactly good news.”
Ms. Walsh is careful to point out that the indictments on Monday “didn’t provide an obvious throughline to trouble, let alone impeachment, for Trump.” Perhaps, she speculates, details in the guilty plea entered by George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump during the campaign, are meant to induce Mr. Manafort to also plead guilty, and flip on other campaign officials. Read more »
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