Opinion writer

* Renae Merle and Rosalind S. Helderman report on a Trump-related corruption case you may not have heard about:

Stephen Calk, a former economic adviser to President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, was indicted Thursday for allegedly approving $16 million in loans to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in exchange for his help seeking a top post in the administration.

Calk, the founder of mortgage lender Federal Savings Bank of Chicago, illegally used the bank’s resources to curry favor with Manafort, ignoring internal standards and lying to regulators, according to the indictment unsealed in the Southern District of New York.

As the bank rushed through the loans, Calk gave Manafort a list ranking the senior administrative jobs he wanted, starting with Treasury Secretary, the indictment alleges. The list also included 19 ambassadorships, including to the United Kingdom, according to the indictment.

Calk ultimately was interviewed as a candidate for undersecretary of the Army but did not get the job, prosecutors said.

What could possibly have given this man the impression that that sort of thing would be tolerated in this administration?

* Investigative journalist Murray Waas reports that President Trump’s coverup started early in his administration, and involved Rod J. Rosenstein:

In May 2017, then Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein agreed to assist President Trump in an effort to fire James Comey as FBI director despite Rosenstein’s knowing beforehand that the president had devised a false cover story to conceal the fact that he was firing Comey for his oversight of the FBI’s Russia investigation, according to previously confidential White House records and interviews with former and current government officials familiar with the matter.

In this previously unreported episode, President Trump gave Rosenstein a draft of a letter to then FBI Director Comey, in which the president justified his firing of Comey with a concocted story claiming that, at the beginning of his presidency, Trump had retained Comey on a probationary or trial period only, because of what he described as poor job performance by Comey. After reading this draft letter, Rosenstein agreed to write a memorandum for the president severely criticizing Comey’s handling of the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of State. The White House used Rosenstein’s memo as its initial public rationale for Comey’s firing.

Trump seemed to be casting about for the right lie to tell, which is totally what you do when you’re completely innocent.

* Jeff Stein and Mike DeBonis report that some legislating unexpectedly broke out on Capitol Hill today as lawmakers agreed on a disaster relief package, but without the border funding Trump wanted.

* Devlin Barrett, Rachel Weiner, and Matt Zapotosky report that federal prosecutors have charged Julian Assange with violating the Espionage Act.

* The USA Today editorial board gives President Trump a spanking for saying he can’t talk about legislating while he’s being investigated.

* Jonathan Cohn reports on a new study showing that 24 million Americans with employer health plans still struggle to meet their medical costs.

* The Pew Research Center reports that about 35 percent of Republicans say they’d like to see a primary challenge to President Trump. The number goes to 43 percent if you include those who lean Republican.

* Drew Harwell reports on how a video of Nancy Pelosi doctored to make her sound drunk has garnered millions of views on the Internet, because the future is a nightmare.

* Will Wilkinson says Trump is making life in rural America worse, and that ought to create an opportunity for Democrats.

* Quinta Jurecic argues that impeachment is necessary because to respond reasonably to Trump is to deny reality.

* Steven Shepard and Zach Montellaro report that spirituality guru and presidential candidate Marianne Williamson looks like she has secured a spot in the Democratic debates.

* Stephanie Mencimer reports on Mike Huckabee’s campaign to cut off public access to the beach in front of his Florida mansion.