“Michigan Republicans are gathering for a three-day summit ahead of 2018 elections in which they hope to keep control of the governor’s office. … The Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference begins Friday and runs until Sunday on Mackinac Island.” (U.S. News)
The conference leads to a lot of spending: “State-registered political committees have spent more than half a million dollars on Mackinac since 2010, records show. … The top political spender on Mackinac Island? Far and away it is Gov. Rick Snyder (R), whose campaign committee has spent nearly $82,000 on Mackinac since 2010. … Attorney General Bill Schuette, now a Republican candidate for governor, was fifth on the spending list, at $16,824.” (Detroit Free Press)
TRUMP CHANGE. “President Donald Trump’s weekend tweet endorsing Bill Schuette’s run for governor provided instant fundraising fodder for the GOP attorney general – and a Democratic rival.” Both Schuette and former Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D) emailed out to supporters seeking donations based on President Trump’s endorsement. (The Detroit News)
SCHUETTE’S CHANCES. Despite factors that stand to boost Democrats’ chances to win the governor’s race, “Schuette may have a good shot at being the state’s next governor. … For one thing, he’s got far more name recognition than his most likely Democratic challenger,” Whitmer. He “is also a clever and consummate campaigner. … His biggest problem may be convincing voters he is not part of one establishment crowd — the Snyder administration.” (The Toledo Blade)
STAYING POSITIVE. Former Detroit Health Director Abdul El-Sayed (D) “says he’s confident that his grassroots movement challenging establishment politics is gaining traction. … El-Sayed met Thursday with The Detroit News Editorial Board and said the system of politics in Michigan might be engrained, but he believes he’s ‘definitely disrupting that in some big ways.’” (The Detroit News)
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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."