Mueller filing in U.S. District Court for D.C.

Bob Mueller used the "Track Changes" function in Microsoft Word for Mac to make new accusations against Paul Manafort in a court filing yesterday — a new sign of the special counsel's creative, unsparing approach:

Key quote from the 41-page filing: "Manafort's conduct ... raises serious concerns about his trustworthiness that warrant denial of the motion to release Manafort from home confinement."

  • The backstory, via AP: Prosecutors for the special counsel argued that the former Trump campaign chairman is attempting "to mount a public relations campaign to defend himself while under house arrest."
  • Mueller discovered Manafort "was heavily involved in the drafting of an opinion piece about his involvement in Ukrainian politics. ... Mueller's office had accused Manafort of ghostwriting the op-ed with a colleague who they said had ties to Russian intelligence."
  • The response: "Manafort's attorneys had argued that Manafort had only edited the piece after receiving it from a former Ukrainian public official whom he knew through his consulting work in Ukraine. They also said Manafort hadn't violated the judge's order and was exercising his free speech rights to defend himself."
  • But now — with the filing of page after page of "Track Changes" notations from a document that was "Last saved by paul manafort" — "prosecutors revealed that they knew nearly every detail of that editing process."

Be smart: This is a rough message by Mueller to witnesses and targets that they can be tracked and recorded even when they don't realize it. Every signal Mueller sends — with his early-morning raid on Manafort, his hires of Enron and Mafia prosecutors, and his quick flips — is that he is playing ruthlessly.

P.S. N.Y. Times, on introductory emails to Hope Hicks from Russian government addresses during the transition:

  • "In some ways, the Russian outreach to Ms. Hicks undercuts the idea that the Russian government had established deep ties to the Trump campaign before the election. If it had, Russian officials might have found a better entrée to the White House than unprompted emails to Ms. Hicks."

Go deeper

9 mins ago - World

Nuclear free-for-all: The arms control era may be ending

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki have remained unreplicated for 75 years in part because the U.S. and Soviet Union — after peering over the ledge into nuclear armageddon — began to negotiate.

Why it matters: The arms control era that began after the Cuban Missile Crisis may now be coming to a close. The next phase could be a nuclear free-for-all.

Pelosi, Schumer demand postmaster general reverse USPS cuts ahead of election

Schumer and Pelosi. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Thursday calling for the recent Trump appointee to reverse operational changes to the U.S. Postal Service that "threaten the timely delivery of mail" ahead of the 2020 election.

Why it matters: U.S. mail and election infrastructure are facing a test like no other this November, with a record-breaking number of mail-in ballots expected as Americans attempt to vote in the midst of a pandemic.

2 hours ago - Science

CRISPR co-discoverer on the gene editor's pandemic push

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Brian Ach/Getty Images for Wired and BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating the development of CRISPR-based tests for detecting disease — and highlighting how gene-editing tools might one day fight pandemics, one of its discoverers, Jennifer Doudna, tells Axios.

Why it matters: Testing shortages and backlogs underscore a need for improved mass testing for COVID-19. Diagnostic tests based on CRISPR — which Doudna and colleagues identified in 2012, ushering in the "CRISPR revolution" in genome editing — are being developed for dengue, Zika and other diseases, but a global pandemic is a proving ground for these tools that hold promise for speed and lower costs.