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John Light

John is TPM‘s Prime editor. His writing has also appeared at The Atlantic, Mother Jones, Salon, Slate, UN Dispatch, Vox, Worth, and Al Jazeera, and has been broadcast on Public Radio International. Before joining TPM, John was a producer for Bill Moyers and WNYC, and worked as a news writer for Grist. He grew up in New Jersey, studied history and film at Oberlin College, and got his master‘s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Articles by John

Did Vladimir Putin give Trump the Trump Tower cover story? (TPM Illustration. Photo by Getty Images)

Hello Prime subscribers, and welcome to the weekend. Here’s your look back at what happened in Prime this week.

  • Did Vladimir Putin help Trump plan a cover story for the Trump Tower meeting during last year’s G20? It’s “pretty likely,” writes Josh Marshall. In a second post, Josh notes that the President insisted on personally dictating the cover story, making aides uneasy.
  • In his Weekly Primer on Trump Swamp, Matt Shuham runs down EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s latest laundry list of scandals — dry cleaning, used mattresses and all.
  • TPM chronicled former Rep. Curt Weldon’s fall from grace in the late 2000s. Now he’s a character in the Trump-Russia story, Josh writes.
  • In California’s primaries on Tuesday, Democrats successfully elected a candidate in each key district — something that was not a given under California’s top-two primary system. This is particularly important given that national poll numbers on Democrats’ chances of retaking the House are quite close, Cameron Joseph writes.
  • Paul Manafort might go to jail next week. Tierney Sneed lays out what to expect from his bail hearing.
  • Michael Cohen’s lawyers claimed last month that the government had seized “thousands, if not millions” of privileged communications. But as Cohen is reviewing files, he’s only flagging a handful as privileged, Allegra Kirkland writes.
  • Josh wants to know what the deal is with George Papadopoulos’s wife.
  • Republican voters believe Trump’s voter fraud claims, even though they’re not true, Tierney Sneed writes in our Weekly Primer on voting rights. In another post, Tierney writes that, even though Trump claims “thousands” voted illegally in New Hampshire, the state Attorney General’s office only found 5.
  • Anti-voter fraud crusader Kris Kobach appeared in a parade riding in a Jeep that that was mounted with an (apparently fake) machine gun. Zack Roth has some thoughts on why voting restrictionists tend to show up places with guns.
  • The Trump administration may be trying to chip away at the Affordable Care Act, but states just keep building it back up, Alice Ollstein writes in her Weekly Primer on Obamacare. The latest state move came this week when Virginia expanded Medicaid.
  • In her Weekly Primer on the Russia probe, Allegra Kirkland looks at the first victim of the Trump adminsitration’s war on leakers, who gave information to the press about Carter Page.

We’re roughly halfway through primary season and we’re starting to get a sense of who the candidates in many key races will be. The midterms are just five months away. Have questions about how things are looking for the Democrats’ bid to win control of the House? Wondering which Senate races are most critical?

Our senior political correspondent Cameron Joseph has answers.

Send your election-related questions our way through email, or post them in the Hive. We’ll select one each week (more or less) for Cameron to respond to.

Michael Cohen was back in federal court Wednesday for a hearing on the fate of millions of items seized during an FBI raid on his home, office and hotel room in April. Judge Kimba Wood rejected Cohen’s attempts to slow down the schedule for his team’s review of the materials to determine which should be covered by attorney-client privilege. Following the hearing, during which Wood criticized Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, for his outspoken media appearances, Avenatti withdrew his motion to intervene in order to protect Daniels’ dealings with her previous attorney, which might be included in Cohen’s files. On Friday morning, The New York Times reported that Avenatti had been in touch with top Democratic donors to see if they’d help cover Daniels’ legal bills. They appear to have declined to do so.

Last week, the Trump administration tried to push the “SpyGate” conspiracy theory to the fore, claiming that the FBI had improperly spied on Trump’s 2016 campaign. But an intelligence community briefing for top members of Congress seemed to put the issue to rest; Rep. Trey Gowdy, the senior House Republican on the Intelligence Committee, said that the FBI “did exactly what my fellow citizens would want.” The White House, nonetheless, continued to push the theory. On Sunday, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani demanded access to FBI documents in exchange for a presidential interview with the special counsel, and, on Wednesday, the White House said that there was “still cause for concern.”

Reports surfaced this week indicating that during a March 2017 conversation in Mar-a-Lago, Trump put pressure on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to un-recuse himself from the Russia probe. Trump kept up the pressure, telling Sessions last year he would be a “hero” if he “did the right thing.” On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he could have picked another AG and “I wish I did!” In another tweet Tuesday, Trump claimed, confusingly, that the Mueller team would be “MEDDLING” with the midterm elections.

Nonetheless, Mueller’s probe continues. NBC reports that Jared Kushner’s longtime friend, Richard Gerson, was in the Seychelles in January 2017, around the same time that Erik Prince was there meeting with officials from Russia and the UAE. Gerson has become a person of interest in the Mueller probe.

Filings in Mueller’s Manafort probe indicate that the special counsel is looking into aspects of Manafort’s past that go beyond his work with Ukraine. On Tuesday, a judge denied Manafort’s request for unredacted versions of two search warrants of his property, saying that there was “nothing in the redactions that relates to any of the charges now pending against Manafort.”

The FBI, meanwhile, has obtained wiretaps on Alexander Torshin, the Russian politician and lifetime NRA member who met with Donald Trump Jr. during the campaign.

On Thursday, Trump pardoned conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza, another potential signal that he may rescue allies who are under pressure to cooperate with prosecutors. Later that day, Roger Stone declared on InfoWars: “I will never roll on Donald Trump.”

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