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Rick Gates pleads guilty to two charges as part of Robert Mueller’s probe; President Trump announces even more North Korea sanctions.
- Former Trump campaign aide and close Paul Manafort associate Rick Gates has pleaded guilty to two charges today, as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. [NYT / Mark Mazzetti and Maggie Haberman]
- Gates pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of making false statements to FBI agents. You can read the full plea deal here. [Vox / Dara Lind]
- Of course, the important subtext here is that Mueller is likely getting Gates to flip and cooperate with his Russia investigation. As a key Trump campaign official, there’s a lot Gates could talk about. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
- News of the Gates plea deal came a day after Mueller’s team announced more than three dozen new charges against Gates and Manafort, including tax, financial, and bank fraud charges. [CNN / Katelyn Polantz and Kara Scannell]
- This all stems from work Gates and Manafort did in Ukraine (it’s important to note this was before the 2016 election and before they began working for Trump). [Politico / Josh Gerstein and Theodoric Meyer]
- Manafort’s history as a consultant working for Russian oligarchs and the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, was a huge political liability, but the Trump campaign still hired him. [Atlantic / Franklin Foer]
- He’s the third Trump campaign official to plead guilty. No matter what the scope of Mueller’s investigation is, he just took a big step. [Washington Post / Philip Bump]
Trump tightens the screws on North Korea
- The US is hitting North Korea with another round of sanctions, and according to President Trump, they’re the harshest ones yet. [Reuters / Steve Holland and Christine Kim]
- The sanctions specifically target more than 50 ships and maritime transport companies in North Korea, as well as in China, Taiwan, and Tanzania. [BBC]
- The dozens of ships, shipping companies, and other firms targeted allegedly help Pyongyang fund its nuclear weapons and missiles programs. In a statement on Friday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “The President has made it clear to companies worldwide that if they choose to help fund North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, they will not do business with the United States.” [CNN / Kaitlan Collins, Zachary Cohen, Donna Borak, and Dan Merica]
- Trump announced the sanctions near the end of his remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), when he nonchalantly remarked he was targeting North Korea with the “heaviest sanctions ever imposed on a country before.” [Vox / Alex Ward]
- North Korea is already under a range of international and US sanctions over its nuclear program and missile tests. United Nations measures in recent months, for one, have heightened economic pressure on the country and made it more difficult for North Korea to import essential products such as oil. [NPR / Greg Myre]
- The news sites DCist and Gothamist, which were recently shuttered over plans to unionize, are getting a second life thanks to public radio stations. [Washington Post / Justin William Moyer]
- As the slaughter continues in Syria, Bashar al-Assad’s regime might be internalizing a dangerous lesson: They can (still) get away with a lot without international players like the US stepping up to interfere. [Atlantic / Frederic C. Hof]
- It’s not as if thinking about the downsides of artificial intelligence is new (see: every science fiction movie ever created), but a 100-page report written by AI experts contains non-fictionalized warnings. [Quartz / Dave Gershgorn]
- Humans apparently aren’t content to contain our trash to our own planet — it’s spilled over onto the moon. [Metro / Jessica Lindsay]
“I try like hell to hide that bald spot, folks. I work hard at it.” [President Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland / Vox]
Watch this: It’s not you. Phones are designed to be addicting.
The three design elements that make smartphones so hard to put down, explained by Google’s former design ethicist. [YouTube / Christophe Haubursin]