September 14, 2018

Paul Manafort allegedly had a sneaky plan to tie an Obama administration official to an anti-Semitic Ukranian political party, and getting it done was as easy as "bada bing bada boom."

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's prosecutors filed a new criminal information document in Manafort's case Friday, a move that typically signals that a defendant has reached a plea deal. In it, there are some colorful details about the ex-Trump campaign chair's history of fighting the Democratic Party.

Before Manafort joined the Trump campaign, he spent time lobbying American officials on behalf of Ukranian oligarch Viktor Yanukovich. In 2012, per the new document, he apparently decided to label an unnamed official in former President Barack Obama's administration as anti-Semitic for supporting Yanukovich's political rival Yulia Tymoshenko. Manafort learned about Tymoshenko's ties to an anti-Semitic group, worked with Israel's government to publicize the story, and then said he had "'someone pushing it on the [New York Post],'" Friday's filings allege. "Bada bing bada boom," Manafort allegedly said. Per the filing, he "sought to have the [Obama administration] understand that 'the Jewish community will take this out on Obama on election day if he does nothing.'"

Manafort was convicted on eight counts of financial fraud last month, and was set to face a second trial for money laundering, obstruction of justice, and foreign lobbying violations. Those proceedings were disrupted with the new document's filing Friday. The additional filing also accuses Manafort of "cheating the United States out of over $15 million in taxes" and will let the government seize four of Manafort's properties, per The Washington Post. He is expected to plead guilty to the superseding indictment Friday. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 21, 2019

"Martin Luther King Jr. Day: A day when Americans celebrate a Civil Rights icon — and Americans who don't, get off work," Trevor Noah said on Monday's Daily Show. "And over the weekend, everyone was getting into the MLK spirit — even America's whitest man," Vice President Mike Pence. Noah suggested Pence's lashing of President Trump to MLK and improving democracy was a little much: "'Through the legislative process?' I think Mike Pence just skipped over the whole protesting and getting beaten up part," he said. "Like, I never watched the trailer for Selma and thought, 'Oh man, that looks like some intensive legislative process!'"

Dulcé Sloan came out to celebrate "the real Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, not the whitewashed Hallmark version," and she found his imperfections a little sexy.

"We have to admit as people, the toughest thing to combat is our bias," Noah told his audience between takes, outlining Friday's encounter between a group of teens from a Kentucky Catholic all-boys high school and a Native American activist, Nathan Phillips. "It's like a weird story where I feel like depending on who was holding the camera, their story made them look like the victim — every single person," he said. The media should have searched for more video before jumping on the story, but the MAGA-fan Covington high schoolers also weren't the scared naifs trying to defuse the situation they now claim to be, he added, "they were being a--holes, they were being kids."

"I think everyone played the victim card a little too hard," Noah said. "If anything, I know it's crazy statement to make, but I feel like that's what the National Mall is supposed to be about. People go there and protest, say whatever they want to say, and then go home. I think that was a great display of all First Amendment, no Second Amendment. It's a good time." Watch below. Peter Weber

January 21, 2019

Anthony Scaramucci spent just 11 days as White House communications director, but it was long enough for President Trump to determine that he is "completely out of his mind," a former aide writes in the latest book about the dysfunction taking place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Cliff Sims is the former White House director of message strategy, and his new book, Team of Vipers, goes on sale next week. The Washington Post received an advance copy, and Philip Rucker describes Sims as being "a true believer in Trump and his agenda" who wrote "whimsically of the president, but still is critical of him, especially his morality." Scaramucci's brief tenure merited an entire chapter in Team of Vipers, "The Mooch is Loose," painting a picture of a man rabidly searching for the people leaking to the media details about the inner workings of the White House.

Sims writes that Scaramucci threatened to fire all 40 media aides, and told them if anyone asked them to leak, they had to respond by saying no way, Jose. "I cannot do that," he reportedly ordered them to say. "I only report to Anthony Scaramucci and he reports directly to the president of the United States." Trump was tickled by Scaramucci, and asked Sims: "Can you believe this guy? He's completely out of his mind — like, on drugs or something — totally out of his mind. We'll figure it out, but the guy is crazy." Read more anecdotes from Team of Vipers — including several awkward encounters between Trump and former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

January 21, 2019

The sanctions agreement reached by the Trump administration and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska actually appears to benefit Deripaska, The New York Times reports.

Last April, the Treasury Department announced sanctions against Deripaska — a onetime business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort — and three of his companies, as well as six other Russian oligarchs and their companies, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying they were in response to "a range of malign activity around the globe." In December, Mnuchin said the Treasury Department reached an agreement to lift the sanctions on three companies controlled by Deripaska: the aluminum company Rusal; EN+, the holding company that owns Rusal; and EuroSibEnergo. As part of the deal, Mnuchin said, the companies had to "significantly diminish Deripaska's ownership and sever his control."

The Times reviewed a confidential document, signed by a Treasury official and representatives of Deripaska's companies, that shows under the deal, he will have the opportunity to wipe out hundreds of millions of dollars in debt by transferring some of his shares to the Russian government-owned bank VTB, which has lent him a substantial amount of money. At the same time, his allies — who are also close to the Kremlin — will still have major stakes in his companies.

In a statement, the Treasury Department said Deripaska's companies have "committed to provide Treasury with an unprecedented level of transparency into their dealings to ensure that Deripaska does not reassert control." The Times reports that privately, Deripaska associates are happy with the agreement, and after the deal was announced, share prices of Rusal and EN+ went up, boosting Deripaska's portfolios. For more of the details in the agreement, visit The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

January 21, 2019

All across Hollywood, starlets and producers and directors are setting their alarms for 5:20 a.m., so they can watch live as the 2019 Oscar nominations are announced.

Actors Tracee Ellis Ross and Kumail Nanjiani will reveal the nominees Tuesday morning, with the nominations livestreamed on YouTube. Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book were surprise — and controversial — winners at the Golden Globes earlier this month, taking home the best drama and best musical or comedy awards, respectively, and will likely be nominated for Best Picture. On Saturday, Green Book's Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly, and Nick Vallelonga won the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Picture from the Producers Guild of America. The Associated Press notes that in the last 10 years, the winner of that award has gone on to take home the Oscar for Best Picture.

A Star is Born was an early favorite to win big during awards season, but only took home the Golden Globe for best song. Still, stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are expected to be nominated in the acting categories, and Cooper will likely also get a nod for his directorial debut. Spike Lee has been nominated for two Oscars — one for writing, and one for best documentary — and in 2015 received an honorary Oscar, but this year, it's believed he'll get his first directing nomination for BlacKkKlansman.

There can be five to 10 Best Picture nominees, and last year, there were nine. Should Alfonso Cuarón's Roma snag a nomination, it would be the first time for a Netflix movie; Roma is also Mexico's foreign language submission, and if it comes out on top, Roma would be the first foreign language film to take the category. If Black Panther is nominated, that would give Marvel its first ever Best Picture nomination. The ceremony, which does not yet have a host, will be held Feb. 24 in Hollywood. Catherine Garcia

January 21, 2019

Researchers have found an undisclosed ballistic missile base in North Korea, and say there could be as many as 20 secret bases across the country.

Beyond Parallel, a project sponsored by the defense think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, released a report on Monday that revealed the existence of the Sino-ri Missile Operating Base, 130 miles north of the DMZ. Satellite photos of the base taken in late December show an entrance to an underground bunker, hardened shelters, and the headquarters of the Korean People's Army Strategic Rocket Forces missile brigade. Beyond Parallel says the base has been crucial in the development of ballistic missiles able to reach Japan, South Korea, and Guam.

In February, the U.S. and North Korea will meet for a second nuclear summit, and one of the report's authors, Victor Cha, told NBC News the North Koreans are "not going to negotiate over things they don't disclose." Even if North Korea agreed to dismantle all nuclear facilities that have been disclosed to the United States, "they're still going to have all this operational capability," Cha added. Catherine Garcia

January 21, 2019

On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani said talks about a Trump Tower project in Moscow were held as late as October or November 2016. On Monday, he distanced himself from those comments, saying President Trump doesn't recall whether discussions went on through the election.

While on Meet the Press, Giuliani, one of Trump's lawyers, said the president remembered the talks "could be up to as far as October, November [2016]." That story shifted on Monday, when he told CNN because no records were kept of the discussions, no one knows when they ended. Trump, he added, saw the project as a "minor matter." Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was in charge of the Moscow project, and in November, he pleaded guilty to lying about how long he was in negotiations over the deal; he originally said discussions ended in January 2016, but later said they went through June 2016.

Giuliani also released a statement on Monday saying when he made his comments on Sunday, he was just speculating based on a hypothetical situation, and his remarks were "not based on conversations I had with the president. My comments did not represent the actual timing or circumstances of any such discussions. The point is that the proposal was in the earliest stage and did not advance beyond a free non-binding letter of intent." Catherine Garcia

January 21, 2019

Democrats have rejected President Trump's offer to trade temporary protections for DREAMers and longtime legal immigrants who escaped war and natural disasters in exchange for $5.7 billion to start his proposed border wall. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he will bring Trump's proposal up for a vote this week anyway. No details have been announced. "When we have (a plan) we will be sure to let everyone know," McConnell spokesman David Popp said Sunday.

"If [Trump] opens the government, we'll discuss whatever he offers, but hostage taking should not work," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday, stating the unified Democratic position. Democrats also say they are unwilling to trade a permanent wall for a temporary fix to a problem Trump himself created. The bill has also been derided as "amnesty" by some on the right, and without Democrats, it has almost no chance to pass in the Senate and it would be dead on arrival in the House.

This week, House Democrats are expected to pass their latest bill to reopen parts of the government closed in the 31-day-long partial shutdown. McConnell has not allowed votes on any of those measures, having "said for weeks that he has no interest in 'show votes' aimed only at forcing members to take sides after Trump rejected the Senate's earlier bipartisan bill to avert the shutdown," The Associated Press notes.

Most Senate Republicans are publicly united in opposing any bill Trump won't say he'll sign, but privately, "White House officials and GOP leaders would accept virtually any offer from Democrats to end the impasse, hoping they sell it to Trump as a 'victory' and move forward," The Washington Post reports, citing one Republican with close ties to both the administration and congressional leaders. "There is extreme consternation about how poorly the shutdown was playing out and how polling shows many Americans heaping blame on Trump." Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads