“Former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) turned up unannounced at a meet-and-greet event in Baltimore last week for Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker (D). … O’Malley hugged Baker and showered him with praise, ticking off a list of weighty agenda items on which the two had collaborated. ‘County Executive Baker would be an outstanding governor for this state,’ O’Malley said. But later, he made it clear that he was not ready to offer an endorsement just yet. … Three sources familiar with O’Malley’s thinking said he was inclined to favor Baker for governor – privately if not publicly – until” attorney Jim Shea (D) “entered the race, and is now torn because he and Shea have been so close.”
O’Malley of the Democratic candidates: “I plan to be supportive of each of them initially.”
“Mollie Byron, a former O’Malley State House and presidential campaign staffer, is a volunteer and informal adviser Baker.”
“Many of O’Malley’s one-time advisers are close to … Shea. … Craig Varoga, chief strategist of O’Malley’s 2010 re-election campaign and lead strategist in the 2012 push for the referendum to expand gambling in Maryland, is a top architect of Shea’s campaign.”
“Colleen Martin-Lauer, a longtime O’Malley fundraiser and strategist, is performing the same role for” Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz (D), “who is expected to announce his candidacy soon. Kevin Loeb, who ran the field operation for O’Malley’s gubernatorial re-election, is Kamenetz’s policy director for the county government, but he has informally helped Kamenetz reach out to Democrats across the state. Steve Kearney, co-founder of the well-connected Baltimore firm KOFA Public Affairs, who handled O’Malley’s communications when he was governor and in City Hall, said he is ‘all-in’ for Kamenetz.”
“But the other co-founder of KOFA, Damian O’Doherty, another O’Malley intimate, has cast his lot with” former State Department official Alec Ross (D). “Colm O’Comartun, a former top O’Malley aide on the campaign trail, in government and when O’Malley was chairman of the [DGA], is informally advising Ross.”
“Another outsider candidate, former White House official Krishanti Vignarajah, is being helped by Steve Rabin, a former O’Malley and Obama administration speechwriter.”
“The campaign manager for former NAACP President Ben Jealous (D), Travis Tazelaar, was executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party for part of the time O’Malley was governor and did some early work on his presidential campaign.”
“Baker himself seems eager to draw links between his record and O’Malley’s. … Baker spoke about how O’Malley reached out to him when he was elected county executive and how they collaborated on numerous initiatives to help Prince George’s County.” (Maryland Matters)
TRUMP EFFECT. Jealous and Ross are calling on the University of Baltimore “to rescind its invitation to” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos “to give a commencement address.” (AP)
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"The Justice Department on Friday charged a Russian woman for her alleged role in a conspiracy to interfere with the 2018 U.S. election, marking the first criminal case prosecutors have brought against a foreign national for interfering in the upcoming midterms. Elena Khusyaynova, 44, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prosecutors said she managed the finances of 'Project Lakhta,' a foreign influence operation they said was designed 'to sow discord in the U.S. political system' by pushing arguments and misinformation online about a host of divisive political issues, including immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control and the National Football League national-anthem protests."
The United States and South Korea have suspended "another major joint military exercise to give the diplomatic process with North Korea 'every opportunity to continue.'" Exercise Vigilant Ace, which last year "involved 12,000 US troops and some 230 military aircraft from the US and South Korea," was due to take place in December. Trump has canceled other operations in the past, which Gen. Robert Abrams said "had resulted in a 'slight degradation' to the readiness of US and Korean troops," but were a "prudent risk" to improve improve relations with Pyongyang.
"Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has decided to take part in an anti-terror finance meeting with Saudi security officials and their Middle Eastern counterparts in Riyadh later this month, opting to attend despite growing global outrage over the suspected murder of a U.S.-based journalist at the hands of Saudi operatives, according to three people familiar with his travel plans. The security gathering next week is separate from a Riyadh financial summit that Mnuchin announced on Thursday he would not attend."
"Steve Penny, the former president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, has been indicted on a felony count of tampering with evidence" in the sexual assault case against disgraced USA gymnastics physician Larry Nassar. Nassar was found guilty in January of sexually abusing dozens of young gymnasts, and was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. Penny, who was arrested on Wednesday in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, "is accused of ordering the removal of documents from the Karolyi Ranch in Texas," where much of Nassar's abuse occurred.
Defense attorneys involved in the Mueller probe say the public "shouldn’t expect a comprehensive and presidency-wrecking account of Kremlin meddling and alleged obstruction of justice by Trump — not to mention an explanation of the myriad subplots that have bedeviled lawmakers, journalists and amateur Mueller sleuths. ... Perhaps most unsatisfying: Mueller’s findings may never even see the light of day."