What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Wikileaks Communicated With Trump Jr. During Campaign; Locals Were Wary of Roy Moore

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

Wikileaks Communicated With Trump Jr. During Campaign

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



Exposed –> At The Atlantic, Julia Ioffe reveals a series of “top secret correspondence” between Wikileaks and Donald Trump Jr. Perhaps the key piece of the story was WikiLeaks urging the Trump campaign to give them something damaging to their candidate that they knew was going to come out in the press anyway in order to “dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality.” Then WikiLeaks promised that “the vast amount of stuff that we are publishing on Clinton will have much higher impact, because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source.”

And Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn tries to divine special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutorial strategy based on the lawyers and investigators he’s assigned to probe different aspects of his seemingly sprawling case.

Roy Moore at the mall –> As a fifth woman speaks up about Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore’s alleged predatory behavior toward teenage girls — this time a woman accused him of attempting to rape her when she was 16 — Charles Bethea reports for The New Yorker that locals in the town of Gadsden recall that “Moore had been banned from the [local] mall because he repeatedly badgered teenage girls.” Two of the women who have so far come forward say they first met Moore at the Gadsden Mall.

While Republicans are pondering how to deal with the fallout of these revelation, with some urging Moore to step aside for a potential write-in campaign by another conservative candidate, the head of the Alabama Republican Party, Terry Lathan, said on Sunday that she would block any Republican who ran or endorsed such a campaign — or backed Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones — from seeking office in the state for the next six years. Brandon Moseley has that story at The Alabama Political Reporter.

Speaking of Jones, NBC News reports that “Alabama Democrats have a message for out-of-state allies eager to help in the state’s Senate race: Thanks, but no thanks.” Giles Perkins, the former executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party, told reporters, “This is an Alabama race, and we will decide it here.”

Meanwhile, The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik reports that Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Alabama TV stations “compromised the integrity of a newscast” by joining “the right-wing campaign to defend Moore and discredit the [original Washington Post] story.”

Related –> In an interview with Slate’s Haley Swenson, author Barbara Ehrenreich notes that while this post-Weinstein “moment of reckoning” has so far been driven primarily by relatively affluent women telling their stories, sexual harassment and abuse are endemic among women working as maids and waitresses and in other service jobs. She says the conversation has so far been “woefully class-skewed.”

Yet another investigation? –> Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman report for The New York Times that the Justice Department sent a letter to congressional Republicans assuring them that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering assigning a special prosecutor to investigate a series of GOP-fabricated pseudo-scandals about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. “The letter appeared to be a direct response to Mr. Trump’s statement on Nov. 3, when he said… that longstanding unproven allegations about the Clintons and the Obama administration should be investigated.”

But University of Texas legal scholar Steve Vladeck writes for The Washington Post that while the move “understandably set off alarm bells over the specter of federal prosecutors being directed by their political superiors to pursue political opponents for political reasons,” the letter to the House Judiciary Committee “actually appears to be a properly measured response to a problematic request from Capitol Hill.”

Hate –> Rebecca Savransky reports for The Hill that “hate crimes increased in the US last year, according to new data released by the FBI.” This included “an increase in the number of crimes reported targeting Jews, Muslims and LGBT people.”

Turmoil” –> “Seven of the 16 jurors and alternates in the trial of US Sen. Bob Menendez raised their hands when US District Judge William Walls on Monday morning asked whether they’d heard or read anything about the case,” report Thomas Moriarty and MaryAnn Spoto for NJ.com. “The inquiry came after defense attorneys in the trial noted that widespread news coverage of an excused juror’s public statements may have tainted the remaining members of the panel.” On Monday evening, the jurors told the judge that they’re deadlocked on the case. They’ll return to court today to try to break it.

More disclosure issues –> “One of President Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees did not disclose on publicly available congressional documents that he is married to a senior lawyer in the White House Counsel’s Office,” report Matt Apuzzo and Michael Schmidt for The New York Times. Brett Talley, Trump’s pick to become a federal district judge in Alabama, is married to Ann Donaldson, the chief of staff to the White House counsel, Donald McGahn.

And Zoe Tillman reports for Buzzfeed that Talley also failed to disclose years of posts he’d written about hot-button issues like gun control and immigration as he was required to do as part of the Senate confirmation process.

Retaliation –> While Donald Trump was telling reporters that he believed Vladimir Putin’s denial of any efforts to intervene in the US election, British Prime Minister Theresa May told Putin “that Britain was ready to fight back against attempts to destabilize Western democracy that she said included ‘meddling in elections.’” Robert Hutton has more on that over at Bloomberg.

Freedom to deceive? –> The Supreme Court will hear a First Amendment challenge to a California law that requires so-called “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” — anti-abortion organizations that pose as women’s health clinics in order to lure women away from real clinics that might offer them the choice to terminate their pregnancies — to disclose the fact that they’re not licensed health care facilities. Ian Millhiser writes at ThinkProgress that past rulings may make this case difficult to untangle for justices on both sides of the issue.

Don’t be evil –> Jack Nicas reports for The Wall Street Journal that “Google is facing a new front in its regulatory battles after [Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley] launched a broad investigation into whether the internet giant’s business practices violate the state’s consumer-protection and antitrust laws.”

What comes next –> At New York magazine, Frank Rich warns that the end of Donald Trump’s presidency won’t bring down the curtain on Trumpism. “What we should be worrying about… is the remarkable staying power of the American voters who put these guys in office,” he writes. “They’re in for the long game no matter the fate of the current administration. Trumpism predates Trump and [Vice President Mike] Pence by decades and is a more powerful, enduring, and scary force than either of them.”

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.