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August 7, 2018

President Trump traveled to Ohio last weekend to campaign for Republican Troy Balderson ahead of Tuesday's special election in Ohio's 12th congressional district. Balderson was in an unexpectedly competitive race against Democrat Danny O'Connor in a suburban Columbus district that voted for Trump by 11 percentage points in 2016 and has sent only one Democrat to Congress, briefly, since 1936.

In fact, with 100 percent of precincts reporting — and 3,435 provisional ballots and 5,048 absentee ballots yet to be counted — Balderson is up by just 0.9 points, or 1,754 votes. Trump's advisers had reportedly urged him to refrain from endorsing candidates, and he's having a mixed night: Balderson is up, and endorsee John James won in Michigan's GOP Senate primary, but in Kansas, Kris Kobach — whom Trump endorsed on Monday — is struggling in his bid to unseat Gov. Jeff Colyer (R). Peter Weber

2:11 p.m.

The Amazon Washington Post is becoming less of a Trumpian joke and more of a marketing strategy.

The Washington Post, notably owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is offering a free Amazon Echo Dot with the purchase of an annual Post subscription, it said in an email promotion Tuesday. It'll read you Post headlines, play you Post podcasts, and, though unmentioned in the email, do these things for The New York Times too.

To be fair, the Post does include an ownership disclaimer on any Bezos-related content. Executive editor Martin Baron has also made it clear Bezos has nothing to do with everyday operations at the paper. But there's no harm in noting you can get a free Echo Dot — a $50 value! — with an annual subscription today. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:03 p.m.

President Trump appears one step closer to having his much-discussed United States Space Force, CNN reports.

On Tuesday, he ordered the creation of "Space Command," a precursor to the Space Force, which would serve as "the new sixth branch of the armed forces," according to Vice President Mike Pence, during remarks in Cape Canaveral.

An August Pentagon report said that the command's purpose will be to "improve and evolve space warfighting" capabilities and will assist in "preparing for and deterring conflict in space and leading U.S. forces in that fight." The command will provide the future Space Force with support tactics and procedures.

"A new era of American national security in space begins today," Pence said. "We're working as we speak with leaders in both parties in congress to stand up the United States Space Force before the end of 2020." In other words, it seems that bipartisan consensus in Washington may be possible after all — so long as it doesn't apply to Earth. Read more at CNN. Jacob Lambert

1:30 p.m.

Trump's agreement to dissolve his charity is a win for New York's attorney general. But it's a loss for some charitable organizations who received millions from the Trump Foundation.

Okay, not exactly.

On Tuesday, the Trump Foundation agreed to "dissolve" and donate its "remaining assets" to approved charities amid an ongoing New York state lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in June and alleges Trump used the charity as his personal "checkbook" — allegations that surfaced in a massive Washington Post report two years ago.

Many charities that Trump claimed to have donated millions of dollars to said they never received the money, the Post details. So what did the Trump Foundation spend money on? For one, a $12,000 autographed Tim Tebow helmet and jersey, the Post says. Trump bought the memorabilia for himself at a nonprofit event, but apparently sent a check from the Trump Foundation, which gets most of its money from rich donors and not Trump himself.

There are far smaller donations, like a $7 gift to the Boy Scouts in 1989. Donald Trump Jr. happened to be 11 at the time, and $7 was coincidentally the cost of a new scouting membership, per the Post. And then there's the biggest: $264,631 to fix a fountain outside the Trump-owned Plaza Hotel.

Scattered in between, there's the $100,000 Trump bid on a trip to Paris to benefit Madonna's charity, per BuzzFeed News' July 2016 report. There's also a $25,000 political donation from the Trump Foundation to Florida's Attorney General, which went unreported to the IRS, per the Post. And to top it off, the Trump Foundation apparently bought a $20,000 portrait of the future president in 2007. It's unclear what has happened to the portrait since then. Read more about these not-quite-charitable donations at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:19 p.m.

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's sentencing has been delayed.

In court Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan told Flynn that his crimes were "very serious" and that "arguably, you sold your country out," warning him that he can't guarantee he won't receive prison time, CNN reports. Flynn in December 2017 pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. This was part of a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who later recommended Flynn receive a light sentence or no prison time due to his cooperation.

Flynn chose not to withdraw his guilty plea Tuesday, saying he was "aware" that lying to the FBI was illegal, that he was not "entrapped," and that he accepts responsibility for making false statements. This is despite Flynn's attorneys having objected to the way federal investigators treated him, namely that he was not warned that lying to them would be a crime, per The Washington Post.

But at the conclusion of a hearing in which Sullivan seemed to be signaling than Flynn may not avoid jail time, Flynn's lawyers agreed to delay sentencing so that he can continue to cooperate with prosecutors, something the judge had offered them. Prosecutor Brandon Van Grack had said that it "remains a possibility" that Flynn will continue to cooperate with the special counsel's office, per CNN's Jake Tapper. Both sides of the case will need to provide the judge with an update in March. Brendan Morrow

1:04 p.m.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan really spoke his mind during the sentencing of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Tuesday. Flynn was going to be sentenced, but after his attorneys requested a delay, Sullivan agreed to wait until March to allow Flynn to continue cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Sullivan in court said that Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, was an "unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States," which "undermines everything this flag over here stands for" and means that "arguably, you sold your country out," per CNN's Josh Campbell. The judge added that he couldn't hide "my disgust, my disdain" for what Flynn did, CNN's Evan Perez reports, noting that Flynn's lawyers seemed "stunned" by this.

What Flynn did is a "very serious offense," Sullivan also concluded, and he asked the special counsel's office whether they considered charging Flynn with treason, per CNN's David Gelles. When the prosecutor said this was not considered, Sullivan asked again if he could have been hit with that charge.

Sullivan warned Flynn that he can not guarantee he won't receive prison time, despite Mueller's recommendation that he remain free due to his "substantial assistance" to federal prosecutors. After a recess, the judge backtracked on some of his earlier statements, saying what he said about Flynn being an "unregistered foreign agent" was incorrect because Flynn's lobbying ended before he began serving in the Trump administration, per CNN's Dianne Gallagher. Brendan Morrow

12:29 p.m.

The Trump administration is implementing a ban on bump stocks.

Under a regulation announced by the Department of Justice Tuesday, those who own bump stock devices will have 90 days to either destroy them or turn them into authorities, CNN reports. Bump stocks can be attached to semiautomatic guns, allowing them to fire at a much faster rate, and President Trump's administration has concluded that they therefore fall under the existing federal law banning machine guns.

When this rule goes into effect in 90 days, weapons with bump stocks will be "considered a machine gun," and will be illegal, the Justice Department said, per BuzzFeed News.

President Trump had previously instructed the Justice Department to take a look at the regulations around bump stocks after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February, per The New York Times. Though that instance did not involve a bump stock, they received increased scrutiny after one was used in the October 2017 shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people. Trump made clear his desire to get rid of the devices, writing on Twitter in March, "we will BAN all devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns." The administration's final regulation is set to formally publish on Friday. Brendan Morrow

11:47 a.m.

President Trump's charity is shutting down.

Amid a lawsuit alleging the president used the Trump Foundation for personal and political gain, the charity agreed to "dissolve" and donate its "remaining assets" to approved charities, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced Tuesday. Trump tried to get the state lawsuit thrown out as recently as last month, but a judge ruled it could proceed. The suit effectively claims that "persistently illegal conduct" turned the charity into Trump's personal piggy bank.

Per a document filed in a Manhattan court Tuesday, the Trump Foundation will "dissolve under judicial supervision." The foundation's most recent tax return says it has about $1.7 million in assets, reports CNN. Those funds will go to charities chosen after "review and approval by the attorney general," the release says.

The lawsuit was filed by Underwood in June, and alleges "a shocking pattern of illegality ... including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign," per the release. Essentially, Underwood says the Trump Foundation served as Trump's personal "checkbook."

Tuesday's agreement is just one of three "outcomes" the attorney general was hoping for, CNN notes. The lawsuit "also seeks millions in restitution and penalties and a bar on President Trump and his three eldest children from serving on the boards of other New York charities," the attorney general's statement, so it'll continue to be fought in court. Kathryn Krawczyk

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