The new story about Trump's inner circle meeting a Russian is damaging because of who was there, when it happened, what they were up to, and the fact that the explanation changed radically over the weekend.
On Saturday, N.Y. Times had disclosed that the Trump Tower meeting last June with "a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin" had been convened by Don Trump Jr., the president's eldest son, and included son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
A day later, the bombshell: The meeting was not primarily about adoption policy, as Trump Jr. had suggested in a statement. Don Jr. had been "promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton."
The NYT's Maggie Haberman pointed out on Twitter: "This meeting took place at a pivotal moment for Trump, winning Indiana but facing delegate slog prospect."
Under the for-history headline of "TRUMP TEAM MET RUSSIAN OFFERING DIRT ON CLINTON," The Times says: "The accounts of the meeting represent the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help."
Be smart: Intent will be a crucial consideration in whatever special counsel Bob Mueller comes up with. So the reason for this meeting, the changing story, and the foot-dragging on disclosure are all going to matter. It's why veteran Republicans operatives remain mystified that Trump's orbit is going the drip-drip route rather than disclosing all at once what's known about meetings with Russians. Email du jour, from a top Republican: "[T]ranquilize the president so he does not tweet about it."
Trump tweet, 4:50 a.m. yesterday: "Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded ... and safe."
Following widespread ridicule of the idea (including from Republicans), Trump tweeted at 5:45 p.m.: "The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn't mean I think it can happen. It can't-but a ceasefire can,& did!"
... for the Senate health-care bill as Congress returns to town:
Go deeper (story with the graphic above) ... "This is what Washington has been fighting about," by David Nather and Lazaro Gamio.
Big newspaper companies band together to request a limited antitrust exemption to go after "duopoly" Facebook and Google, Axios media trends reporter Sara Fischer reports ...
Go deeper: Wall Street Journal op-ed by David Chavern, president and CEO of the News Media Alliance, "How Antitrust Undermines Press Freedom: Facebook and Google dominate online ads, and news companies can't join forces to compete."
A New York magazine excerpt of Josh Green's book on Trump and Bannon — "Devil's Bargain," out a week from tomorrow — argues that the White House chief strategist (and CEO of Trump's campaign for the fall) is the reason for Trump's "double-down every time it seems like he should retreat":
"Trump loved the dropped-jaw reaction Bannon's ideas produced on cable news. ... Bannon's distinctive vocabulary was another point of his appeal. Bannon gloried in the slights and scorn directed at Trump supporters, proudly insisting that elitist Clintonites looked down on them as 'hobbits,' 'Grunions,' and — co-opting Clinton's own ill-advised term — 'deplorable.'
"Anyone who thought otherwise was a 'mook' or a 'schmendrick.' And Clinton herself was the subject of a steady stream of derision, carefully pitched to Trump's own biases and insecurities and delivered with the passion of a cornerman firing up a boxer for one last grueling round in the ring.
"Clinton, Bannon would insist, was 'a résumé,' 'a total phony,' 'terrible on the stage,' 'a grinder, but not smart,' 'a joke who hides behind a complacent media,' 'an apple-polisher who couldn't pass the D.C. bar exam,' 'thinks it's her turn' but 'has never accomplished anything in her life.'"
As Iraq declares Mosul "liberated" from Isis, families emerge from the ruins, exhausted and mourning.
The BBC witnesses rescue teams searching for survivors in the wreckage of Mosul.
Firefighters remove a U.S. flag from a house as major wildfires rage across California.
L.A. Times: "Raging wildfires across California force nearly 8,000 to evacuate."
"Self-driving cars prove to be labour-intensive for humans: Building the road to autonomous vehicles requires a lot of costly manual input," by Financial Times' Tim Bradshaw in S.F. (subscription):
WashPost Style front, "CNN's Jim Acosta airs the news — and his irritation," by Paul Farhi:
"Under the covers: Sleep technology explodes," by AP's Anne D'Innocenzio:
"Pillows that track your snoozing patterns ... A bed that adjusts based on how much you twist and turn ... One of the more expensive products is Sleep Number's 360 Smart Bed, which runs from $3,449 to $4,999. It makes adjustments based on how restless people are while they're sleeping.
"The Zeeq pillow, which sells for $299 and is from bedding brand REM-Fit, monitors snoring and can gently vibrate to nudge someone into a different sleep position."