Texts from Beto
He’s running. And before the official announcement today that Beto O’Rourke is running for President in 2020, the former El Paso Congressman sent a text to local NBC station KTSM on Wednesday saying, “I’m really proud of what El Paso did and what El Paso represents. It’s a big part of why I’m running. This city is the best example of this country at its best.” As Jennifer Epstein points out, “Confirming your plans via text message to your hometown TV station to announce your presidential campaign the next morning is a different approach…”
O’Rourke also sat down for an exclusive with Vic Kolenc and Madlin Mekelburg of his hometown paper the El Paso Times to discuss his run for president and why he’s the one to battle Trump on border. Matt Viser notes, “Beto O’Rourke tells the El Paso Times that his presidential campaign will be headquartered in El Paso and those who want to join his team will have to move to the border city.”
For more on his candidacy, read AP’s Will Weissert, who writes, “O’Rourke joins a large and unsettled 2020 field in which his fundraising prowess, southwestern Texas charm and anti-establishment attitude have quickly turned political heads.” Tweets Bill Barrow, “Now we find out whether @BetoORourke is Lincoln, Icarus or just another Democrat running for president.” So, you know, no pressure, Beto.
Coincidentally, Beto also just got the Vanity Fair treatment, complete with a profile by Joe Hagan and photographs by Annie Leibovitz. For the magazine’s April cover, Hagan goes Riding Around with Beto O’Rourke as He Comes to Grips with a Presidential Run. On Twitter, Hagan reveals, “I convinced Beto O’Rourke to do this cover story after walking up to his house and introducing myself one Sunday afternoon. He was lounging on the front veranda, barefoot in blue jeans and T-shirt, talking on his cell phone.” As Chris Hooks tweets, “beto o’rourke’s one-man stimulus program for magazine writers continues and look, god bless him.”
The otherwise blameless life of Paul Manafort, cont’d
We’re not done with Paul Manafort yet. Shortly after his second federal sentencing yesterday (“Just enough of a pause to catch a little breath,” as Carl Zimmer says), New York charged Manafort with 16 crimes (60,000+ shares), including mortgage fraud and more than a dozen other state felonies, William K. Rashbaum reports at The New York Times. “The otherwise blameless life of Paul Manafort, cont’d,” as Timothy Noah puts it. Rashbaum notes, “The president has broad power to issue pardons for federal crimes, but has no such authority in state cases.”
While things heat up in New York, back in the Special Counsel’s office, there’s another sign that the Russia inquiry may be wrapping up: NPR’s Carrie Johnson has the scoop that top Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann is stepping down. Sources tell her he will study and teach at New York University and work on a variety of public service projects.
It got better
Tom Wright and Bradley Hope of The Wall Street Journal have learned that the DOJ is looking into whether $100,000 donated to a Trump-related political fundraising committee originated from a fugitive Malaysian businessman alleged to be at the center of a global financial scandal. Savor all the details in this one to find out why Kevin Dugan is saying, “honestly I thought the Jho Low story was as good as it got but it got better.”
Unbelievable, but so plausible
We now know that investigators weren’t actually looking for a college admissions cheating scheme when they were tipped off to what was going on with “Operation Varsity Blues.” It turns out, “federal authorities were pursuing a securities fraud case last spring when a person involved, a financial executive hoping for leniency, said he had information of great interest on another matter,” write Melissa Korn, Zusha Elinson, Sadie Gurman and Jennifer Levitz. To find out how it got from there to here, read their new piece for The Wall Street Journal, The Tip, the Yale Coach and the Wire: How the College Admissions Scam Unraveled. “The #CollegeCheatingScandal story is unbelievable, but so plausible. If this is what the privileged classes are doing, why would those with lesser means feel like college is even worth the money,” Caleb Silver wonders. We also learned, as Rachel Bachman points out, “Snitches get leniency.”
Unbelievable, but somehow true
Tom Gara reminds us that “The college admissions scandal is truly the gift that keeps on giving. The NY Post spoke with one wealthy failson beneficiary as he ‘popped out of the family’s Park Avenue building to smoke a giant blunt’ (he makes sure to promote his mixtape).” You couldn’t make this one up, mostly because it would seem like you were overdoing it. But here in this actual world, son defends parents caught in college admissions scandal while smoking blunt, as David McGlynn and Lia Eustachewich write at the New York Post. They point out, “Maybe this is why Gregory and Marcia Abbott allegedly bought their daughter’s way into college.”
Other things you could not make up: TMZ reports that Lori Loughlin’s daughter found out about the scandal while spending spring break in the Bahamas on the yacht of the Chairman of USC’s Board of Trustees. “And you thought it couldn’t get worse. Silly you,” tweets Helen Kennedy.
For an antidote to all that, read ‘What Does It Take?’: Admissions Scandal Is a Harsh Lesson in Racial Disparities, by John Eligon of The New York Times. Eligon says, “I know it’s cliche to talk about the children being our future. But it’s impossible for me to not be hopeful after talking to such thoughtful students who look like me & are way ahead of where I was in maturity & intellect at that age. We goin be all right.” On that note, Lauretta Charlton urges, “Be sure to read to the end for some serious wisdom from Ms. Jackson.”
Another legal headache for Facebook
In other federal prosecution news, here’s “Another legal headache for Facebook: A federal grand jury in New York has subpoenaed records related to the social network’s data-sharing partnerships with other big tech companies.” Michael LaForgia links to his story at The New York Times with Matthew Rosenberg and Gabriel Dance, Facebook’s Data Deals Are Under Criminal Investigation (42,000+ shares).
Expert analysis: It ‘sucked’
The U.S. has finally joined the rest of the world in grounding Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, and on Twitter, Josh Dawsey lets us in on what went on behind the scenes of that decision: “Before grounding planes today, Trump went on long rant about 737s — saying they ‘sucked’ and he would never have bought one for his airline. He then agreed to let FAA make news before surprising everyone and blurting it himself.” For more on that, read his piece at The Washington Post with Toluse Olorunnipa, Trump disparages Boeing 737s in private before grounding the plane after deadly crash. Rachel Van Dongen calls it a “Truly an amazing piece about how consequential life-and-death decisions are made in Trump era.” Adds Eric Umansky, “Everyone feel safe. Trump doesn't need any stinking airplane experts. He is one.* *Actual expertise not included.”
A couple of must-reads
Nilay Patel tweets, “We just published a long feature on Ramsey Orta, who filmed the police killing Eric Garner, and then faced a string of police harassment that landed him in jail, where he is further targeted and abused by the authorities. You should read it.” Take his advice and read Ramsey Orta filmed the killing of Eric Garner, so the police punished him, by Chloe Cooper Jones at The Verge, who reveals, “Ramsey Orta was waiting to get dinner with his friend Eric Garner when the police approached. Orta took out his cell phone and hit record. I spent a year talking to him about that decision. The result is this story, which I hope you’ll read and share.” Adds Jenée Desmond-Harris, “I read this this morning. It put me in a bad mood that’s lasted all day. I still haven’t come up with a tweet about it. It’s really good. Here, read it.”
At The Atlantic, Adam Serwer writes about White Nationalism’s Deep American Roots. Here’s how he describes it: “I wrote a history of the concept of white people facing ‘genocide’ through immigration: A century ago it was the bipartisan consensus of the American elite, and the driving force behind the adoption of racist immigration laws that influenced the Nazis.” He adds, “Also something I hope people take away from this piece is how foundational anti-semitism is to American nativism. It can’t be bracketed off as a separate thing.”
A few more
Francesco Cali, the reputed boss of the Gambino crime family, was fatally shot outside his home on Staten Island on Wednesday night. Ali Winston, Nate Schweber, Jacey Fortin and Liam Stack of The New York Times have the details on a story that proves, “Hits on reputed mob bosses, apparently still a thing,” as Ryan Gabrielson tweets. Tony Tassell adds, “love this quote in the gambino family death @nytimes story - like something out of a Chandler novel.” The quote: “I just heard the pow-pow-pow-pow-pow.”
In a new column for The Guardian, Marina Hyde says, with Theresa’s ‘turd’ deal flushed away, pray for an EU invasion. Hyde calls it “My bit on the developing shitshow,” and what a bit it is. Tom Parry says it’s an “Absolutely peerless dissection of our lamentable parliament by @MarinaHyde easily best thing I’ve read on the ongoing #BrexitShambles debacle.” We agree with Andrew Beaujon, who says, “I cannot pick a favorite line from this @MarinaHyde column on Brexit.” OK, we’ll highlight one line: “As for what happens next, one Tory MP judged: ‘Fuck knows.’ Welcome to Fuckknowsville. Population: us.”
Caroline O'Donovan of BuzzFeed News reports that The Staff Of Gimlet Media Is Unionizing, about which Rachel Ward says, “I am so furiously delighted to be able to announce that me and buds at Gimlet Media have formed a union.” The podcasting startup, which was recently acquired by Spotify, is the first audio-focused outlet to unionize in a wave of newsroom labor organizing.