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December 6, 2018

About a month after ousting former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, President Trump appears to have found his replacement.

William Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush from 1991 to 1993, is Trump's leading candidate for the job, The Washington Post reports. Two sources told the Post that Trump has told his advisers he will nominate Barr, while others said Barr is just the leading candidate but a decision isn't final.

Trump was apparently advised that Barr would be a solid pick because he has the experience and "a bluntness that is likely to resonate with the president." If Trump doesn't end up going with Barr, someone else he's reportedly been considering is Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas). Trump is expected to make the announcement in the coming days.

Sessions was replaced by Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, a controversial choice considering he was not Senate confirmed and had publicly spoken out against Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which he now oversees.

Unlike Whitaker, Barr has not spoken much about the Russia investigation specifically, although he did offer criticism when it was reported that some members of Mueller's team had donated to Democrats, calling for more "balance." Barr also argued in a Washington Post op-ed that Trump was right to fire former FBI Director James Comey, seeming skeptical of the idea that Trump did so because of the Russia investigation. "Comey's removal simply has no relevance to the integrity of the Russian investigation as it moves ahead," he said. Barr also told The New York Times in 2017 there's more basis to investigate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the uranium deal she approved in 2010 than there is to investigate Trump over potential Russia collusion. Brendan Morrow

1:30 p.m.

Trump's agreement to dissolve his charity is a win for New York's attorney general. But it's a loss for some charitable organizations who received millions from the Trump Foundation.

Okay, not exactly.

On Tuesday, the Trump Foundation agreed to "dissolve" and donate its "remaining assets" to approved charities amid an ongoing New York state lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in June and alleges Trump used the charity as his personal "checkbook" — allegations that surfaced in a massive Washington Post report two years ago.

Many charities that Trump claimed to have donated millions of dollars to said they never received the money, the Post details. So what did the Trump Foundation spend money on? For one, a $12,000 autographed Tim Tebow helmet and jersey, the Post says. Trump bought the memorabilia for himself at a nonprofit event, but apparently sent a check from the Trump Foundation, which gets most of its money from rich donors and not Trump himself.

There are far smaller donations, like a $7 gift to the Boy Scouts in 1989. Donald Trump Jr. happened to be 11 at the time, and $7 was coincidentally the cost of a new scouting membership, per the Post. And then there's the biggest: $264,631 to fix a fountain outside the Trump-owned Plaza Hotel.

Scattered in between, there's the $100,000 Trump bid on a trip to Paris to benefit Madonna's charity, per BuzzFeed News' July 2016 report. There's also a $25,000 political donation from the Trump Foundation to Florida's Attorney General, which went unreported to the IRS, per the Post. And to top it off, the Trump Foundation apparently bought a $20,000 portrait of the future president in 2007. It's unclear what has happened to the portrait since then. Read more about these not-quite-charitable donations at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:19 p.m.

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's sentencing has been delayed.

In court Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan told Flynn that his crimes were "very serious" and that "arguably, you sold your country out," warning him that he can't guarantee he won't receive prison time, CNN reports. Flynn in December 2017 pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. This was part of a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who later recommended Flynn receive a light sentence or no prison time due to his cooperation.

Flynn chose not to withdraw his guilty plea Tuesday, saying he was "aware" that lying to the FBI was illegal, that he was not "entrapped," and that he accepts responsibility for making false statements. This is despite Flynn's attorneys having objected to the way federal investigators treated him, namely that he was not warned that lying to them would be a crime, per The Washington Post.

But at the conclusion of a hearing in which Sullivan seemed to be signaling than Flynn may not avoid jail time, Flynn's lawyers agreed to delay sentencing so that he can continue to cooperate with prosecutors, something the judge had offered them. Prosecutor Brandon Van Grack had said that it "remains a possibility" that Flynn will continue to cooperate with the special counsel's office, per CNN's Jake Tapper. Both sides of the case will need to provide the judge with an update in March. Brendan Morrow

1:04 p.m.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan really spoke his mind during the sentencing of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Tuesday. Flynn was going to be sentenced, but after his attorneys requested a delay, Sullivan agreed to wait until March to allow Flynn to continue cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Sullivan in court said that Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, was an "unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States," which "undermines everything this flag over here stands for" and means that "arguably, you sold your country out," per CNN's Josh Campbell. The judge added that he couldn't hide "my disgust, my disdain" for what Flynn did, CNN's Evan Perez reports, noting that Flynn's lawyers seemed "stunned" by this.

What Flynn did is a "very serious offense," Sullivan also concluded, and he asked the special counsel's office whether they considered charging Flynn with treason, per CNN's David Gelles. When the prosecutor said this was not considered, Sullivan asked again if he could have been hit with that charge.

Sullivan warned Flynn that he can not guarantee he won't receive prison time, despite Mueller's recommendation that he remain free due to his "substantial assistance" to federal prosecutors. After a recess, the judge backtracked on some of his earlier statements, saying what he said about Flynn being an "unregistered foreign agent" was incorrect because Flynn's lobbying ended before he began serving in the Trump administration, per CNN's Dianne Gallagher. Brendan Morrow

12:29 p.m.

The Trump administration is implementing a ban on bump stocks.

Under a regulation announced by the Department of Justice Tuesday, those who own bump stock devices will have 90 days to either destroy them or turn them into authorities, CNN reports. Bump stocks can be attached to semiautomatic guns, allowing them to fire at a much faster rate, and President Trump's administration has concluded that they therefore fall under the existing federal law banning machine guns.

When this rule goes into effect in 90 days, weapons with bump stocks will be "considered a machine gun," and will be illegal, the Justice Department said, per BuzzFeed News.

President Trump had previously instructed the Justice Department to take a look at the regulations around bump stocks after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February, per The New York Times. Though that instance did not involve a bump stock, they received increased scrutiny after one was used in the October 2017 shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people. Trump made clear his desire to get rid of the devices, writing on Twitter in March, "we will BAN all devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns." The administration's final regulation is set to formally publish on Friday. Brendan Morrow

11:47 a.m.

President Trump's charity is shutting down.

Amid a lawsuit alleging the president used the Trump Foundation for personal and political gain, the charity agreed to "dissolve" and donate its "remaining assets" to approved charities, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced Tuesday. Trump tried to get the state lawsuit thrown out as recently as last month, but a judge ruled it could proceed. The suit effectively claims that "persistently illegal conduct" turned the charity into Trump's personal piggy bank.

Per a document filed in a Manhattan court Tuesday, the Trump Foundation will "dissolve under judicial supervision." The foundation's most recent tax return says it has about $1.7 million in assets, reports CNN. Those funds will go to charities chosen after "review and approval by the attorney general," the release says.

The lawsuit was filed by Underwood in June, and alleges "a shocking pattern of illegality ... including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign," per the release. Essentially, Underwood says the Trump Foundation served as Trump's personal "checkbook."

Tuesday's agreement is just one of three "outcomes" the attorney general was hoping for, CNN notes. The lawsuit "also seeks millions in restitution and penalties and a bar on President Trump and his three eldest children from serving on the boards of other New York charities," the attorney general's statement, so it'll continue to be fought in court. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:32 a.m.

The White House may be ready to accept that Democrats are unwilling to agree to $5 billion in federal spending for President Trump's proposed border wall, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Tuesday, per The Washington Post.

"We have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion," she said. "At the end of the day we don't want to shut down the government, we want to shut down the border." Trump was demanding the sum in a federal spending bill for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, but Democrats said they were only willing to spend $1.6 billion on general border security. Without an agreement on federal spending, the government will shut down after Friday, which Trump said he'd be "proud" to do over the issue.

Sanders said the White House had "identified" different funding sources, "that we can couple with money that would be given through congressional appropriations," to find the $5 billion elsewhere. She said negotiations between the two parties are ongoing.

Read more at The Washington Post, and read more about the familiarity of the imminent shutdown here at The Week. Summer Meza

11:16 a.m.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) is sending a failed candidate to the U.S. Senate.

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), who narrowly lost her midterm Senate bid to Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), will now fill the seat vacated by late Sen. John McCain, Ducey announced Tuesday. Arizona had never sent a woman to the Senate before this year, and now it'll be represented by two.

After McCain's death in August, former Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) rejoined the chamber, only promising to serve until the end of the year. Kyl formally announced his resignation last week, leaving Ducey to appoint another replacement. McSally will now serve until a special election can be held in 2020.

McCain's wife Cindy McCain, who'd been loosely mentioned as a possible replacement, had a muted reaction to the announcement. Kathryn Krawczyk

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