Situational awareness: The Securities and Exchange Commission has settled charges against professional boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and music producer DJ Khaled for failing to disclose payments they received for promoting investments in initial coin offerings.
- Mayweather will pay more than $600,000 in fees. Khaled will pay more than $150,000.
1 big thing: The Cohen confessions
A November surprise: Michael Cohen pleads guilty for lying to Congress about the plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, shining a freshly uncomfortable spotlight on President Trump.
Why it matters: "The new guilty plea firmly — and dramatically — shifts the narrative and timeline of the Russia investigation," journalist Garrett Graff writes for WIRED:
- "While pursuing the White House, Donald Trump was also pursuing personal business deals with a foreign adversary that, according to Mueller’s earlier indictments, engaged in a multifaceted, complex, expensive, and long-running criminal conspiracy to help deliver Trump to the presidency."
Between the lines: The former Trump lawyer reportedly said in court that his three lies were out of loyalty to the president, per NBC News' Tom Winter.
The lies, listed:
- Lie #1: The Moscow Project ended in January 2016 and was not discussed extensively with others in the Trump Organization.
- Lie #2: Cohen never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the Moscow Project and "never considered" asking President Trump to travel for the project.
- Lie #3: Cohen did not recall any Russian government response or contact about the Moscow Project.
What they're saying: Trump told reporters today that Cohen is "a weak person" for pleading guilty, adding he thinks Cohen is "lying to get a reduced sentence."
- In his written responses to Mueller, Trump acknowledged that he discussed plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow with Cohen before the deal fell through, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the New York Times.
The bottom line: "The potential innocent explanations for Trump's behavior over the last two years are being steadily stripped away," Graff tweeted.
- "Mueller has identified two separate criminal conspiracies that aided Trump in 2016: Russian cyber ops & Cohen's campaign finance violations. Today, we learned that the central figure in one (Cohen) was trying to contact and get help from the central figure in the other (Putin)."
Bonus: Pic du jour
President Trump answers questions from the press while departing the White House for South America.
2. What you missed
- GM says company president Dan Ammann will become CEO of Cruise, its self-driving unit. This is a concrete example of how GM sees self-driving as central to its future. Go deeper.
- Women were the driving force behind Democrats taking back the House, winning over 60% of the House seats that the party flipped in the 2018 midterms, according to the New York Times.
- Millennial-focused content site Mic has laid off most of its staff amid a rumored acquisition by Bustle Digital Group that was reportedly for less than $5 million. Go deeper.
- Farm Bill deal: After months of negotiations, legislators have finally reached an agreement in principle on the $400 billion farm bill that jeopardizes benefits and subsidies for farmers across the country if not passed by the end of the year, the Washington Post reports.
- California Democratic Party chair Eric Bauman resigned today after being accused of multiple instances of sexual misconduct, which prompted Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom to urge him to step down. Go deeper.
- P.S. Today's Axios Pro Rata podcast focused on gene editing of embryos and the prospect of "designer babies," based on recent claims by a controversial Chinese scientist. Go deeper.
3. 1 book thing
The N.Y. Times Book Review's best fiction and nonfiction books of 2018, in no particular order:
- "Asymmetry," by Lisa Halliday (Simon & Schuster)
- "The Great Believers," by Rebecca Makkai (Viking)
- "The Perfect Nanny," by Leila Slimani (Penguin Books)
- "There There," by Tommy Orange (Alfred A. Knopf)
- "Washington Black," by Esi Edugyan (Alfred A. Knopf)
- "American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey Into the Business of Punishment," by Shane Bauer (Penguin Press)
- "Educated: A Memoir," by Tara Westover (Random House)
- "Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom," by David W. Blight (Simon & Schuster)
- "How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence," by Michael Pollan (Penguin Press)
- Small Fry," by Lisa Brennan-Jobs (Grove Press)