Conman. Cheat. Testimony.
We didn’t have to wait for Michael Cohen to begin his testimony in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee today to get a pretty giant hint at what he might have to say. Multiple news organizations got an advance copy of his prepared opening statement, and as POLITICO’s Andrew Desiderio writes, Cohen will testify, of Trump, “He is a racist. He is a conman. He is a cheat.” He’ll also testify that Trump directed “a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws” regarding the payment to Stormy Daniels. And, well, that’s just the beginning. Let’s just say it runs the gamut from Roger Stone to Trump’s SAT scores.
Nicholas Fandos and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times also got a look at the prepared testimony. They break it down in their piece, Michael Cohen Plans to Call Trump a ‘Conman’ and a ‘Cheat’ in Congressional Testimony. The shorter version: “Conman. Cheat. Testimony,” tweets Jeremy Rees. Christopher Hayes thinks, “The claim here from Cohen is a BFD: Stone *in direct contact w Assange*, waaaaay back right before the FIRST big pre-DNC dump *and* briefing Trump directly.” And Benjamin Wittes says, “It appears a lot of people may owe @BuzzFeedNews, @a_cormier_ , and @JasonLeopold an apology.”
If you’d like to follow along for live updates of Cohen’s testimony today, CNN has you covered here.
Pretty extraordinary move
Trump himself is in Hanoi right now for the second US-North Korea Summit. The latest, from Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post, White House bans four journalists — and attempts to ban more — from covering Trump-Kim dinner because of shouted questions, which, as Akiko Fujita points out, is a “Pretty extraordinary move - overseas, in front of a dictator.” But the thing is, “Authoritarians hate journalists,” notes Mona Eltahawy. According to Rucker and Dawsey, the excluded journalists included Jonathan Lemire of the AP, Jeff Mason of Reuters, Justin Sink of Bloomberg and Eli Stokols of the Los Angeles Times. Among the questions asked was one about the congressional testimony of a certain Michael Cohen.
CBS News has live updates of the Trump-Kim Jong Un summit here.
Speaking of extraordinary moves, a U.S. Cyber Command operation disrupted a Russian troll factory’s Internet access on the day of the 2018 midterms. Ellen Nakashima has that scoop at The Washington Post, writing, “The strike on the Internet Research Agency, a company underwritten by an oligarch close to President Vladimir Putin, was part of the first offensive cyber campaign against Russia designed to thwart attempts to interfere with a U.S. election.” Tweets Kurt Andersen, “I assume White House reporters are trying to find out if @POTUS was or wasn’t specifically informed of this in advance.” The details in this piece are particularly fascinating. As Tierney Sneed says, “There’s a Mike Judge sitcom to be produced about the trials and travails of the Russian troll farm system administrators.”
And speaking of trolls, Jacob Wohl has been permanently banned by Twitter for fake accounts. Will Sommer has the details at The Daily Beast, and on Twitter, where Wohl is no longer allowed, Sommer adds, “Update: Jacob Wohl says his Twitter ban ‘could not have happened at a better time.’” Also on Twitter, Art Tavana says, “What an embarrassing turn of events for Jacob Wohl, a confident young man who wore kevlar the last time I saw him (for no reason).” And we’ll give Grant Stern the last word: “Another douche bites the dust.”
A human rights emergency
John Tozzi links to some news that is “Horrifying (and predates Trump).” Caitlin Owens, Stef W. Kight and Harry Stevens of Axios report that thousands of migrant youth allegedly suffered sexual abuse in U.S. custody (75,000+ shares). As Ilhan Omar tweets, “A shocking report on the taxpayer funded abuses of migrant refugee children. The horrifying conditions these children face is a human rights emergency that won’t be solved with a wall.”
The local news crisis
Before we move on, Adrienne LaFrance notes, “On a very busy news day, this is a crucially important essay by @jtemplejrnalist.” In a new piece for The Atlantic, former Rocky Mountain News editor John Temple writes, My Newspaper Died 10 Years Ago. I’m Worried the Worst Is Yet to Come. Tweets Martin Austermuhle, “This is a great article from the former editor of the former Rocky Mountain News on the death of many local newspapers. And it includes this passage on how public media can help reverse the trend that I couldn't agree with more.” Adds Matt Pearce, “This detail about the newspaper crisis never stops depressing me: It’s hard for benevolent local bidders to buy newspapers away from the hedge funds that own them, because the hedge funds are making so much money.”
Poynter’s Tom Jones also pays tribute to Temple’s former paper in his new piece, which looks back at the death of an American publishing powerhouse and the city it left behind. Definitely worth your time to take a moment out today and read this one.
More from this busy news day. Katie Rogers links to this “Important story: ‘There are fears that tensions between the *nuclear-armed neighbors* could escalate.’” As Maria Abi-Habib, Sameer Yasir and Salman Masood report at The New York Times, Pakistani Military Says It Shot Down 2 Indian Aircraft. Abi-Habib tweets, “New Delhi admits one of its pilots has gone missing after Pakistan claims it shot down two Indian warplanes. Pakistan says it has two Indian pilots in its custody. Our latest update on latest tensions between #India and #Pakistan.”
Looking for some uplifting news to share and...nope: At The Atlantic, Ed Yong reveals that every tiny animal tested in the Mariana Trench, the lowest point in any ocean, had plastic pollution hiding in its gut. For some sense of scale, the Mariana Trench is 1.2 miles deeper than Everest is tall.
Also, “This is CRAZY. Journalists were inadvertently given a list of police misconduct reports via a public records request. The California AG is now saying the journalists are breaking the law by merely *possessing* the documents and threatened legal action.” Trevor Timm links to that story from Robert Lewis and Jason Paladino of the East Bay Times, California keeps a secret list of criminal cops, but says you can’t have it.
A new report from the nonprofit EdBuild found that school districts that are predominantly white receive $23 billion more than districts that serve mostly students of color. Clare Lombardo writes about those findings at NPR. Researchers found that high-poverty districts serving mostly students of color receive about $1,600 less per student than the national average.
Meanwhile, Brandy Zadrozny of NBC News gives us this depressing report: Drowned out by the algorithm: Pro-vaccination advocates struggle to be heard online. As Ben Collins tweets, “Incredible @BrandyZadrozny story: Pro-vaccination groups literally stopped posting to YouTube YEARS AGO because the algorithm drowned out actual science, and led users down recommendation rabbit holes that wound up radicalizing people with bad info.”
Let’s wrap it up
Here’s a “Wild story out of Spain: A group of unidentified men entered North Korea’s embassy in Madrid last Friday, bound and gagged staff, and drove off four hours later with computers.” Josh Smith links to the Reuters report, Spain investigates raid on North Korean embassy. Tweets Zack Beauchamp, “I'm obsessed with this utterly insane story, which isn't even the biggest North Korea item on this nutso morning.”
Congrats to all The 2019 James Beard Award Semifinalists. Let’s all go eat our feelings!