What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Russia’s Social Media Campaign Was More Expansive Than We Thought; Trump’s Transgender Ban Struck Down

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Russia's Social Media Campaign Was Bigger Than We Thought

We produce this news digest every weekday. You can sign up to receive these updates as an email newsletter each morning.

 


 

The day after –> Yesterday, hours after Paul Manafort and his protegé, Richard Gates, surrendered to federal officials to face a dozen counts of money laundering, tax evasion, lying to investigators and the like, that news appeared to be overshadowed by revelations that George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump, attempted to set up multiple meetings with Russians he believed to be connected to the Kremlin in order to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton — and that he had briefed Trump personally on a least one of these efforts. At Lawfare, Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes write that all of this “should, though it probably won’t, put to rest the suggestion that there are no serious questions of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in the latter’s interference on the former’s behalf during the 2016 election.”

As if that weren’t enough intrigue for one day, it turns out that Papadopoulos was arrested in July, pled guilty to lying to investigators, and has been cooperating with special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s probe for the past three months.

This may end up implicating Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has repeatedly claimed that he had no knowledge of any contacts with Russia during the campaign. Marcy Wheeler writes for The Intercept that “the Papadopoulos plea shows that Sessions — then acting as Trump’s top foreign policy adviser — was in a March 31, 2016, meeting with Trump at which Papadopoulos explained ‘he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin.’”

The Republican National Committee paid one of the firms Manafort allegedly used to launder Eastern European money for some work it had “done in coordination with Donald Trump’s election campaign.” Ben Wieder and Kevin Hall have the details on that angle at The Miami Herald.

Callum Borchers reports for The Washington Post that the White House is trying to claim that Papadopoulos was just a volunteer who had little involvement in the campaign. Borchers notes that “the White House previously tried to distance Trump from Paul Manafort,” Trump’s former campaign manager.

The White House wasn’t the only operation that was desperately trying to change the subject. At Mother Jones, Inae Oh looks at how Fox News filled its airwaves on Monday.

New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait writes that “the [Republican] party apparatus is gearing up for a frontal attack on Mueller in particular, and the idea that a president can be held legally accountable in general.” He adds that “the Republican Congress is using its investigative apparatus not to discover the extent of Russian interference in the election, but instead to lash out at Trump’s political opponents.”

And Tony Podesta, who heads a Democratic Party-aligned lobbying outfit that’s also reportedly under investigation for its work with Manafort, “is stepping down from the firm that bears his name,” according to Politico’s Anna Palmer.

Related –> Yesterday, Facebook said that “Russia-based operatives published about 80,000 posts on the social network over a two-year period in an effort to sway US politics and that about 126 million Americans may have seen the posts during that time,” according to David Ingram at Reuters.

And Natasha Bertrand reports for Business Insider that “Twitter will tell Congress this week that Russia-linked accounts ‘generated approximately 1.4 million automated, election-related tweets, which collectively received approximately 288 million impressions’ last year” over the final ten weeks leading up to the election.

A win –> Yesterday, a federal judge in Washington “blocked President Donald Trump from banning transgender people from serving in the US military, handing a victory to transgender service members who accused the president of violating their constitutional rights,” reports Andrew Chung for Reuters.

#HeToo –> Star Trek Discovery actor Anthony Rapp claims that Kevin Spacey molested him at a party in 1986, when Rapp was 14. In a statement, Spacey said he had no recollection of the event, apologized to Rapp nonetheless, and came out as gay. Dominic Patten reports for Deadline Hollywood that after the news broke, Netflix cancelled Spacey’s hit show, House of Cards.

And Hamilton Fish, publisher of The New Republic and a huge figure in the liberal publishing world, is on leave while charges of harassment and abuse are being investigated by the magazine. Jessica Schulberg and Jason Cherkis report for HuffPost that before he was hired, TNR staffers were quietly warned about Fish by their colleagues at The Nation Institute, where Fish had served as president.

Another “not qualified” for judicial selection –> “Another one of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees — this time, to the powerful appellate courts — has been deemed ‘not qualified’ by the American Bar Association,” reports Seung Min Kim for Politico. Leonard Steven Grasz, Trump’s nominee to fill a vacancy on the US 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, is Trump’s second judicial pick “to get a ‘not qualified’ label from the bar association; the first was Charles Goodwin, who has been nominated to a district court in Oklahoma.”

“You are the ones we are waiting for” –>  At Rewire News, Ally Boguhn looks at how the organizers of The Women’s March are trying to harness the enthusiasm that brought 5 million people into the streets to protest Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory and turn it into a sustainable movement.

Civil war –> According to Axios’ Jonathan Swan, Steve Bannon told Trump last week that “he was going ‘off the chain’ to destroy Paul Singer, a New York hedge-fund billionaire who is one of the most influential donors to the Republican Party.” Swan notes that Bannon has always detested Singer as a “globalist,” but would “be surprised if Trump publicly joins the fight against” one of the party’s “most important donors.”

Prison reform on the table –> Samantha Michaels writes at Mother Jones that prison reform isn’t just the right thing to do given our sky-high rate of incarceration, with people of color disproportionately represented, but it also saves cash-strapped states a bundle.

Trump’s gang of climate deniers –> Trump “keeps picking [climate change] deniers for top government positions,” writes Emily Atkin at The New Republic, who warns that “NASA might soon be run by a GOP congressman who blames global warming on the sun.”

Dark Victory in Raqqa” –> The New Yorker has an excellent long-read by Luke Mogelson about the Kurdish fighters who were instrumental in the defeat of ISIS in its self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa, but have been hamstrung by the US offering only limited support because of concerns about inflaming tensions with Turkey.

The bottom line –> “Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said Monday she’s opposed to two tax breaks for the wealthy that her party leaders are pushing for, indicating that her vote won’t be easy to win on President Donald Trump’s top legislative priority,” reports Sahil Kapur for Bloomberg. Collins put her foot down on repealing the estate tax and lowering the rate paid by top earners.

A good question –> At Pacific Standard magazine, Greg Rosalski wonders why we still suffer long commutes. “The personal computer was supposed to kill the office and liberate us from hellish commutes to the city,” he writes, “but the average American commute has only increased since then.”

 
Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.

 


 

We produce this news digest every weekday. You can sign up to receive these updates as an email.

RELATED CONTENT