A lot of bad reasons
It’s going to be a busy Friday, but let’s start with Three Remarkable Things About Michael Cohen's Plea (20,000+ shares), as described by attorney and former federal prosecutor Ken White in The Atlantic. Reading this makes it clear, “There’s no good reason why Trump’s presidency isn’t over. A lot of bad reasons though,” tweets Jonathan M. Katz. But as White writes, “Cohen’s plea is only one shoe dropping in a boot warehouse.”
Speaking of things dropping, on to new revelations and a big scoop from Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold of BuzzFeed News, The Trump Organization Planned To Give Vladimir Putin The $50 Million Penthouse In Trump Tower Moscow (83,000+ shares), which totally seems normal. Ken Bensinger wonders, “Too on the nose?” On Twitter, Leopold notes, “NEW: We included a portion of the May 2016 text messages @a_cormier_ and I obtained between Felix Sater and Michael Cohen discussing Trump Tower Moscow and their planned visits to Russia re: the deal. Scroll through story.” Tweets Lizzie O'Leary, “jawdrop.gif.”
On the heels of that story, Emma Loop of BuzzFeed News is now reporting, House Intelligence Committee Will Investigate Trump Company’s Plan To Give Putin A $50 Million Penthouse.
For “Lots of perspective,” as Carrie Mason-Draffen tweets, read The story of Trump’s 30-year quest to expand his brand to Russia, by Rosalind Helderman and Tom Hamburger of The Washington Post. Tweets Amanda Marcotte, “Remember, Trump has dreamed of a Trump Tower in Moscow since it was the Soviet Union. When was the last time you were given a chance to act on a dream held for 30 years and were only ‘lightly’ interested?”
And expanding on another scoop from earlier this year by BuzzFeed’s Cormier and Leopold, at The New York Times, Mike McIntire, Megan Twohey and Mark Mazzetti explore How a Trump Lawyer, a Felon and a Russian General Chased a Moscow Deal. Tweets Steven Greenhouse. “@realDonaldTrump What do you mean ‘lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia’? You had a full court press for years trying to build a Trump tower in Moscow, with your lieutenants maneuvering to get Putin's blessing.”
The current state of play
For “The current state of play on Mueller, Trump, and collusion, neatly summed up by @CarolLeonnig and @jdawsey1,” as Greg Sargent puts it, turn to ‘Individual 1’: Trump emerges as a central subject of Mueller probe (39,000+ shares), by Carol Leonnig and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post. Tweets Leonnig, “President @realDonaldTrump is reduced to Individual 1 -- a man in the crosshairs as Mueller builds a case of collusion with his campaign and Russia. Me and the great @jdawsey1.”
Individual, but not alone. Other Trumps are in the crosshairs as well. According to Hunter Walker’s reporting at Yahoo News, Mueller is eying Ivanka and Don Jr.’s work on Trump Tower Moscow (24,000+ shares). Walker says Felix Sater told him his work on Trump Tower Moscow began in 2003, and “Sater traveled to Russia with the Trump kids in 2006, but while there, they worked on deals to build the skyscraper without him.” As Michael Caley says, “leakapalooza 2018 and i am here for it.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s Recall of Moscow Deal Matches Cohen’s, President’s Lawyers Say. That’s the report from Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt of The New York Times, and Jonathan M. Katz says, “This story doesn’t make a lick of sense.” Daniel Dale highlights the fact that “This is something a representative of Donald Trump said”: “He has so many different versions of the same stories, so by definition he is a liar and we can’t trust him,” Mr. Giuliani said. “Given the fact that he’s a liar, I can’t tell you what he’s lying about.” (Apparently, he’s talking about Cohen.)
The timing sure is something
And then this happened. As Fran Spielman and Jon Seidel of the Chicago Sun-Times write, Federal agents showed up unannounced at the City Hall office of Finance Committee Chairman Ed Burke, kicked everyone out and papered over the windows Thursday morning (36,000+ shares). “This guy is also a lawyer who did tax work for President Trump,” Gary Baumgarten points out. While a source told the Sun-Times the raids were in response to new allegations and not focused on Burke’s property-tax-appeal work for Trump, “It doesn’t mean, however, that those dots won’t be connected later.” As David Mack says, “Not clear what the feds are investigating, but the timing sure is something.”
Before we move on, Peter Nicholas of The Wall Street Journal reported on Trump Cancelling the Planned Meeting With Russia’s Putin, but it’s the correction that’s getting all the attention: “Vladimir Putin is president of Russia. An editing mistake erroneously identified him as Vladimir Trump.” “Easily 2018’s best correction,” says Tom Gara.
As Heidi Moore says, the “Pivot to Facebook video continues to destroy the livelihoods of journalists.” She and her colleagues at Mic are the latest casualties as Mic has laid off the majority of its staff, reports Peter Kafka of Recode. Tweets Kendall Ciesemier, “Welp, I was fired. We all were. If you are looking for producers/correspondents, I’m available. I’m incredibly proud of the work I did @mic, particularly breaking the story of @AliceMarieFree & @KimKardashian. I’ll never not be proud. DMs are open.” Adds Madeline Taterka, “So fucking proud to have worked with this team and to have organized a union that will protect and advocate for us through this transition.”
And Dylan Matthews says, “If you work in media, remember to join / organize / support efforts to organize a union at your workplace, so you have some protection and (hopefully) severance when this happens to you.” On that note, Dave Jamieson of HuffPost reports, Mashable, PCMag Employees Move To Unionize. Tweets Tony Hoffman, “Today, I am proud to stand with an overwhelming majority of my colleagues at Mashable, PC Mag, AskMen, and Geek.com in asking @ZiffDavis to recognize our #union, @ZDCreatorsGuild.”
Meanwhile, Aidan McLaughlin of Mediaite reports that CNN Has Fired Marc Lamont Hill Following Israel Comments (38,000+ shares). “The irony is that Israeli newspapers, like Haaretz, are often more critical of Israel than US news media,” notes Hyder Abbasi. “Regardless of one's thoughts on the idea of a single, binational state in Israel/Palestine, it is not inherently anti-Semitic and I do not believe @marclamonthill intended it as such. CNN should not have fired him,” tweets Daniel Marans. “Progressives get conservatives fired. So conservatives get progressives fired. We need to find a better way, but we won't if insisting ‘we can do it but they can't,’” says Ky Chow.
Coverup, worse than the (non) crime
In another big BuzzFeed News scoop, Ryan Mac reports, Emails Show Sheryl Sandberg Ordered Facebook’s Opposition Research On George Soros Contradicting Earlier Statements. “This does really make the frenzy about definers, rather than Facebook leadership, look a little off,” says Ben Smith.
Nicholas Confessore and Matthew Rosenberg follow the story at The New York Times, Sheryl Sandberg Is Said to Have Asked Facebook Staff to Research George Soros, and as Josh Kraushaar, puts it “The coverup, worse than the (non) crime.” Also, “I am sooooo glad I never got on the ‘lean in’ bandwagon,” tweets Antonia Zerbisias.
Read every word
A special report by Brittany Wallman, Megan O'Matz and Paula McMahon at the South Florida Sun Sentinel looks at How the school district tried to mask failures that led to Parkland shooting. Tweets Dan Sweeney, “The shooter at #StonemanDouglas told teachers as far back as middle school of his homicidal urges. That and other awfulness covered up by @browardschools, in this stunning investigation by @SunSentinel's @megomatz, @BrittanyWallman and @ByPaulaMcMahon.” “Read every word,” urges Peggy Phillip.
Meanwhile, for TIME’s new cover, Haley Sweetland Edwards and Belinda Luscombe write about Parents Who Lost Children in School Shootings Finding Comfort in a Group No One Wants to Join. As Luscombe emphasizes on Twitter, “@ArsenalReport Our story is not about gun control. It is about grieving parents and their willingness to overlook each others' views on guns, politics and so on, to support each other. Here's the link in case you want to read it.”
Plenty of bad actors
Cecilia Kang is “Proud of @Nytimes and my colleagues @ericalg and @ktbenner for this journalism that matters.” Edmund Lee adds, “This is an astounding piece of reporting.” In their new piece for The New York Times, Erica L. Green and Katie Benner write about a T.M. Landry, a Louisiana School That Made Headlines for Sending Black Kids to Elite Colleges. Here’s the Reality: cut corners and doctored college applications. Katherine Rosman calls it a “Jaw-dropping story, with plenty of bad actors.” Tweets Danielle Ivory, “Imagine sending your kids to a high-priced school that promised a leg up in getting into an elite college, and then you find out that they’ve been playing with legos all day long. Shocking story by @EricaLG @ktbenner.” She adds, “This story about a Louisiana school is so so so good from start to finish, but make sure you stay until the end when things get totally crazypants.”
More Friday reads
Here’s some really bad news. As Erik Ortiz of NBC News reports, Marriott says data breach compromised info of up to 500 million guests. Oh, but “Don’t worry, the breach only affected the name, address, phone number, email address, passport number, SPG account info, date of birth, gender, arrival/departure info, reservation date, & communication preferences for... 327 million people,” Michael Del Moro reassures us. (Not helpful, Michael!)
CNN’s Sonam Vashi says, “I spent the last 2.5 years working with @afantz and @cerealcommas to answer the question: Why are police destroying rape kits?” That piece, with Ashley Fantz and Sergio Hernandez, reveals how the trashing of rape kits failed victims and jeopardizes public safety,
“This is the inside story of how Google's China search project was rammed through in the face of major internal opposition. What elected officials and human rights groups say now, Googlers said months ago. Stellar reporting by @rj_gallagher.” Ryan Tate links to Ryan Gallagher’s piece at The Intercept, Google Leaders Rammed Censored Search Project Past Internal Controls, Sources Say.
Remember the explosive Miami Herald investigation that broke earlier this week, in which Alexander Acosta gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime? Well, “Turns out, the @miamiherald investigation was ‘not helpful’ to Acosta,” tweets Wendy Benjaminson, who links to Anita Kumar’s report for McClatchy, Trump labor secretary out of running for attorney general after report.
Nick Cohen says this is a “Great piece on how only a cosseted people who do not know the fragility of civilisation take leaps into the dark.” At The Guardian, David Bennun writes, Brace yourself, Britain. Brexit is about to teach you what a crisis actually is. “This, by @DavidBennun, is predictably good,” says Andrew Mueller.
If you have no idea what happens when a high-powered, no-nonsense executive who doesn’t have time for the holidays begrudgingly goes back to the small town where she grew up and clashes with the hunky, down-home local guy who has a part-time job putting up Christmas lights for the less fortunate, then allow us to introduce you to This Season’s Guilty Pleasure: Binge-Watching Hallmark Christmas Movies. Read Katherine Bindley’s piece in The Wall Street Journal, and then...join us…