The controversy over Donald Trump's ties to Russia, explained

Trump’s proposed foreign policy would, intentionally or no, aid Vladimir Putin in ways the Russian dictator could only dream about before Trump. Trump has repeatedly expressed wild admiration for Putin personally; his campaign staff and businesses have extensive ties to Russian interests. (Just yesterday, the New York Times reported the existence of a handwritten ledger documenting $12.7 million in payments to Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, from Ukraine's pro-Russian deposed president, Viktor Yanukovych).

The Trump and Clinton campaigns finally had a substantive climate debate

The energy advisers to the two campaigns squared off. It wasn’t half bad. The hour-long debate featured its share of depressing nonsense, like when Cramer waffled on whether humans are causing global warming. (Spoiler: They are.) But the discussion was genuinely substantive, and the advisers delved into issues like the Paris climate deal, nuclear power, and (oh yes) transmission policy.

Don’t let Donald Trump’s antics distract you from what’s really important

He’s paying fraud fines and collecting bribes — and distracting you with Hamilton tweets. The truth is that nothing about the Hamilton story – is in any way important to how he runs the country. By contrast, foreign governments directly putting money into Donald Trump’s pocket is very important. The fact that these attempted bribes are being paid to a man who is also paying out millions of dollars to avoid standing trial for his corrupt business practices is very important.

Republicans plan to "drain the swamp" by gutting campaign finance laws – Vox

Billionaire donors could get lots of shiny new tools for controlling the American political system. There is really not all that much left to prevent big money from influencing American politics. Donors can already spend as much as they want on “independent” Super PACs that take out millions in political advertisements. Corporations can give as much as they want to these Super PACs, and they’re finding ways to do so entirely in secret.

10 things we learned about Trump adviser Steve Bannon from this recently surfaced speech – Vox

Stephen Bannon, the CEO of far-right media outlet Breitbart News and Donald Trump’s newly named chief strategist, believes we are in the midst of a crisis — of both global economy and moral standing. Godlessness and libertarianism has “sapped the strength of the Judeo-Christian West to defend its ideals,” and the Muslim world is growing in numbers, Bannon told a conference at the Vatican in 2014. “Every day that we refuse to look at this as what it is, and the scale of it, and really the viciousness of it, will be a day where you will rue that we didn’t act.”