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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.


The Hill's 12:30 Report: GOP Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsBiden taps Damian Williams as US attorney for Manhattan New York lt. gov. says she is 'prepared to lead' following Cuomo resignation Outrage grows as Justice seeks to contain subpoena fallout MORE charged with insider trading | Takeaways from Ohio's too-close-to-call special election | GOP sees warning signs | Trump claims he went '5 for 5' in Tuesday votes | Record numbers of women nominated | Mueller's midterm dilemma | New China tariffs hit US | Reynolds Wrap hiring chief grilling officer



Insider trading charges aren’t how any member of Congress would like to spend August recess:



Via NBC's Erik Ortiz and Jonathan Dienst, Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) has been arrested and charged with insider trading. What's happening today: Collins turned himself in to the FBI and will appear in federal court later today. At issue: The insider-trading case centers on Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian drug company that counts Collins among its largest shareholders. Don't forget: Collins was one of President TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE's early supporters during the 2016 presidential race and one of Trump's top defenders on Capitol Hill.

Livestream of the prosecution’s press conference:

WHAT WE KNOW -- NOT THE MOST SOPHISTICATED SCHEME: Via Reuters' Pete Schroeder, the indictment "claims Collins frantically called his son (from the WH congressional picnic no less) right after learning the company where he is a board member failed its drug trial. Son and several others unloaded stock before it was announced ... Indictment doesn't paint a terribly sophisticated scheme. Not sure how they thought no one would notice the son of a board member and others unloading a niche Australian stock hours before catastrophic news released."


COLLINS HAS BEEN IN HOT WATER BEFORE: Last year, an Office of Congressional Ethics report found there was reason to believe that Collins had shared inside information with the drug company's investors.

JUST NOW -- RYAN KICKS COLLINS OFF COMMITTEE: House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book Paul Ryan says it's 'really clear' Biden won election: 'It was not rigged. It was not stolen' Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms MORE (R-Wis.) released a statement that Rep. Collins has been removed from the House Energy and Commerce Committee. From Ryan's statement: "While his guilt or innocence is a question for the courts to settle, the allegations against Rep. Collins demand a prompt and thorough investigation by the House Ethics Committee. Insider trading is a clear violation of the public trust. Until this matter is settled, Rep. Collins will no longer be serving on the House Energy and Commerce Committee."

It's 8/8/18 -- Happy Wednesday. I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to and on Facebook.



Are we calling this a trade war yet? Or would we prefer 'trade squabble,' 'trade tiff':
China is firing back against U.S. tariffs with another round of retaliatory tariffs. Details: "The Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced a 25 percent charge on $16 billion worth of U.S. goods. The 333 goods being targeted by China include vehicles such as large passenger cars and motorcycles. Various fuels are on the list, as well as fiber optical cables."

WHAT SPARKED THIS: Yesterday, President Trump decided to hit China with 25 percent tariffs on $16 billion worth of Chinese imports. When the tariffs take effect: Aug. 23.

One perspective: Here's how CEOs can take the lead in trade:



The number of people who attended Prince William's wedding is greater than the vote difference in Ohio:

Republicans are clinging to a tiny, too-close-to-call lead in the Ohio special election between Republican state Sen. Troy Balderson and Democrat Danny O'Connor

The vote difference right now: Republicans are leading by 1,754 votes -- that's less than a percentage point.

The latest vote count from The New York Times:

Why that race can't be called: At least 3,367 provisional ballots still haven't been counted. The race could still go either way.

Was this race outcome a surprise?: The GOP was expected to win this race easily. The close margin is a worrying sign ahead of the midterms.


Five takeaways:

  1. GOP leads, but Dems see bright spots.
  2. GOP may be in genuine trouble in the suburbs.
  3. Trump's impact on election remains uncertain.
  4. Progressive stars Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan Manchin: Biden told moderates to pitch price tag for reconciliation bill Biden employs flurry of meetings to unite warring factions MORE (I-Vt.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's influence is unclear.
  5. Another strong night for women.

Context and details for each:


The other race that's too close to call:

The Republican primary for Kansas governor is also still too close to call. The candidates: Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a controversial immigration hard-liner whom President Trump endorsed yesterday, and incumbent GOP Gov. Jeff Colyer. How many votes separate the two: Kobach is leading by 191 votes. The latest results:


Late this morning -- I bet Trump used the celebration effect in his texts:


President Trump boasted that all five candidates he endorsed for this week's primaries have won their races. Ehh, but: The contests in Ohio and Kansas are still too close to call. He tweeted -- short and sweet: "5 for 5!"


Full election results:

Michigan poised to send first Muslim woman to Congress: Former Michigan state Rep. Rashida Tlaib won the Democratic nomination, and with no Republicans or third-party candidates running, Tlaib will start after November. Keep in mind: Tlaib is the first Muslim woman and the first Palestinian-American to serve in Congress.

Another record: A record number of women have won nominations for the governorship and Congress. Keep in mind: We're still a full month from the end of primary season.

Keep paying those union dues, Missouri: Missouri voters solidly rejected the state's right-to-work law. Basically: The state voted against allowing workers to opt out of paying mandatory union fees as part of their contract.

I could get behind this: "Free idea: special elections get names the way hurricanes do" (Via The Huffington Post's Ariel Edwards-Levy

Mueller's midterm problem -- how not to be the next James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGiuliani told investigators it was OK to 'throw a fake' during campaign DOJ watchdog unable to determine if FBI fed Giuliani information ahead of 2016 election Biden sister has book deal, set to publish in April MORE: "With the elections less than three months away, [special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE] is running out of time to issue more indictments or announce other major developments in his Russia probe without opening himself up to accusations of attempting to influence Election Day."

'Forward slash something':


His Facebook bio -- um...:

Oh and...: "Here's a photo of Joe Manchik and Jill Stein, for no reason" (h/t The Huffington Post's Igor Bobic



Well, I guess that's the problem with having extramarital affairs -- they can come up during a federal trial:

During the trial against President Trump's former campaign chair Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDOJ investigating one-time Trump campaign adviser over alleged ties to Qatar: report Foreign lobbyists donated over M during 2020 election: report Former Mueller prosecutor representing Donoghue in congressional probes: report MORE, Manafort's former associate Rick Gates was forced to admit an extramarital affair. Gates also admitted to embezzling money from Manafort. The body language of Gates and Manafort during this testimony is fascinating:

How the affair ties into the defense's case: Manafort's defense attorneys are trying to prove that Gates stole money from Manafort and used it "to fund a separate secret life."

Why Gates is crucial for the prosecution: "Gates's testimony is central to prosecutors' case as they seek to prove that Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, committed bank fraud and tax crimes." Gates is the prosecution's star witness and a longtime business partner of Manafort's.

The Onion's Manafort trial coverage game is strong: Defiant Manafort Enters Trial Wearing Coat Made Of Live Puffins" Photo -- looks legit to me:  

Live blog of updates from Day 7 of the trial:



This is pretty scary:

Via The Daily Beast's Sam Stein, 43 percent of Republicans want to give President Trump the authority to shut down news outlets, according to a new Ipsos survey.

Why this matters: "The findings present a sobering picture for the fourth estate, with respondents showing diminished trust in the media and increased support for punitive measures against its members. They also illustrate the extent to which Trump's anti-press drumbeat has shaped public opinion about the role the media plays in covering his administration."



Mmmm, looks ... appetizing: 

This photo was taken 44 years ago today.



The House and Senate are out.

President Trump is at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J. Vice President Pence is spending the day in Duluth, Minn., and Grand Rapids, Mich.

Noon: Vice President Pence arrives in Duluth, Minn.

12:35 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence campaigns for Minnesota congressional candidate Pete Stauber.

1:50 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence tours Industrial Weldors & Machinists, Inc. in Minnesota.

3:10 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence leaves Minnesota for Grand Rapids, Mich.

6 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence speaks at Michigan Republican Party rally in Grand Rapids, Mich. He then heads back to Washington, D.C.

7:30 p.m. EDT: President Trump has dinner with supporters at his golf club in New Jersey.



2:20 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence delivers remarks in Minnesota. Livestream:

Noon, Thursday: Former clerks of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, talk about their time working with him during a Heritage Foundation event. Details and livestream:



Today is National Frozen Custard Day.


Sorry, friends. I'm outta here:

"Reynolds Wrap announced its search for a Chief Grilling Officer, a temporary gig where one person spends two weeks eating barbecue around the United States.

That lucky worker and a guest will receive a $10,000 stipend, plus pre-paid travel and lodging."

How to apply -- you have until Aug. 13:


I love when casting decisions just make sense:

Seinfeld star Jason Alexander is KFC's latest Colonel Sanders. Watch:


And because you read this far, here's a dog who really needs a new hobby. It's fine, fetch isn't for every dog: