A federal judge on Tuesday rejected an attempt by Paul Manafort, a former Trump campaign chairman, to get an indictment against him dismissed by claiming that special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment was flawed.
In a blow to Manafort’s defense, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruledthat Mueller’s prosecution of the longtime political consultant on charges of money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent for a Ukrainian political party was “squarely” within the authority that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein granted to Mueller last May.
“The indictment falls squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel that Manafort finds unobjectionable: the order to investigate ‘any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign,’” Jackson wrote.
To be clear, this is a different judge from the one in Virginia who recently criticized Mueller and has yet to rule, so Trumpists will still be holding out hope on that one. But today’s news is a boost for the Mueller probe.
* Karoun Demirjian and Shane Harris report that Gina Haspel looks like she’s going to get confirmed:
Gina Haspel appears to have secured enough votes to be confirmed as the country’s next CIA director after stating in a letter to a top Democrat that the agency never should have detained terrorist suspects and employed brutal interrogation techniques against them.
In announcing his support for Haspel, Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) said Tuesday that he had asked her to write down her views because he believed that in one-on-one meetings she had expressed greater regret, and more resolute moral opposition to the agency’s interrogation program than she had communicated during her confirmation hearing last week.
“I believe she is someone who can and will stand up to the President if ordered to do something illegal or immoral — like a return to torture,” Warner said in a statement, citing his past interaction with Haspel and the overwhelming support for her among the agency’s rank and file and the wider intelligence community. He added that he also had “respect” for those “who have made a different decision” about her nomination.
Fortunately, there’s no chance at all she was just telling Warner what she knew he wanted to hear.
* Still, Doug Jones did put out a strong statement opposing Haspel, articulating a set of positions you’d think most Democrats would share.
* Nick Miroff and Paul Sonne report that the Trump administration is really looking forward to splitting up immigrant families:
The Trump administration is making preparations to warehouse migrant children on military bases, according to Defense Department communications, the latest sign the government is moving forward with plans to split up families who cross the border illegally.
According to an email notification sent to Pentagon staffers, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will make site visits at four military installations in Texas and Arkansas during the next two weeks to evaluate their suitability for child shelters.
The bases would be used to hold minors under age 18 who arrive at the border without an adult relative or after the government has separated them from their parents. HHS is the government agency responsible for providing minors with foster care until another adult relative can assume custody.
I’m sure they’ll make it as unpleasant as possible so as to provide a deterrent.
* Anna Fifield reports that North Korea is threatening to cancel the planned summit over joint U.S.-South Korea military drills known as “Max Thunder.” See, if they had gone with the “Max Headroom” drills, it would have been an amusing nostalgia trip and no one would have minded.
* Sean Sullivan, David Weigel, and Elise Viebeck preview the important Pennsylvania primaries happening today.
* Nancy LeTourneau tracks down the source of the latest anti-Mueller conspiracy theory.
* Gretchen Goldman explains how Scott Pruitt is working to make our air dirtier.