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Here’s what’s happening in Trump’s America:
• Trump has another light day. At 11:30 a.m., he’ll hold a cabinet meeting — which might get awkward, given Trump has repeatedly attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions in recent weeks.
• Following the cabinet meeting at 12:45 p.m., Trump will have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence.
• At 3:45 p.m., Trump has his last scheduled event of the day: a meeting with Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
• Jurors in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s trial will begin deliberating Thursday morning. It’s unclear how long the jury will take to come to a decision, but it’s possible there could be a verdict by the end of the day.
• The Senate is in session, and Republican lawmakers are sure to be asked about the scandal du jour from the Trump White House: the revocation of a security clearance for a former intelligence official who has been critical of Trump as well as the N-word tape White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders couldn’t guarantee doesn’t exist.
About last night: Trump revokes former CIA director’s security clearance to distract from the N-word tape
Trump announced Wednesday he revoked the security clearance of John Brennan, the former CIA director who has been a loud critic of Trump’s presidency.
The move is being condemned as an effort by Trump to silence and punish his critics.
“The reason people would say that this argument strains credibility is there is obvious examples, even from this administration; your former national security adviser admitted to lying to the FBI. Why is this only a list of Democrats who have been critical of the administration?” Bloomberg News’ Justin Sink asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders Wednesday after she announced other former Obama administration intelligence officials’ security clearances are under review. “And why should Americans have confidence that you are taking this seriously if there’s not a single Republican on that list?”
Sanders didn’t have a strong answer.
“Again, certainly, we would look at those if we deemed it necessary,” she replied.
Trump first brought up the possibility of revoking security clearances on July 23.
After floating the idea in July, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said revoking security clearances of those who have been critical of Trump is a “banana republic kind of thing” that happens in places like Venezuela.
On July 24, House Speaker Paul Ryan also fluffed off the possibility of security clearance revocations as Trump just “trolling.” Now that Trump actually did take away Brennan’s security clearance, Ryan has not commented, according to the Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey.
The announcement is also being mocked as a transparent ploy to distract from another scandal plaguing his presidency: the increasing discussion of a rumored tape that purports to show Trump using the N-word.
When the White House initially released Trump’s statement announcing the revocation of Brennan’s security clearance, it was dated July 26 — three weeks ago. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump claimed the reason the White House didn’t announce the revocation sooner was because things were “hectic.”
That notion also strains credulity, given Trump was on an 11-day vacation at his New Jersey golf club.
Brennan, for his part, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times saying Trump’s move was a “desperate” attempt to “scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him.”
“Mr. Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash,” Brennan wrote in the op-ed. “The only questions that remain are whether the collusion that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy, whether obstruction of justice occurred to cover up any collusion or conspiracy, and how many members of ‘Trump Incorporated’ attempted to defraud the government by laundering and concealing the movement of money into their pockets.”
Today in Trump’s America: Jury begins deliberating in Manafort trial
After nearly two weeks, the jury will begin deliberating Thursday morning to determine whether the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort committed the 32 counts of bank fraud and tax evasion he’s been charged with.
Prosecutors made their closing argument in the case Wednesday, saying Manafort is a serial liar, who made a fortune by lying to the government about his income and then lied to banks when his millions in consulting cash dried out.
“Mr. Manafort lied to keep more money when he had it, and he lied to get more money when he didn’t,” prosecutor Greg Andres told the jury Wednesday. “This is a case about Mr. Manafort and his lies — lies on his tax returns and lies to bank after bank after bank.”
Manafort’s defense team’s argument was no one seemed hurt by bank fraud “until the special counsel showed up and started asking questions” and special counsel Robert Mueller’s objective was to “stack up the counts” against Manafort.
That argument earned a scolding from Judge T.S. Ellis, who instructed the jury to disregard Mueller’s motives in their deliberations.
Experts say it’s unlikely Manafort will escape scot-free and expect he will be found guilty on at least some — if not all — charges.
And the rest…
Marital bliss?: The Washington Post profiled White House counselor and stringent Trump defender Kellyanne Conway and her husband George Conway, who has become one of Trump’s most vocal conservative critics. In the profile, Kellyanne Conway tried to anonymously criticize her husband by identifying herself as a “person familiar with their relationship” — which the author, Ben Terris, didn’t let her get away with. Ouch.