On Monday night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow unpacked a number of critically important news stories that have been largely lost in the shuffle amid outrage over President Donald Trump’s racist attacks on Democratic congresswomen — stories that could be critically important in coming weeks, and problematic for the president, but that he doubtless was grateful didn’t dominate the cycle.
First, Maddow noted, there was “what they announced in terms of changes to asylum law … maybe this president’s most radical effort to change laws along racial lines since the Muslim ban that he tried to implement as soon as he got into office. It’s part of a larger mosaic in terms of how the president is running and using race to get himself reelected.” The law would ban any migrants from receiving asylum if they failed to apply for asylum in any country they passed through, which would be impractical or ineffective for many of them.
But even more than that, Maddow pointed out, there were significant developments in the Russia affair.
“Today was the first day of only the second criminal trial to have resulted from the Mueller investigation and the Russia scandal,” said Maddow. Until now the only Trump official to actually be tried and convicted was campaign chairman Paul Manafort, but the trial has begun for Trump transition official Bijan Kian, “the number two official on intelligence matters, which means he was involved in the Trump transition on things like little stuff like picking new senior leadership with the CIA.”
Also developing is the ongoing legal quagmire facing former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. “He pled guilty to lying about secret communications with the Russian government during the transition and became a cooperating witness at that time,” said Maddow. “Flynn was apparently a good cooperator for a while. The special counsel’s office recommended to Flynn’s sentencing judge that Mike Flynn should get zero time in prison as recognition of how much help he was able to provide them as a cooperating witness.” But all of that has subsequently fallen apart, as Flynn has hired a new team of confrontational defense attorneys and prosecutors have reclassified him from witness to co-conspirator.
Amid all this, Maddow also pointed to a new report from CNN documenting a possible way that WikiLeaks could have obtained the Democratic emails stolen by hackers affiliated with the Russian military.
“CNN obtained surveillance that appears to show how Wikileaks got that stolen material from Russian intelligence in the 2016 campaign and it is a fascinating story,” said Maddow. “It is the logs for a security firm they published tonight that appeared to show how they transferred to Wikileaks the reams of stolen material that Trump celebrated. That Wikileaks released in the campaign to cause maximum damage to Hillary Clinton and maximum benefit to Donald Trump.” The logs show how Assange worked together with middleman German hackers and Russian officials passed along a package to a security guard at the Ecuadorian embassy that seemed to contain the stolen files.
“How do you keep this all in perspective?” concluded Maddow. “How high up do you need to get in elevation before you can look down at this news cycle alone and say yeah, this is fine. We can handle this. Just a remarkable day in the news.”
Trump aides desperately try to downplay ‘order’ to US companies to leave China
Donald Trump's top aides on Sunday downplayed the idea of US companies being forced to abandon China any time soon, as an edict from the president ordering businesses to start looking for alternatives has been met with skepticism.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economics advisor Larry Kudlow took to the airwaves from France, where Trump is participating in the G7 summit, to smooth out tensions in the business community prompted by Trump's Friday tweet.
Trump said he has "no plan now" to bring US companies in line, and his aides quickly reinforced the message.
Trump sparks confusion at G7 before doubling down on China tariffs
President Donald Trump doubled down Sunday on his hard line against China after sowing confusion with statements that he might be willing to soften a trade war G7 partners fear threatens the world economy.
At the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, Trump announced a major trade deal with Japan and promised more of the same with Britain, once Brexit is done.
But the positives were overshadowed by a mix-up over his apparent expression of regret for the latest escalation in the US-China dispute.
"I have second thoughts about everything," he conceded to reporters when asked if he regretted his decision on Friday to ramp up tariffs on all Chinese imports, worth some $550 billion, in retaliation for Beijing's earlier hike of levies on US goods.
Persecuted Christians eye long-sought freedom in Sudan
Sudan's Christians suffered decades of persecution under the regime of Islamist general Omar al-Bashir. Now they hope his downfall will give the religious freedom they have long prayed for.
Deep within the maze of dusty alleys that honeycomb Omdurman, Khartoum's sprawling twin city, Yousef Zamgila's church is not visible from the street.
It is hidden in the courtyard of a friend's home and consists of a few iron benches, a pulpit and crosses hastily painted on pillars holding a corrugated roof.
"The previous centre got destroyed because we didn't have the right papers. They always refused... So we use the land of our neighbours," says the Lutheran reverend.