Updated Nov 30, 2018

2. In Mueller investigation, Trump is now "Individual 1"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Until this week, public revelations about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation focused on characters who had been around President Trump.

Driving the news: For the first time, the special counsel's narrative has suddenly come alive with pre-presidential actions and entanglements by Trump himself. "Investigators have now publicly cast Trump as a central figure of their probe into whether Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign," the WashPost reports.

  • Why it matters: This week's disclosures show that "Trump was in close contact with his lieutenants as they made outreach to both Russia and WikiLeaks — and that they tried to conceal the extent of their activities."

The WashPost's Devlin Barrett tweeted: "In both of his guilty plea hearings, [former Trump lawyer] Michael Cohen has gone beyond the court filings to make clear his criminal actions were specifically on Trump's behalf."

  • And ABC News reported that Cohen, with years of visibility into Trump's financial and political dealings, "has spent more than 70 hours in interviews with Mueller's team."

The president of the United States was labeled "Individual 1" in yesterday's court filing by Mueller.

  • The filing, which spelled out the facts that led to Cohen to plead guilty to lying to Congress, began to tie together the New York and Washington branches of the investigation.

Cohen made it plain that Trump "was more involved in discussions over a potential Russian business deal during the presidential campaign than previously known," as the N.Y. Times put it.

  • "Trump’s participation in discussions about building a grand skyscraper in Moscow," The Times reports, "showed how the interests of his business empire were enmeshed with his political ambitions as he was closing in on the Republican nomination for president."
  • The backdrop: "Trump for decades dreamed of building a Trump Tower in the heart of Moscow, a plan that flared and fizzled several times over the years." (AP)

Be smart: That suggests a profit motive for Trump's persistent and unexplained affinity for Russia.

  • Trump said as he left the White House yesterday for Argentina: "I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business. And why should I lose lots of opportunities?"

Trump tweets from Argentina this morning:

  • "Oh, I get it! I am a very good developer, happily living my life, when I see our Country going in the wrong direction (to put it mildly). Against all odds, I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail..."
  • "....Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia. Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project. Witch Hunt!"

P.S. Statement by Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump:

  • "BREAKING NEWS ALERT:  Michael Cohen is a liar. It's no surprise that Cohen lied to Congress. He's a proven liar who is doing everything he can to get out of a long-term prison sentence for serious crimes of bank and tax fraud that had nothing to do with the Trump Organization."
  • "It is important to understand that documents that the Special Counsel's Office is using to show that Cohen lied to Congress were voluntarily disclosed by the Trump Organization because there was nothing to hide."
  • "It is hardly coincidental that the Special Counsel once again files a charge just as the President is leaving for a meeting with world leaders at the G20 Summit in Argentina. The Special Counsel did the very same thing as the President was leaving for a world summit in Helsinki."
  • "With regard to the hotel proposal in Moscow, the President has been completely open and transparent."

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Trump indulges Wall Street with Milken pardon

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Donald Trump loves Wall Street shenanigans. Companies owned by him have declared bankruptcy six different times, and he was once sued alongside Mike Milken for participating in a scheme to artificially inflate junk-bond prices.

Driving the news: Trump pardoned Milken this week, with an official statement positively gushing over Milken's role in developing the wilder side of fixed-income capital markets.

Situational awareness

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Roger Stone sentenced to 40 months in prison
  2. Top NSC official reassigned to Energy Department amid "Anonymous" fallout
  3. Morgan Stanley to buy E*Trade in $13 billion deal
  4. Coronavirus slams companies' 2020 sales projections
  5. Black activist group gives its first presidential endorsement to Elizabeth Warren

Coronavirus kills 2 Diamond Princess passengers and South Korea sees first death

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. U.S. numbers include Americans extracted from Princess Cruise ship.

Two elderly Diamond Princess passengers have been killed by the novel coronavirus — the first deaths confirmed among the more than 600 infected aboard the cruise ship. South Korea also announced its first death Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,100 people and infected over 75,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 114 new deaths since Wednesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health