All the President’s Lawyers

Today’s Agenda

All the President’s Lawyers

Trump’s Legal Troubles

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It’s time for a Bloomberg Opinion Today Law School pop quiz.

Question One: Rudy Giuliani, the former federal prosecutor and New York City mayor and current lawyer of President Donald Trump, claims collusion is not a crime. In other words, his client, President Trump, would not have committed a crime if he had, say, colluded with Russia by, say, encouraging it to hack the 2016 election (which Giuliani and Trump argue he did not do). Is Giuliani right or wrong?

Answer: It’s a trick question. He’s right that “collusion,” whatever that means, is not a crime. But aiding and abetting a criminal act, such as hacking into Hillary Clinton’s server or DNC emails – which might or might not have happened during the 2016 election – is in fact a crime, writes real-life law professor Noah Feldman. And it is still possible special counsel Robert Mueller will find enough evidence that Trump and/or members of his campaign aided and abetted Russia in committing such crimes. Click here to read the whole thing.

Question Two: The trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on money-laundering, fraud and other charges begins today. Should Trump worry about the outcome of this trial?

Answer: Sorry, it’s another trick question. No, this trial won’t directly affect Trump, as it has nothing directly to do with Russian interference in the election. But Tim O’Brien points out Mueller is playing a long game here: Maybe the prospect of jail time will convince Manafort to finally cooperate with Mueller’s main investigation. So yes, Trump still has reason to worry. Click here to read the whole thing.

Protect the Census

The 2020 census is just around the corner, basically – closer even than the 2020 election – and it will have a huge impact on the politics and economics of this country for the following decade. But the Trump administration doesn’t seem to be preparing for it adequately, Bloomberg’s editors write. Worse, it seems intent on sabotaging the count by adding a totally unnecessary question about citizenship: “One of the greatest challenges in 2020 will be reaching immigrant and minority families, whom the Trump administration’s antagonism has made more wary of dealing with the government. Adding a question on citizenship all but guarantees that many will not be counted.” Click here to read the whole thing

Trump’s True Trade Colors

On a day when Trump both blasted the Koch brothers as “globalists” but also opened the door to new negotiations with China to de-escalate a trade war, it can be dangerous to assign Trump to one side of the free-trade/protectionist divide or the other. But his actions make ridiculous the recent assertions of some supporters that he is pushing a “radical free-trade agenda,” writes Ramesh Ponnuru

Meanwhile, as Trump shuts the door on allies, immigration and free trade, the long-closed-off Japan has been quietly doing the opposite – expanding its influence and bolstering its long-term economic viability, writes Noah Smith

U.S. Vs. Russia Vs. China

Forty-five years ago or so, Henry Kissinger helped convince Richard Nixon to join forces with China to counter the power of the Soviet Union. Kissinger has reportedly pushed Trump to take the opposite approach now: teaming up with Russia to confront a growing China. Whether this reporting reflects reality or not, it's a bad idea right now, argues Hal Brands. The U.S. -Russia relationship is too troubled to strike a solid partnership – Trump’s apparent fealty to Vladimir Putin aside – and the China-Russia relationship today is nothing like their rivalry of the Cold War. Click here to read the whole thing.

Bonus realpolitik reading: 

Chart Attack

Hedge funds have never been as bearish about gold as they are now – which seems like a buying opportunity, suggests David Fickling.

All the President’s Lawyers

General Electric Co. hasn’t handled digital well – but it shouldn’t give up on it, Brooke Sutherland writes.

All the President’s Lawyers

Speed Reading

The EU should be careful playing hardball in Brexit negotiations. – Therese Raphael 

Housing affordability is deteriorating rapidly. – Danielle DiMartino Booth

Unlike Trump, Arch Coal Inc. gets it: Coal is dying. – Liam Denning

It’s fun to write speculative 2020 presidential election fiction, but the truth is we have no way of guessing what will happen. – Jonathan Bernstein

You’d probably be surprised to learn how many foreign spies are in the U.S. right now. – Tyler Cowen

ICYMI

Facebook found election interference is still happening. Trump double-plus wants to shut the government down, maybe. Here’s how America uses its land.

Kickers

To remember anything, the brain has to forget almost everything.

Bad tippers are the worst. Here’s what they’re thinking

OK, maybe people who steal sharks are the worst.

Behind-the-camera brothers, ranked (incorrectly).

Note: Please send tips, suggestions and kicker ideas to Mark Gongloff at mgongloff1@bloomberg.net.

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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Mark Gongloff is an editor with Bloomberg Opinion. He previously was a managing editor of Fortune.com, ran the Huffington Post's business and technology coverage, and was a columnist, reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal.

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