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."