BuzzFeed News: “In one of the most intriguing episodes of the 2016 presidential campaign, Republican activist Peter W. Smith launched an independent effort to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails to help defeat her and elect Donald Trump. His quest, which reportedly brought him into contact with at least two sets of hackers that he himself believed were Russian, remains a key focus of investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin.”
“Now… FBI agents and congressional investigators have zeroed in on transactions Smith made right as his effort to procure Clinton’s emails heated up. Just a day after he finished a report suggesting he was working with Trump campaign officials, for example, he transferred $9,500 from an account he had set up to fund the email project to his personal account, later taking out more than $4,900 in cash. According to a person with direct knowledge of Smith’s project, the Republican operative stated that he was prepared to pay hackers ‘many thousands of dollars’ for Clinton’s emails — and ultimately did so.”
Omarosa Manigault Newman told NPR that she had heard what she calls the “N-word tape” — a long-rumored but never surfaced tape of Donald Trump on the set of the Apprentice allegedly using the racial slur. But that’s not what it says in her tell-all book Unhinged, due out on Tuesday. She wrote that she had simply heard “from someone who’d been in the room” that a tape existed. “This discrepancy in her account of hearing the tape may cast doubt on other claims in the book, many of which are explosive.”
She also says she walked Michael Cohen, then Trump’s personal lawyer, into the Oval Office for a meeting with President Trump “and saw the president chewing up a piece of paper while Cohen was leaving the office,” the Washington Post reports. Writes Manigault Newman: “I saw him put a note in his mouth. Since Trump was ever the germophobe, I was shocked he appeared to be chewing and swallowing the paper. It must have been something very, very sensitive.”
Axios: The juiciest claims from Omarosa’s book.
Omarosa “has lately been telling people that she’s the one who should be afraid” now that her tell-all book is out and that she has given copies of her Trump tapes to family members for safekeeping in the event that she is murdered,” Politico reports.
“She has also that she is taking meetings in disguise – dressed in a baseball hat, sunglasses and baggy clothes – out of a growing paranoia that the president will come after her.”
Also interesting: “She is also teasing her book as an appetizer, telling friends and acquaintances she has held onto explosive material that she intends to release later – such as the names of illegitimate children she claims Trump has fathered.”
Uh huh. Interesting. Yeah, we are all being played.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) announced that the hearings for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court would be September 4, 5 and 6, the Washington Postreports.
Republicans hope to confirm Kavanaugh before the start of the court session October 1.
The Cook Political Report‘s David Wasserman shares a chart that shows Democrats over-performed the Cook PVI by an average of 8% in the 9 House special elections where both parties appeared on the final ballot this cycle.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed Randy Credico to testify before a grand jury next month, CNN reports. “Credico previously declined a request from Mueller’s team for a voluntary interview. Roger Stone claimed Credico was his back-channel to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the 2016 campaign.
Meanwhile, a federal judge held Roger Stone associate Andrew Miller in contempt of court for refusing to testify before the grand jury in Russia investigation, the Washington Post reports. “Miller had fought and lost a court battle to quash a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller to testify to the grand jury. Earlier this month, a judge issued a 93-page opinion saying Miller must testify. But prosecutors told the court Friday that Miller still refused to comply.”
NYU political scientist Patrick Egan shares a chart shows President Trump is actually paying a steep price for his behavior in terms of his overall approval numbers. Typically, presidential approval (in blue) closely tracks consumer confidence (in black). But right now, the gap between these two measures (in yellow) is the largest it’s been in 40 years.
“National Republicans are asking President Trump to intervene in the Arizona Senate primary amid rising fears that the GOP will nominate an unelectable candidate and cede the seat to Democrats in November,” Politico reports.
“During a recent phone call, NRSC Chairman Cory Gardner (R-CO) asked the president to endorse GOP Rep. Martha McSally, widely viewed as the establishment favorite in the Aug. 28 primary… Trump was non-committal and did not say yes or no to the request.”
“Fifty Democrats running for the House say they won’t support the California lawmaker for speaker, according to an NBC News survey of candidates and their public statements.”
“At least 41 of the party’s nominees for House seats have declared they will not back Pelosi and nine incumbent Democratic lawmakers are on the record opposing her… An additional 34 Democratic nominees are neither for nor against Pelosi, who has led her party in Congress since 2003.”
Here’s the complete list.
The Guardian: “In 2012 and 2016, Bloomberg considered running as an independent; each time he concluded that he could not win and ran the risk of splitting the Democratic vote and helping the Republican candidate to win office.”
“But in 2020, sources close to the finance mogul have told the Guardian, if the now 76-year-old candidate does eventually jump into the race, he plans to run as a Democrat. But after two, and now three, election cycles in which Bloomberg has teased his interest and poured over polling data, there are still questions about his ultimate commitment to a run.”
“In previous flirtations, Bloomberg has explained that he dropped the effort to avoid splitting the Democratic vote and risking a Republican presidency.”
Please, God, no. Same for you, Avenatti.
Indiana U.S. Senate candidate Mike Braun (R), who often rails against foreign outsourcing, sells his own auto products that were similarly manufactured abroad, the AP reports.
“It has been well documented that Braun’s national auto parts distribution company, Meyer Distributing, ships and sells other companies’ goods that are made outside of the U.S. Such practice doesn’t leave him vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy, he argues, because as a distributor he only resells the parts and has no control over where the companies make them.”
“But the revelation about the Chinese origin of much of his own products line, which Meyer trademarked with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, draws into question some of Braun’s statements on the campaign trail.”
Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) publicly accused challenger Kris Kobach (R), the state’s top elections official, of giving county election officials information about the handling of yet-uncounted ballots “inconsistent with Kansas law,” the AP reports.
First Read: “This has been getting very ugly, particularly because Kobach has built such a reputation around his warnings of frequent voter fraud. What we can’t figure out: How does this end? Is there any situation in which there’s an agreed-upon nominee without lawsuits? How does either candidate feel comfortable conceding? And can the GOP get a Republican candidate in time to have a real campaign in a governors’ race that is very much competitive?”
“The party has to figure out how to fix this feud, but the president — who’s endorsed Kobach and helped elevate his national profile — isn’t exactly in a position to step in either.”
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) said “that he plans to recuse himself from the vote tally process in the face of pressure from Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) and mounting confusion over vote totals,” the Wichita Eaglereports.
“Kobach said that he would recuse himself in an interview with CNN hours after Colyer had sent a letter demanding that Kobach refrain from instructing county election officials on the counting of ballots in the primary race for governor on a day when the vote total narrowed to roughly 100 votes as multiple counties reported that vote totals were incorrect.”
CNN: “A court filing from special counsel Robert Mueller signals that Rick Gates may be assisting the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election beyond the case against Paul Manafort. In a filing Thursday, Mueller’s team said it wanted to keep a discussion between trial attorneys and Judge T.S. Ellis regarding a question to Gates secret because the transcript of the conversation would ‘reveal details of the ongoing investigation.”
“When Gates pleaded guilty and flipped on Manafort in February, he also agreed to help the special counsel with its investigation into Russian election interference as he was needed. It’s unclear how he has aided the special counsel’s probe beyond the Manafort case, but Gates was a deputy to Manafort on the Trump campaign and worked on the transition and presidential inauguration.”
“A federal appeals court ordered the Trump administration Thursday to revoke approval for a widely used pesticide that studies show can harm the brains of children,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
“A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gave the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 60 days to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide initially developed as a nerve gas during World War II.”
“A federal judge in Washington halted a deportation in progress Thursday and threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt after learning that the Trump administration started to remove a woman and her daughter while a court hearing appealing their deportations was underway,” the Washington Postreports.
Said U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan: “This is pretty outrageous. That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?”
Boston Globe: “Hundreds of thousands of new voters could join the state’s rolls in the coming years after Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed legislation that adopts automatic voter registration — one in a flurry of bills that became law Thursday with a few flicks of the Republican’s pen.”
“The voting measure, which registers eligible residents when they get their driver’s licenses or health insurance through the state, was one of more than 50 pieces of legislation Baker signed that touch on everything from the state’s opioid crisis and animal abuse to climate change and renewable energy.”
No FUCKING excuse, Delaware.
“While Democrats grow optimistic about their chances of taking control of the House in November, they are increasingly anxious that the presence of their longtime and polarizing leader, Nancy Pelosi, is making it harder for many of their candidates to compete in crucial swing districts,” the Washington Post reports.
“Republicans, clinging to a 23-seat majority in the House, have made the House minority leader a central element of their attack ads and are portraying many of their opponents as inextricably tied to the liberal from San Francisco. At the same time, some Democrats are expressing alarm that she is standing in the way of the next generation of leaders.”
“The vote breakdown in Ohio’s special election this week amplified a trend that’s been building in the suburbs during the Trump era — and illustrated how the traditional Republican path to victory has been upended in key congressional districts,” Politico reports.
“Deep suburban antipathy toward President Trump has turned the old GOP electoral coalition inside-out in many areas in 2017 and 2018 — like Ohio’s 12th District, which for two decades sent former Rep. Pat Tiberi to Congress on the back of his popularity in the Columbus suburbs. His anointed successor, Republican Troy Balderson, took a different path to a small special-election lead, instead building on Trump’s rural strength while Democrat Danny O’Connor cut deeply into Tiberi’s old base.”
New York Times: “For Republicans, Mr. Brat’s race is a bulwark in their defensive perimeter, the kind of district they must win to keep control of the House. The area’s mix of affluent suburbs and conservative rural stretches resembles the Ohio district where a Republican candidate in a House special election on Tuesday, Troy Balderson, clings to a narrow lead.”
“For Democrats, Abigail Spanberger’s candidacy represents a test of the breadth and effectiveness of their coalition of newly emboldened female voters aghast at President Trump’s White House tenure — and the ability of fed-up women to build an insurgency of their own.”
“Senior American national security officials, seeking to prevent President Trump from upending a formal policy agreement at last month’s NATO meeting, pushed the military alliance’s ambassadors to complete it before the forum even began,” the New York Times reports.
“The work to preserve the North Atlantic Treaty Organization agreement… came just weeks after Mr. Trump refused to sign off on a communiqué from the June meeting of the Group of 7 in Canada.”
“The rushed machinations to get the policy done, as demanded by John Bolton, the national security adviser, have not been previously reported… The efforts are a sign of the lengths to which the president’s top advisers will go to protect a key and longstanding international alliance from Mr. Trump’s unpredictable antipathy.”