Week In The News: Trump, Cohen And Congress; William Barr; Shutdown; BrexitPlay
With David Folkenflik
Blame and pain as the federal shutdown rolls on. "I will not be bullied," says Trump’s pick for attorney general. Brexit implodes. The reporter’s roundtable on the week that was.
Anita Kumar, White House correspondent and associate editor at Politico. (@anitakumar01)
Zack Beauchamp, senior correspondent at Vox covering global politics and ideology. Host of Vox's "Worldly" podcast. (@zackbeauchamp)
Richard Engel, chief foreign correspondent for NBC News. (@RichardEngel)
Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)
From The Reading List
BuzzFeed News: "President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project" — "President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.
"Trump also supported a plan, set up by Cohen, to visit Russia during the presidential campaign, in order to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and jump-start the tower negotiations. 'Make it happen,' the sources said Trump told Cohen.
"And even as Trump told the public he had no business deals with Russia, the sources said Trump and his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project.
"Cohen pleaded guilty in November to lying about the deal in testimony and in a two-page statement to the Senate and House intelligence committees. Special counsel Robert Mueller noted that Cohen’s false claim that the project ended in January 2016 was an attempt to 'minimize links between the Moscow Project and Individual 1' — widely understood to be Trump — 'in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.'
"Now the two sources have told BuzzFeed News that Cohen also told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie — by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump’s involvement."
New York Times: "In a West Wing in Transition, Trump Tries to Stand Firm on the Shutdown" — "President Trump has insisted that he is not going to compromise with Democrats to end the government shutdown, and that he is comfortable in his unbendable position. But privately, it’s sometimes a different story.
"'We are getting crushed!' Mr. Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, after watching some recent coverage of the shutdown, according to one person familiar with the conversation. 'Why can’t we get a deal?'
"The president is confronted by a divided and partially shuttered government with an untested staff that has undergone yet another shake-up. Polls show that most Americans blame him for the government shutdown, and his advisers are warning him of its negative effects on the economy. And as the shutdown enters its 27th day on Thursday with no end in sight, most of his top aides would like him to find a way out.
"Mr. Trump has told them he believes over time the country will not remember the shutdown, but it will remember that he staged a fight over his insistence that the southern border be protected. He wants Democrats to come back to the table agreeing with his position on a wall, and he does not understand why they have not."
Vox: "Theresa May lost the Brexit vote because Brexit was a lie" — "UK Prime Minister Theresa May spent months negotiating a deal with the European Union on the terms of Brexit, Britain’s exit from the EU.
"On Tuesday, the UK Parliament voted to reject the deal by a resounding 432-202 margin — the largest legislative defeat any prime minister has suffered in modern British history.
"May’s defeat should dispel any illusion that there is a happy ending to the Brexit story. The truth of the matter is that the project that defined May’s premiership — negotiating a Brexit deal acceptable to both the EU and pro-Brexit legislators in her Conservative Party — was structurally impossible. The terms on which Conservative Brexiteers wanted to leave the EU were not acceptable to EU negotiators, and the compromises necessary to bring EU negotiators on board were not acceptable to Conservative Brexiteers. No amount of negotiating could address this dilemma."
Politico: "Michael Cohen blames Trump for reported poll-rigging efforts" — "Michael Cohen, the former fixer for President Donald Trump, is deflecting responsibility for allegedly paying someone to rig online polls in Trump’s favor, claiming in a tweet Thursday that his efforts were 'at the direction of and for the sole benefit' of his boss.
"Cohen was responding to a report in The Wall Street Journal that alleged Cohen owed money to the owner of a small tech company for creating a computer script aimed at boosting Trump’s standing in two online polls in 2014 and 2015, before Trump declared his candidacy for president.
"John Gauger, the owner of RedFinch Solutions LLC, was unsuccessful in his attempts to push Trump to the top of a CNBC poll about business leaders and a Drudge Report poll measuring support for potential GOP presidential contenders. And he told the Journal that Cohen only paid him about a quarter of the $50,000 he was owed.
"Cohen was sentenced late last year to three years in prison for tax evasion, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations for paying hush money to women alleging affairs with Trump."
New York Times: "At Pentagon, Trump Announces Plans to Expand Missile Defenses" — "President Trump announced Thursday the results of a missile defense review that he said would update a decades-old system and protect the United States from emerging threats — adopting a Cold War stance while also promoting futuristic ambitions with his much-touted Space Force.
"At the Pentagon, Mr. Trump said the strategy would help deter hostile states — including Iran, which he said 'is a much different country' now than when he took office.
"'Our goal is simple: to ensure that we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States anywhere, any time, any place.'
"Known as the Missile Defense Review, the strategy was originally planned for release last year, but was delayed. The changes mark the first update to the policy since a 2010 review by the Obama administration."
Tania Ralli produced this hour for broadcast.
This program aired on January 18, 2019.