Dec 5, 2018

Mueller investigation shines light on shady foreign lobbying

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's investigation into Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs, two high-profile Washington lobbying firms under scrutiny for not registering as foreign agents in relation to their work for the pro-Russian Ukrainian government, has escalated in recent weeks, the AP reports.

The big picture: Special counsel Robert Mueller referred the cases to the Southern District of New York earlier this year, when his investigation revealed that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort directed the two firms to lobby on behalf of Ukrainian interests. Once an obscure law, the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) has taken on greater significance in the era of Mueller, per the AP, with investigative crackdowns on Manafort and his associates shining a new light on long-standing, but questionable lobbying practices that have "enriched countless former government officials" across both parties.

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Unemployment rate falls to 13.3% in May

Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May, with 2.5 million jobs gained, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The far better-than-expected numbers show improvements in a job market devastated by the coronavirus pandemic as economies reopen, the government said.

The difficulty of calculating the real unemployment rate

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Note: Initial traditional state claims from the weeks of May 23 and 30, continuing traditional claims from May 23. Initial PUA claims from May 16, 23, and 30, continuing PUA and other programs from May 16; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

While economists predict that today's nonfarm payrolls report will show around 20 million Americans were unemployed in May, it's likely the real number is close to double that.

Why it matters: Traditional economic reports have failed to keep up with the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and have made it nearly impossible for researchers to determine the state of the U.S. labor market or the economy.

1 hour ago - Sports

How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The NBA's Board of Governors approved Thursday the league's 22-team plan to resume play at Walt Disney World — a plan that also includes tentative dates for both this season and next.

Why it matters: The league's proposed trip to Disney World not only impacts this season but could have a domino effect that impacts seasons in the future — and could permanently change what time of year the NBA plays its games.