Jan 8, 2019

Manafort allegedly lied about sharing 2016 polling data with Russian operative

Paul Manafort. Photo: Mark Wilson via Getty Images

Special counsel Robert Mueller has accused President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort of lying about sharing polling data related to the 2016 presidential campaign and discussing a secret Ukrainian peace plan with suspected Russian intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik, according to a new court filing.

The big picture: The filing by Manafort's defense attorneys is in response to Mueller's allegation in November that Manafort violated the terms of his plea deal by lying to investigators. However, Manafort's attorneys failed to properly redact some information in the document, revealing some specifics regarding Mueller's allegations against Manafort.

Details:

  • After being shown documents in a meeting with investigators, "Manafort 'conceded' that he discussed or may have discussed a Ukraine peace plan with Mr. Kilimnik on more than one occasion." He acknowledged that he met with Kilimnik in Madrid.
  • Mueller alleges Manafort lied about sharing polling data with Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign. Manafort's attorneys explain that he "was unable to recall specific details prior to having his recollection refreshed."
  • Manafort's attorneys dispute that he intentionally lied to investigators, but have not requested a hearing on whether he breached his plea deal.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The World Health Organization raised its global risk assessment for the novel coronavirus to "very high" Friday, its highest risk level as countries struggle with containing spread of the virus. Meanwhile, National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow this morning tried to reassure the markets, which continued to correct bringing growing fears of a U.S. recession.

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Bernie's plan to hike taxes on some startup employees

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced legislation that would tax nonqualified stock options at vesting, rather than at exercise, for employees making at least $130,000 per year.

The big picture: Select employees at private companies would be taxed on monies that they hadn't yet banked.

Judge rules against Trump policy limiting public comment on energy leasing

Photo: Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday overturned a 2018 Trump administration directive that sought to speed up energy leases on public land by limiting the amount of time the public could comment.

Why it matters: U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush's decision voids almost a million acres of leases in the West, according to The Washington Post. It's a victory for environmentalists, who tried to block the change as part of an effort to protect the habitat of the at-risk greater sage grouse.

  • The ruling invalidated five oil and gas leases in Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, and affected 104,688 square miles of greater sage-grouse habitat, per The Associated Press.
  • Leases in greater sage-grouse habitat will return to allowing 30 days of public comment and administrative protest.

The big picture: From Axios' Amy Harder, this is the latest in a long and convoluted list of regulatory rollbacks the Trump administration is pursuing on environmental rules that courts are, more often than not, rebutting. With Congress gridlocked on these matters, expect the courts to be the default way Trump's agenda faces checks (unless, of course, a Democrat wins the White House this November).