Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Ella Nilsen. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.
We have a lot of questions about what exactly Michael Cohen was doing for Sean Hannity; the US secretary of defense clarifies that Friday’s Syria strikes won’t be followed up with a larger military response.
The hottest new reality TV show: US District Court in Manhattan
- Will wonders never cease? The latest news out of the investigation into Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen is truly like the plot of a bad television show, and comes about a week after Cohen’s office was raided by the FBI. [CNN / Kara Scannell and Shimon Prokupecz]
- Cohen had to attend a court hearing in New York today. Over the course of the afternoon’s hearing, we learned that in addition to Donald Trump, he’s had none other than Fox News host and noted Trump fanboy Sean Hannity as a secret client. [Vox / Zachary Fryer-Biggs]
- We don’t know yet the nature of the legal work Cohen was doing for Hannity; the right-wing talk show host tweeted today a claim that he had “brief discussions with [Cohen] about legal questions” but never retained him as an attorney. [Sean Hannity via Twitter]
- The whole reason Cohen and his lawyers (as well as lawyers for Trump) were in the courtroom today was to hammer out what exactly can be done with the evidence the feds seized in those raids last week. Let’s not forget this all started because of the news that Cohen paid off porn actress Stormy Daniels to not reveal her alleged affair with Trump before the 2016 presidency. [NYT / Alan Feuer]
- As Vox’s Andrew Prokop notes, Cohen hasn’t yet been charged with any crimes, but he’s fighting really hard to keep investigators from seeing the evidence, including documents and correspondence with Trump. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
- Cohen’s argument (and Trump’s, made over Twitter) is that the evidence should be protected by their attorney-client privilege. Cohen wants to look over the materials before investigators get their hands on them (a request the judge will have to decide on). [WSJ / Erica Orden]
- Along with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation, there is an increasing focus on Cohen’s activities during the 2016 campaign. In particular, a secret trip Cohen made to Prague in 2016 — which a new McClatchy report says he lied about. [McClatchy / Peter Stone and Greg Gordon]
- The reason this detail is so important is that it was in the infamous Steele dossier. The dossier claimed Cohen went to Prague to meet with the Russians in 2016. Trump’s attorney insisted he did no such thing, but if he in fact did, it would lend Steele’s dossier more credence. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
- Cohen is being investigated by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York whom Trump can’t fire ... and they are scouring the records of a man who has a very close relationship with the president. The Cohen matter is colossal for Trump, and already, some are speculating it’s the beginning of the end of his presidency. [New Yorker / Adam Davidson]
The US dropped missiles in Syria on Friday. What’s next?
- On Friday night, the US, the UK, and France launched airstrikes in Syria to take out the chemical weapons capability of dictator Bashar Al-Assad. A week before the strike, Assad was suspected of using chemical weapons against civilians, including women and children, in Douma. [Vox / Alex Ward]
- Despite President Trump’s promise on Friday night that the US was ready to “sustain” the response to Syria until the use of chemical weapons ended, Secretary of Defense James Mattis has now made clear that this was a one-time strike. [NBC News / Daniel Arkin, F. Brinley Bruton, and Phil McCausland]
- We also now know that the US attack could have been much bigger. Trump (egged on by new National Security Adviser John Bolton) wanted a much broader attack but was reined in by Mattis — who reportedly was worried about provoking a broader conflict with Russia. [WSJ / Peter Nicholas, Gordon Lubold, and Dion Nissenbaum]
- Meanwhile, chemical weapons experts who work for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have been blocked from getting to Douma to verify whether the attack was indeed chemical, despite having approval from the United Nations to do so. [CNN / Jamie Tarabay, Angela Dewan, and Holly Yan]
- More than 200 million eggs have been recalled across nine states after a salmonella outbreak was linked to a farm in North Carolina. [Time / Laignee Barron]
- Every two weeks, a language dies somewhere in the world. One organization wants to change that. [National Geographic / Nina Strochlic]
- With all the talk of imposing trade tariffs on China, here’s a brief history of America’s stance on them. [Smithsonian / Ryan P. Smith]
- Who’s to blame for climate change? The courts are trying to figure it out. [Guardian / Dana Nuccitelli]
“Thank you to our crews who are clearing a considerable amount of water that entered the system from the street this morning and are helping to keep New Yorkers moving.” [The MTA tweets after “waterfalls” of rain descend on many NYC subway platforms during a storm / Twitter]
Watch this: Why Trump’s “limited strike” on Syria probably won’t work
Trump gave the same reason last year, and Assad’s use of chemical weapons hasn’t changed. [YouTube / A.J. Chavar, Sam Ellis, Danush Parvaneh, Joe Posner, and Alex Ward]