Mueller submits witness list for Manafort trial
Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday submitted a list of 35 witnesses for former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort's upcoming trial. Notable names on the list include Richard Gates, Manafort's former business partner, as well as political consultants Daniel Rabin and Tad Devine. Manafort is charged with financial crimes, including tax evasion and bank fraud, that generally predate his time on the campaign trail. In a second trial scheduled for September, also prosecuted by Mueller's team, he faces charges including obstruction of justice in connection to his lobbying work for a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party. The first trial begins Tuesday. [Reuters, Politico]
Trump rejects Cohen claim he knew about 2016 Trump Tower meeting
President Trump on Friday vehemently denied he knew in advance of the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who promised to deliver damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, reportedly said Trump pre-approved the meeting. "NO, I did NOT know of the meeting with my son," the president wrote on Twitter. Sources told CNN Cohen is willing to share information about the meeting with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said Cohen is "certainly a source that is not credible." [CNN, Politico]
U.S. GDP growth reaches 4.1 percent
The U.S. economy grew at its fastest rate since 2014 during the second quarter of this year, surging to 4.1 percent annual GDP growth. Increased consumer spending helped boost growth, reports Bloomberg, as did some trade activity that sought to get ahead of incoming retaliatory tariffs on products like soybeans. President Trump expressed satisfaction with the numbers, calling the growth "terrific," though it didn't quite meet his expectations. The surge is likely temporary, experts say, and will probably cool down to around 3 percent throughout the rest of 2018. [Bloomberg, The Associated Press]
California wildfire kills 2 firefighters, creates 'firenadoes'
California's 48,000-acre Carr Fire has killed two of the 3,400 firefighters battling the blaze in and around the city of Redding. The wildfire began just six days ago, sparked by the "mechanical failure of a vehicle," local authorities said. It has been exacerbated by low humidity and high winds, with gusts creating "firenadoes" capable of overturning cars. Nine other people are missing, and 38,000 have evacuated their homes. About 500 structures have been destroyed, and another 5,000 are still threatened. The fire is just 5 percent contained. [ABC News, Reuters]
Report: White House lacks coordinated cybersecurity plan as midterms near
Nearly 19 months since President Trump took office, "there is no coherent Trump administration strategy to combat foreign election interference — and no single person or agency in charge," NBC News reported Friday. While several departments have taken up unilateral efforts to combat cyberattacks, there is no coordinated strategy from the White House to bolster cybersecurity for the 2018 midterms. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) is the first known target of Russian interference in 2018, targeted by the GRU intelligence agency in an attempt to steal email passwords. McCaskill said the attempt was unsuccessful. [NBC News, The Daily Beast]
Giuliani reverses himself, dubs Cohen an 'incredible liar'
President Trump's new personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, reversed himself about the president's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, calling him an "incredible liar" who has "lied all his life." As recently as May, Giuliani said Cohen was an "honest, honorable lawyer" who "doesn't have any incriminating information about the president or himself." Another former Trump lawyer, Jay Goldberg, said the attack will hurt the president's legal defense. "I knew as soon as Giuliani spoke that he was damaging Trump's case immeasurably," Goldberg said on CNN. "It ranks near 100 in terms of damage." [CNN, The Week]
Prominent cardinal resigns amid sex abuse allegations
Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Theodore McCarrick on Saturday, seeing the prominent cardinal and former archbishop of Washington, D.C., step down amid a furor of sex abuse allegations. The American Catholic Church in June deemed credible an accusation that McCarrick abused a teenager about 50 years ago, and since then multiple other accusers have come forward. McCarrick denies all memory of the situation involving the teenager. Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday approved publication of a 900-page grand jury report on more than 300 "predator priests." Some of the names will be redacted. [The Washington Post, Reuters]
Firearm-related homicides have increased 31 percent in recent years
The number of firearm-related homicides increased 31 percent between 2014 and 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Friday. Other common means of homicide did not have a significant increase in the same period. Guns were involved in eight times as many homicides as the next most frequent method, cutting and piercing. Recent polls show gun policy is one of the most important issues voters are considering as they decide who to support in the upcoming midterm elections. [CDC, Polling Report]
CBS executive Les Moonves under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct
CBS is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct against CEO Leslie Moonves after The Hollywood Reporter said Friday a forthcoming article in The New Yorker would outline a pattern of inappropriate behavior from the executive. The exposé is reportedly written by Ronan Farrow, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his investigation of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Moonves is reportedly accused of "unwanted kissing and touching." CBS shares fell by about 6 percent after the report. "All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously," the network said in a statement. [The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times]
Lunar eclipse displays striking 'blood moon'
A total lunar eclipse, the longest of this century, displayed a "blood moon" around much of the globe Friday and Saturday. Only the northern half of the Western Hemisphere — the United States, Canada, and Greenland — did not have a view of the deep red moon. The striking color is created as sunlight is refracted through Earth's atmosphere and onto the moon. There will be 230 eclipses in this century, and the next one is due January 21. [The Guardian, NBC News]