Washington Brief: Closing Arguments Set to Begin Today in Manafort Trial

Top Stories

  • The defense rested in the case against Paul Manafort, who led the Trump campaign for several months during 2016 and is accused of failing to pay taxes on money he made for political consulting work in Ukraine. Closing arguments are set to begin this morning. (CNN)
  • Primary elections were held in Connecticut, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Vermont yesterday. In Wisconsin, state Sen. Leah Vukmir won the GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Tammy Baldwin this fall, and in Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz won the Democratic gubernatorial primary. (FiveThirtyEight)
  • White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she has not heard President Donald Trump use the N-word, but said she couldn’t guarantee he’d never used it. She also denied that there were any racial connotations to the president’s use of the word “dog” as a descriptor for his former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman. (Politico)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

No events scheduled
Bipartisan Policy Center hosts event on integrating behavioral and clinical health care 10 a.m.
Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs subcommittee hosts hearing on efforts to protect unaccompanied children from trafficking 10 a.m.
Senate Commerce Committee holds FCC oversight hearing 10 a.m.
No events scheduled

CSR & Political Activism in the Trump Era

How to avoid a firestorm, improve your brand’s reputation.


Turkey Raises Tariffs on U.S. Products as Dispute Escalates
Yeliz Candemir, The Wall Street Journal

Turkey sharply raised tariffs Wednesday on some U.S. imports as a court kept a detained U.S. pastor under house arrest, extending a fight between the two NATO allies that has sent the country’s currency plummeting. Despite the moves, the lira got a respite, rising against the U.S. dollar for the second day in a row, up 5.5% in recent trading, with one dollar buying 6.04 lira.

Investors Flock to U.S. as Washington Stirs Markets Abroad
Riva Gold, The Wall Street Journal

U.S. foreign policy has driven sharp swings in European and Asian markets this summer, drawing investors into the safety of the U.S. It is also raising questions about how long U.S. markets can continue to outpace the rest of the world.

Oral arguments in Texas Obamacare suit set for Sept. 10
Paul Demko, Politico

Oral arguments have been scheduled for Sept. 10 in a Texas lawsuit seeking to strike down Obamacare as unconstitutional. The case was filed in February by 20 Republican state attorneys general.

Trump’s Trade War Is Rattling China’s Leaders
Keith Bradsher and Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times

China’s leaders have sought to project confidence in the face of President Trump’s tariffs and trade threats. But as it becomes clear that a protracted trade war with the United States may be unavoidable, there are growing signs of unease inside the Communist political establishment.

Exclusive: Pentagon spokeswoman under investigation for misusing staff, retaliating against complaints
Barbara Starr, CNN

One of Defense Secretary James Mattis’ most senior civilian advisers is being investigated by the Defense Department Office of Inspector General for allegedly retaliating against staff members after she used some of them to conduct her personal errands and business matters, according to four sources familiar with the probe. Dana White, the Trump administration political appointee who serves as the Pentagon’s chief spokeswoman, has been under investigation for several weeks after multiple complaints were filed against her.


Trump Campaign Says It Has Filed Case Against Omarosa Manigault Newman
Maggie Haberman, The New York Times

President Trump’s campaign said on Tuesday that it had filed an arbitration case against Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former campaign aide and West Wing official whose tell-all book has roiled the White House. A campaign official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the claim was filed in New York City for breach of a confidentiality agreement Ms. Manigault Newman had signed with the Trump campaign in 2016.

Frozen Out by Obama, Hungary’s Far-Right Leader Finds a Friend in Trump
Patrick Kingsley, The New York Times

Across rural Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban dominates the media landscape. His allies control the major regional newspapers, which provide supportive coverage of Mr. Orban’s anti-immigrant agenda and his methodical erosion of the country’s democratic checks and balances.

Penn Jillette says tapes exist of Trump using racially insensitive language
John Katsilometes, Las Vegas Review-Journal

The oft-outspoken Penn Jillette is never one to mince his words. He’s also rarely reckless.

Huckabee Sanders apologizes for false statement about black employment
Jeff Stein, The Washington Post

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders apologized late Tuesday for wrongly stating that President Trump has created three times as many jobs for black workers as President Barack Obama did. At a news conference Tuesday, Sanders said Obama created 195,000 jobs for African Americans during his eight years in office.

Trump Knew About Democratic Emails Stolen by Russia, Ex-Aide Says
Peter Nicholas, The Wall Street Journal

President Trump knew about Democratic campaign emails stolen by Russian hackers before they were made public during the 2016 presidential race, Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former top White House aide who was fired in December, claimed Tuesday. Ms. Manigault Newman, who is promoting a new book, also said she has been interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether the Trump campaign and Russian operatives colluded in helping defeat Hillary Clinton in the election.

Omarosa: DeVos said black college students lack the ‘capacity to understand’ her agenda
Benjamin Wermund, Politico

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos allegedly said the students who booed her May 2017 commencement speech at a historically black college didn’t have the “capacity to understand” what she wants to accomplish, according to the tell-all book by former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman. Manigault Newman describes DeVos’ comments during a conversation with her after the May address at Florida’s Bethune-Cookman University as “meaning, all those black students were too stupid to understand her agenda.”


Leah Vukmir defeats Kevin Nicholson for GOP nomination for U.S. Senate and will meet Tammy Baldwin in November
Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Leah Vukmir never wavered. Down in the polls for months, Vukmir relied on an old-fashioned get-out-the-vote ground game to defeat Kevin Nicholson — and the big money behind him — and claim the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate Tuesday.

With little fanfare, Trump and McConnell reshape the nation’s circuit courts
Sean Sullivan and Mike DeBonis, The Washington Post

As the Senate moves toward confirming Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are leading a lower-key yet deeply consequential charge to remake the entire federal judiciary. The Senate will return Wednesday from an abbreviated summer recess to confirm two more federal appeals court judges by the end of the week.

GOP’s midterm strategy takes shape
Alexander Bolton, The Hill

Senate Republican leaders are focused on passing legislation that appeals to independent and swing voters in the final weeks before the midterm elections — instead of throwing red meat to the base of the Republican Party. It’s a unique strategy from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has publicly acknowledged that Democrats could win back control of the upper chamber this fall.


Connecticut Likely to Send Its First African-American Democrat to Congress
Simone Pathé, Roll Call

Teacher Jahana Hayes has won the Democratic nod in Connecticut’s 5th District, defeating the party-endorsed candidate and setting her up to be the likely new member from the safe Democratic seat next year. With 44 percent of precincts reporting, Hayes led 2006 lieutenant governor nominee Mary Glassman 60 percent to 41 percent, when The Associated Press called the race.

Radinovich Will Face Stauber in Top GOP Pickup Opportunity in Minnesota
Simone Pathé, Roll Call

Former state Rep. Joe Randinovich has won the Democratic-Farmer-Labor nomination in Minnesota’s 8th District, which, if the past two cycles are any indication, could be among the most expensive House races this fall. With 62 percent of precincts reporting, Radinovich led the five-person field with 47 percent of the vote, when The Associated Press called the race.

Randy Bryce, a.k.a. ‘Iron Stache,’ Wins Democratic Primary for Paul Ryan’s Seat
Bridget Bowman, Roll Call

Wisconsin Democrat Randy Bryce, who rose to fame with a viral web video last year, won the party nomination Tuesday night in the 1st District race to succeed retiring Speaker Paul D. Ryan. Bryce will now have to determine whether his hard-scrabble profile that brought him national recognition and a fundraising boom will help him win what has been a reliable Republican seat — or whether the GOP will adeptly use his legal troubles against him, and energize the conservative base in the southeastern Wisconsin district.

Ellison wins Minnesota attorney general Democratic primary
Kyle Potter, The Associated Press

Rep. Keith Ellison, the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee and first Muslim elected to Congress, won his party’s nomination Tuesday for Minnesota attorney general in a race clouded in the final days by an ex-girlfriend’s allegation of domestic abuse. The allegation surfaced the weekend before Tuesday’s primary when the son of Ellison’s former girlfriend, Karen Monahan, posted on Facebook that he had seen angry text messages from Ellison to his mother and a video that showed him dragging Monahan off a bed.

As speaker, Jim Clyburn says he would ‘transform’ Democratic Party
Emma Dumain and William Douglas, McClatchy DC

As speaker of the House, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn says he would be a “transitional” leader but not “custodial.” The South Carolina Democrat says he would work to “transform” the Democratic Caucus to make the party more appealing “to young African Americans who still feel … take(n) for granted.”


Trump-Backed Candidate Wins GOP Nod in Kansas Governor Race
Andrew Duehren, The Wall Street Journal

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer has conceded to Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary, ending almost a week of uncertainty in the tight election. Mr. Kobach, who was endorsed by President Trump the day before the primary, campaigned as a Trump-style Republican, pushing his connections with the White House and his record fighting illegal immigration.

Christine Hallquist, a Transgender Woman, Wins Vermont Governor’s Primary
Jess Bidgood, The New York Times

On a cloudy afternoon this summer, Christine Hallquist, a former utility executive from Vermont, listened closely as Danica Roem, the Virginia state delegate who won national recognition when she became the first transgender person elected to her state’s Legislature, offered tips as the pair canvassed a stark residential neighborhood here. Ms. Hallquist is transgender, too, but Ms. Roem’s advice had nothing to do with gender identity.


Farmers’ Anxiety Grows as Details on Federal Aid Remain Unclear
Kristina Peterson and Heather Haddon, The Wall Street Journal

Farmers fretting over a trade conflict sparked by President Trump’s tariffs may soon get more details on the $12 billion worth of aid that the administration has pledged, as their concerns mount over potentially plunging incomes and market losses. “We certainly are appreciative of it but…we don’t know how it’s going to be determined,” Ryan Pederson, a North Dakota farmer who grows soybeans and canola, said of the proposed farm aid.

Washington Image Upgrade Worth $100,000 a Month for Cameroon
Megan Wilson, Bloomberg

Cameroon, an African country where the government has been accused of torture and murder, has inked a seven-figure contract with Mercury Public Affairs. The Washington, D.C.-based firm will be paid $100,000 a month for “strategic consulting and management services, government relations/lobbying, and media issues management” until the end of July 2019, according to a disclosure report required under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Instead of Oversight, This Congress Believes in Under-Sight
Walter Shapiro, Roll Call

In “Dr. Stangelove,” Stanley Kubrick’s scabrously funny 1964 sendup of nuclear war, a fanatical anti-Communist general starts pummeling the Russian ambassador for taking photographs in the inner sanctum of the Pentagon. The hapless president breaks up the scuffle by saying in an outraged tone, “Gentlemen. You can’t fight in here. This is the War Room!”

Companies Shouldn’t Be Accountable Only to Shareholders
Elizabeth Warren, The Wall Street Journal

Corporate profits are booming, but average wages haven’t budged over the past year. The U.S. economy has run this way for decades, partly because of a fundamental change in business practices dating back to the 1980s.

The scale of the Catholic Church’s criminality still shocks
Editorial Board, The Washington Post

The Catholic Church’s decades-long practice of enabling and systematically covering up the rape and molestation of children by priests is by now sickeningly familiar. Yet the scale of abuse; the breadth and depth of trauma inflicted by predators wearing Roman collars; and the coldbloodedness of senior church figures zealous in their resolve to protect the church but indifferent to the suffering of minors, retain their power to shock the conscience.

Prosecutors Need a Watchdog
The Editorial Board, The New York Times

Jabbar Collins spent 16 years in New York prisons for a murder he didn’t commit. He was released in 2010, after key witnesses recanted their testimony and a federal judge found that the prosecutor, Michael Vecchione, had withheld critical evidence during the trial.

Research Reports and Polling

Tight Race in CD03
Monmouth University Polling Institute

Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur faces a tough challenge from former national security adviser Andy Kim in the race for New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, according to the Monmouth University Poll. There isn’t a lot of room separating the two candidates on specific issues mainly because of low voter engagement at this stage of the race.

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