Dave Lawler
Featured

Trump goes after McCain over health care vote

President Trump tweeted at Senator John McCain, who is currently in treatment for brain cancer, over his decision to oppose the latest Republican health care plan:

The back-and-forth: McCain was more subtle in critiquing Trump during a 60 Minutes interview Sunday. He said the two had very different upbringings, after noting that Trump had not apologized for saying he was not a war hero.

Featured

Report: Bannon, Priebus, Ivanka used private email in White House

From L-R, Stephen Miller, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon. Photo: Carolyn Kaster / AP

Several current and former senior Trump administration officials occasionally used private email to conduct government business, the NY Times reports. The officials named: Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Ivanka Trump, Gary Cohn, Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner (Politico had previously reported Kushner sent or received about 100 emails about White House matters using his private address).

Why it matters: Trump railed against Hillary Clinton incessantly during the campaign for her use of private email as Secretary of State. Government officials are supposed to use their government accounts so their communications will be stored, and failing to do so can cause security risks.
Featured

Supreme Court cancels hearing on Trump's travel ban

Justice Neil Gorsuch shakes hands with Chief Justice John Roberts outside the U.S. Supreme Court. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The Supreme Court will no longer hold a hearing on October 10 on the constitutionality of President Trump's travel ban, now that the ban has been replaced by an updated order barring or restricting travel from 8 countries.
Where things stand: The court has not cancelled the case altogether, but will allow both sides to file fresh briefs on Trump's new order by October 5. But, per the NYT's Adam Liptak, "by canceling the arguments for now, the court signaled that it may never decide the case."
Featured

Trump's new travel ban

Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

President Trump has declared new bans or restrictions on travel from eight countries, effectively replacing the existing travel ban that is due to expire. The returning countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. The new additions: North Korea, Chad and Venezuela. With the exception of Venezuela, which faces lighter restrictions, nearly all nationals of these countries will be banned indefinitely.

One obvious change is that, after the earlier policy was labeled a Muslim ban, the Trump administration has added countries that are not majority-Muslim. The policy will take effect October 18, and officials said countries will be added and removed from the list based on security conditions. The Supreme Court is still set to rule on the constitutionality of the prior ban next month.

Featured

The NFL's day of protest

New England Patriots players kneel during the national anthem. Photo: Michael Dwyer / AP

Beginning with the early game in London where several players from both the Ravens and Jaguars knelt during the national anthem, and heading into the first full slate of games when the Steelers declined to take the field for the anthem and teams across the league locked arms in solidarity, the NFL is showing collective resistance today to President Trump's comments about players who protest during the anthem.

Before the games, Trump tweeted that those who refuse to stand should be fired or suspended. After the much-expanded protests, Trump followed up: "Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!" He later told reporters the situation had "nothing to do with race."

Go deeper: The Great Divider, What Trump/NFL are thinking, the conversation, Trump on NFL/race.

  • One more Trump tweet: "Courageous Patriots have fought and died for our great American Flag --- we MUST honor and respect it! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers didn't take the field for the anthem. Coach Mike Tomlin said he didn't want the players to have to choose whether to protest or not. Tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army ranger, stood alone and sang along.
  • Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a friend and donor of Trump's, said he was "deeply disappointed" by the president's remarks.
  • Shahid Khan, the Jaguars owner who gave $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee, linked arms with his players in a show of solidarity.
  • Rex Ryan, the former Bills coach who once introduced Trump at a rally, said he was "pissed off" by Trump's descriptions of protesting players.
Featured

Trump says his criticism of anthem protests "nothing to do with race"

Baltimore Ravens players kneel in protest. Photo: AP / Matt Dunham

At a brief impromptu press conference from Bedminister, N.J., President Trump said his demand that NFL players who kneel during the national anthem has "nothing to do with race," per Abby Phillip of the Washington Post. The quotes:

  • "This has nothing to do with race. I've never said anything about race."
  • "I think the owners should do something about it. it's very disrespectful to our flag and our country."

The backstory: Colin Kaepernick, the ex-49ers QB who started the protest, said it was about the treatment of minorities as second class citizens in the U.S., and nearly all of those who have elected to kneel are black.

Featured

Most Americans don't trust Trump over North Korea

President Trump speaks at the United Nations. Photo; MediaPunch/IPX

Just 37% of Americans trust Trump to handle the North Korea standoff responsibly, while 72% trust U.S. military leaders to do so according to a new ABC/WaPo poll. For what it's worth, 8% trust Kim Jong-un.

Two-thirds of Americans are opposed to the idea of a preemptive strike against North Korea, while most support increasing sanctions and most oppose more concessions to get North Korea to the negotiating table.

  • Overall Trump approval: 39%
  • Approval of his hurricane response: 56%
  • Of his approach to immigration: 35%
  • Does he unite or divide the country? Unite: 28%. Divide: 66%
More on North Korea: 83% of Americans say North Korea poses a threat to the U.S., and 70% say that threat is "serious."
Featured

How the Russia probe closed in on Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort at the Republican convention. Photo: Carolyn Kaster / AP

Paul Manafort was in the room when Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer hoping for dirt on Hilary Clinton. One month later, he reportedly sent an email to a Russian billionaire offering private briefings on the campaign. Before he even signed on with Trump, the FBI was reportedly secretly monitoring his calls.

Now, he's at the center of Robert Mueller's investigation. Here's a look at how he got there:

2006

  • Manafort begins working for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties with Vladimir Putin, for $10 million per year, per the Washington Post. Around the same time, he's hired by a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.

2014

  • The FBI begins investigating Manafort over his consulting work in Ukraine.
  • As a part of that investigation, the FBI obtains a FISA warrant to wiretap Manafort, per CNN. It was discontinued at some point in 2016, and later renewed. The CNN report emerged in September, 2017.

2016

  • March 28: Manafort joins the Trump campaign, tasked with wrangling delegates for the convention.
  • Spring 2016: A new FBI investigation into Manafort is opened, relating to his business ties to foreign countries, including Russia, per the NY Times.
  • May 19: Manafort is promoted to campaign chairman.
  • June 9: Manafort attends the Trump Tower meeting at which Donald Trump Jr. had been told he'd receive dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government's efforts to help his father win. News of the meeting emerged in July, 2017.
  • July 7: Manafort reportedly sends an email to an associate of Deripaska, asking if the billionaire would like private briefings on the campaign. News of the email emerged in September, 2017.
  • August 12: The AP reports on secret ledgers that record $12.7 million in payments to Manafort from the Ukrainian political party, the Party of Regions.
  • August 19: Manafort quits the campaign, with Jared Kushner reportedly telling him if he doesn't resign immediately he'll be fired.
  • Late 2016: The FBI renews its wiretaps of Manafort's communications, per CNN.
  • November 8: Trump is elected president.

2017

  • March 20: Sean Spicer claims Manafort "played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time" on the campaign.
  • May 17: Robert Mueller is named special prosecutor in the Russia probe 8 days after Trump removed James Comey as FBI director.
  • May: Deripaska says he'll cooperate with the Congressional Russia investigations in exchange for full immunity. The offer is declined.
  • June 27: Manafort registers as a foreign agent.
  • July 20: The Wall St Journal reports that Mueller is investigating Manafort for possible money laundering.
  • July 25: Manafort testifies in private before staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee, and turns over his notes from the Trump Jr. meeting. The Senate Judiciary Committee withdraws a subpoena ordering him to appear, and he agrees to produce documents for that committee.
  • July 26: The FBI raids Manafort's home in Virginia. After the search, prosecutors on the Mueller probe tell Manafort they plan to indict him, per the NY Times. News of the raid emerged in early August.
  • September 8: Unwittingly communicating with a prankster, Trump lawyer Ty Cobb writes, "Manafort and Flynn have issues separate and apart from the WH that will cause the investigation to linger."
  • September 15: Jason Meloni, Manafort's spokesman, testifies before Mueller's grand jury. Manafort's lawyer had also been subpoenaed.
  • September 20: CNN reports that Mueller's is looking into "possible crimes committed as far back as January 2006" by Manafort.
Featured

Tillerson: Trump declined to tell world leaders his Iran deal decision

Tillerson at the press briefing. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

Having just emerged from what he called an "open and candid exchange" with the parties to the Iran nuclear deal, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said President Trump had made up his mind about whether to walk away from the deal, but wouldn't tell the public or other world leaders yet. Taking questions from reporters, he repeatedly emphasized the "significant issues" Trump has with the pact.

"I think it's pretty difficult to say that the expectations of the parties who negotiated this agreement have been met. Perhaps the technical aspects have but in the broader context the aspiration has not."

  • One eyebrow-raising quote: "Prime Minister May [of the U.K.] asked him if he would share [his decision] with her and he said no."
  • On Trump's pronouncement that he's made up his mind: "I didn't know he was going to say today he made a decision. I knew he had."
  • Iran's violations of the "expectations" of the deal: "Since the agreement has been confirmed we have seen anything but a more peaceful, stable region." Tillerson cited Iran's cyber activity, missile tests and support for Bashar al-Assad.
  • On the current U.S. stance: "We expect Iran to fill its commitments, until that time we'll consider our commitments and the president has the matter under consideration."
  • On whether backing out of Iran would undermine attempts at a North Korea deal: "An agreement we would strike with North Korea would be of a very different nature."
The European stance: European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said after the meeting that all parties agreed Iran is living up to the agreement, and that she didn't see any need for renegotiation.
Featured

Report: Manafort offered campaign briefings to Kremlin-linked billionaire

Manafort at the Republican convention. Photo: Matt Rourke / AP

Two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination, Paul Manafort, then his campaign chairman, offered private briefings on the campaign to a Kremlin-linked billionaire, the Washington Post reports.

From the July 7, 2016 email, sent to an intermediary: "If he needs private briefings we can accommodate."

The billionaire: Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past, per the Post.

The key paragraph: "The emails are among tens of thousands of documents that have been turned over to congressional investigators and Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller."

The backdrop: Mueller appears to be closing in on Manafort. His investigation into the longtime political consultant is now reaching back more than a decade, and prosecutors reportedly told him they plan to indict him.

Manafort's response, via a spokesman: The email was an "innocuous" attempt to collect debts from a past client.

Go deeper: FBI wiretapped Manafort before and after election