What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Manafort Charged with Conspiracy Against US; White Supremacist Rallies Fizzle

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

Daily Reads: Manafort Charged with Conspiracy Against US

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



Manafort Charged with Conspiracy Against US –> Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, “a longtime protégé and junior partner” of Manafort’s, turned themselves into authorities this morning after being indicted by a grand jury on Friday, according to Matt Apuzzo at The New York Times. The indictment contains 12 counts, including: conspiracy against the United States; conspiracy to launder money; being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal; making false and misleading statements and multiple counts of failing to file bank and financial reports.

Additionally, Apuzzo reports for The Times that “one of the early foreign policy advisers to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about a contact with a Russian professor with ties to Kremlin officials.”

Wired’s Garrett Graff thinks that these are likely to be only the first of several indictments to come from special prosecutor Robert Mueller. “Only rarely does the FBI end up charging a single individual….The agency starts at the bottom or periphery of an organization and works inward, layer by layer, until it’s in a position to build a rock-solid case against the person at the top.”

Annie Karni reports for Politico that Team trump was “caught off guard by reports of criminal charges in the Russia probe,” and responded by “focusing their rage on how the information leaked and on a forever target: Hillary Clinton.”

Speaking of which, Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler has a simple explainer of all of the allegations conservatives are throwing around about the Steele Dossier and Hillary Clinton’s supposed involvement in a uranium mining deal with Russian interests. 

At Axios, Steve LeVine writes about the former investigative reporters behind Fusion GPS, the oppo research firm that commissioned the Steele Dossier. “Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress have sought to discredit Fusion as a tool of the Democratic Party,” he writes. “But the history of the firm’s principals suggests no motive apart from the thrill of the chase, and of course earning serious money. The focus on Russia appears to have been a natural course of what they found.”

And lest it get lost in the shuffle, on Friday Sharon LaFraniere and Andrew Kramer reported for The New York Times that the talking points Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya brought to the infamous Trump Tower meeting “closely followed” a document that “one of Russia’s most powerful officials, the prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika” had “given to an American congressman two months earlier, incorporating some paragraphs verbatim.” The revelation “undercuts Ms. Veselnitskaya’s account that she was a purely independent actor when she sat down with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner… and Paul J. Manafort” last June.

No new foreign deals” –> That was what the Donald Trump Organization vowed shortly after Trump’s election, but Annie Gowan reports for The Washington Post that it “is expected to launch two residential projects in India… in the coming weeks, continuing the family’s promotion of the Trump empire despite concerns over the president’s potential conflicts of interest with foreign governments.”

And Maryland’s attorney general “is investigating one of the Kushner family’s real estate businesses after media reports surfaced earlier this year about allegedly abusive debt collection practices and poor conditions at several of its properties,” according to CNN’s Cristina Alesci.

Somewhat relatedly, Lachlan Markay and Sam Stein report for The Daily Beast that “more than 50 percent of President Trump’s nominees have ties to the industries they’re supposed to regulate.”

Black Lives Matter wins in two courts –> A judge threw out a sheriff’s deputy’s lawsuit charging that Black Lives Matter leaders had incited a gunman to ambush him and his fellow officers in Louisiana last year. According to the Associated Press, the judge ruled on Friday that “lawyers for a Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputy wounded in the attack ‘utterly failed to state a plausible claim’ and instead launched a ‘confused attack’ against Black Lives Matter.” Meanwhile, another court “approved a settlement that awards up to $1,000 to [Black Lives Matter] protesters who claim [Baton Rouge] police used excessive force in arresting them.”

So much for the master race –> White supremacists held one and a half “White Lives Matter” rallies in Tennessee on Saturday. Wesley Lowery reports for The Washington Post that protesters outnumbered racists by a wide margin at the first rally, in Shelbyville, taunting them and drowning out their “verbose diatribes” as police kept the two sides separated. “In Murfreesboro, about 20 minutes away, a second set of counterprotesters lined the roadway, ready to challenge attendees of the second rally,” writes Lowery, “but the rally didn’t happen; the bus of white supremacists never showed up.”

Doug Stanglin and Stephanie Ingersoll report for USA Today that around 30 white nationalists eventually did make their way to Murfreesboro, where one was arrested for disorderly conduct and exhibiting “threatening behavior” as approximately 600 counter-protesters looked on.

Hours later, several members of a group of white supremacists who had made their way from the rally to a bar in Nashville allegedly assaulted a white woman who was having a drink with her African-American boyfriend. Holly Fletcher and Juan Buitrago have more on that at The Tennessean.

Cancelled –> Puerto Rico is moving to withdraw from that shady $300 million reconstruction deal it had entered into with a tiny Montana company run by a man with close ties to the Trump administration. Gabe Gutierrez and Daniella Silva have more on that story for NBC News.

America, in one headline –> Anna Gorman from Kaiser Health News, via CNN: “Las Vegas shooting victims struggle to afford mounting medical costs.”

World roundup –> “Demonstrators, some carrying clubs, stormed the Iraqi Kurdistan parliament building in Erbil on Sunday, angry at the decision of Masoud Barzani to step down from the presidency of the region,” according to a Ha’aretz piece based on wire reports. Barzani announced that he would devolve his presidential powers to Kurdistan’s parliament, prime minister and courts a month after his referendum calling for independence failed in a surprising vote.

Sonya Dowsett reports for Reuters that “hundreds of thousands of supporters of a unified Spain filled Barcelona’s streets on Sunday in one of the biggest shows of force yet by the so-called silent majority that has watched as regional political leaders push for Catalan independence.” Despite the label, a new poll shows that in the midst of Spain’s most serious political crisis since transitioning to democracy in 1978, residents of the autonomous northern region are almost exactly split between remaining Spanish and becoming an independent state.

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been under investigation for months for allegedly accepting large “gifts” from donors, including foreign supporters, and, in a separate probe, for offering Israel’s largest newspaper group legislation that would potentially undermine its competitors in exchange for favorable coverage. Chemi Shalev reports for Ha’aretz that “Netanyahu and senior figures in his coalition” are attempting to obstruct justice by “vigorously trying to ‘prevent or foil’ the ongoing criminal investigations… with all the means at their disposal, including undermining witnesses and investigators, inciting against the legal system and changing the laws of the Knesset.”

Be careful what you wish for –> New York magazine’s Michelle Celarier writes that “less than a year ago, the financial Republican elite was making its way through the brass doors of New York City’s Trump Tower to kiss the ring of President-elect Donald Trump.” But now, “after almost a year of congressional inaction and new fears that even the tax cut is slipping away, many are… expressing disgust, disappointment [and] trepidation” behind closed doors. 

Relics –> Slate’s Eleanor Cummins writes about the extraordinary measures museums take to protect their cultural treasures from national disasters. As a result, their buildings now sit on the “cutting edge” of “climate-resilient design.”

A very weird story –> Two candidates running for Jon Tester’s Montana Senate seat — one as a Democrat, the other as a Republican — are using false names and what appear to be partially fabricated biographies, and they may or not be married to each other, according to an investigation by the Billings Gazette’s Tom Lutey, who calls them “Montana’s post-truth political power couple.”

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.