Today’s edition of quick hits:
* As the jury in the Paul Manafort trial deliberated, Donald Trump vouched for his former campaign chairman, described him as “a very good person,” and characterized the federal prosecution against him as “very sad.”
* On a related note, there will be no verdict today, and jurors will reconvene on Monday morning.
* Something to watch closely: “President Trump has told advisers that he is eager to strip more security clearances as part of an escalating attack against people who have criticized him or played a role in the investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, two White House officials said.”
* I’m generally skeptical of changes that mean less information for investors: “President Trump, in a message posted on Twitter early Friday, wrote that he had directed the Securities and Exchange Commission to study moving corporate America from reporting earnings on a quarterly basis to doing so twice a year.”
* FCC: “The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, an independent agency, said Thursday that a White House official called to talk about a proposed merger between Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and Tribune Media Co. Ajit Pai told a Senate panel that Don McGahn, the White House counsel, called for a ‘status update’ on the agency’s action on the deal.”
* Trump-era media tactics: “[Dana White] and the Pentagon’s press operation have already restricted access to briefings, interviews and travel with [Defense Secretary James Mattis]. But in recent weeks, several reporters said that they increasingly feel as though individual journalists are being retaliated against for stories they’ve written, losing yet more access.”
* Afghanistan: “President Donald Trump is increasingly venting frustration to his national security team about the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and showing renewed interest in a proposal by Blackwater founder Erik Prince to privatize the war, current and former senior administration officials said.”
* This guy again? “The owner of a cake shop sued Gov. John Hickenlooper and other state officials late Tuesday, reigniting a debate over religious freedoms in the public square. Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop claims in his lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, that the state has renewed its ‘crusade’ against him for refusing to create a cake that would have violated his religious beliefs.”
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.