We take a break from your wall-to-wall Kavanaugh coverage today for a major New York Times investigation by David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner. According to their deep digging into “a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records,” Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father. As Nicholas Kulish says, this piece has been “More than a year in the making. Not to be missed.” And Shane Dixon Kavanaugh says it’s “A helluva headline to read published alongside ‘special investigation’ in the New York Times…”
It’s a long piece, but the dek gives you a pretty good taste of what’s in store: “The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.” Many are highlighting a particular phrase in the lede: “including instances of outright fraud.” As David Enrich points out, “It is extraordinary for the first paragraph of a @nytimes story to use the phrase ‘outright fraud’ to describe the actions of the President of the United States. Absolute blockbuster.” But “Of course, Trump's lawyer -- Charles Harder, aka the lawyer who killed Gawker -- said the allegations of fraud and tax evasion made by the Times ‘are 100 percent false, and highly defamatory,’” tweets Jenna Amatulli. About that, adds Peter Finocchiaro, “it makes perfect sense, but it's still wild to me that trump hired hulk hogan's lawyer.”
Your tl;dr versions
Admittedly, “The monster NYT investigation is many many thousands of words long. So there's also this, to help you make sense of it all.” Erin McCann links to Barstow, Craig and Buettner’s 11 Takeaways From The Times’s Investigation Into Trump’s Wealth. Matthew Yglesias calls it a “Smart move by the NYT to publish the tl;dr version of their own giant investigative piece.” And Gwnyedd Stuart sets it up: “Here are takeaways from the @nytimes article for the gal on the go.”
And if you’re really on the go, Gabriel Dance tweets, “we’ve spent 18 months investigating the Trump fortune. But if you don’t have that kinda time right now, here’s 4 short, interesting videos explaining how Fred Trump made his children rich.” That piece is 4 Ways Fred Trump Made Donald Trump and his Siblings Rich. Craig highlights “Another upsetting finding: The Trumps used padded receipts to justify rent increases in Fred Trump’s rent-stabilized buildings. ‘The higher the markup would be, the higher the rent that might be charged,’ Robert Trump said in a previously-unseen deposition.”
Behind the scenes
As Rui Kaneya reminds us, a “behind-the-scenes account is always great for mega stories like this,” and so, Melina Delkic of The New York Times explains How Times Journalists Uncovered the Original Source of the President’s Wealth. Tweets Edmund Lee, “The lengths @susannecraig @DavidBarstow @russbuettner went through to report this out: matching up receipts across decades and tracking down vendors who dealt with Trump family. Took more than a year. Reporting is expensive; sensibility is cheap.” “This is amazing. These folks are the best,” adds Nicholas Riccardi.
How, exactly, was ‘deplorables’ incorrect?
Alright, back to Kavanaugh. Turns out, more than 40 potential sources of information have not been contacted by the FBI in the Kavanaugh investigation, according to the reporting by Leigh Ann Caldwell and Heidi Przybyla at NBC News, but the probe could be wrapping up soon, their colleagues Geoff Bennett, Julia Edwards Ainsley, Garrett Haake and Peter Alexander report.
Meanwhile, during a campaign rally in Mississippi last night, Trump mocked Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford, as Jonathan Allen of NBC News reports. David Thomas breaks that one down for us: “Trump repeatedly mocked a woman who said she was nearly raped by his SCOTUS nominee when they were both teenagers.” Andrea Mitchell calls it “A dramatic change of tone tonight in Mississippi.”
Josh Dawsey and Felicia Sonmez also cover that story at The Washington Post, writing that it was a riff that has been dreaded by White House and Senate aides. To be clear, this is a moment “In which the President of the United States goes on stage before a crowd of Americans, and does a mocking impression of a woman’s emotional account of being sexually assaulted when she was 15. The crowd laughs,” tweets Abigail Hauslohner.
Well, as you can imagine, Trump Sees ‘Very Scary Time’ for Men in the #MeToo Era, report Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker of The New York Times in their coverage of his taunts and remarks at the rally. “Repeat after me: there is no bottom,” tweets Paul Krugman. And “How, exactly, was ‘deplorables’ incorrect?” Jeff Pearlman wonders.
An interesting turn of events as “The @FDRLST is giving free PR hype to the NYT’s next big scoop,” tweets Dominic Holden. He links to Mollie Hemingway’s piece for The Federalist, The New York Times Preparing Hit Piece On Brett Kavanaugh For Party Planning. Natasha Bertrand highlights, “Things we learned from this accidental Federalist scoop: 1) Kavanaugh referred to himself and his friends as ‘loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us’ 2) He signed a letter as ‘Bart.’ (see: ‘Bart O'Kavanaugh’ in Mark Judge's memoir, ‘Wasted.’)” In other words, “Accidentally publishing a pretty good scoop to own the libs,” as Steven Perlberg puts it.
That New York Times “hit piece” is by David Enrich, Kate Kelly, Rebecca Ruiz and Steve Eder, headlined, Kavanaugh’s 1983 Letter Offers an Inside Look at High School Clique. Worth noting, “There's more puking with Brett Kavanaugh's crowd than in a Roman vomitorium,” tweets Ray Locker, who reminds us once again, “The issue is not whether Kavanaugh drank a lot as a young man but whether he lied about the extent of his drinking while under oath. That would be perjury, a felony that would seem to preclude him from a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.”
Single best, and saddest
One more on Kavanaugh today. At The Atlantic, Benjamin Wittes reveals, I Know Brett Kavanaugh, But I Wouldn’t Confirm Him. He explains why, in his view, “Thursday’s hearing left Kavanaugh nonviable as a justice.” Adam Serwer gives “Credit to @benjaminwittes for grappling with his initial Kavanaugh support publicly, in a way few have.” Thomas Ricks calls it “The single best, and saddest, article I have read on the Kavanaugh situation.” And Rebecca Ruiz points out, “This admission from @benjaminwittes is exactly why trusting and relying on character witnesses who attest to an accused person's good nature is so deeply problematic.”
The weather doesn’t care what you think
As part of The Wall Street Journal’s new series on climate change, Bradley Hope and Nicole Friedman take a look at how Climate Change Is Forcing the Insurance Industry to Recalculate, noting, “Insurers are at the vanguard of a movement to put a value today on the unpredictable future of a warming planet.” As Russell Gold points out, “It doesn't matter if you believe in the science of climate change. The weather doesn't care what you think. The world is changing. Insurance companies must adjust -- or risk insolvency.”
Meanwhile, in the department of “Weakening radiation limits to own the libs,” John Hendrickson links to the AP report by Ellen Knickmeyer, Experts say Trump’s EPA is moving to loosen radiation limits, “turning to scientific outliers who argue that a bit of radiation damage is actually good for you — like a little bit of sunlight.”
They’ve got receipts
At HuffPost, Ryan J. Reilly, Andy Campbell and Christopher Mathias have the latest as 4 White Supremacists Are Hit With Federal Charges Over Charlottesville Unite The Right Weekend. And “They’ve got receipts,” notes Reilly, who links to photos in the affidavit confirming the four were present and participated in the march. Mathias tweets, “We’ve updated this story with more details about the defendants. What’s abundantly clear: these charges never would’ve happened were it not for the incredible reporting of @ACInvestigates, @awinston and @DarwinBondGraha for @ProPublica and @DocumentHate.”
Heather Stewart links to the story by Dan Sabbagh at The Guardian, Multiculturalism ‘robs Britain of its community’ - Tory London mayor pick. More specifically, Shehab Khan tweets, “The Tory candidate to be Mayor of London, Shaun Bailey, said that accommodating Muslims and Hindus risks turning UK into 'crime-riddled cesspool' and that multiculturalism 'robs Britain of its community'.” “I'll take a hard pass on this, thanks,” says Samira Shackle.
Also at The Guardian, Marina Hyde writes about Theresa May v the ‘Great Twatsby’ at the Tories’ Groundhog conference, and how about that for a headline. Janine Gibson calls this piece “a brilliant romp through #cpc18,” and Rupert Myers tweets, “The only take on #CPC18 you really need is as per usual @MarinaHyde's ‘Gavin Williamson, who continues to look as though he took the rejection letter from Starfleet Academy pretty hard.’”
A few more
At The Washington Post, Kareem Fahim reports that friends fear for the safety of prominent Saudi writer and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Tweets Lawrence Wright, “My friend Jamal Khashoggi appears to have been kidnapped by Saudi officials in Turkey. He's a good man. Set him free.” The veteran journalist from Saudi Arabia has recently become a vocal critic of the kingdom’s leadership. Fahim reports that friends lost contact with him while he was visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
In a personal note on Medium, “.@JasonKander writes that he's dropping out of the Kansas City mayoral race to seek treatment for PTSD. He was seen as a possible 2020 presidential contender until recently,” tweets Benjy Sarlin.
On Twitter, Gideon Resnick shares, “Got a tip that there was a voice actor request going around for someone to imitate President Rouhani and say they were endorsing Beto O'Rourke. Things only got weirder from there.” Read that weird story in The Daily Beast, Fake Ad Claiming Iran’s President Endorsed Beto O’Rourke Pulled From Production.
“Here's a story about Guardian Weekly relaunching as a news magazine so it sits on shelves alongside Economist/New Yorker. (I have seen preview copies and it looks really good and I'm honestly not being paid to say that. Well I am. But still, it does.)” Jim Waterson is pretty excited about the Guardian Weekly’s relaunch as a glossy news magazine.
Looking for something different? Well, as Ryan Craggs says, “this is a good story→” Check out The untold story of Mike Leach’s ‘lost’ OU play script that fooled Texas, by Jake Trotter at ESPN. “LMAO what??” is Guy Haberman’s reaction. Tweets Chuck Cooperstein, “Tomfoolery in an OU-Texas game? You know about the ‘Spy Game’. Now learn more about ‘The fake OU script Game’ Yet another reason why this week is as cool as college football gets. Brilliance from @Jake_Trotter.”