Opinion writer

* Robert Mueller continues to be a busy little bee:

Rick Gates, a former top official in President Trump’s campaign, pleaded guilty Friday afternoon to conspiracy and lying to the FBI, striking a deal to cooperate and provide information to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s ongoing investigation.

The plea caps a tumultuous 24 hours for Gates in which he was hit with fresh charges, changed lawyers and admitted crimes.

The guilty plea also marks a busy period for Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and related issues. He charged 13 Russians this month with participating in a criminal scheme to disrupt the election and a London-based lawyer pleaded guilty Tuesday to lying to FBI agents on the case.

According to a criminal information — a document filed earlier Friday with the permission of the defendant — Gates conspired to defraud the United States regarding the money he and his business partner Paul Manafort earned while working for a political party in Ukraine and lied to the FBI in a Feb. 1, 2018 interview about a 2013 meeting between Manafort, a lobbyist, and a congressman.

There sure are a lot of people pleading guilty, given that this whole thing is a hoax concocted by the Democrats.

* Damian Paletta reports on how saturated the United States is with guns:

U.S. companies have manufactured more than 70 million firearms since 2008, rapidly escalating the production of pistols and the types of rifles used in recent mass shootings, government and industry data show.

In 2016, the latest year for which data is available, production spiked as firearms companies built roughly 11 million guns, in part because of a belief that Democrats would win elections that year and curb access to semiautomatic weapons such as the AR-15 rifle.

More than 4 million rifles were produced in 2016, up from 1.8 million in 2010. The National Rifle Association has estimated that 25 percent of all rifles produced in the United States are AR-15s or other semiautomatic styles, while other gun groups have said the ratio is closer to 50 percent.

All told, U.S. companies have manufactured more than 150 million firearms since 1986, according to the “Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report,” published each year by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Keep in mind, spreading the ideas that 1) the world is a nightmarish place where monsters are about to kill you and your family, and 2) Democrats are about to take away your guns are at the core of the business model that drives this industry and its partner the NRA.

* Fred Barbash and Lindsey Bever report that the movement to boycott companies that do business with the NRA is gaining steam as multiple corporations end co-branding relationships with the group.

* Rep. Brian Mast, a Republican and a veteran, commits full blown heresy, explaining why we need new controls on the weapons of war so many Americans own.

* Amanda Marcotte explains how the NRA and Dana Loesch are misleading you when they say the NRA has not consistently opposed efforts to allow authorities to take guns away from dangerous people.

* James Alan Fox explains the many, many practical problems with Trump’s call for arming teachers, and how it’s cribbed directly from the NRA playbook.

* Alice Ollstein reports on how a CPAC panel descended into chaos when a libertarian panelist presented evidence that immigration benefits the country.

* Eliana Johnson reports that Trump isn’t letting his parade idea slide, and is forcing the military to go ahead with planning it for Veterans Day.

* Zach Everson reports that Trump’s DC hotel has been forced to pay millions in fines for not paying its contractors.

* Andrew Sprung examines the potential benefits of the “Medicare for most” plan that the Center for American Progress just released.

* Dannagal Young examines what happens when TV comedians decide to temporarily abandon humor.

* At The Week, I argued that no one should be fooled by any positive things that come out of Donald Trump’s mouth on gun control.

* And Erik Wemple gets the truth behind the CNN “scripted question” non-scandal. You’ll be shocked to learn the president isn’t telling the truth about it.