TPM News

Work in the White House? Take a discount at Trump’s golf club.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, just weeks after proposing to kneecap the Obama administration’s borrower defense rule, now seeks to erase punishments for for-profit colleges that weight students down with debt. A department spokesperson joined the list of Trump administration press representatives to get unnecessarily and unusually personal.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s interim director, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, thinks members of the military don’t really need the CFPB to proactively guard against financial fraud.

The President can whine all he wants about Amazon, it’s still getting billions from the federal government for rented server space. The Pentagon is shopping around for a new vault for its virtual information. It just so happens that its request for proposals “contains a host of technical stipulations that only Amazon can meet.”

“Environmental terrorist groups” are to blame for California’s historic forest fires, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says. Humans are certainly to blame for the unprecedented intensity of this year’s fires, but not how Zinke means.

The EPA has a new proposal on the way to replace one of the Obama administration’s crowning environmental achievements, the Clean Power Plan. Essentially, they’ll tell coal power plants: Do whatever.

Read E&E News’ thoroughly-reported tale of the Trump administration checking off an endangered coal plant’s regulatory wish list, item-by-item.

Vanity Fair picked apart Stephen Miller’s shadow-darkened anti-immigration effort, while Miller’s uncle called him out for quarterbacking policies that would have condemned Miller’s own Yiddish-speaking great grandparents to religious persecution.

As expected, after the announcement of a recent change of sorts in its procedures, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and is now acting more like a law enforcement agency than ever.

The National Park Service said Thursday it was a “misstep” to refuse access to the Statue of Liberty to a couple wearing “Abolish ICE” t-shirts.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was, in a meticulously-researched report, accused of criminal conflict of interest by a watchdog group. If you’re a true Trump Swamp fan, read the whole complaint and let me know what you think.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders just made some stuff up Tuesday when she asserted that former President Obama created three times fewer African-American-held jobs in all his eight years than Trump has in 18 months. In reality, she was comparing two totally different sets of data, and, even in her sorry-not-sorry correction, blamed Obama for three months of George W. Bush job losses.

But anyway: Obama began his presidency at the height of a historic recession. And the bigger picture: Presidents can’t be directly credited (or blamed) for jobs numbers, and they especially can’t be considered to have “created” jobs “for African Americans,” as Sanders said. And the bigger picture still: Sanders brought all this up in the first place to change the topic when asked if the President had used a racial slur. The exhausting and shameless bad faith is itself corrupt and improper.

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Juries are notoriously difficult to predict. Anything could happen in the Manafort deliberations. But after its first day of deliberations, the jury sent out very specific questions to the judge, tied very closely to some of the key points of dispute in the trial.

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NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut city has tweaked its sign for Paul Manafort Drive because the name agitated some residents.

The Hartford Courant reports workers put up a new sign this week to make clear the street in New Britain is named after ex-Mayor Paul Manafort, not his son who worked for Donald Trump. The sign says Paul Manafort Sr. Drive.

The younger Manafort was Trump’s presidential campaign chairman and was indicted. Some residents then pushed for the street alongside Central Connecticut State University to be renamed.

Republican Mayor Erin Stewart said the street name would stay because it honors the elder Manafort. Stewart on Thursday called the new sign a “small clarification.”

Jurors in Alexandria, Virginia, began deliberating in the younger Manafort’s financial fraud trial Thursday. Manafort’s defense says he left the particulars of his finances to others.

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ALEXANDRIA, VA — Judge T.S. Ellis on Thursday evening answered a few questions from the jurors in the Paul Manafort trial after the jury sent out a note seeking clarification on several issues. Ellis then dismissed the jury for the day, and they will return to their deliberations Friday at 9:30 a.m.

Ellis read the note for the attorneys and discussed his answers with the lawyers on both sides before calling in the jury to answer their questions.

After leaving the courtroom for the day, lead defense attorney Kevin Downing seemed pleased with the questions the jury asked.

“They’re great questions,” Manafort attorney Kevin Downing told TPM. He said they showed the jury was working through the “complicated” issues in the case. He also gave a satisfied shrug when noting that one of the questions pertained to the definition of reasonable doubt.

The first question was about the requirements to file FBAR reports. At the request of prosecutor Greg Andres, Judge Ellis re-read the jury instructions about the law regarding foreign bank account (FBAR) reports.

The second question asked for a definition of “shelf” companies, and their filing requirements. Ellis told the jury they will have to rely on their collective recollection from the testimony and evidence in the trial.

The third question asked the judge to give another definition of the term reasonable doubt. Ellis responded that reasonable doubt means “doubt based on reason,” and that the government is not required to prove guilt beyond “all possible doubt.”

The final question asked by the jury was whether the exhibit list in the case could be amended to reflect the indictment counts. Ellis said no, that jurors must rely on their memory of which exhibits were used during certain parts of testimony.

The questions suggest that the jury is moving slowly, working deliberately and paying attention to the nitty-gritty details of the case. The FBAR question in particular suggests that one of the points the defense stressed during the trial —that Manafort was not the owner or signatory of some of the accounts in question — stuck with jurors as they headed into the deliberations. Notably, the questions pertained to tax and the foreign bank account charges, and not the last set of charges, the bank fraud charges, where the evidence is perhaps most complicated.

Lawyers and reporters hurried to the courtroom in Alexandria as word emerged that the jury had sent out a message.

The jury is deliberating on the bank and tax fraud charges Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager, faces. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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Fox News on Thursday apologized “to Aretha Franklin’s family and friends” for putting a picture of Patti LaBelle in the background of a graphic showing the late “Queen of Soul,” who died Thursday.

The network made the mistake earlier Thursday. This graphic showed on air a few minutes after news broke of Franklin’s passing, showing LaBelle on the right:

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican expressed “shame and sorrow” on Thursday about a scathing Pennsylvania grand jury report about clergy who raped and molested children in six dioceses and decried the abuse as “criminally and morally reprehensible.”

In uncharacteristically strong language for the Holy See even in matters like the long running abuse scandals staining the U.S. church, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said that victims should know “the pope is on their side.”

Pope Francis himself wasn’t quoted in the statement, and there was no mention of demands in the United States among some Catholics for the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington.

The grand jury report made public this week accused the cardinal of helping to protect some molester priests while he was previously bishop of Pittsburgh, Pennsylania.

Burke, in the statement, described the abuse in the report as “betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith. The church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur.”

Pope Francis had recently accepted the resignation from cardinal’s rank of former Washington archbishop Theodore McCarrick for alleged sexual misconduct. It was the first time a prelate had lost his cardinal’s rank in a sexual abuse scandal, and Francis was stepping up his crackdown on the abuse to include some of the highest ranking churchmen.

Burke said that Francis “understands well how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirit of believers and reiterates the call to make every effort to create a safe environment for minors and vulnerable adults in the church and in all of society.”

The grand jury report documented how pedophile priests were often protected by church hierarchy or moved to other postings without the faithful being told of the priests’ sexual predatory history.

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Steve Schmidt, a former Republican political strategist, summed up President Trump’s move to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance as “an abuse of power by a President who shows his tendency towards his autocratic fetish with increasing frequency.”

Watch Schmidt’s comments on MSNBC Thursday:

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Kevin Downing, the lead attorney for Paul Manafort, is pacing around the lobby of this hotel in Alexandria, Virginia, across the street from the courthouse, and staring anxiously out the window. Another defense lawyer, Richard Westling, is currently sitting across the lobby charging his phone.

There’s a lot of us here.

After the rush of covering Paul Manafort’s lengthy trial in Virginia, dashing in and out of the courtroom with news from the witness stand, we’re now left waiting as the jury deliberates, with little sense of how long they’ll take.

Those reporters who are not waiting inside the chilly courtroom for a note from the jury or a verdict are either waiting outside with their camera crews or here, across the street, in a hotel lobby with the lawyers for the defense. Manafort’s legal team is gathered in the hotel restaurant near a window that looks out at the courtroom.

Also spotted in the hotel this afternoon is Manafort’s wife, her friend who accompanied her each day of the trial, and Manafort’s spokesman.

We’re all clueless about the timing of the verdict and preparing for the mad dash across the street whenever the jury sends up the signal.

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Frequent flying is already stressful — just getting to your gate on time is enough to drive someone nuts. Whether you’re dashing to make your flight, paying too much for airport food, or struggling to shove your bag into your airline’s ever-shrinking carry-on standards, you’re probably ready to kick back and relax by the time you board. But once you sit down, you’ve got to contend with noisy children and disruptive snoring from snoozing fliers. Headphones are the answer to your mid-air woes, but finding a reliable pair of noise-cancelling earbuds isn’t easy, especially if you want to go wireless. The Paww WaveSound 3 Noise-Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones completely block out pesky ambient sounds without sacrificing comfort for long flights.

Paww’s headphones boast a state-of-the-art Bluetooth chip to keep you connected to your tunes. Multiple microphones and high-end drivers create balanced stereo sound for a top-notch listening experience while you fly. However, their noise-cancellation is what really sets them apart: they have the standard Active Noise Cancellation that comes with plenty of headphones, but they block an additional 20db for a peaceful flight. They’re also made from super-soft cushioning that’s comfortable enough to fall asleep on, even if you wear them for the duration of their 16-hour battery life.

Normally these top-rated wireless headphones cost $149.99, but you can grab a pair in time for your next flight for only $74.99. That’s 50% off (and $20 cheaper than they’re going for on Amazon).

 

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