×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
September 14, 2018
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Paul Manafort is cooperating with federal prosecutors at last.

After steadfast refusal to work with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, Manafort on Friday reached a plea deal that included a "17-page cooperation agreement," The Washington Post reports. The former Trump campaign chairman agreed to plead guilty to two charges ahead of his second trial: conspiring to defraud the United States, and conspiring to obstruct justice.

President Trump has praised Manafort for his resistance to Mueller's investigation. He lauded Manafort, saying "he refused to 'break'" or "make up stories in order to get a 'deal,'" drawing a contrast between Manafort and his former personal attorney Michael Cohen. "Such respect for a brave man!" Manafort was convicted last month in a separate trial, on charges of bank and tax fraud.

The new "cooperation agreement" signals that the former lobbyist's D.C. case will be much shorter than his previous ordeal, in which his former associates and bookkeepers testified against him in a two-week trial. The rest of the charges against Manafort will be dropped when he is sentenced or when he finishes his cooperation with Mueller, prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said. Summer Meza

11:51 a.m. ET
LAURA BUCKMAN/AFP/Getty Images

The most-watched Senate races across the country are still up in the air, four Reuters/Ipsos/UVA Center for Politics polls unveiled Wednesday reveal.

Even if in the upcoming midterms, Democrats manage to hold on to the 10 seats that are at risk in states President Trump won in 2016, they will still need to win two additional seats in order to take back the Senate. The new polls suggest Texas and Arizona are the states where Democrats have the best chances. Florida and Nevada's competitions are leaning toward Republican wins, but are notably tight.

In Texas, Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D) leads Sen. Ted Cruz (R) by two percent in a poll of Texas voters. It's a tiny margin, but more than was originally expected from a long-shot Democrat in the deep-red state. Still, a Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday showed Cruz ahead by nine points.

The race to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is looking positive for Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D), the Arizona poll shows. She's ahead of the President Trump-backed Rep. Martha McSally (R) by three points. Senate races in Florida and Nevada lean toward Republicans, with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) just one point above incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D), and incumbent Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R) leading Rep. Jacky Rosen (D) by three.

All of these races are within the 4-point credibility intervals Reuters recorded, meaning the senatorial wannabes are essentially tied. Separate polls were conducted online for each state from Sept. 5-17, and each polled between 992 and 1,039 people. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:48 a.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Justice Department doesn't want to give in to President Trump's demands quite so easily.

Trump ordered the declassification of intelligence documents related to his former campaign adviser Carter Page earlier this week, but Bloomberg reported Wednesday that DOJ officials plan to redact some of the information to keep it secret.

People familiar with the matter said that the DOJ and FBI are currently deciding what will be redacted, but it will likely fly in the face of Trump's call for immediate declassification of materials "relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction." Trump wanted sensitive documents released that would show the FBI's warrant to surveil Page, interviews to obtain the warrant, and text messages between senior officials, believing they would demonstrate the "anti-Trump bias" he says has tainted the investigation.

Because the investigation into whether the Trump campaign was involved with Russian election interference in 2016 is ongoing, Trump's orders were viewed as crossing a "red line" by some lawmakers. Some Republicans cheered the move as a step toward increased transparency, but other experts said it showed an overstep of presidential involvement in the investigation.

The Justice Department is expected to submit proposed redactions soon, reports Bloomberg, knowing that withholding information will put DOJ officials in direct conflict with Trump. The president always could override the agencies and declassify material by himself. Read more at Bloomberg. Summer Meza

10:46 a.m. ET

President Trump wasn't just cheering on his way to a 9/11 memorial service in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. He was also apparently scoping out ideas for his border wall.

While thanking America's "brave patriots" at a somber service earlier this month, Trump also noticed the "gorgeous wall where the plane went down," he said in an interview with The Hill on Tuesday.

The "beautiful" wall, as Trump described it, is a memorial in honor of the 40 passengers and crew members who fought hijackers to down their plane before it hit Washington on 9/11. It's also a "perfect" example of what Trump wants to place on the U.S.-Mexico border, and he is "pushing very hard" to make it happen, he told The Hill.

Trump has long pressed for a wall between the two countries, though he hasn't been able to secure enough funding and has seemingly given up on asking Mexico to pay for it. Still, Trump remained "hopeful he can deliver" on his perennial campaign statement during the interview, The Hill notes.

We'll leave you with the whole absurd statement below. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:13 a.m. ET
Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump is renewing his attack on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and floating the idea of firing him, an idea he suggests is a popular one.

In an interview with The Hill on Tuesday, Trump reiterated his disapproval of Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, going as far as to say, "I don't have an attorney general. It's very sad." Trump even mocked Sessions, saying he was "mixed up and confused" during his nomination process. After this assessment, Trump was asked if he might fire the attorney general, to which he responded, "we'll see what happens," adding that "a lot of people have asked me to do that."

Politico reported last week that if the president were to fire Sessions right now, Senate Republicans have no idea who could be confirmed to replace him. After all, senators would need to feel confident that the nominee would not interfere with Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. A spokesperson for Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) told Politico that he "finds it difficult to envision a circumstance" where he'd vote to confirm a successor to Sessions assuming Sessions is fired "for faithfully executing his job."

CNN also reported in August that congressional Republicans are continuing to advise Trump not to fire Sessions, at least not until after the midterms. But it's unclear whether Trump will take their advice. He told The Hill that he believes so many people disapprove of Sessions that even his "worst enemies" think the attorney general shouldn't have recused himself. Read the full interview at The Hill. Brendan Morrow

9:53 a.m. ET
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration is unable to locate 1,488 migrant children who were placed with sponsors this year, a Senate investigation found on Tuesday. The New York Times reports that the migrant children, who entered the country illegally, were unaccounted for after follow-up phone calls by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The department insisted that "these children are not 'lost,'" explaining that the sponsors of those particular children "simply did not respond or could not be reached when the voluntary call was made." About 11,250 migrant children have been placed with sponsors in 2018.

Senate investigators said that the administration's inability to keep track of migrant children is a "troubling" problem, since the children could end up with human traffickers or in otherwise dangerous situations. HHS says it is not responsible for the children after they are released from government custody.

The congressional report was released along with proposed legislation that would make sure HHS tracks children's safety after they leave custody, and would require background checks for sponsors. An HHS spokesperson said sponsors "have been vetted for criminality and ability to provide for [children.]"

The increasing number of migrant children in federal detention has brought increased scrutiny to the Trump administration's handling of their care and release. In April HHS acknowledged that it could not be sure of the location of an additional 1,475 migrant children who were placed with sponsors last year. Read more at The New York Times. Summer Meza

8:53 a.m. ET
John Phillips/Getty Images

If there was ever any doubt that Disney's upcoming streaming service is going to be a massive hit, those doubts can now be put to rest.

Variety reports that Disney's forthcoming Netflix competitor will include original TV shows based on characters in the multi-billion dollar Marvel film franchise. The idea is to give some of the heroes who haven't yet headlined their own movie a TV show lasting between six and eight episodes, with limited series based on Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) reportedly already in development. Hiddleston and Olsen are both expected to reprise their roles from the movies.

These shows will receive budgets on par with that of an actual feature film, Variety reports. And although the current slate of Marvel TV shows, like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Daredevil, are produced separately from the movies like Avengers: Infinity War, the head of Marvel's film studio, Kevin Feige, will be directly involved in these new shows. It will almost be like new Marvel blockbuster movies are being delivered directly via streaming instead of in a theater.

This move essentially guarantees that Marvel fans, many of whom have been begging for a Loki movie, will sign up for Disney's streaming service, which launches in 2019. Read more about the new Marvel shows at Variety. Brendan Morrow

8:11 a.m. ET

The Trump administration announced this week that it is capping the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. in fiscal 2019 at 30,000, the lowest number since the current U.S. refugee resettlement system was put in place in 1980. It's also a steep drop from the cap of 45,000 refugees set in 2018 — though with only two weeks left in the fiscal year, the U.S. has let in only 20,918 refugees, Axios notes. And the large majority of those refugees shared a certain religion in common.

In fact, fewer than 2,000 Muslim refugees have been admitted to the U.S. this fiscal year, versus more than 9,000 in fiscal 2017 — even though, as Axios notes, 39 percent of the 25 million refugees in the world come from three predominantly Muslim countries: Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Most of the Muslims let in this year came from Myanmar, while the number of Somali refugees dropped sharply due to unexplained objections from the White House. Still, while the share of Christian refugees has grown to 71 percent, the total number of Christians allowed in dropped more than 40 percent from the previous year. You can read more at Axios. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads