HOW CONGRESS WORKS … REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R-N.Y.) was indicted two days ago for fraud, after he allegedly shared non-public information with his son about a biotech company for which he was a corporate officer. A lot of people were surprised that members of Congress could sit on corporate boards. They can. Collins — who is worth north of $50 million — reported on his financial disclosure form in April that he was on a number of boards.
— COLLINS IS THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARDS OF of Zepto Metrix Corporation and Audubon Machinery Corporation.
— COLLINS IS ON THE FOLLOWING CORPORATE BOARDS: Volland Electric Equipment Corporation and ICU Diagnostics Inc. He was on the board of Innate Immunotherapeutics, the company that got him in trouble.
HE SAYS HE he is not compensated for his work as a corporate director. His wife is paid by two of the that keep him as a director.
WHY NOT … DES MOINES REGISTER … “Michael Avenatti in Iowa: ‘I’m exploring a run for the presidency of the United States,’” by Brianne Pfannenstiel: “Michael Avenatti has arrived in Iowa.
“After three canceled flights and a 700-mile road trip, the lawyer known for representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her case against Republican President Donald Trump, is ready to put his stake in the ground in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. …
“Avenatti has faced some criticism that his interest in a potential presidential run stems mostly from an effort to raise his own personal profile. He denied those claims Thursday. ‘I would never think to come to Iowa in order to use the state or the people of the state to raise my profile,’ he said. ‘And obviously if I do this, then I intend to work hard and I know that ultimately the trust of the citizens of Iowa is going to have to be earned.’ …
“‘I think there’s a huge appetite within the party for a fighter,’ he said. ‘I think the party has yearned for a fighter — a fighter for good, if you will — for a significant period of time. And for many, I’m probably seen as that individual.’” Des Moines Register
— NYT’s JONATHAN MARTIN reports that Avenatti is being “escorted by Matt Paul, a Democratic operative who worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign there.” NYT
THE LATEST IN KANSAS — “Kobach plans to recuse self from vote after Colyer campaign raises concerns” — Kansas City Star: “Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said in a cable news interview Thursday night that he plans to recuse himself from the vote tally process in the face of pressure from Gov. Jeff Colyer and mounting confusion over vote totals. Kobach said that he would recuse himself in an interview with CNN hours after Colyer had sent a letter demanding that Kobach refrain from instructing county election officials on the counting of ballots in the primary race for governor on a day when the vote total narrowed to roughly 100 votes as multiple counties reported that vote totals were incorrect. …
“The letter comes after multiple counties reported that the election night totals on the secretary of state’s website were inaccurate, further clouding the results of a historically close election. … Marr explained in a phone call that the campaign has heard that Kobach’s office told county clerks to disregard ballots with a smudged postmark.” KC Star
MANAFORT TRIAL PREVIEW … via JOSH GERSTEIN AND DARREN SAMUELSOHN: “The tax-and-bank-fraud trial of Manafort is expected to reach a significant milestone Friday with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors on track to complete their case against the former Trump campaign chairman.
“Three of the witnesses on tap for Mueller’s team—James Brennan, Dennis Raico and Andrew Chojnowski — are connected to The Federal Savings Bank, a Chicago-based bank that granted $16 million in loans to Manafort in late 2016 and early 2017.
“Prosecutors requested immunity for Raico and Brennan, who indicated they would take the 5th without it. Prosecutors have suggested that the bank’s CEO, Stephen Calk, helped grease the loan applications. Calk landed on the Trump campaign’s economic advisory board. After leaving the campaign, Manafort interceded to try to help Calk get nominated as Secretary of the Army and to get him inauguration tickets, according to emails shown at the trial.
“Also expected to testify Friday: Yankees ticket manager Irfan Kirimca. Former Manafort aide Rick Gates testified that Manafort was so short on cash in 2016 that he had trouble paying for the season tickets he’d had for a decade. Gates said Manafort asked him to write a letter saying he had charged the tickets to Manafort’s American Express card without permission.
“When all the prosecution testimony is in, defense lawyers are likely to make motions to acquit Manafort on some or all of the charges. Assuming Ellis denies them or takes them under advisement, it will be on to any witnesses the defense wants to call. They took out subpoenas for about half a dozen witnesses but it’s unclear who may be in play. Prosecutors could also get another crack at calling a witness or two to rebut whatever the defense puts on. As of now, it looks like the Mueller probe’s first trial could go to the jury by the middle of next week.”
PAGING MR. MANAFORT, MR. PAUL MANAFORT: “Prosecutors say they’ve been trying for some time to return papers and electronic devices seized from Manafort’s Alexandria condo last July, but they just can’t get through to Manafort’s lawyers. ‘The Government has attempted to coordinate a time and location to return these items to the defense. After numerous unanswered emails and telephone calls, the Government attempted to deliver the items at both the Law Offices of Kevin Downing and Kostelanetz and Fink, LLP, on Wednesday August 8, 2018.
“Both of these efforts were unsuccessful, as no one was present to accept the delivery. The Government has exhausted its resources in an effort to accommodate the defense. Please know the Government has no further plans to deliver these items; however, they are available for pick up at the Special Counsel’s Office.
“Of course, Mueller’s lawyers and Manafort’s were both in court together in Alexandria on Wednesday, indeed all week this week and most of last. Could’ve just tapped ‘em on the shoulder.” The letter from prosecutors
— “Kathleen Manafort takes front-row seat in husband’s fraud trial: She appears unfazed as she sits daily in the courtroom. When Paul Manafort enters, he often blows her a kiss,” by Marianne LeVine and Darren. POLITICO
FIRST FAMILY … “Melania Trump’s Parents Become U.S. Citizens, Using ‘Chain Migration’ Trump Hates,” by NYT’s Annie Correal and Emily Cochrane: “President Trump has repeatedly and vehemently denounced what he calls ‘chain migration,’ in which adult American citizens can obtain residency for their relatives. On Thursday, his Slovenian in-laws, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, became United States citizens in a private ceremony in Manhattan by taking advantage of that very program. Asked if the Knavses had obtained citizenship through ‘chain migration,’ their lawyer, Michael Wildes, said, ‘I suppose.’
“He said chain migration is a ‘dirtier’ way of characterizing what he called ‘a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification.’ The process is more commonly known as family-based immigration. … Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director, said that because the Knavses are not part of the administration, ‘I’m not commenting on them.’” NYT
SCOTUS WATCH — “Inside Brett Kavanaugh’s finances: Nominee dwells among elite but hasn’t chased riches,” by WaPo’s Amy Brittain: “By the nation’s standards, Kavanaugh is decidedly wealthy, with an annual salary of $220,000 that reaches far beyond the median income for a typical U.S. household. …
“Even as a young man, there were signs of privilege. He attended the exclusive Georgetown Preparatory School. His parents arranged for him to secure a junior membership at the Congressional Country Club in 1986, when he was still in college. He paid to upgrade it to a full membership in 2000 and held that membership until 2017, when he had already switched to the Chevy Chase Club.” WaPo
THE INVESTIGATIONS — “A Top Trump Donor’s Dealings With Michael Cohen Trigger Scrutiny,” by WSJ’s Rebecca Ballhaus, Michael Rothfeld and Joe Palazzolo: “Federal prosecutors in New York have sought documents from Franklin L. Haney, a top donor to President Trump, about his business dealings with Michael Cohen, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Haney in early April hired Mr. Cohen, who at the time served as personal lawyer to the president, to help obtain funding for a nuclear-power project, including a $5 billion loan from the Department of Energy … Mr. Cohen would have been paid $10 million if he successfully helped obtain the funding … The contract is no longer in effect.” WSJ
— “Mueller request signals Gates may still be cooperating,” by CNN’s Katelyn Polantz and Jeremy Herb: “A court filing from special counsel Robert Mueller signals that Rick Gates may be assisting the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election beyond the case against Paul Manafort. In a filing Thursday, Mueller’s team said it wanted to keep a discussion between trial attorneys and Judge T.S. Ellis regarding a question to Gates secret because the transcript of the conversation would ‘reveal details of the ongoing investigation.’
“When Gates pleaded guilty and flipped on Manafort in February, he also agreed to help the special counsel with its investigation into Russian election interference as he was needed. It’s unclear how he has aided the special counsel’s probe beyond the Manafort case, but Gates was a deputy to Manafort on the Trump campaign and worked on the transition and presidential inauguration.” CNN
SPOTTED: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Thursday night at Santa Fe Opera for Rossini’s comic “L’Italiana in Algeri.” “As she returned to her seat at end of intermission, audience erupted in standing ovation and cheers,” per our tipster … Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) driving a white Mercedes with a Gaetz bumper sticker outside Jacksonville heading west on I-10 on Thursday afternoon.
ABBY HUNTSMAN TO ‘THE VIEW,’ via Mediaite’s Aidan McLaughlin: “Huntsman, who currently co-hosts ‘Fox & Friends Weekend,’ is set to replace Sara Haines, who announced her departure from the long-running ABC show last week to join the third hour of Good Morning America. When reached for comment, Fox News confirmed this will be Huntsman’s last weekend hosting the Saturday and Sunday editions of the network’s flagship morning program.” Mediaite
THE JUICE …
— THE CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP FUND is opening another six offices. They’re going in districts held by Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), George Holding (R-N.C.) and Pete Sessions (R-Texas). Open seats that are getting offices include: Kansas 2, held by retiring Rep. Lynn Jenkins, and North Carolina 9, held by Rep. Robert Pittenger, who lost a primary.
— CLF reported yesterday spending a shade more than $1 million on media seeking to defeat Anthony Brindisi, who is running against Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.).
PLAYBOOK ON THE ROAD — Thanks for another fun batch of entries for week two! Send a pic of you or a friend reading Playbook on vacation to get featured next week and a chance to win a signed Matt Wuerker cartoon to email@example.com or tweet your photos to @playbookplus with the hashtag #PlaybookLoyal.
— SOME OF THIS WEEK’S ENTRIES: ADRIENNE ELROD, a Democratic strategist: From the top of Smuggler Mountain. Pic … MAX CLERMONT of the nonprofit Data for Black Lives: “In the summers, I like to sit out on the front porch of the Chilmark General Store [in Martha’s Vineyard] and keep an eye peeled for Alan Dershowitz while POLITICO’s Ben Schreckinger reads Playbook aloud to me.” Pic … DARRELL WEST of Brookings: “Catching up on the latest Trump news from Playbook at Lake Lugano in Switzerland.” Pic …
… TOM O’DONNELL of the LBJ School of Public Affairs and former Clinton NEC chief of staff: “Reading Playbook in Minneapolis with inspiration from pioneering WJM-TV television woman journalist — Mary Richards — exploding with joy above me. She really could turn the world on with her smile. Stopped in the Twin Cities during a 1500-mile, two-week solo road trip to the 4 states I’ve never seen: OK, NE, ND, WI. America is already great!” Pic … RACHEL RYAN MCKELL of Qorvis Communications: “Catching up on latest from @politico while lunch-breaking today in #Paris”. Pic … See the rest of the entries, which feature places like Ireland, Scotland, Stockholm, Rome, Lake Powell, Fla., San Diego, Calif., Seattle, Brooklyn and Belgrade Lakes, Maine.
CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL: “Blankenship takes ballot fight to WV Supreme Court”
SUNDAY SO FAR —
TRUMP AND THE WORLD … “U.S. Officials Scrambled Behind the Scenes to Shield NATO Deal From Trump,” by NYT’s Helene Cooper and Julian E. Barnes: “Senior American national security officials, seeking to prevent President Trump from upending a formal policy agreement at last month’s NATO meeting, pushed the military alliance’s ambassadors to complete it before the forum even began. The work to preserve the North Atlantic Treaty Organization agreement, which is usually subject to intense 11th-hour negotiations, came just weeks after Mr. Trump refused to sign off on a communiqué from the June meeting of the Group of 7 in Canada.
“The rushed machinations to get the policy done, as demanded by John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, have not been previously reported. Described by European diplomats and American officials, the efforts are a sign of the lengths to which the president’s top advisers will go to protect a key and longstanding international alliance from Mr. Trump’s unpredictable antipathy. Allied ambassadors said the American officials’ plan worked — to a degree.” NYT
MEDIAWATCH — “Twitter says Infowars hasn’t ‘violated our rules.’ It looks like that’s not the case,” by CNN’s Oliver Darcy: “Twitter’s vice president for trust and safety, Del Harvey, told employees in an email on Wednesday that if far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his fringe media organization InfoWars had posted to Twitter the same content that led YouTube and Facebook to take action against Jones and InfoWars, Twitter would have done something too. …
“But a CNN review of Jones’ accounts show that all of the videos that initially led the other tech companies to take action against Jones were in fact posted to Twitter by Jones or InfoWars. All were still live on Twitter as of the time this article was published. CNN noted this in a request for comment from Twitter on Wednesday morning, before Harvey’s email was made public. The company declined to comment at the time.” CNN
— “Donerail Group in talks to buy Chicago Tribune owner Tronc – sources,” by Reuters’ Greg Roumeliotis: “Donerail Group, an investment firm led by former activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP executive Will Wyatt, is in talks to acquire Tronc Inc, the publisher of Chicago Tribune, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
“If the talks lead to a deal, Tronc would become the latest U.S. newspaper publisher to fall in the hands of a private equity firm or a hedge fund, as regional papers struggle with declining circulation amid the proliferation of online media. Donerail Group has secured financing for the deal and is in advanced negotiations with Tronc, the sources said.” Reuters
— “Sumner Redstone Trust Restricts Sale Options for CBS, Viacom,” by WSJ’s Keach Hagey: “Sumner Redstone doesn’t want his heirs to have an easy time selling off his family’s controlling stakes in media companies Viacom Inc. and CBS Corp. And he put it in writing in his estate-planning documents. The trust that will control Viacom and CBS when the 95-year-old media mogul dies or is deemed incapacitated places severe restrictions on the trustees’ ability to sell the companies, according to a copy of the confidential trust reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
“The trust, details of which haven’t been disclosed previously, prohibits the trustees from entering into any merger that would leave shareholders in National Amusements, Mr. Redstone’s holding company, with less than 30% of the voting control of the resulting business.” WSJ
TRANSITION — Betsy Andres Stewart is joining Boeing as director of legislative affairs and public policy communications on their government operations team. She most recently was VP of public affairs at the Business Roundtable and is also a John Boehner alum.
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Chris Hansen, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is 36. He doesn’t have any celebration plans yet since his fiancé will be on her bachelorette party. A fun fact about Chris: “I saved all of my money when I was younger from my job as a valet and when I was 20 I bought an around-the-world plane ticket from British Airways and backpacked for nine months. New Zealand and Thailand were the best places I went. I stayed in a beach bungalow for $2 a day in Thailand and got certified as a rescue diver because I dreamed of being a SCUBA instructor when I was older. I had cooler dreams when I was 20.” Playbook Plus Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Andrew Sullivan is 55 … Nancy Cordes, CBS News chief congressional correspondent (hat tip: Susanna Quinn) … Buffy Wicks, Obama and Dean alum and candidate for CA Assembly District 15 (East Bay) (h/ts Tim and Kiki Burger) … Gina Ormand Cherwin … 270 Strategies founding partner and CEO Meg Ansara … John Dunagan, president of Highland Advocacy Group and a VOX Global alum … Wood Foster (h/t Maggie Severns) … Politico’s Farnaz Mansouri … Politico Europe’s Jan Cienski … Matthew MacWilliams … Sally Garner … Alex Thompson, politics editor at VICE News … Kevin McAllister is 3-0 … Jim Brady, founder and CEO of Spirited Media and an ESPN alum, is 51 … Addison DiSesa … Jessica Wehrman … Paul Conway … NYT’s Laura Kim … Sarah Bryant Burns of the Cato Institute (h/t Mike) … Sophie Vershbow of Penguin Random House … Sarah Kyle, senior adviser and senior director of federal affairs at Eli Lilly …
… Alex Marquardt, CNN senior national correspondent … Mary Warlick … Joshua Karp … David Forman of the American Gaming Association … Chirag Shah … Mike Linhorst … Edelman’s Neha Jain … Genevieve Glatsky … BuzzFeed’s Lissandra Villa … Kevin King, communications lead at Quorum (h/t Theresa Hebert) … Andy Coulouris, director of federal Affairs at DTE Energy (h/t Mitchell Rivard) … Robert Cogan … Leila Clifford is 3-0 … Julie Johnson … Ally Harpootlian of ReThink Media … Jayson Rodriguez … Noah Marine is 34 … Katie Papa … Mark Walker … Lucy Wolfe Goss … Emily Buck … Cameron Onumah … Vanessa Reed … Rose Gallagher … Johannah Tyer … Sam Wilson is 36 … Paul Foutch … Rick Phelps … George Appleby … Benjamin Giesser … Rashid Mathus (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)