THREE TRUMP AIDES CHARGED

Three Trump campaign officials have been charged with tax evasion and money-laundering, after allegedly funnelling millions of dollars through shell companies with the intention of hiding the money from the US government, as well as for lying to the FBI.

The charges are the first to arise from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russian government. However, the charges do not relate to illegal acts of collusion with Russia.

Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty overnight to charges of laundering $18 million into the US, allegedly hiding it from the government as well as lawyers and others. Manafort’s associate and former senior Trump campaign operative Rick Gates was also charged over $3 million worth of transfers. Both allegedly lied to the FBI and failed to notify the US government of their foreign lobbying.

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While Manafort and Gates maintain their innocence, Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has entered a plea of guilty over allegations he lied to the FBI about meeting a professor with ties to the Kremlin. Papadopoulos initially told the FBI he met the Russian linked official before he became a Trump advisor when he actually did so days after joining the campaign.

Manafort was dumped by the Trump campaign in 2016 after it was revealed he had been secretly paid millions of dollars for lobbying work in Ukraine, much by former president Viktor Yanukovych.

In response to the news, Trump tweeted: “Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????…Also, there is NO COLLUSION!”

FAILURE TO BE FAIR, PROVE FACTS

Fairfax Media has lost a defamation action brought against it by West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle.

Fairfax had published a story alleging Gayle exposed himself to masseuse Leanne Russell, and Russell testified that the cricketer had partially exposed his penis to her.

But the jury did not accept that Fairfax proved Gayle intentionally exposed his genitals, indecently exposed himself, or indecently propositioned the woman. In a blow to the publisher, the jury also accepted Fairfax was motivated by malice.

Fairfax is now “seriously considering” an appeal. A spokesperson for the company said the judge had found the jury had been misled in a way likely to cause prejudice against Fairfax but that they had not been dismissed.

Costs and damages are expected to be awarded today.

GREAT SOUTHERN MAN

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten are set to make their presence felt in Queensland as the state gears up for a closely fought election. But according to The Australian Financial Review, Turnbull will be confined largely to the state’s south east, with his image not seen as helping the party in the regional expanses threatened by One Nation.

The job of wrangling these voters might normally go to Barnaby Joyce, but the currently ex-MP has said he’ll be focusing on winning his own byelection in New England instead.

Joyce’s task should be a fairly easy one. One Nation, the Shooters and Fishers Party, and rival Tony Windsor have all confirmed they won’t contest the byelection.

READ ALL ABOUT IT 

Manus Island asylum seekers secure fences, barricade themselves inside processing centre as closure looms

Adani leans on China for Carmichael mine loan

JFK files reveal CIA considered assassinating Indonesian president Sukarno

Acting PM Julie Bishop hoses down legal concerns over Joyce, Nash decisions

Warren Mundine reveals Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull rang him in a ‘white-hot rage’ after ‘radio silence’ interview

Failing employment services program sites branded ‘a mess’

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Papua New Guinea: The Manus Island detention centre is scheduled to be closed despite refugees holding out in the centre.

Australia and Israel: Centenary of the Battle of Beersheba celebrated in both countries. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten mark the occasion in Israel.

Melbourne: The Victorian government will announce a safe injecting room trial in North Richmond.

Brisbane: A major international study about the genetic factors that explain asthma will be launched by Dr Manuel Ferreira.  

Sydney: Deal to transfer Ten shares to CBS goes before the Federal Court for approval.

Sydney: A hearing will be held to hand down the damages owed to Chris Gayle by Fairfax Media.

Sydney: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders meet with members of the Black Lives Matter movement to discuss shared experiences.

THE COMMENTARIAT

AWU raid wasn’t the only time Michaelia Cash’s office manipulated the media — Jenna Price (Sydney Morning Herald): “Here, have this information before the union itself even has the time to research and respond.”

Voice of the people spurned on indigenous recognition — Mark Leibler (The Australian $): “The body would bear no resemblance to a third chamber because its structure and functions were to be defined by the parliament, and it would have no power of veto on proposed legislation.”

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Vale Ben Sandilands, renowned aviation journalist and Crikey blogger — Bernard Keane: “Ben knew his subject area as well as any expert, and better than most. But more than his expertise and his contacts, accumulated over decades, he had two gifts – an appropriate journalistic scepticism of anything he was seeing and hearing, and a capacity to render often impenetrably complex technical issues into not merely readable but engaging analysis.”

Poll Bludger: One Nation factor makes a powder keg of Qld election — William Bowe: “Opinion polls have shown the major parties to be running neck and neck for most of the Palaszczuk government’s time in office, but a poll trend analysis points to a break in Labor’s favour in recent months, with all pollsters but ReachTEL crediting them with a slight lead.”

Constitutional games showed this government is breathtakingly incompetent — Bernard Keane: “Consider the symbolism of a government rushing to change the constitution to include people with foreign citizenship in the name of inclusion while brushing off a constitutionally conservative proposal for an Indigenous voice.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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