Nov 29, 2018

1. The Cohen confessions: Mueller investigation secures plea on Russia lies

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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)."

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Tanker truck appears to plow into Minneapolis protesters

Authorities closed major roads at 5 p.m. in Minneapolis for the march. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

A tanker truck appears to have driven toward thousands of protesters during a demonstration in Minneapolis, video from the scene shows.

Details: Minnesota Department of Public Safety tweeted, "Very disturbing actions by a truck driver on I-35W, inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators. The truck driver was injured & taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He is under arrest. It doesn’t appear any protesters were hit by the truck."

Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. enters 6th day of nationwide protests over George Floyd's killing

A protest in Philadelphia on May 31. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Local news footage captured a tanker truck appearing to drive toward protesters at a peaceful demonstration in Minneapolis, forcing demonstrators to quickly get out of the way of the incoming vehicle on Sunday evening.

The big picture: Protests have continued across the country for six days, as demonstrators call for justice in response to the deaths of George Floyd and other other black Americans who have died in police custody or who have been killed in racist attacks.

Inside Trump's antifa tweet

President Trump at Cape Canaveral on May 30. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As recently as Saturday night, senior administration officials told me that the designation of a violent cohort of far-left activists, antifa, as a terrorist organization was not being seriously discussed at the White House. But that was Saturday.

Behind the scenes: The situation changed dramatically a few hours later, after prominent conservative allies of the president, such as his friend media commentator Dan Bongino, publicly urged a tough response against people associated with antifa (short for "anti-fascist").