Oil steadies after surprise draw in US crude stocks

Oil steadies after surprise draw in US crude stocks

The Jamal Khashoggi Case: Suspects Had Ties to Saudi Crown Prince

ISTANBUL — One of the suspects identified by Turkey in the disappearance of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was a frequent companion of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — seen disembarking from airplanes with him in Paris and Madrid and photographed standing guard during his visits this year to Houston, Boston and the United Nations.

Three others are linked by witnesses and other records to the Saudi crown princes security detail.

A fifth is a forensic doctor who holds senior positions in the Saudi Interior Ministry and medical establishment, a figure of such stature that he could be directed only by a high-ranking Saudi authority.

Video: Saudis expected to admit Khashoggi killed during interrogation

If, as the Turkish authorities say, these men were present at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul where Mr. Khashoggi disappeared on Oct. 2, they might provide a direct link between what happened and Prince Mohammed. That would undercut any suggestion that Mr. Khashoggi died in a rogue operation unsanctioned by the crown prince. Their connection to him could also make it more difficult for the White House and Congress to accept such an explanation.

The New York Times has confirmed independently that at least nine of 15 suspects identified by Turkish authorities worked for the Saudi security services, military or other government ministries. One of them, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, was a diplomat assigned to the Saudi Embassy in London in 2007, according to a British diplomatic roster. He traveled extensively with the crown prince, perhaps as a bodyguard.

How much blame for Mr. Khashoggis disappearance or death settles on the 33-year-old crown prince has become a decisive factor in his standing in the eyes of the West and within the royal family.

The prince has presented himself as a reformer intent on opening up the kingdoms economy and culture, and has used that image to try to influence White House policy in the region and to woo Western investors to help diversify the Saudi economy.

But the international revulsion at the reported assassination and mutilation of a single newspaper columnist — Mr. Khashoggi, who wrote for The Washington Post — has already sullied that image far more than previous missteps by the crown prince, from miring his country in a catastrophic war in Yemen to kidnapping the prime minister of Lebanon.

The crown prince and his father, King Salman, have denied any knowledge of Mr. Khashoggis whereabouts, repeatedly asserting that he left the consulate freely. Saudi officials did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

But in the last few days, as major American businesses have withdrawn from a marquee investment conference in Riyadh and members of Congress have stepped up called for sanctions, the United States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia appear to have been searching for a face-saving way out.

The royal court was expected to acknowledge that Mr. Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, and to blame an intelligence agent for botching an operation to interrogate Mr. Khashoggi that ended up killing him.

President Trump floated the possibility on Monday that Mr. Khashoggi was the victim of rogue killers.

The suspects positions in the Saudi government and their links to the crown prince could make it more difficult to absolve him of responsibility.

The presence of a forensic doctor who specializes in autopsies suggests the operation may have had a lethal intent from the start.

Turkish officials have said they possess evidence that the 15 Saudi agents flew into Istanbul on Oct. 2, assassinated Mr. Khashoggi, dismembered his body with a bone saw they had brought for the purpose, and flew out the same day. Records show that two private jets chartered by a Saudi company with close ties to the Saudi crown prince and Interior Ministry arrived and left Istanbul on the day of Mr. Khashoggis disappearance.

Turkish officials said Mr. Khashoggi was killed within two hours of his arrival at the consulate. That timeline would not have allowed much time for an interrogation to go awry.

The Times gathered more information about the suspects using facial recognition, publicly available records, social media profiles, a database of Saudi cellphone numbers, Saudi news reports, leaked Saudi government documents and in some cases the accounts of witnesses in Saudi Arabia and countries the crown prince has visited.

Mr. Mutreb, the former diplomat in London, was photographed emerging from airplanes with Prince Mohammed on recent trips to Madrid and Paris. He was also photographed in Houston, Boston and the United Nations during the crown princes visits there, often glowering as he surveyed a crowd.

A French professional who has worked with the Saudi royal family identified a second suspect, Abdulaziz Mohammed al-Hawsawi, as a member of the security team that travels with the crown prince.

A Saudi news outlet reported that someone with the same name as a third suspect, Thaar Ghaleb al-Harbi, was promoted last year to the rank of lieutenant in the Saudi royal guard for bravery in the defense of Prince Mohammeds palace in Jeddah.

A fourth suspect traveled with a passport bearing the name of another member of the royal guard, Muhammed Saad Alzahrani. A search of the name in Menom3ay, an app popular in Saudi Arabia that allows users to see the names other users have associated with certain phone numbers, identified him as a member of the royal guard. A guard wearing a name tag with that name appears in a video from 2017 standing next to Prince Mohammed.

Members of the royal guard or aides who traveled with the crown prince may not report directly to him and may sometimes take on other duties. It is possible that some could have been recruited for an expedition to capture or interrogate Mr. Khashoggi, perhaps led by a senior intelligence official. But the presence among the suspects of an autopsy expert, Dr. Salah al-Tubaigy, suggests that killing might have been part of the original plan.

Dr. Tubaigy, who maintained a presence on several social media platforms, identified himself on his Twitter account as the head of the Saudi Scientific Council of Forensics and held lofty positions in the kingdoms premier medical school as well as in its Interior Ministry. He studied at the University of Glasgow and in 2015 he spent three months in Australia as a visiting forensic pathologist at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. His published writings include works on dissection and mobile autopsies.

Although there is no public record of a relationship between him and the royal court, such a senior figure in the Saudi medical establishment was unlikely to join a rogue expedition organized by an underling.

Dr. Tubaigy, whose name first appeared among reports of the suspects several days ago, has not publicly addressed the allegations. None of the suspects could be reached for comment.

David D. Kirkpatrick reported from Istanbul, Malachy Browne from New York, Ben Hubbard from Beirut, and David Botti in New York. Reporting was contributed by Alissa J. Rubin in Paris; Carlotta Gall in Istanbul; Adam Goldman and Christiaan Triebert in Washington; Karam Shoumali in Berlin; and Bian Elkhatib, Christoph Koettl and Barbara Marcolini in New York.

As a member of the Saudi elite for decades, Khashoggi understood that political expression had strict limits in the kingdom, but M.B.S.’s apparent determination to quell even mild dissent on foreign soil left Khashoggi unnerved. Ten months later, in September 2017, he fled to Washington. “I began to feel whatever narrow space I had in Saudi Arabia was getting narrower. I thought it would be better to get out and be safe,” he told me.

I initially contacted Khashoggi for a prospective article about the young prince’s relationship to the White House, which I shelved because he was one of the few people who would speak openly. When he left Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi told me, he didn’t see himself in the mold of a dissident. He’d been editor-in-chief of the Saudi newspaper Al Watan and a media adviser to Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Britain. Moreover, he wanted M.B.S. to succeed. “He truly wants to make Saudi Arabia great again. But he is doing it the wrong way,” Khashoggi told me.

But a month after his departure from the kingdom, Khashoggi’s view of M.B.S. fundamentally changed. Saudi security services arrested scores of prominent businessmen and imprisoned them inside the Ritz-Carlton under the guise of an “anti-corruption” crackdown. Khashoggi soon began hearing from friends in Saudi Arabia that prisoners were coerced, in some cases tortured, into turning over billions of dollars to the government. “It was tough. Some were insulted. Some were hit. Some claim they were electrocuted,” he said. The purge, which also included intellectuals, media personalities, and moderate clerics, convinced Khashoggi that M.B.S. had sold himself as a reformer when in fact he was a brutal authoritarian. “When the arrests started happening, I flipped. I decided it was time to speak,” he told me.

Khashoggi subsequently landed a column in The Washington Post where he wrote critically about M.B.S.’s internal power grab; his reckless military intervention in neighboring Yemen, where he has created a humanitarian emergency; and the prince’s bizarre plot to kidnap Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri. “Saudi Arabia wasn’t a free society, but people weren’t being arrested like this,” he said. “The people M.B.S. arrested were not radicals. The majority were reformers for women’s rights and open society. He arrested them to spread fear. He is replacing religious intolerance with political closure.” An adviser to one prominent Saudi businessman who was arrested told me: “People are scared. It has become a bit of a police state.”

Tragically, Khashoggi’s self-imposed exile didn’t keep him safe. Earlier this month, Khashoggi entered Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents he needed for his upcoming wedding and never emerged. Turkish officials have told Western journalists that a kill team of 15 Saudi agents detained Khashoggi inside the consulate, tortured him to death, and dismembered his body with a bone saw. M.B.S. and his father, King Salman, have denied their involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, but already the grisly episode has damaged M.B.S.’s ambitions to cultivate global elites. A parade of C.E.O.s including Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi, JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, and BlackRock’s Larry Fink have canceled plans to attend an investment conference hosted by M.B.S. next week at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton dubbed “Davos in the Desert,” though Fink, at least, has said he’ll maintain his business ties to the kingdom.

Khashoggi and I spoke last March during M.B.S.’s three-week tour of the United States that was designed to cement M.B.S.’s image on the global stage as an avatar of a modern Middle East. In the Times, Tom Friedman wrote a column gushing that M.B.S. possessed a “fire hose of new ideas about transforming his country . . . who talks the language of tech, and whose biggest sin may be that he wants to go too fast.” One media C.E.O. who met with the prince on his visit praised the prince’s plans to allow women to drive and movie theaters to open. M.B.S. was feted by the Trump administration, Rupert Murdoch, Jeff Bezos, and even Oprah.

The elite’s embrace of M.B.S. had been one of the chief foreign-policy goals of the Trump White House, particularly Jared Kushner. Saudi Arabia was crucial to Kushner’s yet-to-be-released Middle East peace plan that involved building a Sunni-Israeli alliance to broker peace with the Palestinians and counter an expansionist Iran. “Jared had a vision from the very beginning,” a former West Wing official said. Kushner’s support for M.B.S. at times bordered on blind faith. In November 2017, the Post reported that Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh just days before the Ritz arrests began and stayed up several nights discussing strategy with M.B.S. ’til 4 A.M. (The White House declined to comment.)

Kushner’s bromance with M.B.S. generated criticism from Trump’s national security team, especially former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “Tillerson said, ‘The kid’s a rookie, he doesn’t know the region.’ He was beyond dismissive,” a former West Wing official said. Another former West Wing official recalled: “There were many confrontations between Tillerson and Jared where Tillerson was emotionally angry that Jared was in contact with M.B.S. I remember in a couple of instances, Tillerson would confront Jared about directly talking to M.B.S. Rex felt out of loop.” (Tillerson did not respond to a request for comment.)

Diplomats who served in the region also question Kushner’s logic of investing so much in an untested and impulsive young royal. “I’ve taken to calling M.B.S. a progressive authoritarian. He’s using this anti-corruption push toward cleaning up but also removing rivals,” said Robert Jordan, who served as George W. Bush’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia after 9/11.

Yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Riyadh to diffuse the global crisis over Khashoggi’s death—a State Department spokesperson said in a statement that he “conveyed the importance of conducting a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation” in meetings with both M.B.S. and King Salman. As of now, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin still plans to attend the conference at the Ritz.

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Two days after Donald Trump’s election, Jamal Khashoggi returned to the Red Sea port city of Jeddah from Washington where he’d given a foreign-policy talk lightly critical of then president-elect Trump, when he received a phone call from the media adviser to the kingdom’s ascendent deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, better known by his initials M.B.S. “He said, ‘You’re not allowed to tweet or write your column or give comments to foreign journalists,’” Khashoggi recalled to me in March 2018. “I was ordered silent.”

As a member of the Saudi elite for decades, Khashoggi understood that political expression had strict limits in the kingdom, but M.B.S.’s apparent determination to quell even mild dissent on foreign soil left Khashoggi unnerved. Ten months later, in September 2017, he fled to Washington. “I began to feel whatever narrow space I had in Saudi Arabia was getting narrower. I thought it would be better to get out and be safe,” he told me.

I initially contacted Khashoggi for a prospective article about the young prince’s relationship to the White House, which I shelved because he was one of the few people who would speak openly. When he left Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi told me, he didn’t see himself in the mold of a dissident. He’d been editor-in-chief of the Saudi newspaper Al Watan and a media adviser to Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Britain. Moreover, he wanted M.B.S. to succeed. “He truly wants to make Saudi Arabia great again. But he is doing it the wrong way,” Khashoggi told me.

But a month after his departure from the kingdom, Khashoggi’s view of M.B.S. fundamentally changed. Saudi security services arrested scores of prominent businessmen and imprisoned them inside the Ritz-Carlton under the guise of an “anti-corruption” crackdown. Khashoggi soon began hearing from friends in Saudi Arabia that prisoners were coerced, in some cases tortured, into turning over billions of dollars to the government. “It was tough. Some were insulted. Some were hit. Some claim they were electrocuted,” he said. The purge, which also included intellectuals, media personalities, and moderate clerics, convinced Khashoggi that M.B.S. had sold himself as a reformer when in fact he was a brutal authoritarian. “When the arrests started happening, I flipped. I decided it was time to speak,” he told me.

Khashoggi subsequently landed a column in The Washington Post where he wrote critically about M.B.S.’s internal power grab; his reckless military intervention in neighboring Yemen, where he has created a humanitarian emergency; and the prince’s bizarre plot to kidnap Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri. “Saudi Arabia wasn’t a free society, but people weren’t being arrested like this,” he said. “The people M.B.S. arrested were not radicals. The majority were reformers for women’s rights and open society. He arrested them to spread fear. He is replacing religious intolerance with political closure.” An adviser to one prominent Saudi businessman who was arrested told me: “People are scared. It has become a bit of a police state.”

Tragically, Khashoggi’s self-imposed exile didn’t keep him safe. Earlier this month, Khashoggi entered Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents he needed for his upcoming wedding and never emerged. Turkish officials have told Western journalists that a kill team of 15 Saudi agents detained Khashoggi inside the consulate, tortured him to death, and dismembered his body with a bone saw. M.B.S. and his father, King Salman, have denied their involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, but already the grisly episode has damaged M.B.S.’s ambitions to cultivate global elites. A parade of C.E.O.s including Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi, JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, and BlackRock’s Larry Fink have canceled plans to attend an investment conference hosted by M.B.S. next week at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton dubbed “Davos in the Desert,” though Fink, at least, has said he’ll maintain his business ties to the kingdom.

Khashoggi and I spoke last March during M.B.S.’s three-week tour of the United States that was designed to cement M.B.S.’s image on the global stage as an avatar of a modern Middle East. In the Times, Tom Friedman wrote a column gushing that M.B.S. possessed a “fire hose of new ideas about transforming his country . . . who talks the language of tech, and whose biggest sin may be that he wants to go too fast.” One media C.E.O. who met with the prince on his visit praised the prince’s plans to allow women to drive and movie theaters to open. M.B.S. was feted by the Trump administration, Rupert Murdoch, Jeff Bezos, and even Oprah.

The elite’s embrace of M.B.S. had been one of the chief foreign-policy goals of the Trump White House, particularly Jared Kushner. Saudi Arabia was crucial to Kushner’s yet-to-be-released Middle East peace plan that involved building a Sunni-Israeli alliance to broker peace with the Palestinians and counter an expansionist Iran. “Jared had a vision from the very beginning,” a former West Wing official said. Kushner’s support for M.B.S. at times bordered on blind faith. In November 2017, the Post reported that Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh just days before the Ritz arrests began and stayed up several nights discussing strategy with M.B.S. ’til 4 A.M. (The White House declined to comment.)

Kushner’s bromance with M.B.S. generated criticism from Trump’s national security team, especially former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “Tillerson said, ‘The kid’s a rookie, he doesn’t know the region.’ He was beyond dismissive,” a former West Wing official said. Another former West Wing official recalled: “There were many confrontations between Tillerson and Jared where Tillerson was emotionally angry that Jared was in contact with M.B.S. I remember in a couple of instances, Tillerson would confront Jared about directly talking to M.B.S. Rex felt out of loop.” (Tillerson did not respond to a request for comment.)

Diplomats who served in the region also question Kushner’s logic of investing so much in an untested and impulsive young royal. “I’ve taken to calling M.B.S. a progressive authoritarian. He’s using this anti-corruption push toward cleaning up but also removing rivals,” said Robert Jordan, who served as George W. Bush’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia after 9/11.

Yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Riyadh to diffuse the global crisis over Khashoggi’s death—a State Department spokesperson said in a statement that he “conveyed the importance of conducting a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation” in meetings with both M.B.S. and King Salman. As of now, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin still plans to attend the conference at the Ritz.

Earlier today, Nikki Haley informed reporters gathered in the Oval Office that she will resign from her post as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in January, an announcement that reportedly caught White House staffers and senior foreign-policy officials alike off guard. But her departure wasnt the only surprise Haley had in store for the room. Sitting next to the president, the former South Carolina governor revealed, without having the C.I.A. declassify it first, that the Trump administration has a covert genius in its ranks—one who keeps his superior intellect so undercover that people have long assumed his I.Q. is in the single digits.

Jared [Kushner] is such a hidden genius that no one understands, Haley said of the First Son-in-Law, emphasis ours because this is basically a state secret. To re-do the NAFTA deal the way he did. What Ive done working with him on the Middle East peace plan, it is so unbelievably well done . . . and [Jared and Ivanka] do a lot of things behind the scenes that I wish more people knew about because were a better country because theyre in this administration.

The fact that this is the first time Kushner has ever been described in such terms by anyone—save for the time Trump administration hanger-on Anthony Scaramucci called him a 21st-century Alexander Hamilton—and that there is zero evidence to back it up, does not mean its not true. Instead, it simply underscores the fact that all those instances in which Jared made us think he was a total moron were simply cover. Said instances, for those of you who need a refresher, include:

Paying $1.8 billion for an aging Midtown skyscraper on the eve of the financial crisis (the family company, Kushner Cos., was finally able to offload the thing, but that doesnt change the fact that buying it was, as they say in the N.Y.C. real-estate business, a dumb fucking idea);

Thinking that 1) hes going to be the guy to bring peace to the Middle East, and that 2) the way to do so is by treating Palestinians like theyre tenants in one of his slumlord buildings; and

You may not be able to see it, but its right there, hiding in plain sight. So next time Boy Wonder does something that seems downright moronic to the naked eye, remember: thats just what he wants you to think.

Also getting a shout-out today in the context of Nikki Haleys resignation was First Daughter Ivanka Trump, whose name was tossed around (by her father) to succeed Haley at the U.N. Telling reporters hed heard Ivanka mentioned as a potential candidate to replace Haley, President Daddy added that his people know that Ivanka would be dynamite and that his endorsement has nothing to do with nepotism, despite his eldest daughter having zero other qualifications for the job besides being related to the guy who gets to decide who is nominated. Perhaps worried that the haters and losers would discount her relevant work experience selling knockoff shoes and dresses, Trump added he would be accused of nepotism, even though Im not sure there is anybody more competent in the world.

And its nun shareholders—not to mention people who think banks have an obligation to do something about the shooting epidemic in America—are pissed:

The San Francisco-based bank last week issued a $40 million line of credit to gun manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Co., according to financial filings. Thats on top of the $431 million in debt that Wells Fargo has arranged for gunmakers since December 2012, when the Sandy Hook school shooting escalated the gun control debate. No other bank lent more to the industry over that time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The new debt, issued to one of the worlds largest publicly traded gunmakers, came as a big surprise to at least one group: nuns who had been talking to Wells Fargo about corporate-responsibility issues. On September 26, the day before the debt agreement was issued, they had met with the banks business-standards employees in New York.

This is shocking news because we are in sustained dialogue with Wells Fargo, Nora Nash, a sister at St. Francis of Philadelphia, told Bloomberg. This new business relationship with Sturm Ruger is in direct conflict with ethics, culture, and respect for human rights throughout the company.

Pershing Square hedge-fund manager Bill Ackmans 2017 involved a divorce and a $4 billion loss. At one point in January 2018, things were so bad that he had to slum it on the subway having reportedly laid off his driver. But things are apparently turning around, based on an unexpected announcement he made at an investor conference on Tuesday:

Presumably the engagement is to Neri Oxman, an M.I.T. professor who clarified in a New York Times profile this week that she is not dating Brad Pitt. Pershing Square declined to comment.

What better locale than the presidents private golf club, where the North Korea dictator can sample a slice of that famed chocolate cake? Per Politico:

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he was pleased with ongoing discussions with North Korea, adding he would like a future summit with the countrys leader Kim Jong Un at his Mar-a-Lago estate or on North Korean territory.

Perhaps if things go well the president will present Jong Un with a bottle of his exclusive cologne, Success by Trump, and inform the masses they can get their own for the low, low price of $29.95 while supplies last.

In an administration that provides fresh horror on a daily basis, one of the most alarming aspects of Donald Trumps presidency is his penchant for casting off decades-long relationships with democratic allies and cozying up to autocrats in their place. While Vladimir Putin will always have a special place in Trumps heart, another clear favorite is Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who ingratiated himself with the ex–real estate developer by agreeing to a multi-billion-dollar arms deal that allowed Trump to maintain the illusion of being a successful businessman. In exchange, the president of the United States has basically cheered on the princes human-rights abuses. Last November, with the tacit support of the president, M.B.S., as he is known, rounded up 200 businessmen, Saudi officials, and family members as part of a crackdown on alleged corruption, and detained them for months at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton—a move Trump publicly endorsed. In August, Team Trump essentially gave Saudi Arabia its blessing to expel Canadas ambassador, ban new trade, freeze Saudi Airlines flights to Canada, and order the withdrawal of more than 12,000 Saudi citizens studying in Canada, after our neighbors to the north mildly condemned the arrests of several political activists, and called for their release. But a recent incident—wherein Saudi Arabia may have kidnapped and murdered a journalist who has been critical of the regime—could make it tough for Trump to look the other way. Though lord knows hes trying!

The disappearance and alleged killing last week of dissident Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi while he was visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul is only the latest challenge to a U.S.-Saudi relationship that both governments have diligently cultivated.

The Trump administration has said little beyond expressing public concern over Khashoggis fate, and the kingdom has sharply denied any knowledge of his whereabouts.

Turkish investigators charge that that is not true in the slightest, telling The New York Times and other news outlets that Khashoggi, who went to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to obtain a marriage document, was killed and dismembered by a 15-man team of Saudi agents. There is concrete information, Yasin Aktay, an adviser to the head of Turkeys governing A.K.P. party, said during an interview on Sunday. It will not remain an unsolved case. Thats made things rather uncomfortable in Washington where, per the Times, many current and former American officials are friendly with Mr. Khashoggi, a resident of the United States, but the president and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, are tight with his alleged killers. Thus far, State Department officials have said only that the U.S. cannot confirm Khashoggis status, but that they are following the case.

Lawmakers have reacted, understandably, with a little more outrage. If this is true—that the Saudis lured a U.S. resident into their consulate and murdered him—it should represent a fundamental break in our relationship with Saudi Arabia, Senator Chris Murphy wrote on Twitter, while Senator Tim Kaine added: We must get to the bottom of what happened and then impose strong consequences. Targeting journalists must stop. Its not clear that the president agrees.

When Jared Kushner first joined the White House as a senior adviser to his father-in-law, he was tasked with bringing peace to to the Middle East, solving the opioid crisis, overhauling the governments I.T. infrastructure, and, in his spare time, re-inventing the entire government. Twenty months later, hows that all working out for him? Not so great! To be fair, Kushners lack of progress can probably be attributed to a number of factors, including the period in which he had his security clearance downgraded, distractions at the family business, and his utter lack of experience with any of the tasks at hand. But thats O.K.! Because the Boy Prince of New Jersey has been given a shiny new assignment: convincing millionaires and billionaires that Donald Trumps administration isnt the royally incompetent, absolute clusterf–k it would appear to be.

Politico reports that young Jared has been crisscrossing the country to appear at various events attended by elite donors and make the case that while his father-in-laws administration looks like a hot mess of incompetence with a dash of narcissistic personality disorder and a sprig of complete and utter chaos (plus, a heaping dose of unbridled corruption on the side), nothing could be further from the truth. Some of these people are actually buying it:

His tour began last month, when he appeared at a donor retreat hosted by Ryan in Jackson Hole, Wyo. At a mountaintop restaurant, Kushner—who saw the event as an opportunity to address a group of establishment-aligned donors who werent fully on board with Trumps 2016 campaign—spoke on a range of policy issues. His wife, Ivanka Trump, attended with him.

Karen Kemmerer, a Wyoming-based contributor who was in the audience that evening, acknowledged she initially felt some skepticism toward Kushner, a newcomer to government. But she said she came away impressed.

I think certainly for my husband and I, before meeting either of them, we had on our minds like, What backgrounds and capabilities do they really have to be working in the White House? What kind of experiences do they have? What are they doing? I dont want to say we had a negative impression, but we were kind of neutral, she said. So it was really very eye-opening to hear from both of them that night. And I think the majority of the other donors felt the same way.

Other events have included a dinner at New York Citys Pierre Hotel—attended by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, billionaire investor Ira Renner, Democratic mega-donor Haim Saban, Chicago Cubs owner Todd Ricketts, and billionaire hedge-fund manager Paul Singer—where the First Son-in-Law detailed his work on trade, prison reform, and the administrations unorthodox approach to foreign policy. (According to longtime Kushner pal Ken Kurson, donors walked in doubting that the president has serious, thoughtful people around him, but left feeling reassured). Last week, he headlined a fund-raiser in Ohio for Representative Jim Jordan, whos been accused by wrestlers he coached at Ohio State of ignoring sexual abuse (Jordan has denied knowing anything about the abuse). While Kushner—whose event at the Pierre came on the same day Donald Trump claimed that Democrats invented the 3,000 deaths in Puerto Rico to make him look bad—may have finally found his niche, Boy Wonder has reportedly told people he doesnt expect to have a formal position on the 2020 campaign and will remain in the White House.

After a low-key summer, Vanessa Trump has been spotted out in New York at none other than Ivanka and Jareds apartment. She was photographed on Monday with four of her five children outside her in-laws apartment on the Upper East Side, apparently dropping the group off for a playdate.

Its been a quiet summer for Vanessa Trump, who experienced a turbulent spring after announcing her separation from Donald Trump Jr. on March 15. Shortly after the couple split, reports of Vanessas previous suitors, including a Saudi prince and a Latin King, became tabloid fodder, as well as the bombshell that her soon-to-be ex reportedly had an affair with Celebrity Apprentice star Aubrey ODay.

Don Jr. hasnt been as successful in maintaining a low profile as his ex. In addition to his role in the Mueller investigation, hes also gone public with his new girlfriend, former Fox News anchor Kimberly Guilfoyle. After rumors of the two dating cropped up, the couple made it official by attending parties and even red carpets together.

While its unclear if Vanessa actually interacted with Jared and Ivanka while she stopped by their apartment, it does seem like the ex in-laws are on good terms. Maybe Javanka also realize that their family is losing the best Trump.

On the heels of an explosive story detailing years of tax avoidance, tax dodging, and apparent outright tax fraud by his father-in-law, over the weekend it was Jared Kushners turn to have his payments to the I.R.S.—or lack thereof!— scrutinized by The New York Times. According to reporters Jesse Drucker and Emily Flitter, what the First Son-in-Law lacks in I.Q. he makes up for in shrewd accountants and attorneys whove employed various tax-minimizing maneuvers that have allowed the Boy Prince of New Jersey to pay virtually no federal taxes over the past decade, despite his wealth quintupling to nearly $324 million over that period—maneuvers that exist solely for a particular strain of wealthy people known as real-estate investors. Its good to be the scion of a slumlord empire!

Per the paper of record, Kushners exceedingly low tax bills resulted from depreciation, a tax benefit that allows developers like him and the president to deduct a portion of the cost of their buildings from their taxable income each year, generating paper losses. Despite the fact that the White House advisers family business, Kushner Companies, has been profitable and generated millions in cash annually for young Jared, the depreciation deduction—which assumes buildings decline in value when in fact they often gain—has basically let him decide what his tax bill should be. And it may or may not surprise you to hear he often thought his federal tax bill should be zero, or in some cases, that the government ought to pay him. A fun example of the latter came in 2015, when Kushner made $1.7 million from salary and investment gains but, thanks to $8.3 million in losses and a gross-adjusted income of negative $6.6 million, received a $4,000 refund, or roughly the cost of a round-trip business-class ticket from New York to Riyadh.

Unlike his father-in-law, or his dad Charles Kushner, who went to jail for tax evasion (among other things), theres no evidence that Kushner did anything illegal when it comes to his taxes, but simply employed high-priced professionals to exploit highly lucrative loopholes that are there for the taking for people like him. But thats not the best part! The best part is that Jared was able to claim losses on properties he didnt even buy with his own cash, and in fact, in most cases, for which he paid less than 1 percent of the purchase price: an amount that was usually covered by loans. In other words, Ivankas husband was getting tax-reducing losses for spending someone elses money. Actually, we take it back—thats not the best part. Its definitely good—paying taxes is for poor schlubs—but the best part is probably that Jared and Trump have set themselves up to screw the I.R.S. even harder next year, and, god-willing, for years to come:

The White House last year championed a sweeping revision of the nations tax laws that expanded many of the benefits enjoyed by real-estate investors, allowing them to reap even larger deductions.

The Trump administration was in a position to clean up the tax code and promised to get rid of some of the complexity that certain taxpayers use to their advantage, said Victor Fleischer, a tax-law professor at the University of California-Irvine. Instead, they doubled down on those provisions, particularly the ones they have familiarity with to benefit themselves.

(In a uniquely evil twist, the legislation eliminated a benefit that allows investors to avoid capital-gains taxes on asset sales if they use the proceeds to buy more within a certain timeframe—for all industries except real estate.)

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Jareds lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said the documents obtained [by the Times were] in violation of the law and standard business-confidentiality agreements, while adding that Kushner properly filed and paid all taxes due under the law and regulations. Larry Kudlow, the White Houses National Economic Council director who believes the answer to all of lifes problems is tax cuts, brushed Kushner criticism aside during a Sunday interview on ABC, saying that these stories [dont] have anything to them, and Americans respect success. Meanwhile, Jonathan Blattmachr, a trusts and estates lawyer, told the Times: If I had to live my life over again, I would have been in the real-estate business. Its fantastic. You get tax deductions for things you dont pay for.

For Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, it was a good week to be out of Washington. Last week, as millions of Americans watched Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh offer raw testimonies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ivanka and Kushner had already made plans to be a couple hundred miles north in New York. Ivanka spent the week sitting for a series of panels and meetings at the United Nations, alongside the president of the World Bank, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, and Prime Minister Theresa May. Kushner was similarly preoccupied. During the week, he held a round table on prison reform and, on Thursday evening, as the testimony was wrapping up, he met with Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu. Meanwhile, Canadian officials sent him their final notes for a renegotiated version of NAFTA earlier that day. What Jared provided is a level of credibility that he knows what the president wants, according to a person familiar with the situation. They understand he has the ear of the president.

Ever since they arrived in Washington, Ivanka and Kushner have leaned in to their family ties. During one memorable passage in Bob Woodwards Fear, Ivanka bristles when Reince Priebus attempts to restrain her influence by giving her the same privileges as other staffers, reminding him that she is the First Daughter. In an interview with NBCs Peter Alexander earlier this year, she dodged a question about her fathers alleged sexual misconduct by informing him that it was not appropriate for her to answer. She and Kushner have used the familial sway to varying degrees of efficacy. When the president was mulling whether to pull out of the Paris climate accord, Ivanka and Kushner privately voiced their concerns. Ivanka, in particular, pressed her father to more forcefully condemn the white supremacists who rallied in the streets of Charlottesville, and expressed her distaste for Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate who Donald Trump endorsed after he was accused of assaulting teenage girls when he was in his thirties. More recently, the couple introduced Trump to Kim Kardashian, as part of Kushners prison-reform initiative, leading the president to issue clemency for Alice Johnson, a first-time offender who was serving a life sentence in prison. Most of this advocacy has occurred in private, although it has often found its way to the press.

Last month, shortly after Kavanaughs nomination to the Supreme Court was thrown into question on account of sexual misconduct allegations, many observers assumed that Ivanka and Kushner would provide similar counsel. Ivanka, after all, initially came into the White House as an official staffer in order to advocate for womens issues. But the reality was more complex. In private, according to two people familiar with the situation, Ivanka has aligned herself with the position of her father and Kellyanne Conway—that while Ford deserved to be heard, Kavanaugh seems to be a good man. She has emphasized to her father that his measured response to the allegations, and acceptance of an F.B.I. investigation, had been generally well-received.

But the lack of details surrounding these conversations reflects a fundamental change in both how the West Wing operates, and how the Trump family has adapted to life in the Washington fishbowl. When President Trump first took office, in the initial period of chaos and warring factions, Ivanka and Kushner felt the need to be involved in an outsized number of decisions and meetings. There were few voices they did not believe they should counterbalance. But the Wild West was tamed with the arrival of John Kelly and the departures of Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon. With a modicum of order in place, Ivanka and Jared took a step back from the Oval Office to manage their own fiefdoms. If they thought it was necessary to get involved in something, they would, one person familiar with the situation told me. But now that he is properly staffed, it frees them up.

This person didnt rule out the possibility that Ivanka and Kushner are privately offering their opinions to the president on matters of personnel and optics. But, as they have settled into their roles, they have also grasped a profound truth about the way the media covers them. Press reports containing their private advice to the president only provokes more criticism, and often from both sides of the aisle. Trump, too, has recognized that invoking Ivanka doesnt help either of them. (His remarks that his daughter had urged him to do something about the child-separation crisis at the border sparked days of negative coverage about Ivanka.) Its indicative of them getting the way it works now that no one really knows what theyre telling the president on this, this person told me. Theyve wisened to it.

Ignoring the Kavanaugh drama is just the latest, most pronounced example of how Ivanka (and to a lesser extent Kushner) has reconfigured her relationship to the public, and reset expectations in the process. Ivanka has settled into a routine of meetings on Capitol Hill, event appearances, and visits to schools and job sites to promote female entrepreneurship, STEM education, and workforce development. Kushner has delimited his duties around a handful of bipartisan objectives, including prison reform, the Middle East, and trade. (As the person familiar with the NAFTA negotiations told me, Kushner is already looking for a new way to work with U.S. trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on projects going forward, and is in no rush to get back to New York.)

For the Trump-Kushners, having wisened to Washington has meant learning to keep their heads down, compartmentalize, and ignore the constant chaos raging around them. Sure, the Kavanaugh contretemps on Capitol Hill has Democrats and Republicans at each others throats, and left many women watching Dr. Fords testimony feel gutted. But Ivanka had panels to attend. Kushner met with Netanyahu and plugged away at trade negotiations. Soon after the Senate concluded its tense negotiations over whether there would, in fact, be an F.B.I. investigation into Fords claims, Kushner continued to work on the NAFTA deal and Ivanka welcomed a rabbi at the White House to perform some of the customs to celebrate the Jewish holiday Sukkot.

Perhaps this is the survival strategy that gets them through to their post-White House careers, if they do decide to leave Washington. Those hopes have been tested, mostly unsuccessfully, by others who left the administration. Besides Dina Powell, who returned to her old stomping grounds at Goldman Sachs, no other members of the New York contingent have managed a soft landing. Gary Cohn is still without a job, as is Hope Hicks and Josh Raffel. It is possible that they are merely decompressing and weighing their options. It is also possible that the White House stench doesnt wash off so easy, at least at the present moment. Whether the same strategy will pay off for Ivanka and Kushner—two people who cannot wash off the Trump name no matter how much time passes—depends, of course, on Ivankas father. If the special counsels office turns up nothing, and the Republicans keep control of Congress, and the economy continues on a tear, well, then they have set themselves up just fine. And if one or all of those things go the other way, it is still possible they could end up O.K. Trump, after all, has demonstrated an uncanny ability to escape political doom without a scratch, only to amass more power in the process. Whether that is hereditary or transferable by marriage will be Ivanka and Jareds proposition to test.

Kanye West is following in the footsteps of his wife and heading to the White House. According to The New York Times, West is expected to meet with Donald Trump and Jared Kushner in D.C. on Thursday. A representative for West confirmed the meeting.

Wests agenda for Thursday is vague. A source told the Times that West hoped to discuss job opportunities for former prison inmates as well as ways to increase manufacturing jobs in the Chicago area. Before shutting down his Twitter entirely over the weekend, West was busy stroking Trumps ego via the presidents favorite social-media platform, tweeting out photos of himself wearing a red MAGA cap and writing things like, This represents good.

Trump tweeted out his own thoughts praising West for leading the charge, writing, Like many, I dont watch Saturday Night Live (even though I past hosted it)—no longer funny, no talent or charm. It is just a political ad for the Dems. Word is that Kanye West, who put on a MAGA hat after the show (despite being told no), was great. Hes leading the charge!

This wont be Wests first in-person encounter with Trump. The pair met at Trump Tower shortly after Trump was elected, which marked the beginning of Wests bizarre love affair with Trumpian politics. Last week West created headlines when he went on a seemingly unhinged pro-Trump outburst, praising the president and criticizing Democratic policies, in front of the cast and audience on Saturday Night Live.

Wests wife, Kim Kardashian, has remained tight-lipped on her husbands recent actions, though its not hard to imagine shes giving some advice behind the scenes. Kardashian met with Trump and Kushner back in May to commute a sentence for a woman serving a life sentence for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense. Unlike West, Kardashians agenda was clear, and her meeting at the White House resulted in the release of 63-year-old Alice Johnson from prison.

For now its hard to know what, if anything, will come of this White House meeting. At the very least, Trump can probably gift West with more MAGA hats.

One day after the Donald Trump administrations latest optics catastrophe—a brain-freezing news cycle fueled by Trumps tweets suggesting that Jeff Sessions was his feudal vassal and the innumerable disclosures from Bob Woodwards forthcoming tome—the nations most famous reality star stepped into a parallel universe at Pennsylvania Avenue. On Wednesday morning, Kim Kardashian West arrived at the White House for the second time since May, where she will participate in a listening session on clemency and prison reform, along with senior adviser and First Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner, according to a person familiar with the plans. The meeting has been in the works for weeks.

The Kush-dashian relationship has been building for months. Kardashian had reached out to Kushners wife, Ivanka Trump, earlier this year, when she came across the story of Alice Johnson, a 63-year-old great-grandmother who was serving a life sentence without parole for a first-time drug offense, on Twitter. Ivanka connected her with Kushner, who has been working on prison reform as part of his once-sweeping portfolio of policy issues, which has been whittled down to this topic, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and Middle East peace—still a vast mandate, of course, though less hyperbolic. (Kushner has had a personal connection to the topic ever since his father, Charles Kushner, was incarcerated for 14 months after being convicted of illegal campaign contributions, tax evasion, and witness tampering. Jared, who would visit his father in federal prison nearly every weekend, has said that the charges were unfair and the experience shaped his views on the issue.) Kardashian made her first visit to the West Wing at the end of May, when she met with Kushner, who took her to the Oval Office so she could formally ask President Trump to grant Johnson clemency. A week later, he did. Kardashian called Johnson in prison to share the news. I was like, Youre going home, Kardashian told CNNs Van Jones earlier this summer, adding that they both cried on the phone.

Since then, Kardashian has been in near daily contact with Kushner or White House staff members to push for more names. After the president solicited N.F.L. players to suggest victims of the criminal-justice system in June, Kardashian reached out to ask whether he was serious, and if so, if she could compile a list, too. She was told that yes, she could, and decided to take Trump up on his offer. On Wednesday, Kardashian will join Jones, along with Kushner, Freedom Partners chairman and Koch Industries general counsel Mark Holden, and Jessica Jackson of the prison-reform group #cut50, for the listening session, which will take place at 10 oclock in the Roosevelt Room, according to the person familiar the situation. President Trump is not set to attend, nor is there a plan for him to sit down with Kardashian again.

The meeting comes as part of Kushners push to pass bipartisan prison-reform legislation, which his father-in-law said he would not endorse until after midterm elections. Earlier this year, the House, with the White Houses backing, passed a bill 360-59 with broad bipartisan support that would send 4,000 prisoners home, allow prisoners to earn time in house arrest and halfway houses, and require them to be placed within 500 miles of family. The bill faces a much steeper climb in the Senate, though Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to a whip votes on the bill after elections. Last month, Kushner made brief remarks on Capitol Hill indicating that the White House is very close to putting the finishing touches on its criminal-justice reform package in the Senate.

Kushner flew back commercially to D.C., from a brief trip to New York, to be there in time for the listening session. On Tuesday night, he took part in a private dinner hosted by Haim Saban and Paul Singer at the Pierre hotel on the Upper East Side, where, along with U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Patriots owner Bob Kraft, Guesss Maurice Marciano, former Time Warner executive Gary Ginsberg, and Charles Bronfman, they held a two-hour-long bipartisan discussion about their emerging plans for an Israeli-Palestinian peace process over a kosher-catered dinner.

Word of Kardashians visit to the White House leaked earlier the first time around, meaning cameras were set up well in advance of her arrival to catch a glimpse of her entering the West Wing. She brought a camera crew with her, and posed for a now infamously morose photo with President Trump in the Oval Office that was memed to death on Twitter. This time, the meeting was kept intentionally quiet. The only early sign of Kardashians visit occurred—where else?—on Instagram. Early Wednesday morning, she posted a photo of herself recording a podcast with Innocence Projects Jason Flom. Check out the interview I did with @itsjasonflom and follow him to learn more about our fight for criminal justice reform. Im super committed to getting people out of prison who dont belong there, and Jason is too!, she captioned the photo. Just hours later, her car would pull up to the White House.

A new report in The Washington Post, citing U.S. intelligence intercepts, appears to confirm what is looking increasingly likely: that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered the operation to lure journalist Jamal Khashoggi from his home in Virginia to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week, and had him murdered. Turkish security officials told The New York Times that they believe he was dismembered . . . with a bone saw by a 15-person team, dispatched from Saudi Arabia to make the vociferous critic of Salmans government disappear. It is, in other words, not a good look for the so-called reformer prince, whose country has denied killing Khashoggi, but is not trying particularly hard to be convincing. Nor is it a good look for Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, who dont seem eager to terminate a chummy relationship with the crown prince over a credible murder allegation. At least not just yet.

For those who need a quick refresher on the Kushner-M.B.S. bromance, the two first bonded over lunch at the White House back in March 2017, with the Boy Prince of New Jersey subsequently persuading his father-in-law to visit Riyadh for his first trip abroad as president. From there, it was basically a buddy comedy for the ages, with Kushner championing M.B.S. when the young prince was battling with his cousin to become his fathers heir; supporting his move to blockade Qatar and tacitly supporting his brutal war in Yemen; having back-slapping dinners with the prince in D.C. and the Saudi capital; and reportedly giving M.B.S. the names of disloyal Saudi royals who were later rounded up and imprisoned (Kushner denies this). Perhaps most significant, the two struck a deal for a $110 billion weapons sale—not a bad inducement if youre trying to get the future kings blessing for your Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Salmans financial ties to Trump run deep, too. In March, the princes entourage almost single-handedly boosted revenue at Trumps New York hotel by 13 percent. Presumably, Kushner and M.B.S. had discussed plans to get a boys trip on the calendar in between work and family commitments.

So the news that Saudi Arabia likely murdered a journalist who spoke critically of the crown princes regime has put Kushner in, as the Times puts it, an extremely awkward position! At first, Kushner and the White House chose to stay silent on the matter, like friends of Brett Kavanaugh refusing to dignify allegations of their pal being a fall-down drunk with a sexual-predator problem. But as the evidence kept piling up, it was clear they had to at least feign some level of concern, which apparently involved calling up M.B.S. and being like, Hey, did you kill this guy? Nope? O.K., works for us!

On Tuesday, the White House said, Mr. Kushner and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, spoke to Prince Mohammed by phone about Mr. Khashoggis disappearance. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also called him.

In both calls, they asked for more details and for the Saudi government to be transparent in the investigation process, said the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Meanwhile, Kushners father-in-law suggested Wednesday night that he thought the Saudis probably did kill Khashoggi, expressing less anger about the situation than he did when Nordstrom dropped his daughterss clothing line. It would not be a positive, he told Fox News. I would not be happy at all. But while the smallest perceived slights generally result in the president vowing to destroy another country—for instance, threatening to economically cripple Ecuador for promoting breastfeeding—he apparently sees no reason to stop doing business with the kingdom:

. . . The president expressed reluctance to punish Saudi Arabia by cutting off arms sales, as some in Washington were proposing. I think that would be hurting us, he said. We have jobs, we have a lot of things happening in this country.

Also on Thursday, Trump made his disregard for Khashoggis death even more obvious, telling reporters: Again, this took place in Turkey, and to the best of our knowledge Khashoggi is not a U.S. citizen, is that right? Hes a permanent resident, O.K. . . . As to whether or not we should stop $110 billion from being spent in this country . . . that would not be acceptable to me. Incidentally, many say the deal is not worth anywhere near $110 billion, though accuracy has never been the presidents forte (that would be cozying up to autocrats who flout democratic values and human rights).

On the one hand, theres a lot of money to be made as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledges to open up Saudi Arabia to foreign investment. On the other, theres that whole possible plot to murder a journalist business:

Since Turkish officials blamed Saudi Arabia for the October 2 disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, foreign investors have begun re-examining their relationship with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and their participation in his plans to overhaul his countrys economy.

The disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul raises fresh questions about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmans reputation as a reformer and political developments pose a growing threat to the economic outlook, said Jason Tuvey, an economist at Capital Economics.

It marks a moment for executives to choose whether they want to be associated with Prince Mohammed, said Karen Young, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, the Washington think tank. For high-profile C.E.O.s, this is not a good moment for photo ops, she said.

One opportunity for photo-ops will come later this month, when Saudi Arabia hosts the Future Investment Initiative, an event that has been dubbed Davos in the Desert. While The New York Times has said it will no longer serve as a media sponsor, advisory board member Arianna Huffington no longer plans to attend, and L.A. Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong has dropped out as a speaker, Wall Street appears to be in the weighing the pros and cons phase. As of Thursday afternoon, C.E.O.s from Blackstone, JPMorgan, Credit Suisse, and Bridgewater were all still listed as speakers, as was Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

On Thursday, Donald Trump spent a second consecutive day bashing the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates, which he blames for the market falling more than 1,300 points in two days. As New Yorks Josh Barro points out, if Trump had idea how any of this works, he would actually blame himself for the Fed raising rates, given that 1) he literally hired a Fed chair, Jerome Powell, who is known for favoring higher interest rates; 2) he used fiscal policy to stoke an already strong economy, which typically pushes inflation up, at which point people like Powell raise rates to fight that inflation; 3) he put Powell in a position of basically having to raise rates so as not to look like Trumps puppet because, as the president may or may not be aware, the Fed is supposed to be an independent government agency that doesnt cater to the whims of any idiot living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. (As for the two-day market decline, the blame finger is also pointing squarely in the direction of Big Orange and his trade war with China.)

But Trump doesnt understand how any of this works, so on Thursday, instead of blaming himself, he said: The Fed is out of control. I think what theyre doing is wrong, adding for some unintentional humor that the rates are not necessary in my opinion and I think I know about it better than they do. That critique came less than 24 hours after he told reporters, The Fed is going wild. I mean, I dont know what their problem is but they are raising interest rates and its ridiculous. The problem in my opinion is Treasuries and the Fed. The Fed is going loco and there is no reason for them to do it and Im not happy about it.

But if you thought the president was simply interfering with monetary policy because he wants to be able to tout the stock markets gains in the run-up to the midterms, you thought wrong! Naturally, he also has his own bottom line on the brain:

Trump on Thursday also indicated that the Feds policies were harming him personally. Trump owes more than $300 million to Deutsche Bank AG of debt with interest rates that rise or fall depending on Fed policy. Higher interest rates could increase his debt payments considerably.

Meanwhile, White House National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow, commenting on the presidents obvious attack on the Feds strategy, somehow had this to say: He has never attacked the Feds plan or strategy. He has never interfered with that. He is giving his opinion, and its an informed opinion.

In what has now become a regularly scheduled feature of the administration, on Thursday the president of the United States seemingly threatened to reveal the kind of dirt on someone that the National Enquirer used to buy and bury about him. Per CNBC:

Discussing the various leaks coming out of his administration that have been turned into multiple news stories and a few salacious books, Trump responded sharply when an interviewer on Fox & Friends suggested that [Gary] Cohn, along with former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, was one of the sources.

I was very good to both of them. It could have been [them leaking]. A lot of people have said that, the president said. Gary Cohn, I could tell stories about him like you wouldn't believe.

Cohn who has claimed Fear does not accurately portray my experience at the White House, did not respond to CNBCs request for comment.

Or at least gird itself for an all-caps rage tweet filled with inexplicable capitalization and charges of being paid by China and/or the Democrats:

The U.S. Treasury Departments staff has advised Secretary Steven Mnuchin that China isnt manipulating the yuan as the Trump administration prepares to issue a closely watched report on foreign currencies, according to two people familiar with the matter. . . . President Donald Trump has publicly and privately pressured Mnuchin to declare China a currency manipulator, but Treasury staff havent found grounds to do so, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Formally accusing China of manipulating the renminbi wouldnt trigger any sanctions or retribution, but the move would heighten tensions between the worlds two biggest economies.

Daughter of woman whose emotional support squirrel got her kicked off flight says shes upset and angry (N.Y.D.N.)

In the American mind, California has been a place of fresh starts and re-invention. So it makes sense that Hope Hicks is heading west to serve as chief communications officer for New Fox, the parent company of Fox News, based in Los Angeles. Hicks, a 29-year-old former P.R. flack, had experienced a difficult time in New York after exiting Donald Trumps White House at the end of March. She was hounded by paparazzi, who photographed her jogging in Central Park with Rob Porter, her West Wing office romance, who left the White House after allegations of spousal abuse surfaced (Porter denied it). And shes also had to spend time and six figures on legal fees, (apparently funded by the Republican National Committee), dealing with Robert Muellers investigation. The opportunity to work for the Murdochs on another coast would be a chance for a reset.

Until Trumps presidency, working in the White House was a guaranteed ticket to plum jobs in the private sector. West Wing officials, gilded résumés in hand, transitioned easily to investment banks, media companies, and universities. Like a lot of Trump alumni, Hicks had a more challenging time. Its the Trump taint, one former West Wing official told me. She took a lot of meetings, but the big offers didnt roll in. She said she was looking for a big job in media and investment banks, one executive who met with her recalled. At one point it appeared like she might even go back to the White House and replace the embattled chief of staff, John Kelly. (Hicks declined to comment.)

But the Trump-Kushner nexus finally came through. In August, Page Six reported that Hicks had lunch at Avra on the Upper East Side with media banker Aryeh Bourkoff, the C.E.O. of LionTree and a close friend of Jared Kushners (during the 2016 presidential campaign, Kushner reportedly had conversations with Bourkoff about launching Trump TV). Around this time, Hicks began talks with Lachlan Murdoch, who is becoming chairman and C.E.O. of New Fox, the slimmed-down media company comprised of assets the Murdochs did not sell to Disney. Sources said Trump and Kushner put in calls to Rupert Murdoch to recommend Hicks.

Two weeks ago, Hicks had offers from both Bourkoff and Fox, sources said. In the end, working for Fox across the country was the more attractive opportunity. Its unclear what this means for her relationship with Porter, whos so far been unable to find a job, a former West Wing colleague told me. Its a big job. Plus she gets to move to L.A., a friend said. Although, of course, since shes working for Fox, which often works for Trump, its in another sense not a fresh start at all.

A procession of denials by Cabinet secretaries and White House officials has done little to abate Donald Trumps rage over the anonymous op-ed The New York Times published on Wednesday. Flying to Fargo, North Dakota, on Friday, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the writer of the piece. Trumps escalation of his war against the Times, close on the heels of the rollout of Bob Woodwards new book, Fear, has sent the West Wing into paroxysms of paranoia and suspicion. Its a hall of mirrors, one Republican close to the president told me.

Trump continues to be in a dark mood. Rip-shit, one person familiar with his thinking told me. Hes punch-drunk, one outside adviser said. Hes been hit so hard this week he doesnt know what to do. Another outside adviser to the White House added, Hes not happy he has saboteurs of unelected people trying to pull off a coup detat.

With Trump so far unable to execute a strategy to stanch the drip-drip-drip of damaging disclosures, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have taken the lead in getting control of the crisis. (The Washington Post reported that Trump said the only people he could trust were his family.) Earlier this week, they told Trump they were deeply troubled by the accounts in Woodwards book and blamed Chief of Staff John Kelly for many of the leaks, an outside adviser close to them told me. Hes destroying your presidency, Ivanka told her father, the outside adviser, who was briefed on the conversation, said. Their hunt for the author of the Times op-ed may bring them into the final chapter of their long-running feud with Kelly.

According to three sources, Jared and Ivanka floated a theory on Wednesday that Kelly could be behind the Times op-ed. Under this scenario, the sources said, the op-ed was written by Zachary Fuentes, the deputy chief of staff, at the direction of Kelly. Jared and Ivanka have told people they suspect this because Kelly is the only one with an ego so large as to have convinced himself that hes saving the country from Trump, which was one of the op-eds principal arguments. On Wednesday night, Ivanka and Jared laid out for Trump the theory that Fuentes might be the author, an outside adviser with knowledge of the conversation told me. (A White House spokesperson said this is untrue. Fuentes has denied writing the piece.)

Trump disagreed with their theory, an outside adviser said. He told one ally that the op-ed was possibly written by someone who wants to derail Brett Kavanaughs confirmation hearing by weakening the president this week, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Ivanka has been frustrated that her father wont take action against Kelly, an outside adviser said. Shes told people that Trump still sees Kelly as a John Wayne figure, and that Trump is worried that if Kelly is fired, hell become even more dangerous as an outside critic.

But for Javanka and others, Kelly and Fuentes are far from the only suspects, and West Wing advisers continue to hunt for the author. The Times reported yesterday that the White House has a list of around 12 potential suspects. According to one person familiar with the list, one person being scrutinized is Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman. One former West Wing official said that Huntsman had three strikes against him: he served in the Barack Obama administration, he was very close with John McCain, and he has political ambitions of his own. (A White House spokesperson said there is no 12-person list.)

Im really rich, Trump declared while announcing his candidacy in June 2015. To prove it, he released a Summary of Net Worth balance sheet, indicating a net worth of $8,737,540,000. A month later he upwardly revised that figure to in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS. (The caps are his.)

Since then, a cottage industry of spreadsheet-diving journalists has worked itself into a lather trying to peg his real net worth. But without tax returns to go on, its really anybodys guess. Despite the all-caps figures Trump has dispensed, most estimates from the established financial-media outlets have been lower, FAR LOWER. Forbes put his net worth at $4.5 billion. Fortune postulated $3.7 billion, and later upped it to $3.9 billion. Bloomberg guessed it was closer to $2.9 billion.

In response to these wanton guesstimates, Trump instinctually fired back at the guesstimators. Forbes is a bankrupt magazine, doesnt know what theyre talking about. Fortune has no idea what my assets are and has totally lost its way. But the real sulfuric acid was reserved for the lowballers over at Bloomberg. As usual, Trump made it personal, even suggesting his friend, the former New York City mayor, might be jealous. Maybe Michael told them to do it, Trump speculated in the Daily Mail, because he always wanted to do what Im doing. Perhaps wisely, The New Yorker—even with its legendary phalanx of persnickety fact-checkers—wouldnt venture any closer than just a back-of-the-envelope calculation of $2.56 billion, which shouldnt be taken too seriously.

In November, Trump was elected president of the United States in a shocking turn of events. He lost the popular vote by some two million ballots.

Donald Trump has once again positioned himself against the #MeToo movement, mocking it during his Wednesday night rally in Pennsylvania. While reminiscing on his victory in the state in the 2016 presidential election—like an old high-school quarterback revisiting the field over and over—Trump stopped himself from using a certain expression, blaming the rules of MeToo.

Pennsylvania hasnt been won for many years by Republicans, but every Republican thinks theyre going to win Pennsylvania, he said, according to CNN. I used an expression—you know, theres an expression, but under the rules of MeToo Im not allowed to use that expression anymore. I cant do it.

He said the expression is akin to the person that got away. See, in the old days, it was a little different. When an audience member encouraged him to do it anyway, Trump laughed and pointed to the news cameras. I would do it, except for these people up there. They would say, did you hear what President Trump said?

He continued, saying, So there is an expression, but well change the expression: Pennsylvania was always the person who got away. Thats pretty good, right? The person that got away?

Its unclear what Trump thinks the rules of #MeToo are. The movement, started by activist Tarana Burke, began as a way for survivors of sexual misconduct to voice their pain and show solidarity with fellow survivors. It has sprawled into something greater, tied to the broader societal reckoning over sexual misconduct that began a year ago—but the message at its core has remained the same.

Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct himself multiple times (he has denied the claims), has made his stance clear on the growing movement. He first insulted it in July: while referring to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, whom he has taken to calling Pocahontas because of her Native American heritage, Trump said he would like to send an ancestry kit her way. Well take that little kit and say—we have to do it gently because we are in the MeToo generation—and we will very gently take that kit, slowly toss it [to her], he said.

Last week, Trump also told reporters that it is a very scary time for young men in America, where you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of—referring to the scandal surrounding Brett Kavanaugh (who has since been sworn into the Supreme Court, despite sexual assault allegations he denied). This is a very, very—this is a very difficult time. Whats happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court justice.

At a time when the Russian government was escalating its efforts to help Donald Trump win the presidency, Rick Gates, then deputy chairman of the Trump campaign, was making inquiries of his own. Shortly after he joined the Trump campaign alongside Paul Manafort in 2016, Gates sought proposals from an Israeli intelligence firm, Psy-Group, for social-media influence and opposition-research campaigns, The New York Times reports.

Gates was first introduced to Psy-Group in March 2016, just days after he and Manafort joined the campaign to stave off a Ted Cruz-led Republican revolt. George Birnbaum, a longtime Republican operative who attended the introductory meeting at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Washington, told the Times that Gates was interested in finding the technology to achieve what they were looking for. Gates reportedly sought a proposal targeting Cruz through the use of fake online personas, which was intended to corral 5,000 Republican delegates away from the Texas senator and toward Trump. Another proposal, per the Times, described opposition research against Hillary Clinton. A third mapped out a months-long plan to sow discord. Together, the proposals were labeled Project Rome, and referred to Trump, Clinton, and Cruz Lion, Forest, and Bear, respectively. In total, the work would have cost the Trump campaign $3 million. (A lawyer for Gates declined the Timess request for comment.)

The Trump Tower meeting was not the first time Zamels name surfaced in connection with the Russia probe. Back in May, a report from The Wall Street Journal alleged that Psy-Group inked a business deal with Robert Mercer-backed data firm Cambridge Analytica in December 2016; the deal reportedly outline[d] a partnership whereby the two firms could cooperate on a case-by-case basis to provide intelligence and social-media services, the aim of which was, in part, to help both companies win government contracts. A source told the Journal that the deal was signed without Mr. Zamels involvement, but the existence of the deal drew yet another link between the Russia probes fringe players.

The Gates/Psy-Group saga, too, is something of a Whos Who of Robert Muellers investigation: Gates, of course, cut a plea deal with Muellers team, and Nader is reportedly cooperating with the special counsel. Prince has also been ensnared in the investigation, for his involvement in a January 2017 Seychelles meeting, and has previously said that he cooperated with Mueller. People familiar with the matter told the Times that Mueller has obtained copies of the various proposals Gates perused, and that he is particularly interested in a $2 million payment Nader made to Zamel after the 2016 election.

For the better part of a remarkable week in Washington, Donald Trump seemed uncharacteristically removed from the action, floating above it all, almost Reaganesque. Brett Kavanaugh, Trump complained offstage, was a Bush guy. His bid to save his nomination on Fox, where he portrayed himself as something of a choirboy, the president viewed as limp. He liked Kavanaughs pugilism at last Fridays hearing, but he was taken aback by all the talk of beer. I watched that hearing, and I watched a man saying that he did have difficulty as a young man with drink, Trump told reporters. A few hours later, he was back to praising Christine Blasey Ford and taking a wait-and-see approach—he wasnt about to expend political capital saving Kavanaughs apparently sinking nomination. And, he couldnt help mentioning, he himself had never had even one beer, being a teetotaler.

Trumps mocking of Dr. Ford from the rally stage in Mississippi on Tuesday night seemed a characteristically undisciplined outburst, a reversion to form, and it drew rebukes from key Republican senators who would decide Kavanaughs fate. But it was probably a result of an evolving calculation of the political forces that, more than the nomination, would shape the midterms. Advisers including Deputy Chief of Staff Bill Shine and outside allies Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie had been imploring Trump to get more aggressive on behalf of his Supreme Court nominee, sources said. Defending Kavanaugh is a culture-war issue for Republicans that divides and splits the Democrats, one Republican close to the White House said. The problem has always been: how do we turn out the G.O.P. base?

Kavanaugh, the West Wing realized, was a wedge issue, tailor-made for the struggle at hand, and by the end of the week, after a hamstrung F.B.I. investigation gave Republicans enough cover, Trump went all in. At a rally in Minnesota on Thursday night, Trump told supporters, Democrats have been trying to destroy Judge Brett Kavanaugh since the very first second he was announced.

According to sources, Trump advisers feel theyve found a winning message that will help them hold the Senate and, in what might be magical thinking, keep the House. Its a political issue, and hes going to take it to the next level. Thats how you get the G.O.P. base, which is 60-plus percent white male, to vote, the Republican close to the White House said. Trump hinted at this strategy on Thursday night. All you have to do is look at the polls over the last three or four days, and it shows that their rage-fueled resistance is starting to backfire at a level that nobody has ever seen before, he told rally goers.

Advisers say Trumps mood has improved significantly this week, which in raw political terms, has been one of the best of his presidency. He scored big wins with a new Canada-Mexico trade deal and 3.7 percent unemployment numbers. His optimism is very high, one former West Wing official said. Im seeing it in the polling—theres electricity in the air for Republicans, said another former West Wing official. (One minor annoyance: Kavanaughs Wall Street Journal op-ed. Trump thought it was too apologetic, said one outside adviser to the White House.)

But as good as this week was for Trump, investing his political future in a deeply unpopular judge whos been credibly accused of sexual assault is a sign of the relativity of expectations in Trumpworld. Folks are just focused on surviving, one prominent Republican said.

The emergence of Dina Powell as the presumed front-runner to replace Nikki Haley at the United Nations was received with unusual bipartisan acceptance, at least as far as Trump political nominees are concerned. If it is Dina Powell, I would guess she gets support from several Democrats, a Democratic Senate aide told me Wednesday. It sure looks like it will be Dina Powell and everyone will be like, O.K., that sounds right, and that will be it. After serving as National Security Adviser H.R. McMasters deputy and holding multiple positions in the George W. Bush State Department, Powell would be well qualified—more so than Haley was when she became the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. But by Thursday afternoon, Powell had reportedly informed her bosses at Goldman Sachs, where she serves as an executive on the banks management committee, that she wasnt interested in the job.

With Powell out of contention, there is no clear favorite to succeed Haley in Turtle Bay. Further complicating matters, Politico reports, White House aides are pushing Donald Trump to tap a woman for the job in order to shore up support within a critical demographic ahead of the November midterms. It is not an idle concern: publicly, Republican leaders have argued that the bruising Supreme Court confirmation battle over Brett Kavanaugh, who faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, helped energize the G.O.P. base. (Kavanaugh denied all the allegations against him.) And initially, polls did indeed reflect a slight uptick in enthusiasm among Republican voters. But in the days since, the numbers have told a different story. The percentage of women who view Kavanaugh negatively jumped 20 points to 53 percent between August and October, according to a CNN poll released Thursday. Trump himself has an abysmal disapproval rating of 63 percent among women voters.

Trumpworld seems aware of the political ramifications, and views the U.N. posting as a potential remedy. The political shop thinks its very important to announce a woman before Election Day because of the presidents approval rating and the Kavanaugh stuff, one source in regular contact with the president told Politico.

The appointment, after all, is as much about optics as it is about policy. As the Democratic Senate aide observed when Haley announced her resignation, Trump keeps most of his political appointees on a tight leash. I dont think it is that big of a deal, to be honest with you. . . . Is the new U.N. ambassador going to come in and fundamentally change the Trump administrations foreign policy? I dont think anyone thinks that, this person told me. Nikki Haley was more interesting politically than policy-wise.

Of course, the notion that appointing a woman to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. would offset Trumps unpopularity among suburban women voters may be wishful thinking, given the ground he must make up. Democrats chances of taking the majority are squarely within those moderate suburban districts, explained Steve Israel, a former New York congressman and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Look at the energy. The day after Trumps inaugural, moderate women who did not vote in 2016 took to the streets. Thats the first bookend. The final bookend will be in the midterm elections, when you take to the polls. Anywhere you look, he said, you see nuclear energy among Democrats, and the Kavanaugh nomination brought it to even higher levels.

Republican strategist Terry Sullivan, who ran Senator Marco Rubios 2016 presidential campaign, concurred that Haleys replacement will be largely inconsequential in November. It will have almost zero impact on the midterms, he told me. But he added that from a longer-term perspective, appointing a woman to the job could help Trump. He needs more female validators in there for his re-election in 2020, he said.

With Powell out of the running, the list of women under consideration to replace Haley reportedly includes Nancy Brinker, the founder of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation; former New Hampshire senator Kelly Ayotte; Kelly Knight Craft, the U.S. ambassador to Canada; and Kay Bailey Hutchison, the current U.S. ambassador to NATO. Of these women, Ayotte is perhaps the most intriguing possibility. As Sullivan explained, Ayotte is viewed within Republican circles as smart, competent, and a great face for the G.O.P. As a suburban working mom, she fits the exact demographic the Republican Party is struggling to hold on to in the Trump era. Her previously fraught relationship with Trump could be a sticking point. But then again, she did shepherd Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch through his Senate confirmation process. Haley herself backed Rubio in the 2016 primary race and once gave candidate Trump the South Carolina equivalent of the middle finger: Bless your heart.

Longest bull run in the history of the stock market, congratulations America! Stock market hit all time high on Friday. Congratulations U.S.A.! 70 Record Closes for the Dow so far this year! We have NEVER had 70 Dow Records in a one year period. Wow! The Fake News Media barely mentions the fact that the Stock Market just hit another New Record and that business in the U.S. is booming . . . but the people know! The reason our stock market is so successful is because of me! These are but a sampling of the things Donald Trump has said about the stock market over the past 21 months, patting himself on the back for gains on a near-daily basis, something presidents have historically never done, because all the ones up until 45 understood that if you take credit on the way up, you have to take the blame for the inevitable drops. Thats what a normal person that doesnt suffer from narcissistic personality disorder would do, at least. But Donald Trump is no such person, which is why on Wednesday, when the stock market fell off a cliff…

…he naturally looked outside of himself to pin the blame, and found it in his handpicked Fed Chair, Jerome Powell:

Donald Trump slammed the Federal Reserve as crazy for its interest-rate increases this year in comments hours after the worst U.S. stock market sell-off since February.

The Fed is making a mistake, he told reporters on Wednesday as he arrived in Pennsylvania for a campaign rally. Theyre so tight. I think the Fed has gone crazy.

Weirdly, in all the talk of things that are crazy, President Buy and Sell said nothing about his self-defeating trade war with China, which many on Wall Street actually believe caused the worst market sell-off since February:

Trumps latest attack on the U.S. central bank appeared to blame the Federal Reserve for a stock rout that market analysts mostly attributed to fresh concern about his trade war with China. Trump has been publicly criticizing the Fed since July for interest-rate increases and declared he was not happy in September when the central bank raised rates for the third time this year.

At the White House, Sarah Huckabee Sanders stuck to the message that the fundamentals and future of the U.S. economy remain incredibly strong all thanks to Donald Trump who, by the by, also told reporters that he thought the sell-off was good and actually [the] correction that weve been waiting for for a long time. But I really disagree with what the Fed is doing."

Forty-eight percent of respondents said they cared about Trump not releasing his returns, while 43 percent said they didnt care. Meanwhile, 64 percent said they had seen, read, or heard a lot or some about the New York Times report that he received hundreds of millions from his fathers real-estate empire, much of it through what the paper termed tax dodges, while 36 percent said they heard not much or nothing at all.

Responses to the returns question broke sharply along partisan lines, with 76 percent of Democrats saying they cared about his refusal, compared to 18 percent of Republicans. Among independents, 50 percent said they cared, 40 percent didnt, and the rest were undecided.

Unfortunately for the 48 percent, the White House has said that Trump has no plans to release his tax returns, despite promising repeatedly on the campaign trail to do so.

Not only is Andrew Wheeler diligently doing his part to hasten the demise of the planet, but he apparently dabbles in racist commentary, right-wing conspiracies, and victim-blaming, too! Per HuffPost:

Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, repeatedly engaged with inflammatory content on his personal Facebook and Twitter accounts over the past five years, including some in the past month.

The previously unreported interactions include liking a racist image of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on Facebook and re-tweeting an infamous Pizzagate conspiracy theorist . . . Last month, Wheeler liked right-wing documentary filmmaker and former convict Dinesh DSouzas tweet casting doubt over __Christine Blasey Fords __sexual assault accusations against newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

In an e-mail to HuffPost, Wheeler said: Over the years, I have been a prolific social-media user and liked and inadvertently liked countless social-media posts, Wheeler said. Specifically, I do not remember the post depicting President Obama and the First Lady. As for some of the other posts, I agreed with the content and was unaware of the sources.

Amid amped-up scrutiny, North Carolina investor targeted by feds became top Florida G.O.P. donor (Politico)

In the world of middle school, there are a few ways to test your friendships. Did your pal, for example, share the rest of her fries with you after the cafeteria was out for the day? Did she warn you to move before the kid at your assigned-seat lunch table decided to smash his chocolate milk carton all over the table, letting the milk drip onto your seat? And, this is the big one: Did she whisper discreetly in your ear to let you know that you just walked out of the bathroom with a tiny piece of toilet paper on your shoe? Dont worry, she says, you can just back up slowly into the bathroom and slide it off before running into anyone who will mock you about it through the end of eighth grade. Thats a good friend.

If the presidency were middle school (and these days, isnt it?) and Donald Trump were an acne-ridden 12-year-old, he would not fare so well in the toilet-paper test.

On Thursday, the president walked up the steps of Air Force One to travel to Rochester, Minnesota, for another MAGA rally with what looks like a napkin on his shoe. The white piece of flimsy paper waved in the wind and the president took step after step, not knowing that it was stuck to the bottom of his shoe. He smiled a goofy smile, waved his half-hearted wave and turned, finally releasing the napkin, which stayed in the door of Air Force One, as if to keep enjoying its 15 minutes of fame.

As Elles R. Eric Thomas pointed out, Trump was not alone in that car. He had Secret Service and other team members presumably following close behind. Someone could have been that good middle-school friend.

On Tuesday, The New York Times published a bombshell investigative report alleging that Donald Trump helped hide millions of dollars in gifts from his parents and engaged in instances of outright fraud. The exhaustive probe is the work of three investigative reporters—David Barstow ,Susanne Craig, and Russ Buettner—who untangled decades worth of complicated tax maneuvers and analyzed more than 100,000 pages of records. Charles J. Harder, a lawyer for Trump, has denied any wrongdoing on behalf of the president, and called the allegations 100 percent false, and highly defamatory.

Mere hours after the story was published, Showtime revealed that a camera crew had tracked the reporters throughout the investigation, which lasted over a year. And a documentary short chronicling the arduous process—called The Family Business: Trump and Taxes—will air this Sunday. The coordinated, multi-medium effort seems to be a one-two punch that could help the investigation stay atop a relentless news cycle that churns though breaking reports and political scandals at a breakneck pace.

The documentary short hails from the filmmaking team behind Showtimes docuseries The Fourth Estate, which also infiltrated the New York Times offices—to chronicle how the papers reporters cover the Trump presidency. Directed by Jenny Carchman and produced by Liz Garbus and Justin Wilkes, The Family Business: Trump and Taxes will air on Sunday, October 7 at 8:30 P.M.

According to Showtime, Carchmans crew trail Times investigative reporters David Barstow, Russ Buettner, and Susanne Craig as they expose the untold story of how Donald Trump became rich. Mr. Trump has proclaimed himself to be a self-made billionaire but what these reporters found offers a very different account, based on tens of thousands of pages of financial documents they obtained, including more than 200 Trump-family tax returns.

In the statement to the Times, Harder maintained, There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which the Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate.

Explained Carchman, We followed a singular story, outside of the daily news cycle that illustrates so much of the investigative-reporting process, the patience, the perseverance, and the drive to understand a story without knowing where it would lead. We witness these journalists talk to people; review thousands of documents and spend months of exhaustive fact-checking; and see how vital the presss role is in uncovering the truth.

After winning the 2016 election, Donald Trump made it abundantly clear that he planned to financially profit off the the presidency while serving as president. The president cant have a conflict of interest he told reporters during the transition, by way of explaining why he wouldnt be cutting ties with his company, but simply handing over day-to-day management of the Trump Organization to his eldest sons, who keep him fully apprised of how things are going in his absence. Days before the inauguration, the initiation fee at Mar-a-Lago, where members are given free rein to oversee the federal agencies of their choosing, doubled to $200,000. Trump has taken numerous trips to the Palm Beach resort during his first 20 months in office, often hosting foreign heads of state at the winter White House, where the golf markers bear the presidential seal. Even when hes not there, Trump is advertising its splendor to potential paying customers, casually letting it slip during an interview that the dining room happened to serve the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that youve ever seen when he decided to bomb Syria. The blatant corruption doesnt start or end in Florida—while shilling condos in India earlier this year, Don Jr. invited buyers to pony up an extra $38,000 for up-close-and-personal access to a key member of the presidents inner circle (himself). And, of course, theres the Washington hotel that opened days before the 2016 election, where foreign and domestic governments know booking a room is a great way to get in Trumps good graces.

Yet for all of his attempts—many of which have been successful!—at using the office of the presidency to further enrich himself and his family members, a new report paints a very sad picture for a wealth-obsessed man who once said, part of the beauty of me is that Im very rich. According to the most recent Forbes billionaires list, Trumps net worth has dropped more than $1 billion since becoming president, falling from $4.5 billion to $3.1 billion over the past two years, and placing him at a Siberian 259 on the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in the U.S. The magazine attributed the decline in Trumps wealth to three factors: e-commerce hurting the value of his real-estate holdings, heightened security at his resorts, and his own over-reporting of the size of his penthouse. And then, of course, theres the matter of people not wanting to buy stuff associated with a guy who throws kids in cages and is generally a national embarrassment:

Revenue from Trump-branded ties, whiskies, MAGA hats and other merchandise has plummeted to just $3 million from $23 million in 2015. He has significantly tarnished the brand, licensing expert Jeff Lotman told Forbes.

At Trumps golf clubs, revenue is down 9 percent, partially due to members resenting the fact that they have to go through several layers of security to get in. At Trump Tower, condos are down 33 percent. And hotel revenue has plummeted $30 million since the real estate developer announce he was running for office. In fact, the presidents personal financial picture would have been even worse were it not for his commitment to making money off of his current gig:

Business at the Trump International Hotel in Washington is doing well thanks to an influx of foreign government officials and GOP bookings. Similarly, the value of the "winter White House," Mar-a-Lago, rose by $10 million, to $160 million—and also reportedly doubled its initiation fee to $200,000.

And while we would never suggest that the president is the sort of person who seethes over the riches of his enemies, if he were, he probably wouldnt be thrilled to hear that last year was a banner year for one of his many arch-nemeses: Jeff Bezos. According to Forbes, the Amazon founders net worth grew to $160 billion, or 52 times that of the president. In related news, buried in last weeks report from The New York Times alleging decades of tax fraud by the Trump family is the sad! fact that if Donald had done nothing but park the millions his father gave him in an index fund that tracks the S&P 500, hed still be worth about $2 billion today.

Time was, Republicans thought they could rely on tax cuts, a strong economy, and the bogeyman threat of regulation to ensure Wall Street and the broader business community would open up their check books for the G.O.P. But this election cycle has thrown several wrenches into that equation, one of them being tax legislation that disproportionately hurt states where Wall Streets top earners live and the other being the personality of one Donald Trump. Per The New York Times:

Four years ago, in the last congressional midterm, Republican incumbents and candidates outraised Democratic counterparts by more than $50 million in direct donations from the broader finance, insurance, and real-estate industries, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And in 2016 and 2012, Republicans outraised Democrats from that group by nearly $50 million and $100 million respectively, the data shows. This year, Democrats held a narrow $5 million advantage through the middle of the year.

That figure will shift, possibly substantially, when candidates reveal their latest fund-raising hauls later this month. But Democrats have already surpassed their 2012 and 2014 totals, and most Republicans with ties to Wall Street described a grim political outlook. . . . From donors in just the securities and investment sector, Democratic congressional incumbents and candidates have so far received $39.3 million in 2018, compared with $28 million for Republicans. That is a reversal from 2014, when Democrats raised $28 million and Republicans $41.5 million. In 2018, 15 of the top 20 congressional recipients of securities and investment industry cash are Democrats; in 2014, 15 of the top 20 were Republicans.

You would expect, with the economy doing as well as it is today, that there would be a desire to keep the status quo, Thomas R. Nides, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton now working on Wall Street, told the Times. [But] I dont think people care. Theyre worried about the direction of the country.

Since his nomination was announced up through a Capitol Hill hearing in which he blamed the Clintons for a wave of sexual assault allegations against him, no one has labored under the expectation that Brett Kavanaugh will cast any votes on the Supreme Court that wont fall expressly on party lines. (Kavanaugh has denied all of the allegations against him.) But it turns out that in his very first act as an associate justice, the Georgetown prep alum will have a chance to help Republicans potentially solidify power for the next decade, should he grant an emergency stay application the administration is likely to request in order to prevent Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross from being deposed over a decision to put a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census, which critics say could hurt blue states where undocumented immigrants would be less likely to participate. Per New Yorks __Eric Levitz:__

Data from the decennial Census shapes the contours of political districts, and determines each states clout in the Electoral College. It also dictates what proportion of federal funding for schools, roads, and libraries each state is entitled to. Thus, if a Republican administration found a facially neutral way of systematically undercounting residents in Democratic-leaning areas, it could inflate red Americas (already disproportionate) influence over our political system. . . . Most undocumented immigrants live in Democratic-leaning metropolitan areas, so the fewer of them the government counts, the greater the share of federal money and political influence that rural, Republican-leaning areas will hold.

And after Republicans helped clinch him a lifetime appointment despite credible allegations of sexual assault against him, obvious bias, and a temperament that wouldnt fly for an associate regional manner of Dairy Queen, would Kavanaugh really not want to return the favor?

After selling off his fathers properties, Trump embraced unorthodox strategies to expand his empire (Washington Post

A small team of traders at Goldman Sachs made $100 million betting on natural gas—and it could be thanks to a bomb cyclone driving prices to a record level (Business Insider

Most presidents would have nightmares if they were staring down the current state of global affairs: a trade war, a teetering market, a possibly nuclear North Korea, political rivals overtaking Congress, a nation-state allegedly murdering a journalist, the creeping threat of climate change. Donald Trump, however, sat quite pretty during his first visit to 60 Minutes in two years, delivering a brazenly confident, if oftentimes confused, paean to his midterm legacy—even with enemies in the White House and Washington and the media and the world. I know all these things, he bragged to Lesley Stahl. I mean—Im not a baby. I know these things.

At that point, he was referring to Stahls observation that Kim Jong Un, whom Trump said he fell in love with, was a murderous dictator with countless atrocities in his history. But it also could have referred to the extended victory lap he has been running ever since he clinched a new trade deal and the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, neither of which has moderated his conviction that he is presiding over the most consequential presidency in history, the protestations of his critics be damned. Trump, after all, appears to have learned that there is no benefit to be gained from modesty or regret. When Stahl asked if Trump could think of any mistakes he had made thus far, he could only cite his failure not to enact his agenda faster.

Indeed, with 23 days left until a midterm election that threatens his hold on Congress, Trump refused even to acknowledge the universe of alternative facts and negative polling that threatens his presidency. Im not going to get into it because we won, he said at one point, cutting off Stahl when she asked why he had mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, when he could have taken the opportunity to try to unify a divided country. It doesnt matter, he finally explained, exasperated, after first trying to deny the premise. We won. (Kavanaugh denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.)

Why was he not tougher on Vladimir Putin, for instance? I think Im very tough with him personally, he claimed, saying Putin probably ordered assassinations and poisonings and interfered with the 2016 election. But I think China meddled too, he added. (This is amazing. You are diverting the whole Russia thing, Stahl responded.)

And what about separating children from their undocumented families at the border, an unpopular policy that he enforced, only backing down under public pressure? You know, Barack Obama had the same thing, he said, bulldozing over the fact that Obama never enforced it. And frankly, when you dont do separa— when you allow the parents to stay together, O.K., when you allow that, then what happens is people are going to pour into our country. He refused to say whether that meant he would reinstate the policy: I will only—I cant—you cant say yes or no. What I can say is this: there are consequences from coming into a country, namely our country, illegally.

And in the middle of Trumps boast about threatening to withdraw from NATO, and leveraging tariffs on those European allies in retaliation, he stomped on his secretary of defense, James Mattis, for reportedly warning him that the 70-year-old alliance was the only thing preventing World War III. Frankly, I like General Mattis. I think I know more about it than he does. And I know more about it from the standpoint of fairness, that I can tell you. (He later hinted that Mattis might leave the White House, calling him a bit of a Democrat.)

By now, its painfully evident that Donald Trump believes the purpose of his job as president of the United States is to enrich himself and his family as much as possible, emoluments clause be damned. On this, he has been exceedingly transparent, refusing to divest from his company, promoting Trump Organization properties every chance he gets, and giving paying customers free rein to oversee the federal agency of their choosing. So while it violates long-standing norms that dictate how a president should conduct himself in office, it actually comes as no surprise at all that he would think it appropriate to use a meeting with a foreign head of state to try and advance his buddys casino interests abroad, given that said buddy donated millions of dollars to his campaign and is presumably getting ready to open up his checkbook for 2020.

ProPublica reports that in February 2017, one day after dining at the White House with billionaire casino magnate and G.O.P. sugar daddy Sheldon Adelson, the president used a state visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe —naturally held at Mar-a-Lago—to lobby for his pal to win a long-sought casino license in Japan. Adelson and his company, Las Vegas Sands, have been pushing to build a multi-billion-dollar casino and resort in the country for more than a decade, calling expansion into Japan their holy grail. And although hes competing for one of the limited number of licenses that would allow him to enter a market worth a staggering $25 billion a year, having POTUS call in a favor would presumably put him at the front of the line.

The Japanese, for their part, were said to be stunned that Trump raised the issue, given that, per Brian Harding, a Japan expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a top donors business interests should be nowhere near the agenda of senior officials. According to one of the people briefed on the exchange, it was totally brought up out of the blue, and Abe was a little incredulous that [Trump] would be so brazen. But brazen or not, Trumps wink-wink appears to have worked!

Adelson has told his shareholders to expect good news. On a recent earnings call, Adelson cited unnamed insiders as saying Sands efforts to win a place in the Japanese market will pay off. The estimates by people who know, say they know, whom we believe they know, say that were in the No. 1 pole position, he said.

The White House declined ProPublicas request for comment. Sands spokesman Ron Reese said in a statement: the gaming industry has long sought the opportunity to enter the Japan market. Gaming companies have spent significant resources there on that effort, and Las Vegas Sands is no exception.

Trump, of course, didnt go to bat for his buddy Shelly out of the goodness of his heart, but rather as part of a you scratch my back, Ill scratch yours arrangement. Back when Trump was running for president, Adelson spent $20 million on the real-estate developers campaign, and kicked in an extra $5 million for the inauguration. And that kind of generosity, particularly in the Trump administration, buys a lot:

Cabinet-level officials jump when he calls. One who displeased him was replaced. He has helped a friends company get a research deal with the Environmental Protection Agency. And Adelson has already received a windfall from Trumps new tax law, which particularly favored companies like Las Vegas Sands. The company estimated the benefit of the law at $1.2 billion.

I would put Adelson at the very top of the list of both access and influence in the Trump administration, Public Citizens Craig Holman told ProPublica. Ive never seen anything like it before, and Ive been studying money in politics for 40 years.

To be fair to Fox News, the network so intertwined with Donald Trumps administration that they frequently swap employees, every single one of its cable competitors was once so captivated by the president that they, too, would cover his campaign rallies live. But as the administration wore on, the novelty wore thin, and by the beginning of 2018, only Fox followed in that grand tradition, broadcasting Trumps rallies from start to finish. In July, it was not uncommon for the network to junk its own prime-time shows in favor of the presidents campaign-style stadium appearances—a choice that broadcast the presidents message into the living rooms of millions of his voters every night. Fox was proud of it, too: at one point, the station even knocked its competitors, via a snarky chyron, for declining to do the same.

Three months later, however, things have changed. Instead of airing the rallies live, Fox has opted either to air clips the next day, to bump the events to weekend coverage, or to live-stream them online, putting the president and his arena-full of jeering, red-capped supporters on the back burner. The primary reason for this decision, it seems, is that Trump is no longer the guaranteed ratings draw he once was. His speeches, at one time astonishing, have become relatively formulaic, meaning theres no guarantee hell pull in more eyeballs than the networks typical prime-time stable of Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson. Airing the rallies in full leaves little room for those lucrative prime-time ad slots. And with Trump blanketing the country ahead of midterms, its impossible to give every event the royal treatment. They dont want to give up so much prime-time real estate, one Fox insider told Politico. Theyre going with the route they think will give the best ratings performance.

But whats best for Fox News bottom line has turned into a nightmare for the White House and the G.O.P. An online livestream, expedient though it may be, presents a barrier to entry for the networks predominately baby-boomer viewers—the very voters Republicans are hoping to energize in the final weeks before midterm elections. Being able to be onstage with the president in front of a prime-time audience is huge for a campaign trying to reach conservatives across the country who will open up their wallets, one Senate Republican staffer told Politico. After a rally, We tend to see lots of new sign-ups and small-dollar donations. A source close to Trump added, [Its a] huge loss on the state and local level for Republicans, because theyre certainly not going to get any of that on other cable networks. If they stop taking them completely, that might create a problem.

All this, of course, has made things rather awkward in the White House, where some of Foxs foremost pundits whisper affirmations into Trumps ear late at night, and where Fox has more or less taken on the role of state TV—as a former Fox anchor told my colleague Gabriel Sherman earlier this year, What [Trump] usually does is hell call after a show and say, I really enjoyed that. The highest compliment is, I really learned something. Then you know he got a new policy idea. The two entities are so interconnected that one of the networks former talking heads is dating the presidents son. And theres a very real possibility that the president will object to Foxs programming choices: Trump is a massive consumer of the media, so he may be disappointed, the source close to him told Politico. Indeed, a White House official told Politico that the administration plans to look into the matter, and added that Bill Shine, the former Fox executive-turned-comms director, was in touch with former colleagues about the trend.

On Tuesday, The New York Times published a massive, years-long investigation into Donald Trump, the results of which revealed the president is an honest man who has been treated totally unfairly by a biased press out to take him down for the crime of winning in the first degree. Just kidding, of course: the article confirmed the long-held suspicion that the former real-estate developer is an (alleged!) serial fraud, laying bare the numerous cons that went into creating his self-made multi-billion-dollar fortune. In perhaps the most spectacular claim to emerge from the Timess 14,000 word treatise, reporters David Barstow, Susanne Craig, and Russ Buettner uncovered evidence that Trumps family had been evading—or outright dodging—taxes for decades, using potentially illegal maneuvers including everything from improper deductions to a sham corporation whose sole purpose was to siphon millions to Trump and his siblings (screwing over rent-regulated tenants was just a happy byproduct). So, what happens now?

Late Tuesday night, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, which handles tax fraud investigations, announced that it had opened a probe into the alleged deeds outlined by the Times, and is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation. Given that many of said deeds occurred decades ago and are past the statute of limitations, its highly unlikely that the dauphin prince of Queens will face criminal charges. But despite the presidents apparent belief that you cant be held responsible for things that happened years ago, there is no statute of limitations on civil fines for tax fraud. And while the point has been made that the schemes detailed by the Times are simply smart tax arbitrage that any rich guy worth his salt would at the very least entertain, experts I spoke with said some of those methods appear to be what a layman would call out and out scams—the kind the law actually prohibits.

It certainly appeared from the piece that the tax avoidance schemes [described] went well beyond what the law permits, said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor who dealt with tax cases. In the case of All County [Building Supply & Maintenance], the company set up to funnel money to the Trump kids by marking up purchases that had already been made, thats straight-up fraud. Calling the All County situation brazen and unsophisticated, Lee-ford Tritt, a University of Florida law professor and an expert in gift and estate tax law, said that some of [the maneuvers detailed] are shocking and push illegality and that a lot of very wealthy Americans would not do what they were doing. While Trumps attorney told the Times that no fraud was committed (but that if it was, you cant blame the president because other people handled this stuff), and his brother said in a statement that all appropriate gift and estate tax returns were filed, and the required taxes were paid, former assistant U.S. Attorney John Marston wasnt so sure. Tax is an area that is often fruitful for state and prosecutors because you have to sign that tax return [yourself], whereas other times you can often have other people do your bidding, he told me.

While no one we spoke to anticipated that the I.R.S. would open a probe into the Times findings, Mariotti noted that failing to do so could make things very awkward for the federal agency. The head of the I.R.S works for the president, so I dont expect [them] to be investigating this anytime soon, he said. On the other hand, it could generate a political issue for the Trump administration if New York investigates and recovers some amount of money. And according to Crains, theres potentially a whole lot of money on the table—enough to build a whole neighborhood full of gold-plated penthouses where good taste goes to die:

Based on the figures provided in the Times article, the Trumps could be on the hook for $210 million in unpaid gift or estate taxes and a similar amount in unpaid interest and penalties, according to Fred Slater, a C.P.A. who has advised real-estate professionals for more than 40 years. Janis Cowhey, a trust and estates partner and leader of the modern family group at accounting firm Marcum, agreed that Slater's estimate is sensible.

Slater added that President Trump could be liable for a larger share than his sisters and brother because as trustee he signed the tax returns for the estates. The state Department of Taxation and Finance says it is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation.

The state is nasty about this kind of stuff, said Slater, who is familiar with the techniques allegedly used by the Trumps to minimize their tax bills.

In Tritts view, New York just has to look like theyre making progress, and the I.R.S. [might feel pressure to] step in. Were talking about a lot of money here and the principle—this is the president of the United States and a federal judge [Trumps sister Maryanne Trump Barry]. Can you imagine the I.R.S. walking away from all that money and letting people get away with tax fraud? It would just look horrible.

Of course tax fraud and horribleness (not to mention corruption and crimes against grammar) are pretty much hallmarks of the Trump administration, meaning it wouldnt be all that surprising if the consequences for the president amounted to . . . basically nothing. Plus, theres the matter of a series of recent budget cuts hamstringing the I.R.S., to the point that a former senior criminal-enforcement officer told ProPublica just this week: I believe there are thousands of individuals who have U.S. tax obligations and are not complying with U.S. tax laws. Which probably bodes well for the current inhabitant of the White House.

Like other Trump nominees, Saul has no background in the field he was chosen to lead. He did, however, serve on the board of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a right-wing think tank whose visiting fellows [include] Abigail Thernstrom, a political scientist who believes that affirmative-action programs set black children up for failure and that race barriers in America were eliminated when President Barack Obama was elected.

Theres also the matter of an incident in which Saul seemingly attempted to impersonate a police officer after trespassing (Saul didnt return the N.Y.D.N.s call for comment), not to mention the fact that the think tank whose board he sits on has called for draconian cuts to Social Security benefits. Which, obviously, make him perfect for the job.

The bank does not see China or Trump, who said on Monday that people opposing his tariffs are babies, backing down, according to a note obtained by Bloomberg:

The conflict between the worlds two largest economies will only escalate as the U.S. maxes out tariffs on Chinese imports, the dollar strengthens and the yuan weakens further, JPMorgan strategists including Pedro Martins Jr., Rajiv Batra, and Sanaya Tavaria wrote in a report, lowering their recommendation on the shares to neutral from overweight. The $4.9 billion iShares China Large-Cap E.T.F. sank to a two-week low.

A full-blown trade war becomes our new base-case scenario for 2019, the strategists wrote. There is no clear sign of mitigating confrontation between China and the U.S. in the near term.

Government seeks sentence of nearly 20 years for Fyre Festival fraudster Billy McFarland, the consummate con artist (N.Y.D.N.)

Fink is responsible for building BlackRock into the worlds largest investment firm, with $4.6 trillion in assets under management. He came to Wall Street with long hair, decked out in turquoise jewelry, as any good California boy would, and ended up as a Wall Street consigliere of sorts, particularly during the financial crisis, when he became the de facto manager of how Washington bailed out Wall Street. He advised the Treasury and Federal Reserve, along with the whole cadre of bank C.E.O.s in over their heads. His equanimity and respect from all sides of the aisle make him a perennial guess as to who will be the next Treasury secretary.

A move to Washington would upset Finks finely honed daily routine, which has him waking up at five, in his car with three newspapers in hand (the contents of which he has mostly read the night before) 45 minutes later, and in his Midtown Manhattan office by six for an hour and a half of free time before his long slog of meetings starts. In his schedule every morning is time to call his wife, Lori, whom he met in high school. Washington is also quite a hike from their 26-acre farm in New Yorks North Salem and not an easy trip to their home in Aspen.

For the past two weeks, compelling evidence has led many to believe that Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi was killed on the orders of the Saudi Arabian government when he went to visit the kingdoms consulate in Turkey on October 2. While Donald Trump, at this point, sees no reason to punish the country, or even to make a stink about it with his buddy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the business community has reacted somewhat differently, with major executives from tech, media, and Wall Street announcing they wont attend the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, a conference put on by the Saudi government thats scheduled to take place next week. BlackRock founder and C.E.O. Larry Fink was one such business magnate, pulling out of quote, unquote Davos in the Desert on Monday after reportedly failing to convince the Saudi government to postpone it. Despite this seemingly rational choice, however, Fink doesnt want anyone to get the wrong idea: the worlds largest money manager may not be making the trip to Riyadh next week, but that doesnt mean he wont continue to do business with Saudia Arabia, even if he gets definitive proof it murdered Khashoggi.

No, BlackRock chief Larry Fink responded when asked by CNBC if the firm would severe financial ties with the Saudis [if it turns out that the kingdom ordered the slaying of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi].

We do business in 80 different countries. There are many countries where we may disagree, said Fink, whose firm manages $6.4 trillion in assets.

Noting that the possible murder of a dissident journalist via bone saw was a big issue with BlackRocks employees and clients, Fink said that the Saudis understood why he ultimately had to cancel. Ive been going to Saudi for years and years and years, as much as three or four times a year, he said. As friend of the countrys, I wanted to do this in a way . . . that preserved the relationship that we have, that we worked so long for.

As CNBC notes, Fink has often spoken out about issues that other Wall Street executives would rather not comment on, like gun control and social change, and is considered to be an important voice thanks to his immense power in the industry. So its certainly interesting—to say the least—to see him use that voice to say, Im not gonna let what could turn out to be a planned murder and dismemberment get in the way of a lifelong business relationship.

What will Larry do? That was the question being asked around Hollywood on Wednesday afternoon, after news broke that billionaire Oracle founder Larry Ellison had stepped into the fray at Annapurna Pictures, the company created by his daughter, Megan Ellison, in an attempt to stem the bleeding caused by her slate of high-end, auteur-driven projects.

The past 36 hours have been a whirlwind for Annapurna. First, the production company announced it was bowing out of the untitled movie about former Fox News C.E.O. Roger Ailes, a mere two weeks before the start of production. Set to be directed by Jay Roach (Trumbo) from a script by Charles Randolph (The Big Short), and to star John Lithgow, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie, the film is now being shopped to three different studios. That news coincided with a report that Annapurnas head of production, Chelsea Barnard, a longtime employee, had left her position, and that the company recently offloaded its high-profile, Jennifer Lopez-starring film, The Hustlers at Scores, to STX Entertainment. (One source said Annapurna abandoned the film a month ago after it couldnt sell off the international rights.)

These chaotic moves have caused people who are in business with 32-year-old Megan to wonder if their movies are still moving forward—and left others holding their breath, hoping that one of the few remaining outfits that finances challenging films doesnt go belly-up.

I dont care how much money daddy gives you—you have to make something turn a profit, said one producer, who declined to be identified. Yet I applaud [Megan], and desperately want her to succeed. She hasnt made a single movie with a questionable filmmaker, and there arent enough people out there who are financing filmmakers. You could argue about how much shes spent, but nevertheless I have to applaud her.

Two sources confirmed to Vanity Fair that Larry is indeed stepping in with a cash infusion for Annapurna, though the extent of his involvement remains questionable—as do rumors that Larry wanted the Ailes film shelved due to his close relationship with Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch. Variety reported that the tech billionaire will be orchestrating a major reorganization of Annapurna, with layoffs expected. The company disputed these claims. Larry has been supportive and empowering of Megan as C.E.O. of this company, said spokesperson Ashley Momtaheni. His involvement has not changed since she founded Annapurna.

Megan first made a name for herself in 2012, with the $45 million financing of Kathryn Bigelows Oscar-nominated Zero Dark Thirty, about the killing of Osama bin Laden. Since then, she and her company have backed projects from artists as diverse as Spike Jonze (Her), David O. Russell (American Hustle, Joy), Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master, Phantom Thread), and Richard Linklater (Everybody Wants Some!!, the upcoming Whered You Go, Bernadette), proving to be champions of prickly auteurs.

Things started to get wonky, as another producer put it, when Megan decided to expand her financing/production operation into a distribution and marketing entity in January 2017—a costly proposition that required her to staff up quickly and outlay big chunks of cash. The significant overhead, coupled with expensive employees, has proven challenging to the company, especially since none of the movies Annapurna has released in the past 18 months have been big moneymakers. Its one wide release, Bigelows Zero Dark Thirty follow-up, Detroit, proved to be a risk for the nascent label when it grossed only half of its $34 million budget. Yet insiders at the company insisted these are normal growing pains for a new film operation.

Its not helpful that Megan has proven to be a mercurial manager, sources said, one who is both passionate about her artists and challenging to work for. Filmmakers, though, couldnt ask for a more engaged partner, and are effusive in their praise.

They all love her so much, said Nina Yang Bongiovi, one of the producers of this summers Annapurna release Sorry to Bother You, from emerging voice Boots Riley. If she were to go away, it would be a sad time for our business. When we were selling the film [at Sundance], she came in with a different approach. Its very anti-corporate, anti-studio, and thats really refreshing for artists.

It might not be best for the bottom line, though. Yang Bongiovi recognizes that the risks Ellison takes are costly. All of [Annapurnas] movies are hard, she added, pointing out that Sorry to Bother You was one of the bright spots in the companys recent history (it grossed $17 million on a $3.2 million budget). I dont know what they do internally, but they love auteur directors. Maybe thats not the best structure, but its best for the movie.

Mark Boal, screenwriter and producer of Detroit, is also a believer in Annapurnas viability. The distribution [business] is really tough, and the road is littered with failed distribution companies, but Megan is here to stay, he said. Shes a visionary and has great taste. It would be stupid to discount that.

The company has high expectations for its upcoming slate. Its bullish about the awards potential for Oscar winner Barry Jenkinss Moonlight follow-up, If Beale Street Could Talk, which will debut on Nov. 30, and Adam McKays Christmas Day-opener, Vice, starring Christian Bale as former vice president Dick Cheney. More commercially, Annapurna is a co-distributor of MGMs Creed II, which stars Michael B. Jordan and opens Nov. 21, and Laikas upcoming animated film, Missing Link, opening in April. It will also co-distribute the next Bond film, Bond 25, but that wont happen until 2020.

Until then, two sources close to Megan said she is taking a hard look at her upcoming roster and is likely to decrease spending on individual films. Its an unwelcome proposition to filmmakers, but if it keeps the fledgling studio in business, theyll take it. After all, Megan Ellison is one of the few Hollywood financiers willing to make tough bets.

We are living in extraordinary times, dear reader: media colossuses are merging; our technology megaliths have faltered; virtually every element of human life is being reconsidered and artificially mimicked; and weve even become obsessed with adult scooting—all while the Dow Jones continues to float at an unprecedented level. Meanwhile, the Russia investigation remains ongoing, and our culture is undergoing an overdue reckoning. Are we at the end of one age or the beginning of the next?

Sign of the apocalypse? Thanks to her 100 percent ownership stake in her\neponymous makeup line, Jenner is now worth $900 million.

A New York Times whodunnit: The anonymous author of the most famous\nopinion piece in recent history not only garnered more than 15 million\npage views for the Times but also seized the attention of an audience of\none.

Not a media company? Long the premier destination for makeup tutorials\nand iPhone-unboxing videos, Wojcickis YouTube found itself at the\nepicenter of controversy after the Parkland shooting in early 2018, when\nthe platform inadvertently boosted conspiracy-theory videos. Wojcicki\nhas insisted that YouTube isnt a media company. But what is it, then?

Taking flight: Gelman, a Lena Dunham pal and former Clinton campaign\nstaffer, is a co-founder of the women-only co-working space and social\nclub, the Wing. With five locations in three cities and about 5,000\nmembers paying up to $3,000 for annual memberships, the Wing is already\neyeing international expansion, with planned outposts in London, Paris,\nand Toronto.

Disrupting the Street: One of the most senior women on Wall Street,\nKrawcheck was more or less defenestrated from her big jobs at both\nCitigroup and Bank of America. Shes now the co-founder of one of the\nlargest digital businesses focused entirely on helping women to better\ninvest their money.

Equity for all: Hamiltons firm aims to rectify Silicon Valleys woeful\ngender- and racial-inequality dynamics. She has invested in excess of\n$4 million in more than 100 companies led by under-represented\nfounders, and this year she announced a new, $36 million fund\nexclusively to invest in the ventures of black women.

The lefts best hope: If Bernie launched the democratic-socialist\nrevolution against ossified neoliberalism, these are his\nsuccessors—avatars of the lefts flirtation with universalism and its\nbest attempt to close the enthusiasm gap.

Jareds boy in Riyadh: Through his familys $1.4 trillion fortune,\nM.B.S. has earned audiences with some of the American business\ncommunitys biggest names, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin,\nApple C.E.O. Tim Cook, and Amazon C.E.O. Jeff Bezos—and, yes, Jared\nKushner.

Its all on Dara: Gurleys firm is one of Silicon Valleys more prolific\nventure-capital concerns, thanks in part to its early bet on Uber. The\ncompany is hoping that Khosrowshahi can stick to his plan and take Uber\npublic next year.

No holds barred: The first African-American woman to head up a major\nbroadcast television network, Dungey made her name developing hit\nshows—but grabbed headlines this year when she canceled Roseanne after\nthe shows star issued a racist tweet.

Irelands greatest export: It took less than eight years for the\nsoftware developed by the Collison brothers, who grew up in County\nLimerick, to become the $9.2 billion payment platform of choice for\neveryone in Silicon Valley.

Evidence of tween-world domination: The producer and Illumination\nfounder and C.E.O. has a hand in several animated-film franchises—Ice\nAge, Despicable Me, Minions, The Secret Life of Pets, and now\nSing—with sequels for the latter three currently under way. Despicable\nMe 3 alone brought in more than $1 billion worldwide last year.

The only person everyone actually likes: The unofficial Nice Guy of\nSilicon Valley, Butterfield sits at the helm of a now ubiquitous\nworkplace-messaging company. This year, Slack was valued at $7.1\nbillion.

The professional: As Vice co-founder Shane Smith stepped back from the\nday-to-day, Dubuc was brought in to tame the wilds of the companys\ncorporate culture—and make sure its #MeToo problems (not to mention\nrevenue issues) are fixed.

Little-screen bigwigs: If cable-news personalities are the celebrities\nof the Trump era, these are a red-carpet murderers row.

Renaissance man: In 2018, Glover was master of multiple pop-cultural\ndomains: he starred in the movie Solo, nabbed 16 Emmy nominations for\nhis TV series Atlanta, and hit No. 1 on Billboards Hot 100 chart with\nThis Is America.

The clothes make the boss: When Lakes tech-retail company Stitch Fix\nheld an I.P.O. in November 2017, she became the youngest female founder\nto take a company public.

Alone in the world: The admired and respected Murdoch, who bears a\nresemblance to the Kendall Roy character in HBOs Succession, has been\ntight-lipped about his next act after the Disney deal closes and he\nexits the family business. The pervasive assumption is a new investment\nvehicle of his own design.

The queen of cable: Hammer is set to become possibly the\nlongest-reigning female executive in TV history. And Steve Burke and\nBrian Roberts will increasingly rely on her as NBCU fights for terrain\nin a landscape dominated by Netflix, Amazon, and Bob Igers latest land\ngrab.

Friends of the pod: Theyre the new cabal of audio phenoms proving that\npodcasting is a place for star power—and money. In two short years,\nformer Obama staffers Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Tommy Vietor, and Dan\nPfeiffer have turned Crooked Media, home of Pod Save America, into a\nrevenue-generating powerhouse that can sell out Radio City Music Hall.

Im with her: Herds dating app—built on the premise that women making\nthe first move fosters more interesting conversations and better\nconnections—is now worth a billion dollars.

Hes baaack . . . : A year after leaving his post as C.E.O. of Uber\nin disgrace, Kalanick is making a comeback: as the founder of a venture\ncalled 10100, which will invest in e-commerce and real-estate companies,\nand as the C.E.O. of real-estate start-up City Storage Systems.

Peak Landgraf: The head of cable-network FX has distinguished himself\nfor both his astute analysis of pop culture (he coined the term peak\nTV) and for incubating award-winning shows such as The Americans and\nAtlanta. As Disney takes over Fox and sets its sights on streaming\ndominance, Landgrafs long view could be an asset.

A new call of duty: Kotick, the godfather of modern gaming, will need to\nre-invent the wheel to stay relevant in the next couple of years as\ngames like Fortnite, which are free to play, become cultural obsessions.

After the iPhone: As interest in the iPhone wanes, Cue has overseen the\ngrowth of two emerging businesses: Apple News, and the tech giants\nforays into film and television projects. Apple is reportedly spending\nmore than $1 billion on original content.

Wing man: WeWork is no stranger to the adage Spend money to make\nmoney, and over the past year, the real-estate work-space tech venture\nhas done plenty of the latter in pursuit of the former—acquiring a\nbevy of start-ups across sectors and making investments in others,\nincluding the women-only social club the Wing.

The long game pays off: Gorman, a former McKinsey management consultant,\nhad his doubters when he re-oriented the white-shoe Morgan Stanley\naround the asset- and wealth-management businesses after the financial\ncrisis. In the last year, Morgan Stanleys market capitalization\nexceeded that of Goldman Sachs.

Breaking down barriers: DuVernay has made advancing the careers of women\nand people of color in the entertainment industry part of her legacy.\nFrom hiring only women to direct her OWN series, Queen Sugar, to\ndistributing womens films through her company, Array, to becoming the\nfirst woman of color to direct a movie with a budget over $100 million,\nA Wrinkle in Time, DuVernay has pushed hard to open up new\nopportunities.

Baller: Johnson was 2018s second-highest-paid actor, according to\nForbes, but the top in actual box-office earnings. (George Clooney\nearned the No. 1 spot by selling his Casamigos tequila brand.) His\ncombined 179 million followers on social media have been the engine by\nwhich the star markets his films, which he now also produces, through\nhis Seven Bucks Productions company.

The pinch hitter: After eight years dutifully heading up consumer\nproducts and interactive media for Disney, Pitaro got Bob Igers\nblessing to run the conglomerates vaunted sports brand in the wake of\nJohn Skippers drug-related exit. Pitaro wants ESPN to move away from\nthe political commentary that thrust the network into the white-hot\ncenter of the culture wars.

Zucked: Spiegel has seen his stock, user numbers, and net worth fall\nover the past year after Instagram and Facebook copied almost all of\nSnaps features to great success. But he made about $640 million in its\nI.P.O.

Hacking software stocks: Step aside, Oprah. Smith, the founder of Vista,\none of the nations most prolific and successful private-equity firms,\nis the countrys wealthiest African-American, with a net worth of $4.4\nbillion. At Vista hes Mr. Everything: C.E.O., investment guru, and head\nof investor relations. The last is probably his easiest job, given his\nwild success at investing in software, and only software.

The ultimate data guy: Under Vestberg, who was promoted this summer from\nchief technology officer to succeed Lowell McAdam, Verizon wasted no\ntime reining in the ambitions of the Yahoo-AOL media mash-up known as\nOath. Vestberg likes content as much as the next guy, but he has bigger\nfish to fry: rolling out Verizons next-gen 5G network by years end.

The genius behind the flossing phenomenon: Fortnite, the crown in Epics\nportfolio, has become a global phenomenon, played by professional\nathletes, middle-aged middle managers, and tweens alike. In total, the\nbattle-royal-style concept has attracted some 125 million gamers.

Evidence of election-hacking remorse? Chan and her husband, Facebook\nC.E.O. Mark Zuckerberg, have been busy in 2018, pouring millions into\nmidterm-election initiatives with the help of Facebook co-founder Dustin\nMoskovitzs Open Philanthropy Project.

Impact investor: McGlashan represents the new generation of leaders at\nTPG, the private-equity powerhouse with stakes in everything from Uber\nto Vice, and leading the $2 billion Rise Fund. Although there have been rumors aplenty that a change is afoot,\nTPG, unlike its private-equity rivals, has no plans for an I.P.O.

Exit strategy: Greens firm has poached talent from more senior\nventure-capital competitors, and its star has risen in recent years\nthanks to a series of smart investments and acquisitions, including the\nsale of Dollar Shave Club, Bonobos, and Jet.com.

Bezoss scripted weapon: Formerly the president of NBC Entertainment,\nSalke took the reins at Amazon Studios earlier this year, replacing Roy\nPrice, who was ousted amid sexual-harassment allegations, which he\ndenied. With Amazons deep pockets and Salkes extensive experience in\nscripted-series development, she is well placed to do battle in the\nincreasingly competitive streaming wars.

The $1 billion bet: When the former C.E.O. of DreamWorks Animation and\nthe former C.E.O. of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and eBay joined forces\nlast spring on a mobile-first streaming platform called NewTV, they\nraised $1 billion in their first financing round from companies such as\nSony Pictures, Viacom, Disney, and Comcast.

Three-hundred-million-dollar man: The TV super-producer once joked hed\nbe buried on the Fox lot, but when Netflix courted Murphy earlier this\nyear—a few months before the studios merger with Disney was approved\nby shareholders—he signed a $300 million, five-year deal with the\nstreamer.

A tale of two companies: Square has seen its value almost triple in the\nlast year. Twitters value, on the other hand, bobs up and down like a\nyo-yo, as it remains the presidents favorite mouthpiece and occasional\nweapon.

Vlad the Impaler: The Russian leader recently won another six-year term,\nhosted the World Cup, and humiliated Donald Trump in Helsinki. His\napproval ratings in Russia have fallen, but he still commands the sort\nof fear Trump only dreams about.

Work, work, work, work, work: Shes a hit-making recording artist (more\nthan 250 million records sold, nine Grammys, 14 No. 1 singles); a\nfashion icon with a newly launched lingerie line and collaborations with\nPuma and other brands; and an actress (Oceans 8). Her Fenty Beauty\ncosmetics debuted a year ago and earned $100 million in its first 40\ndays.

Display of political intelligence: First, he persuaded Lady Gaga to\ndeglamorize for the lead in his Oscar-buzzy directorial debut, a remake\nof A Star Is Born. Then he showed an early cut of Star to Steven\nSpielberg and the keepers of Leonard Bernsteins estate to get the\ncomposers music in a biopic that he will star in, direct, and produce.

Disrupting the bottom of the ocean: Andreessen is starting to invest in\nA.I.-related technologies that will eat jobs in the U.S., including\nAtrium, a legal technology firm that plans to replace some lawyers\nduties with machine-learning algorithms.

The after-Lloyd: On October 1, he has a big new job, succeeding Lloyd\nBlankfein to run Goldman Sachs, where hell either keep the powerful\ninvestment bank in its lane or spearhead an expansion to compete better\nwith bigger, more profitable commercial-banking rivals.

Popcorn auteur: With his directorial debut, Get Out, Peele suggested he\nis that rare kind of filmmaker who can captain a box-office hit and\nignite a deep and lasting cultural conversation. At his company,\nMonkeypaw Productions, Peele is extending his idea of popcorn-friendly\ngenre projects into five TV series and multiple movies.

Season of change: Hes heading into the coming election season with a\nnew contract, a new boss, and a mission to keep the fire burning with\nCNNs wall-to-wall coverage of the man Zucker once transformed into a\nbawdy embodiment of reality TV.

Hollywood hitmaker: Coogler just may deliver Disney a rare non-animated\nbest-picture Oscar nomination, for Black Panther, when the nods are\nannounced in January. The Marvel film grossed more than $1.3 billion\nworldwide this year, refuting naysayers who doubted whether the film,\nwith a predominantly black cast, would sell overseas.

Its Shondaland, and were just living in it: The prolific writer and\nshow-runner has decamped to Netflix, lured by a four-year, nine-figure\ndeal that gives her the freedom to put her unique stamp on a slate of\nseries, mini-series, and films.

The media-industry savior: Her primary media project for the next\nseveral years is The Atlantic, which Emerson bought a majority stake in\nlast year. But media gossips cant help wildly speculating about what\nother companies might one day reap the rewards of Powell Jobss\nstrategic beneficence.

The new boss man: As of June, hes the guy in charge of Warner Bros.,\nHBO, CNN, TBS, and a lot more. Not bad for a career phone-company\nexecutive whose name didnt register in media circles just one year ago.

Dont hate the player: This year has been a mixed bag for Tepper. His\nfund lost approximately 10 percent of its value in the second quarter,\nbut hes still worth around $11 billion, and he recently acquired the\nCarolina Panthers football team for a record $2.2 billion.

Power in numbers: When the #MeToo movement took off, a number of\npowerful Hollywood women began holding planning meetings last fall,\neventually expanding their ranks to include more than 300 women in the\nentertainment industry. Times Up has since raised more than $20 million for a sexual-harassment legal-defense fund, re-invented the red carpet as a forum for activism, used its power to push for more inclusion among film critics and entertainment reporters, and has now hired its first C.E.O., Lisa Borders.

And now appearing on the small screen . . . The eminence largely\nbehind Star Wars, Star Trek, and Mission: Impossible is currently\ndirecting Star Wars: Episode IX, and recently joined forces with Tencent\nto launch gaming division Bad Robot Games.

Display of acquisition-philia: Zaslav kicked off the year with\nDiscoverys $12 billion takeover of Scripps Networks, including HGTV,\nthe Food Network, and the Travel Channel. With more M&A on the horizon,\nDiscovery could be seen as a potentially attractive target for a\nmega-merger, itself.

Boy genius: Buterin is worth around $100 million (double that on a good\nday) after co-founding Ethereum, the efficient and blockchain-friendly\ncrypto-currency that banks and financial institutions have fallen in\nlove with.

Investor payoff: Pinault is the first C.E.O. of a fashion conglomerate\nto make sustainability not just a talking point but part of the\ncompanys underlying culture, and has invested heavily in this goal. He\nhas also invested in young talent at the helm of his major houses.

Display of disruptive expertise: Before founding electric-scooter\nupstart Bird, VanderZanden was chief operating officer at Lyft and,\nlater, V.P. of international growth at Uber—jobs that would set him up\nfor the familiar task of dealing with local regulations and bringing new\ntransit options to cities worldwide.

No longer VRBO for millennials: Airbnb launched a luxury-vacation rental\nservice, and has toyed with the idea of starting its own airline. Chesky\nhas eyed 2019 for an I.P.O., but nothings set in stone yet.

The alter-Uber: Now valued at a lofty $15 billion, Lyft has managed to\navoid the negative attention that its primary competitor, Uber,\nregularly attracts. The company is also eyeing an expansion: as of\nAugust, Lyft had surpassed 5,000 driverless BMW rides, and in July the\ncompany acquired bike-share operator Motivate.

Golden-shower glory: The former head of M.I.6s Russia desk compiled the\ninfamous dossier that raised the possibility Donald Trump was vulnerable\nto Russian blackmail. Steele even grew a beard and went into\nhiding—merely adding to his mythic reputation on the left.

Prestige play: After helping to nab almost $2 billion worth of box\noffice in a decade with genre franchises, Blum gained awards cred by\nnotching best-picture Oscar nominations for producing the feature-film\ndebuts of directors Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and Jordan Peele (Get\nOut).

May the Schwarz be with him: For years, Gray has run the\nhyper-successful real-estate portfolio at Blackstone—the\nprivate-equity behemoth with more than $439 billion in assets under\nmanagement—masterminding its buyout of Hilton, one of the most\nsuccessful Wall Street deals ever. Now hes getting what he deserves:\nthe blessing to succeed founder Stephen Schwarzman as the firms C.E.O.

Evidence of brand prowess: The Oscar winners personal brand extends to\nher Draper James lifestyle line, a popular book-of-the-month club, and\nher digital-media company, Hello Sunshine, a joint venture with AT&T\nand Peter Chernin, which just signed TV deals on five series: three with\nApple, one with Hulu, and another with Amazon—all with the central\nfocus of telling female-driven stories.

The Bezos of crypto? If theres one thing that happens very quickly in\nSilicon Valley, its your net worth going from nothing to everything. A\nfew years ago, Armstrong was a software engineer at Airbnb. Now, hes at\nthe forefront of everything to do with crypto-currency and bringing\nBitcoin to the masses after co-founding Coinbase, the app that allows\nyou to buy and sell crypto with the ease of shopping for toilet paper\nand toothpaste on Amazon.

Army of one: Tenacity pays off. In 2016, Palantir, co-founded by Trump\nsupporter Thiel, sued the government over an unfair bidding process in\ntrying to secure defense contracts, and won. Earlier this year, the U.S.\nArmy announced it had awarded Palantir an $876 million contract for\nbattlefield software.

Late-night Trump bump? The comics unflinching nightly takedowns of\nTrump, along with viral monologues and a guest roster that included John\nKerry, Bob Woodward, and Beto ORourke, have helped push his ratings\npast those of his tamer competitors Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel.

The kids are all right: After surviving a harrowing massacre at the\nhands of a lone gunman, Emma González and David Hogg, along with several\nof their peers, organized the March for Our Lives, which drew nearly two\nmillion people, making it one of the largest marches in American\nhistory. Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, and Matt Deitch have helped turn\nit into a movement.

The Insta of China: Tencent, which owns the super-popular app WeChat, is\nthe first Asian-based tech company to hit a $500 billion market cap.

The closer: Netflixs seemingly bottomless checkbook has irritated every\ncompetitor in Hollywood, but its Sarandoss personal salesmanship that\nhas helped close key deals with marquee show-runners such as Shonda\nRhimes and Ryan Murphy, and endear Netflix to skeptical cinéastes like\nAlfonso Cuarón and Martin Scorsese.

No more Clippy: Microsoft has been on a tear since Nadella took over as\nC.E.O., in 2014, and his expansive vision for the company continues to\ntransform its corporate culture. After buying LinkedIn, Nadella resumed\nhis shopping spree this year with the acquisition of code database\nGitHub for $7.5 billion.

One-man Netflix-slayer? AT&Ts bet on Time Warner really comes down to\na gamble on whether Plepler, with millions more in his war chest, can\nrely on his golden gut to out-program Netflixs vaunted algorithm and\nseemingly limitless resources.

The new king of the Street: Thanks to Trumps new tax law, JPMorgan\nChase is rolling in the dough like never before. Last years quarterly\nprofits reached a record of $6.5 billion to $7 billion or so, and\nprofits this year have poured in at more than $8.7 billion every three\nmonths. With the retirement of Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman, Dimon is the\nundisputed king of Wall Street banks.

The only thing people like about Facebook! Not only has Instagram\nmanaged to replicate all the successful parts of Snapchat, but its also\nFacebooks last, best hope: a platform insulated from the data-privacy\nscandals and misinformation that have plagued its parent company.

Lying low: Pichais steady stewardship of Google and relatively low\nprofile have allowed him to sidestep controversies involving the\ncompanys monopolistic power, the proliferation of conspiracy videos on\nYouTube, and an ill-received plan to launch a censored version of its\nsearch engine in China. In the meantime, Google is quietly making a\nmajor push into A.I. and challenging Amazon with its own smart-assistant\ndevice, Google Home.

Outfoxed: Its been a bumpy year for the top two executives of NBC. The\ncompanys news division was rocked by #MeToo scandals, and Roberts had\nto call off Comcasts pursuit of 21st Century Fox when the bidding got\ntoo hot. The good news is that NBC and Comcast were ahead of the game in\nthe M&A frenzy that continues to upend Big Media.

Ulterior motives? At a glance, Murdochs once unimaginable divestiture\nof 21st Century Fox looked like a white flag in Big Medias war with\nSilicon Valley. But look a little closer: the octogenarian mogul gets to\nkeep the things he likes best—Fox News and his global newspaper\nfleet—and it doesnt hurt that he and his brood are set to become\nDisneys second-largest shareholders, either.

Pulitzer Kenny: In addition to his 12 Grammys, 17.8 million albums sold,\nand net worth of $58 million (thanks, partly, to deals with Nike and\nAmerican Express), Lamar this year received a Pulitzer Prize for his\nalbum DAMN., the first non-jazz or classical record to win the award in\nits 75-year history.

Not bad for a failed musician: Ek, who once dreamed of being a musician,\nhas now created the worlds most popular music-streaming platform.\nSpotify, which eschewed the traditional banker-laden pre-I.P.O. road\nshow, is now worth $33 billion, and growing. The next frontier: video.

Post-peak Musk? After years of receiving adulation in the press, Musk\nmade headlines this year for all the wrong reasons. While SpaceX has\ngrown into the worlds most important aerospace company, Musks personal\nbehavior has rattled Wall Street.

Creature of Congress? If Sandberg has aspirations beyond being\nFacebooks number two, she will have to help Zuckerberg fix the most\npowerful social network on earth—especially given whats at stake in\nthe 2018 midterms and 2020 election. Otherwise, she may again find\nherself testifying before Congress.

Mogul-hunting: Their reporting for The New Yorker (Farrow) and The New\nYork Times (Kantor, Twohey) brought down Harvey Weinstein, opened the\nfloodgates of #MeToo journalism, and culminated in a shared Pulitzer\nPrize. Kantor and Twohey signed a high-profile book deal and walked the\nOscars red carpet. Farrow churned out exposés that ended the careers of\nNew York attorney general Eric Schneiderman and CBS C.E.O. Les Moonves.

Globalization and its discontents: Didi has been on a tear since running\nUber out of China in 2016. The company has aggressively expanded its\nride-sharing empire into Mexico, Australia, Japan, and throughout\nSoutheast Asia.

Mister Fantastic: Marvel Studios has released 20 hit films in the past\ndecade, and this year may have its first best-picture contender in Black\nPanther. Expect Feiges power to grow under the coming Disney-Fox\nmerger, which will see popular Fox-licensed characters from the X-Men,\nDeadpool, and Fantastic Four comics united under the Disney banner, and\nFeiges trusted stewardship.

The G.O.A.T.: The winningest player in modern history returned from\npregnancy to reach two Grand Slam finals, redefine motherhood in sports,\nand continue as a board member of SurveyMonkey, all while remaining the\nworlds highest-paid female athlete.

Showtime: When James signed his four-year, $154 million deal to play\nwith the Los Angeles Lakers, some wondered if the move was intended to\nget the four-time N.B.A. M.V.P. closer to Hollywood. His SpringHill\nproduction company, with offices on the Warner Bros. lot, is working on\na remake of House Party and a sequel, Space Jam 2, starring James and\nproduced by Ryan Coogler. James is also involved in TV projects for HBO,\nShowtime, and NBC.

Gravity-free zone: Neither a record-breaking $5 billion fine from\nEuropean regulators nor the presidents constant Twitter barrage could\nimpede Alphabet, Googles parent company, which continues to beat Wall\nStreet expectations as it also creeps toward the vaunted trillion-dollar\nmarket-capitalization threshold.

Übermensch: A little over a year ago, few people in Silicon Valley had\nheard of the Iranian-born entrepreneur running Expedia. But after Uber\nnearly imploded under Travis Kalanick, Khosrowshahi appears to be\nturning around a company that seemed like it was about to crater from\nself-inflicted injuries. Can he stay the course and take Uber public\nnext year?

One hundred billion reasons: With its $100 billion Vision Fund,\nJapanese giant SoftBank has quickly become one of the most powerful\nplayers in tech, muscling out rivals with its massive bets on Uber,\nsemiconductors, and WeWork, among dozens of other companies. Son, the\ncompanys enigmatic founder, has said he expects artificial intelligence\nto surpass humanity within the next 30 years.

The quant: After conquering Trumps Department of Justice to consummate\nhis acquisition of Time Warner, the Dallas-based telecom executive now\nsits atop a war chest of premium film and television programming, from\nHBO to CNN. Its enough to keep AT&Ts 159 million mobile customers\nglued to their smartphones.

The breadwinner: Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z just collaborated on a\n48-date tour in support of their album, Everything Is Love, which is\nexpected to bring in more than $200 million this year. In 2017, Beyoncé\nalone earned more than $100 million, while her performances at\nCoachella, a tribute to historically black colleges, secured her role as\na cultural figure well beyond the realm of music.

Im still C.E.O., bitch! In a year punctuated by a data-privacy scandal,\ndisinformation campaigns, a massive one-day stock capsizing, and growing\nskepticism on Capitol Hill, Zuckerberg, who as a young founder\ninfamously printed cards with the mantra Im CEO, Bitch, continues\nto exercise nearly unchecked power at Facebook.

Returning to higher ground: As the midterms approach, the Obamas have\njust begun tiptoeing back onto the national scene, but they remain as\ninfluential as ever—particularly Michelle, whose forthcoming book,\nBecoming, is the first highly anticipated release in the familys pair\nof multi-million-dollar deals with Penguin Random House and Netflix, and\nwho launched her own get-out-the-vote campaign. The former First Ladys\nupcoming book tour transcends authordom—shes selling out stadiums à\nla Joel Osteen, or Mick Jagger.

Trillion-dollar man: While other tech C.E.O.s were skewered in the\npress for their role in the 2016 election mess, Apple stayed above the\nfray while also becoming the first American company with a\ntrillion-dollar market capitalization. The truth is, we could make a\nton of money if we monetized our customer—if our customer was our\nproduct, Cook recently said, in a veiled reference to Facebook.\nWeve elected not to do that.

A new front in the streaming wars: This time last year, Iger was\nconsidering taking on Trumps divisive rhetoric and running against him\nin 2020. But Igers political ambitions were suspended when he saw the\nopportunity to buy 21st Century Fox, for a cool $71 billion. An\nantidote to AT&Ts $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, the move\nhelped usher Disney into a new era of streaming—and open a new front\nin its battle with Netflix.

Started at the bottom . . . : Hastings founded Netflix two decades\nago with a thesis that consumers would one day stream billions of hours\nof content over the Internet. Now the company has a market\ncapitalization of $160 billion and recently beat out HBO on Emmy night for the first time.

Display of Vulcan chess mastery: Antagonism from President Trump and\nBernie Sanders notwithstanding, Bezos has continued to grow both his\npersonal wealth (he recently overtook Bill Gates as the worlds richest\nperson) and the value of his company, which hovers around the\ntrillion-dollar mark.

Evidence of institutional inscrutability: The unofficial hero of the\nanti-Trump resistance, and the avatar of American institutionalism, may\nor may not satisfy the appetite of an electorate searching for answers\nabout what really went down between the Trump campaign and Russia. But\nMueller, and his nearly three dozen indictments and guilty pleas, is\nproof of the power of the law.

Reporting by Nick Bilton, Maya Kosoff, Joe Pompeo, Gabriel Sherman, William D. Cohan, Abigail Tracy, Emily Jane Fox, Bess Levin, Tina Nguyen, Claire Landsbaum, Ben Landy, Krista Smith, Anna Lisa Raya, Joy Press, Rebecca Keegan, and Yohana Desta.

Given that the guy running the place is a former neurosurgeon with no housing, executive, or government experience who thinks poverty is a state of mind, you might expect the Department of Housing and Urban Development, under Ben Carsons stewardship, to place less of an emphasis on employees having a clue what theyre doing than in times past. And, as it turns out, you would expect correctly!

According to an investigation by The Washington Post, at least 24 people hired at the agency since Donald Trumps inauguration have zero housing-policy experience, with 16 seemingly given high-paying positions because they worked on either Trumps or Carsons presidential campaigns. Among them, five extra lucky individuals are political operatives whove enjoyed promotions and pay hikes, three of whom did not list bachelors degrees on their résumés. But what these people lack in relevant experience, theyve made up for in hamstringing the departments ability to serve the needs of low-income families:

The lack of experience in a chronically understaffed agency brought even routine work to a halt for much of Carsons first year at HUD because none of the appointees felt comfortable signing off on grants and technical guidance, according to career staffers.

Theres a huge learning curve getting leadership up to the point where they are willing to make a decision on something because they just dont understand the concepts, said a longtime career staffer who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of fear of retaliation.

In addition to bringing normal functions to a grinding halt, appointees lack of experience—and in some cases, complete contempt for the mission of the agency—has led to them pursuing initiatives that arent grounded in reality, according to Ron Ashford, who served as director of HUDs public-housing supportive-service programs for 22 years. One of those initiatives was a proposal in April to triple the minimum rent paid by the nations poorest families, and to make it easier for housing authorities to enforce stricter work requirements for people receiving government benefits. The plan, according to the Post, was driven by special policy adviser Ben Hobbs, who has no experience as a policymaker, but spent five months studying as a poverty consultant at the Charles Koch Institute in 2013. Luckily, Hobbss total lack of know-how resulted in HUD backing off the proposal just two months later. As an ideologue, he wanted to institute his grandiose concept, said a former HUD official. This policy was dead on arrival because it was rolled out poorly.

Elsewhere, a conservative commentator and software developer turned senior adviser to Carson—who spread a conspiracy theory on Twitter that Hillary Clintons campaign chairman had taken part in a satanic ritual—is reportedly pulling down a cool $131,767 a year, despite having zero housing experience and a belief that government benefits hurt the poor. In a statement, a spokesman for HUD—which did not dispute the Posts salary findings—said that appointing people with varying experiences to government is not unusual and makes HUD a more dynamic organization.

We dont know of any workers who destroyed the U.S. economy with fraudulent esoteric credit products, Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the union that represents Nevada cocktail and food servers, told the Review Journal after Cohn blamed waitress in Vegas for the financial crisis. But we hope that former and current Wall Street bankers like Mr. Cohn will remember and always be reminded of the great harm they caused to millions of homeowners and workers when they recklessly and irresponsibly sold all sorts of risky financial weapons of mass destruction and fattened their own wallets with fees, commissions, and bonuses while we the taxpayers, bailed out the big banks that were too big to fail.

A survey commissioned by the Republican National Committee has led the party to a glum conclusion regarding President Donald Trumps signature legislative achievement: Voters overwhelmingly believe his tax overhaul helps the wealthy instead of average Americans.

By a 2-to-1 margin—61 percent to 30 percent—respondents said the law benefits large corporations and rich Americans over middle-class families, according to the survey, which was completed on September 2 by the G.O.P. firm Public Opinion Strategies and obtained by Bloomberg News.

The study also revealed that Americans worry the tax cuts will result in cuts to Social Security and Medicare, a fear we cant possibly figure out the genesis of.

The head of the worlds biggest money manager says U.S. stands to lose big long term in the trade war (CNBC)

Trump said his tax cuts would bring $5 trillion into the U.S. We have 97 percent to go. (The Washington Post)

Trump complains about lack of funding for border wall in ridiculous spending bill (The Washington Post)

Since journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey on October 2 and was never seen again, credible—some might call it compelling!—evidence has emerged that Crown Prince Mohammed Bone Saw bin Salman may have personally ordered a 15-man operation that resulted in the Saudi dissident being killed and dismembered. When Donald Trump finally got around to commenting on the matter last week, it was to tell reporters that he has no plans to send a message that those sorts of things are unacceptable to the U.S., and to wonder aloud whether the fuss was even merited, on account of Khashoggi not even being a U.S. citizen (he is a permanent resident of Virginia). On Monday, though, perhaps sensing that he needed to do more to justify his refusal to punish the kingdom, the president took a new-yet-familiar tack: he explained that King Salman—ole Bone Saws octogenarian father—had denied the allegations to him personally, and that theres no reason whatsoever not to trust the guy.

Speaking to reporters en route to visit areas destroyed by Hurricane Michael while he hit the links, Trump relayed the news that hed had a nice chat with the king, who assured him that Saudi Arabia definitely had nothing to do with Khashoggis disappearance, despite claims by Turkey that there is audio and visual evidence of Khashoggi being killed inside the consulate. Of course, taking Salman at his word despite evidence to the contrary is the same move Trump pulled in Helsinki last summer, where he explained that there was no reason to believe multiple U.S. intelligence agencies charges of Russian election meddling because Vladimir Putin himself had denied it, and there was simply no way the ex-K.G.B. agent would have lied.

On Monday, though, Trump took things one step further, not only parroting Saudi Arabias denial but offering up an alternative theory on the kingdoms behalf re: what might have happened to the Washington Post columnist. I dont want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers, Trump told reporters. Coincidentally, thats the same theory the kingdom was apparently planning to float in order to shield M.B.S. (who probably knows a lot more about the situation than his father anyway) from blame.

The presidents comments opened a window for King Salman and Prince Mohammed to stand by their denials of involvement in Mr. Khashoggis disappearance.

Seasoned observers of Middle East politics, including some at senior levels of the Turkish government, have speculated for days about the likelihood that the royal court would seek to accuse a rogue operator within the Saudi security services of killing Mr. Khashoggi.

Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, wrote in a Twitter post on Monday that he had heard the Saudis were pushing a rogue killers theory and called it extraordinary that the kingdom was able to get the president on board.

In fact, mere hours after Trump put it out there that a killing may have occurred, but not in a way that would make the crown prince look bad, CNN learned that the Saudis are said to be preparing a report that will acknowledge . . . Jamal Khashoggis death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong, one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey, according to two sources. One source says the report will likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and transparency and that those involved will be held responsible.

You see? It was merely an attempted kidnapping gone wrong! Lots of people have bone saws handy when theyre performing interrogations! No reason for anyone to get their panties in a bunch, these things happen all the time! Its unclear if the forthcoming report will explain why Saudi Arabia flatly denied any knowledge of anything Khashoggi-related for nearly two weeks before changing the narrative to O.K., we killed him, but it was an accident, but thats probably neither here nor there.

Last week, as it became clear that a photo op with Mohammed bin Salman wouldnt be the best look, corporate directors, media conglomerates, and Silicon Valley executives began dropping out of the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, a conference put on by the Saudi government thats scheduled to take place next week, and thats better known as Davos in the Desert. But one group of people was more reluctant to cancel their trips: Wall Street C.E.O.s, most of whom were still slated to attend as of Friday rather than threaten some extremely lucrative relationships. Finding themselves stuck between a rock and a bone saw, a trio of top executives reportedly attempted to come up with a plan B, per *The New York Times:*

Over the weekend, [JPMorgan C.E.O. Jamie] Dimon consulted by telephone with two other powerful Wall Street executives, the head of BlackRock, Laurence D. Fink, and Blackstone Groups chief, Stephen Schwarzman, said two people familiar with the conversations. All three depend on the kingdom for revenue.

Mr. Dimon, Mr. Fink, and Mr. Schwarzman pressed Saudi officials to postpone the event, the two people said. The three executives and their staffs reached out to the Treasury Department and urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to press for the event to be postponed or to publicly make his attendance conditional on more disclosure from the Saudis about Mr. Khashoggis disappearance.

When that failed, Dimon pulled out of the conference on Sunday night, and Fink and Schwarzman followed suit on Monday morning. Obviously, though, deciding not to attend F.I.I. and ending their business relationship with Saudi Arabia are two very different things:

President Donald Trump said that Sears Holdings Corp. had been mismanaged for years before it declared bankruptcy. Among those responsible for its management: his Treasury secretary.

Steven Mnuchin was a member of Searss board from 2005 until December 2016, and before that was a director for K-Mart Corp., which was acquired by Sears in 2005.

Sears has been dying for many years, Trump told reporters on Monday. Its been obviously improperly run for many years and its a shame. He did not say whether hed discussed the matter with Mnuchin, or whether hed asked the Treasury secretary, who was college roommates with Sears chairman Eddie Lampert, if he was applying the same business know-how to the management of the U.S. economy.

Not so much for U.S. factories, but like the old saying goes, you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet . . . or in this case, to destroy the companies your tariffs were supposed to be helping. Per *The Wall Street Journal:*

The latest tariffs, a 10 percent levy on $200 billion of Chinese imports, including bicycles and bicycle parts, took effect in September and are slated to rise to 25 percent at year end. In all, the U.S. has levied tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports, from steel and aluminum to bamboo furniture and luggage. China has responded with tariffs on $110 billion of U.S. exports.

Companies that have brought manufacturing back to the U.S. say tariffs are raising their costs and making them less competitive. Its hard to build things here, said Manville Smith, a vice president at JL Audio Inc. It would be nice if our government would help us, not hurt us.

Mr. Smith and other smaller manufacturers said they are disadvantaged under the current tariff rules. Chinese-made finished goods that use the same components often can enter the U.S. from China without paying these duties. So, a Chinese loudspeaker avoids the tariffs, but one assembled at JL Audios facility in Florida faces a 25 percent duty on key parts next year. A European loudspeaker would also avoid the tariffs, even if it used Chinese components.

Former Instagram C.E.O. on why he quit Facebook: No one ever leaves a job because its awesome (CNBC)

Starting on Sunday night, and then throughout Mondays news cycle, you could almost hear a collective sigh emanating across Wall Street—private equity, financial managers, bankers, and various sub-industries that make money from money. Their momentary relief corresponded with the emergence of the seemingly exculpatory narrative being patched together in real time by Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, and Donald Trump, the American president, regarding what really happened to Jamal Khashoggi, the apparently murdered Washington Post columnist. Rogue killers inside the Saudi embassy in Istanbul? Really? What bone saw? What cleaning crew?

This narrative, of course, wasnt persuasive enough to provide cover to many Wall Street executives headed to M.B.S.s forthcoming tentpole, the Future Investment Initiative, known as Davos in the Desert and scheduled for next week. In September, Jamie Dimon, the chairman and C.E.O. of JPMorgan Chase, had said how much he was looking forward to attending the Riyadh conference. He was eager to discuss the growing importance of technology in business. Artificial intelligence, big data, and machine learning are helping JPMorgan Chase reduce risk and fraud, upgrade service, improve underwriting, and enhance marketing across the firm, he was quoted as saying on the F.I.I. Web site. We know technology has been a great force, and for the benefit of all of us, that force should not be left unleashed. Regardless, as Andrew Ross Sorkin reported in The New York Times, Dimon pulled the plug on Sunday night. So did Larry Fink, the C.E.O. of BlackRock, and Steve Schwarzman, the founder and C.E.O. of Blackstone, the following day. (Sorkin, himself, announced that he wasn't going last week.) The names of the confirmed attendees are now gone from the F.I.I. Web site.

But, in truth, pulling out of Davos in the Desert is just a public-relations stunt, and it will likely only be a matter of time before Wall Street returns to the desert and doing business with M.B.S. and the Saudis. The rogue killers narrative, while not persuasive now, may eventually allow business leaders a shielding talking point with which to facilitate future endeavors. The point of the bullshit Saudi story isnt for you to believe it, the truth-telling journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted Monday night. They know you know its false. The point is to give some kind of cover to all the business, political, and media elites (including the U.S. Govt) to continue to do business with them once the rage dissipates.

Theres simply too much money at stake for Wall Street to take a principled stand—the sort of posture that it has never been very good at assuming, anyway. Does anyone really think that Wall Street will now permanently walk away from the Saudis, given that for years few objections were loudly voiced as they waged a ruthless war against the Yemenis? JPMorgan Chase has been doing business with the Saudis for some 80 years. The firm appears to have an early lead on the much-coveted Aramco initial-public offering, which could be a $200 billion I.P.O., with underwriting fees of as much as $1.4 billion, if and when it ever happens. Thats probably not something that Dimon is going to walk away from on principle. Nor will Schwarzman abandon Blackstones much-touted infrastructure fund, which has secured a $20 billion commitment from the Saudis. Finks BlackRock, the worlds largest money manager with $6.4 trillion under management, likely has no intention of abandoning Saudi Arabia either. How do I know? Because Fink said so himself on CNBC Tuesday morning: BlackRock wont run away from doing business with the Saudis even if it turns out that M.B.S. had Khashoggi killed. Ive been going to Saudi for years and years and years, as much as three or four times a year, he said. As a friend of the countrys, I wanted to do this—get out of attending the Future Investment Initiative—in a way . . . that preserved the relationship that we have, that we worked so long for.

Its all just an elaborate charade, designed to let the Khashoggi debacle fade from the headlines so that business can return to usual. Its consistent with what Trump said himself about his decision not to come down harder on the Saudis by supporting economic sanctions as some senators are considering. I know [senators are] talking about different kinds of sanctions, Trump said yesterday but [Saudi Arabia is] spending $110 billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs, like jobs and others for this country. I dont like the concept of stopping an investment of $110 billion into the United States. It doesnt even matter that the $110 billion figure is a proven exaggeration.

No less a bellwether of American capitalism than Goldman Sachs finds itself at the white-hot center of the Saudi dilemma. While neither the new Goldman C.E.O. David Solomon nor his new deputy John Waldron were planning to go to Riyadh for the summit, Solomon did make a point of having a 40-minute visit with M.B.S. in May, during one of his first overseas trips as C.E.O.-in-waiting. Hes extremely impressive, Solomon told me in July. Hes got a lot of energy. Hes passionate about what hes doing. Hes very, very engaged in what hes trying to accomplish, and hes trying to change his country, which has an impact on the world for the better. He said that Goldman was eager to help the Saudis, with both capital and advice, achieve the vision that M.B.S. laid out in his 2030 Vision plan to reduce the countrys dependence on fossil fuels. Solomon was also in Jeddah, in July, to meet with Saudi cabinet ministers to engage in a further discussion about the 2030 goals. We, like others, are definitely re-assessing, Jake Siewert, Goldmans head of communications, e-mailed me yesterday. Will keep you posted on that. We have at least one mandate there.

Two days after Donald Trumps election, Jamal Khashoggi returned to the Red Sea port city of Jeddah from Washington where hed given a foreign-policy talk lightly critical of then president-elect Trump, when he received a phone call from the media adviser to the kingdoms ascendent deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, better known by his initials M.B.S. He said, Youre not allowed to tweet or write your column or give comments to foreign journalists, Khashoggi recalled to me in March 2018. I was ordered silent.

As a member of the Saudi elite for decades, Khashoggi understood that political expression had strict limits in the kingdom, but M.B.S.s apparent determination to quell even mild dissent on foreign soil left Khashoggi unnerved. Ten months later, in September 2017, he fled to Washington. I began to feel whatever narrow space I had in Saudi Arabia was getting narrower. I thought it would be better to get out and be safe, he told me.

I initially contacted Khashoggi for a prospective article about the young princes relationship to the White House, which I shelved because he was one of the few people who would speak openly. When he left Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi told me, he didnt see himself in the mold of a dissident. Hed been editor-in-chief of the Saudi newspaper Al Watan and a media adviser to Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabias ambassador to Britain. Moreover, he wanted M.B.S. to succeed. He truly wants to make Saudi Arabia great again. But he is doing it the wrong way, Khashoggi told me.

But a month after his departure from the kingdom, Khashoggis view of M.B.S. fundamentally changed. Saudi security services arrested scores of prominent businessmen and imprisoned them inside the Ritz-Carlton under the guise of an anti-corruption crackdown. Khashoggi soon began hearing from friends in Saudi Arabia that prisoners were coerced, in some cases tortured, into turning over billions of dollars to the government. It was tough. Some were insulted. Some were hit. Some claim they were electrocuted, he said. The purge, which also included intellectuals, media personalities, and moderate clerics, convinced Khashoggi that M.B.S. had sold himself as a reformer when in fact he was a brutal authoritarian. When the arrests started happening, I flipped. I decided it was time to speak, he told me.

Khashoggi subsequently landed a column in The Washington Post where he wrote critically about M.B.S.s internal power grab; his reckless military intervention in neighboring Yemen, where he has created a humanitarian emergency; and the princes bizarre plot to kidnap Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri. Saudi Arabia wasnt a free society, but people werent being arrested like this, he said. The people M.B.S. arrested were not radicals. The majority were reformers for womens rights and open society. He arrested them to spread fear. He is replacing religious intolerance with political closure. An adviser to one prominent Saudi businessman who was arrested told me: People are scared. It has become a bit of a police state.

Tragically, Khashoggis self-imposed exile didnt keep him safe. Earlier this month, Khashoggi entered Saudi Arabias consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents he needed for his upcoming wedding and never emerged. Turkish officials have told Western journalists that a kill team of 15 Saudi agents detained Khashoggi inside the consulate, tortured him to death, and dismembered his body with a bone saw. M.B.S. and his father, King Salman, have denied their involvement in Khashoggis disappearance, but already the grisly episode has damaged M.B.S.s ambitions to cultivate global elites. A parade of C.E.O.s including Ubers Dara Khosrowshahi, JPMorgan Chases Jamie Dimon, and BlackRocks Larry Fink have canceled plans to attend an investment conference hosted by M.B.S. next week at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton dubbed Davos in the Desert, though Fink, at least, has said hell maintain his business ties to the kingdom.

Khashoggi and I spoke last March during M.B.S.s three-week tour of the United States that was designed to cement M.B.S.s image on the global stage as an avatar of a modern Middle East. In the Times, Tom Friedman wrote a column gushing that M.B.S. possessed a fire hose of new ideas about transforming his country . . . who talks the language of tech, and whose biggest sin may be that he wants to go too fast. One media C.E.O. who met with the prince on his visit praised the princes plans to allow women to drive and movie theaters to open. M.B.S. was feted by the Trump administration, Rupert Murdoch, Jeff Bezos, and even Oprah.

The elites embrace of M.B.S. had been one of the chief foreign-policy goals of the Trump White House, particularly Jared Kushner. Saudi Arabia was crucial to Kushners yet-to-be-released Middle East peace plan that involved building a Sunni-Israeli alliance to broker peace with the Palestinians and counter an expansionist Iran. Jared had a vision from the very beginning, a former West Wing official said. Kushners support for M.B.S. at times bordered on blind faith. In November 2017, the Post reported that Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh just days before the Ritz arrests began and stayed up several nights discussing strategy with M.B.S. til 4 A.M. (The White House declined to comment.)

Kushners bromance with M.B.S. generated criticism from Trumps national security team, especially former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Tillerson said, The kids a rookie, he doesnt know the region. He was beyond dismissive, a former West Wing official said. Another former West Wing official recalled: There were many confrontations between Tillerson and Jared where Tillerson was emotionally angry that Jared was in contact with M.B.S. I remember in a couple of instances, Tillerson would confront Jared about directly talking to M.B.S. Rex felt out of loop. (Tillerson did not respond to a request for comment.)

Diplomats who served in the region also question Kushners logic of investing so much in an untested and impulsive young royal. Ive taken to calling M.B.S. a progressive authoritarian. Hes using this anti-corruption push toward cleaning up but also removing rivals, said Robert Jordan, who served as George W. Bushs ambassador to Saudi Arabia after 9/11.

Yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Riyadh to diffuse the global crisis over Khashoggis death—a State Department spokesperson said in a statement that he conveyed the importance of conducting a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation in meetings with both M.B.S. and King Salman. As of now, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin still plans to attend the conference at the Ritz.

On Friday, after a week of reports appearing to confirm the widely held suspicion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Turkish authorities seemingly drove the nail into the coffin, claiming to have audio and visual evidence that the Saudi dissident—a U.S. resident— was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul just over a week ago. The footage, per CNN, shows that there had been an assault and a struggle inside the consulate and, crucially, the moment that Khashoggi was killed. But while the president of the United States appears relatively unmoved by the prospect of his pal M.B.S. murdering a member of the press, the business community is a bit more torn!

In one corner, you have executives who are sufficiently horrified by what allegedly went down at the Saudi consulate that theyre abandoning plans to do business with Saudi Arabia, which the crown prince has pledged to open up to foreign investment. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has suspended talks with the country about a proposed $1 billion investment in the companys space ventures, and is stepping down from his position as director of two Saudi tourism projects. Uber C.E.O. Dara Khosrowshahi has said he wont participate in a major investor conference, Future Investment Initiative, which is set to take place in the kingdom later this month. Its a somewhat ballsy move considering the Saudi sovereign wealth fund sunk $3.5 billion into the ride-hailing start-up in 2016, and companies are generally loathe to criticize major shareholders (although Uber didnt have much to say when M.B.S. was merely locking up cousins and starving Yemen). Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments, resigned from the conferences advisory board on Thursday, while Silicon Valley executives Dan Doctoroff, Sam Altman, and Tim Brown have also said theyll stop helping with the crown princes futuristic smart city, called Neom, that the Saudis have been trying to build in the desert.

But not everyone is taking the moral stand the Trump administration wont. In yet another corner, you have executives who apparently need a lot more evidence—a body, perhaps, or a signed confession by the crown prince—before theyre willing to alienate a potentially extremely lucrative source of revenue. According to the Huffington Post, those still slated to attend the F.I.I. conference—known as Davos in the Desert—include T.P.G. Capital chairman David Bonderman, BlackRock C.E.O. Larry Fink, Blackstone C.E.O. Stephen Schwarzman, and JPMorgan C.E.O. Jamie Dimon, whose spokesperson wouldnt let him answer questions about his attendance during a Friday conference call with reporters.

Naturally, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, whose boss is refusing to punish M.B.S., wouldnt miss this thing for the world:

The electric-car maker submitted a trademark application on October 8 for Teslaquila, describing the planned product as a distilled agave liquor. It was filed as based on intent to use, which means Tesla doesnt have the product ready just yet. The company needs to actually be making a product to obtain the trademark.

He did not say if the company plans to expand into the cannabis business, but considering a weed joke was the alleged catalyst for him being stripped of his chairmanship, perhaps its in the offing!

From the people who brought you coal plants should self-regulate, the atmosphere could use more methane gas, we dont need no stinking Paris climate accord, lets hear it for asbestos, and a little radiation is good for you comes we like our air unbreathable, thankyouverymuch, per The New York Times:

An Environmental Protection Agency panel that advises the agencys leadership on the latest scientific information about soot in the atmosphere is not listed as continuing its work next year, an E.P.A. official said.

The 20-person Particulate Matter Review Panel, made up of experts in microscopic airborne pollutants known to cause respiratory disease, is responsible for helping the agency decide what levels of pollutants are safe to breathe. Agency officials declined to say why the E.P.A. intends to stop convening the panel next year, particularly as the agency considers whether to revise air quality standards.

Critics like Gretchen Goldman, research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the Times this is part of a pattern of the E.P.A. trying to cut science out of the process, while supporters of Trumps climate-destroying agenda were simply content to gloat over the good fortune of having a president in office who understands that keeping the air safe to breathe is some Commie bullshit. Apparently it seems the enviros still dont understand that elections have consequences, said Thomas Pyle, president of a think tank that supports fossil fuels.

Chinas trade surplus with the United States surged to a record high of $34.13 billion in September, compared with $31.05 billion in August, Chinese customs data showed on Friday . . . Chinas large trade surplus with the United States has long been a sore point with Washington and is at the center of an increasing bitter dispute between the worlds two biggest economies.

President Trump is on track this year to preside over the new record for the largest trade deficit in the history of U.S.-China relations, beating the record that was set under his watch last year, Ryan Hass, a China expert at the Brookings Institution, told Vox. Trump chose during the presidential campaign to use the trade deficit as a measure of success, and by that measure, his strategy is failing.

Its an extensive list of stuff, the JPMorgan C.E.O. said Friday during a call with reporters, naming Trumps trade war with China, Brexit, flare-ups across Europe, and the unwinding of bond-purchasing programs by central banks all over the world. Im just pointing that out. No one should be surprised if it happens down the road.

Earlier this week, following reports that the U.S. and China were trying to re-start talks aimed at averting a full-blown trade war, our very stable genius in chief threatened to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent. To the surprise of exactly no one, China hit back, announcing Friday that it would slap its own tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. exports in retaliation, at rates of 5, 10, 20, and 25 percent, targeting more than 5,200 types of products, including biodiesel, liquefied natural gas, copper, textiles, gin, furniture, lamb, honey, and sporting equipment. Saying the U.S. side has repeatedly escalated the situation despite the interests of both enterprises and consumers, the Ministry of Commerce added that China has to take necessary countermeasures to defend the countrys dignity and the interests of the people, defend free trade and the multilateral system, and defend the common interests of all countries in the world. At this point, U.S. businesses, suffering layoffs and the possibility of going under, fear there is no end in sight for the conflict between the worlds two largest economies. And National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlows response to Chinas counterattack would suggest they are correct!

Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Friday, Kudlow mocked Beijings latest move, saying, $60 billion is a weak response to our 200 [billion dollars], and adding, Id hate to challenge the Chinese. Not. Then he called the Chinese economy lousy, saying that while the American economy is doing great, Chinas is in trouble, as its economy is lousy, investors are walking out, the currency is falling. Apparently worried he hadnt come off quite as antagonistic as he was hoping, Kudlow threw in that foreign investors dont want to be in China. I noticed today that Japans stock market is now worth more than Chinas—I love that. He wrapped things up like a mafia consigliere sending a message from his Don, telling reporters that China better not underestimate President Trumps determination to follow through on our asks.

All in all, a really great performance at a time when farmers and other industries getting screwed by the administrations trade policies are begging Team Trump to fix the mess of its own making. The big concern for business is were caught in the middle of all this, Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, told Politico. Michael Snow, the executive director of the American Hardwood Export Council, said Chinas retaliatory threat to slap levies on products like U.S. hardwood could be . . . very, very painful.

And remember, Kudlow is supposed to be the semi-sane one in the White House, at least when it comes to free trade. That hes basically one step away from piloting a skywriting plane and spelling out Is that all you bitches got? over Chinas Ministry of Commerce cannot be a good sign.

A 25 percent tariff on automotive imports, which is just a tax on consumers, would increase the cost of every vehicle sold in the country, Toyota said in a statement on Friday, warning that some of its most popular cars, assembled in the U.S., would cost up to an extra $3,000 a pop should Trump hit imported auto parts and vehicles with levies. This is not helping those blue-collar workers who voted for Trump, Kelley Blue Book executive analyst Rebecca Lindland told CNBC. Renegotiating NAFTA is long overdue. But slapping tariffs on an inflexible industry is not protecting American jobs, American investors, or American consumers.

The presidents New York hotel experienced two years of declining revenue between 2016 and 2018. Enter: some deep-pocketed friends in high places!

What caused the [13 percent] uptick at President Trumps flagship hotel in New York? One major factor: a last-minute visit to New York by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, wrote general manager Prince A. Sanders in a May 15 letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post. . . . The previously unreported letter—describing a five-day stay in March that was enough to boost the hotels revenue for the entire [first] quarter—shows how little is known about the business that the presidents company does with foreign officials.

In related news, late last month a judge said an emoluments suit against Trump related to his Washington hotel could move forward, writing that sole or substantial ownership of a business that receives hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars a year in revenue from one of its hotel properties where foreign and domestic governments are known to stay (often with the express purpose of cultivating the presidents good graces) most definitely raises the potential for undue influence.

Glad to see that visit with the Queen—which Trump wants you to know she was late for, not him, despite actual footage showing her waiting—paid off.

Kenan Thompson, the longest-running member of the Saturday Night Live cast, may be eyeing an exit from the show. Though hes repeatedly said he is not looking for an out, hes set to star in single-camera NBC comedy Saving Larry as of this week. Its a show by Thompsons current boss, Lorne Michaels, and Superstore writer Jackie Clarke about a single father left to raise his kid after his wife dies, and his father-in-law is there, too, per The Hollywood Reporter.*

The show would have to get a pilot and from there a series for Thompson to make a clean break from his S.N.L. home, but its at least a sign that his feelers are out, and hes open to life after sketch comedy. NBC orders its series in May, so even if it does get picked up, hell almost certainly stick through the current season of S.N.L., which will be his 16th. Last year he broke Darrell Hammonds record to become the longest-serving S.N.L. cast member in history.

Thompson has done guest spots in projects like Maya & Marty and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but his main hustle since 2003 has been S.N.L. This summer he told Vanity Fair, Everybody wants to be a solid performer on here, you know? I look up to Phil Hartman and Will Ferrell as two of the greatest who have ever done it, as far as reviews are concerned—but we all know certain individuals names because of their time there, and when they did it right, theyre the ones that are household names. I want people to say that I did it right. This year he received his first Emmy nomination for his work on the show, and won his first Emmy as a writer for the song Come Back Barack:

All good things must come to an end, but it cant feel so bad if theres a golden statue to make the exit with you.

On the heels of an explosive story detailing years of tax avoidance, tax dodging, and apparent outright tax fraud by his father-in-law, over the weekend it was Jared Kushners turn to have his payments to the I.R.S.—or lack thereof!— scrutinized by The New York Times. According to reporters Jesse Drucker and Emily Flitter, what the First Son-in-Law lacks in I.Q. he makes up for in shrewd accountants and attorneys whove employed various tax-minimizing maneuvers that have allowed the Boy Prince of New Jersey to pay virtually no federal taxes over the past decade, despite his wealth quintupling to nearly $324 million over that period—maneuvers that exist solely for a particular strain of wealthy people known as real-estate investors. Its good to be the scion of a slumlord empire!

Per the paper of record, Kushners exceedingly low tax bills resulted from depreciation, a tax benefit that allows developers like him and the president to deduct a portion of the cost of their buildings from their taxable income each year, generating paper losses. Despite the fact that the White House advisers family business, Kushner Companies, has been profitable and generated millions in cash annually for young Jared, the depreciation deduction—which assumes buildings decline in value when in fact they often gain—has basically let him decide what his tax bill should be. And it may or may not surprise you to hear he often thought his federal tax bill should be zero, or in some cases, that the government ought to pay him. A fun example of the latter came in 2015, when Kushner made $1.7 million from salary and investment gains but, thanks to $8.3 million in losses and a gross-adjusted income of negative $6.6 million, received a $4,000 refund, or roughly the cost of a round-trip business-class ticket from New York to Riyadh.

Unlike his father-in-law, or his dad Charles Kushner, who went to jail for tax evasion (among other things), theres no evidence that Kushner did anything illegal when it comes to his taxes, but simply employed high-priced professionals to exploit highly lucrative loopholes that are there for the taking for people like him. But thats not the best part! The best part is that Jared was able to claim losses on properties he didnt even buy with his own cash, and in fact, in most cases, for which he paid less than 1 percent of the purchase price: an amount that was usually covered by loans. In other words, Ivankas husband was getting tax-reducing losses for spending someone elses money. Actually, we take it back—thats not the best part. Its definitely good—paying taxes is for poor schlubs—but the best part is probably that Jared and Trump have set themselves up to screw the I.R.S. even harder next year, and, god-willing, for years to come:

The White House last year championed a sweeping revision of the nations tax laws that expanded many of the benefits enjoyed by real-estate investors, allowing them to reap even larger deductions.

The Trump administration was in a position to clean up the tax code and promised to get rid of some of the complexity that certain taxpayers use to their advantage, said Victor Fleischer, a tax-law professor at the University of California-Irvine. Instead, they doubled down on those provisions, particularly the ones they have familiarity with to benefit themselves.

(In a uniquely evil twist, the legislation eliminated a benefit that allows investors to avoid capital-gains taxes on asset sales if they use the proceeds to buy more within a certain timeframe—for all industries except real estate.)

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Jareds lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said the documents obtained [by the Times were] in violation of the law and standard business-confidentiality agreements, while adding that Kushner properly filed and paid all taxes due under the law and regulations. Larry Kudlow, the White Houses National Economic Council director who believes the answer to all of lifes problems is tax cuts, brushed Kushner criticism aside during a Sunday interview on ABC, saying that these stories [dont] have anything to them, and Americans respect success. Meanwhile, Jonathan Blattmachr, a trusts and estates lawyer, told the Times: If I had to live my life over again, I would have been in the real-estate business. Its fantastic. You get tax deductions for things you dont pay for.

In a life filled with uncertainty, there are a few things you can always count on. First, that death comes for everyone. Second, that the current president of the United States will call an adult-film star he paid to keep quiet about an alleged affair horseface on social media. And third, that after passing a $1.5 trillion tax cut they insisted would pay for itself and then some, Republicans would blame social services like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security for exploding deficits and debt and insist that such entitlements, sadly, have got to go.

As a reminder, the Grand Old Party put on a big show of pretending to care about fiscal responsibility when Barack Obama was in office and mouth-watering tax cuts werent on the line. Only one thing can save this country, and thats to get a handle on this deficit-and-debt issue, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted after the 44th president won his second term. The federal fiscal burden threatens the security, liberty, and independence of our nation, the Republican Party platform warned in 2016. Youre bankrupting our grandchildren! was a common refrain, as were proclamations such as, I wont endorse a bill that adds one penny to the deficit! Then Donald Trump won the election, and all those worries about crippling the next generation and the country going to hell in a handbasket vanished overnight—almost as though it was feigned in the first place!—with Republicans not only demanding that Congress pass a deficit-busting piece of legislation so that the president and his children could pay even fewer taxes than they already do, but maintaining—laws of math, physics, time and space be damned—that the bill once known as the Cut Cut Cut Act would actually help shrink the deficit.

But as the G.O.P. surely knew, that was never going to happen. Instead, as we learned this week, the U.S. budget deficit increased to $779 billion for the fiscal year, a 17 percent increase from the year prior, which is extra bad considering the economy is doing well, a scenario in which the federal deficit typically falls. Luckily, Mitch McConnell knows exactly who and what to blame:

Its disappointing, but its not a Republican problem, McConnell said Tuesday in an interview with Bloomberg News when asked about the rising deficits and debt. Its a bipartisan problem: unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future.

The real drivers of debt, according to McConnell, are Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, entitlements from which the Senate majority leader would cut off the old and poor if only he could get Democrats to sign on. (Thats probably unlikely to happen, given Nancy Pelosis statement today that, Like clockwork, Republicans in Congress are setting in motion their plan to destroy the Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security that seniors and families rely on, just months after they exploded the deficit by $2 trillion with their tax scam for the rich, and Chuck Schumers that suggesting cuts to middle-class programs like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid as the only fiscally responsible solution to solve the debt problem is nothing short of gaslighting.)

McConnells take on the situation echoes that of the White House, whose National Economic Council director, Larry Kudlow, said last month that he doesnt buy the argument that tax cuts increase the deficit, and that the real problem is principally spending too much. (Kudlow, who has a penchant for never being right about anything, also claimed in June that the deficit was coming down rapidly.) Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was even more blunt while telling his assessment to CNN last week, People are going to want to say the deficit is because of the tax cuts. Thats not the real story. (The report out of his own department suggests otherwise.) Incidentally, in June, reports circulated that the Trump administration was trying to figure out a workaround to cut another $100 billion from the tax bills of the wealthiest Americans, and in late September, House Republicans passed a piece of legislation that would add more than $600 billion to the debt over the next decade. Neither measure will come to fruition, but on the off-chance that one does, were sure McConnell stands ready to blame the poor and elderly freeloaders who clearly hate America.

Trump: Saudi Arabia being falsely accused of murder just like Brett Kavanaugh was falsely accused of sexual assault

I think we have to find out what happened first, the president told the Associated Press on Tuesday while commenting on the compelling body of evidence that points to Saudi Arabias involvement in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Here we go again with, you know, youre guilty until proven innocent. I dont like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as Im concerned.

Yes, you heard that correctly: Not the special prosecutors Russia investigation, or the trade war with China thats hurting U.S. companies in states that voted for him, or impeachment, but the Federal Reserve, which is run by his hand-picked Fed chair:

Because the Fed is raising rates too fast. And its independent, so I don't speak to him, Trump said in an interview with Fox Business, referring to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. But Im not happy with what hes doing because its going too fast. Because—you look at the last inflation numbers, theyre very low.

Trump has been attacking Powell for several months now over the central bankers decision to raise rates, which President Buy and Sell blamed last week for the two-day market decline. The problem [causing the market drop] in my opinion is Treasury and the Fed, he said at the time. The Fed is going loco and theres no reason for them to do it. Im not happy about it.

The White House directed Perry to prepare immediate steps to stop the loss of retiring coal and nuclear plants more than four months ago, and Trump even interrupted an Ohio fund-raiser in May to order an aide to call Perry to talk about the bailout. He also touted the national security benefits of coal a few months later at another West Virginia speech. . . . But the White House has shelved the plan amid opposition from the presidents own advisers on the National Security Council and National Economic Council, according to four people with knowledge of the discussions.

The problem theyve got is every option they might consider raises the costs for somebody at a time when nobody has an appetite for increased costs anywhere, Bob Coward, co-leader of energy advisory firm MPR Associates, told Politico. I think thats the problem they keep running into. The political will to pay for it is not broadly there enough yet for them. Still, the industry cant be too mad at the president, who ditched the Paris climate accord last year and has pushing to just let coal plants to regulate themselves.

In some ways, Dimon was destined to fill this seat. Born in Queens to a stockbroker father (and stockbrother grandfathers before him), Dimon and his twin brother studied at Tufts University before Jamie went on to Harvard Business School, where he palled around with Steve Burke and Jeffrey Immelt. Years later, Francis Ford Coppola would call him to have lunch, and he thought it was Burke playing a joke on him. (It was, in fact, Coppola, and the two had a three-hour lunch during which The Godfather director told him he was interested in basing a character on him).

But when youre Wall Streets golden boy, it stings extra when the narrative shifts in the other direction, as it did in 2012 when the London Whale cost JPMorgan at least $6 billion in trading losses for a series of huge, embarrassingly risky bets that called the banks management into question. We have egg on our face. We deserve any criticism we get, Dimon told analysts and the media in a conference call soon after.

The trading losses were just part of the criticism Dimon and the bank had to field. There was also the $13-billion settlement with federal and state agencies in 2013 over its pre-crisis mortgage practices. And then there was the Dimon family Christmas card in which the executive, his wife, three daughters, and one son-in-law were seen trashing a pristine penthouse with tennis rackets and balls in an artfully-done panoramic shot. After 10 years at the bank, Dimon, who battled throat cancer in 2014, is still one of the most active, and handsomely paid executives on Wall Street. As his banks stock struggled in a volatile market in early 2016, he invested $26.6 million of his own fortune into the company—a vote of confidence when shareholders needed it. The white knight had returned.

JPMorgan C.E.O. Jamie Dimon has a long history of claiming hes not running for president, despite saying and doing things that make it sound like hes one Saturday morning away from driving a van out to the suburbs and plastering lawn signs all over unwitting residents front yards. For instance, he has described himself at various points as a proud American, a complete patriot, and a patriot before Im the chairman and C.E.O. of JPMorgan. He has put it out there that his priorities in order of most to least important are family first, country second, JPMorgan literally last. He is prone to turns of phrase that would just so happen to make perfect campaign-ad sound bites, such as America is the best country on the planet, and, Theres nothing like this country. It is the shining city on a hill. In September 2016, the words I would love to be president of the United States of America escaped his mouth. Earlier this year, he predicted that Democrats will not have a chance in 2020 unless they find a strong centrist, pro-business, pro-free enterprise [candidate], stopping just short of saying that said candidate should be been born in Queens, raised on the Upper East Side, and possess a full-bodied head of salt-and-pepper hair.

At the time, despite basically claiming hes the only one who can save the Republic from eight years of Donald Trump, a representative from the bank insisted that, Jamie is not running for president. But just so you know, if he was running—which hes totally, definitely not—he would kick Donald Trumps ass from here to Jackson Heights, which by the way was a much rougher neighborhood than Jamaica Estates, if anyone out there is writing origin stories.

I think I could beat Trump, Dimon said Wednesday during an event held at his banks Park Avenue headquarters in New York. Because Im as tough as he is, Im smarter than he is. I would be fine. He could punch me all he wants, it wouldnt work with me. Id fight right back.

[I] said this before Trump was elected. Youre not going to get a wealthy New Yorker elected president. Boy I was dead wrong. And by the way, this wealthy New Yorker [pointing to himself] actually earned his money. It wasn't a gift from Daddy. And I grew up in a poorer part of Queens than he did, but I am a banker. I am part of the elite. He . . . I dont think the American public looks at Trump as part of the elite. They look at him as the upstart who punched the elite in the nose every day. And so I think . . . I think I could beat Trump.

Of course, pointing out that one is smarter than an objectively very stupid man does not necessarily mean that one is running for president. (Nor does being born into a family of stockbrokers make you the salt of the earth.) Within an hour of making his remarks, Dimon released an apologetic statement claiming he was merely speaking theoretically. Im not running for president, he said. Proves I wouldnt make a good politician. I get frustrated because I want all sides to come together to help solve big problems.

Anyway, stay tuned for next week when Dimon—who, incidentally, has handed over more day-to-day responsibilities to his lieutenants—says in an interview with CNBC that his exploratory committee shows voters are hungry for a sixtysomething financial-services employee who can fill out a pair of Wrangler jeans and has talked about opening a bar on the U.E.S. after retiring . . . but hes not running, so shut up about it, ya knuckleheads!

Mick Mulvaney, who as acting director of the C.F.P.B. thought the most important thing he could do was ease restrictions on loan sharks, and who works for a guy who has literally referred to himself as the King of Debt, believes people who arent actively paying down their student debt are destroying the moral fabric of society:

Mulvaney . . . told CNBC there appears to be a disconnect among many college students when it comes to the making of a loan and repaying of a loan.

I think people dont pay as much attention about paying the loan back, Mulvaney told CNBCs Andrew Ross Sorkin on Squawk Box. That worries me from a financial standpoint and a moral standpoint.

If we teach an entire generation of people that the first major loan they take out, they dont have to pay back, Im worried about the long-term impact of that, added Mulvaney, who was accused by a former C.F.P.B. official in August of quashing a report highlighting legally questionable fees charged on college students bank accounts. (According to Mulvaney, the accuser just wanted get his name in the paper.)

Pruitt, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is in discussions to work as a consultant to the Kentucky coal-mining tycoon Joseph W. Craft III, according to two industry executives familiar with the plans.

If Krafts name sounds familiar, its because Pruitt met with him at least seven times during his first 14 months as E.P.A. administrator, and gifted Pruitt with some sweet courtside seats to a University of Kentucky basketball game back in December. While Trumps ethics pledge bars Pruitt from directly lobbying the E.P.A. for five years, theres nothing preventing him from working as a private consultant to Krafts Alliance Resource Partners, advising the company on E.P.A. related matters.

The U.S. economy is expanding at a moderate pace with tight labor-market conditions and rising input costs partly due to trade disruptions, a Federal Reserve survey said.

Tariffs were reported to be contributing to rising input costs, mainly for manufacturers, according to the Fed report, released Wednesday in Washington.

According to Philadelphia Fed, almost two-thirds of businesses polled said that price hikes and/or supply disruptions had already occurred or were anticipated because of tariffs, with a typical response going something like, Tariffs have put us out of business on certain products and are a cloud on every facet of our business planning.

From the guy who brought you sprinklers are an unnecessary waste of money who cares if they might save people in the event of a fire comes no hideous eyesore of mine is going to have Braille in it, thankyouverymuch. Per The Washington Post:

President Trump in the early 1980s asked an architect to remove Braille from planned residential elevators in Trump Tower in New York, saying blind people would not live there, according to a former longtime executive with the Trump Organization.

Barbara Res, a former vice president in charge of construction, made the allegation in an op-ed published Wednesday by the New York Daily News and in a subsequent interview with The Washington Post, in which she said the incident happened in 1980 or 1981 as Trump Tower was being designed.

According to Res, Trump told an architect to get rid of the Braille hed included in designs for elevators in Trump Tower. The architect resisted, saying it would be against the law. Get rid of the (expletive) Braille. No blind people are going to live in Trump Tower. Just do it, Trump allegedly responded, because hes just that much of a colossal prick. (The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hive.)

Novelist who wrote about How to Murder Your Husband charged with murdering her husband (Washington Post)

Yesterday, JPMorgan C.E.O. Jamie Dimon said at a bank event that were he to run for president, he would easily beat Donald Trump on account of being smarter, as tough, and originally from a poorer section of Queens. All of these things are objectively true! But just an hour later, Dimon essentially took it all back, saying in a statement that he should not have said that stuff and that he did so out of frustration because he want[s] all sides to come together to help solve big problems. Given that the whole thing was over in about 60 minutes, and that the president has a Category 2 storm set to deliver catastrophic, life-threatening damage to the Carolinas on this hands, you might have thought he would let this one go. But you would have thought wrong!

To be fair, this was just one of several unhinged tweets the president sent this morning, the others being an attack on law enforcement; a claim of collusion between Hillary Clinton and Russia; a fist-pumping statement about the economy; and one in which he went full Alex Jones, insisting that the Puerto Rico death count is a conspiracy made up by Democrats to make him look bad, and that 3,000 Americans didnt actually die as a result of last years hurricane.

In this life, we play many games, but none so urgent as: Who wore it better? Who wore it better: me or you? Her or her? Her or him? Him or them? Who wore the jeans better? Who wore the jeans with the right shoe, and who wore the jeans with the absolute wrong shoe, you fool? Who wore the job better or the family better or the house better? Which house in subdivision wore its lawn better? Who wore that dinner party better, the one where I said, Brexit? Sorry, never heard of him, but you charmed the whole table with an impression of James Gandolfini ordering tartufo at Zabars? Who wore this life better? Its our lot as big-brained creatures who stomp across the Earth to always do the calculation, silently or obliquely polling those we encounter, asking in any number of ways: Please tell me—did I wear it better?

But, folks, we dont have to do it anymore. None of it. None of the strident compare and contrast, or the exhausting accounting. Its over. Timothée Chalamet and Jamie Lee Curtis exploded the paradigm. They really tore into it, ripping some kind of vortex in the space-time continuum and arriving on the other side, brand new. On this side, we can say honestly and with no reservation: man, they both wore it great! Really great! Both of them—so different, so beloved, wearing it . . . equally well!

See, at a premiere of Beautiful Boy in Beverly Hills, Chalamet wore a Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton-designed suit. It was a red suit jacket with a thick lapel, with pants and undershirt (no collar) to match. Curtis wore a very similar suit with a red collarless top underneath to an appearance on Good Morning America, where she was promoting her horror film, Halloween. Their hair short and coifed. The only difference is a white sneaker for him, and a plush red shoe for her. She also wore glasses, and her pant legs were a bit cropped.

But, wow, do these outfits, seemingly pulled at random from the fashion ether, where trends solidify and mingle, look exactly the same. And both the best! None of this 50 percent polled think that Chalamet, the hot-potato star who is the only actor in Hollywood right now, wore it better, but the other 50 percent polled think that Curtis, living legend, wore it better. They both wore it 100 percent best. They dont have to be best; they are best!

And so its over, this constant shuffling and angling. Here is another way, wherein we can look very similar to our neighbor on this Earth and yet both still be good. Isnt it great that in this difficult world, during this hard time, where everything is upside down, we no longer have to worry about who wore it best? Thank you very much Timothée and Jamie Lee. Thank you, as well, to their stylists.

Sacha Baron Cohen couldnt have gotten to me, the actress said at the Toronto Film Festival on Saturday, referring to the actors recent Showtime prank series and the people it duped. Let me say this: I wouldve seen through it pretty fucking quick. . . . For a second, I got fooled by a guy this morning who wanted signatures. I thought he was part of the festival! Turned out to be what I call a bogey. Fucking random guy who wanted to get shit signed. Which, Ill sign. It wasnt until the second signature that I was like, Oh, youre not supposed to be here. Then you dont want to inflame [the situation], so you just move on. Im telling you, I would not suffer fools. I would have called out Mr. Baron Cohen. Talented guy.

At TIFF, where she was promoting her reprisal of scream-queen Laurie Strode in David Gordon Greens Halloween sequel, the actress kept things real from the jump. She shimmied toward me down the hallway of the InterContinental Hotel humming The Hustle—a nod to the marketing merry-go-round shes riding to promote the film.

Curtis, who is an executive producer on the movie as well, certainly didnt sign onto the project because she missed the publicity aspect of moviemaking. Having recently published another childrens book, she also didnt return to her star-making franchise because she was bored.

I signed on because I liked the idea that they were focusing on a trauma that occurred 40 years ago, and the generational effects of that trauma, said Curtis. The sequel shows how Laurie, her daughter, and her granddaughter have dealt with the traumatic aftershocks of Mike Myerss Halloween night massacre. (It also ignores the events in the franchises numerous previous sequels, acting as a direct sequel to the first Halloween.)

As Curtis pointed out, Laurie would not have been offered much mental-health support in the 1970s. If you know anything about trauma, which we all do sadly, it becomes a generational disease . . . the trauma carries on, in different ways, but it carries on. I liked that this story was exploring how it passes from one generation to the next—the acute and then the next generation of trauma.

There is something thematically poignant about Curtiss character squaring off against her attacker during Hollywoods Times Up movement.

Nobody is pretending this is a political film, said Curtis. It is a slasher movie. But it weirdly enough is about women taking back the narrative of their lives because it has been taken from them by a predator.

Boomeranging back to the horror franchise 40 years later is a reminder of how much simpler the movie-star hustle was then. When Curtis began her career, there were no junkets. Movie stars had to market their work, but in a more civilized way—without selfies, social-media pressure, and TMZ. In essence, celebrities could maintain a modicum of privacy to counterbalance their lives as public figures.

Do the hustle! Were all doing it, Curtis said matter-of-factly. Robert Duvall is doing it. Natalie Portmans doing it. Im doing it. Judy Greer is doing it. . . . But I think the bottom line is that the older you get, you realize that really none of it matters. If you like to do the work, you do it with integrity. You are not jaded about the hustle. You are very clear. I call it the Halloween hustle. Im wearing a little knife in solidarity, she continued, gesturing to a silver knife pin on her collar.

People have been talking about movies and selling movies for a very long time, she said. Its part of the gig. There are, as you know, way more venues and portals and outlets into that hustle than there used to be. It used to be a simpler hustle. Its gotten a little more complicated. The ultimate reality is that the things that matter are your people, who you are, how you are, say please and thank you, leave a $20 on the bed for the housekeeping staff who are going to clean up after you, write a thank-you note if somebody does you a kindness.

Its Kendrick Lamar: Be humble. I would say, Be grateful. Curtis had to remind herself of that mantra that very morning while passing through immigration into Canada. There was a mile-long line at customs. People were recognizing her, and she couldnt figure out the automated passport reader. Theres people taking my picture left and right. Which is fine. I couldnt figure out why the kiosk didnt work. Then it rejected my thing. Then I got an X. I was like, Fuck, whats the X?

She wasnt wishing for any special treatment. But standing in an immigration line surrounded by smartphone-wielding civilians who probably would not enjoy photos being taken of them . . . is not the best experience. You do a lot of, Hi, how are you doing? Everybody is a little disgruntled and awkward. Youre in limbo! You cant go anywhere until you get through that line.

At this point in the conversation, I suggested that if Curtis gets a moment away from the studio publicists escorting her from interview to interview like jail wardens, she should try to see Natalie Portmans movie Vox Lux. Her character, a jaded pop star in 2018 whose identity is forever merged with school shootings, delivers a terrific monologue about the meaning of being a modern-era celebrity, the various distribution channels they need to cater to, and the commoditization of everything, be it good or evil.

For a long time, Curtis said that she believed deeply in a line from The Princess Bride that Cary Elwess character, Westley, delivers to Robin Wrights character: Life is pain, highness. And anyone who says differently is selling something.

Thats really the fundamental of Buddhism, Curtis said. For a long, long time, I sort of lived in that world. Which is, life is real. Anybody whos telling you anything else is literally selling you something, for your face or your lips or the clothes.

These days, though, Curtiss favorite line is from Marisha Pessls Special Topics in Calamity Physics. She talks about life and how you approach life and everybody thinks its based on where you go to school, who your parents were, how much money you have, what your first job is, blah, blah, blah. She says its not. She says, Life hinges on a couple seconds you never see coming. What you do in those seconds determines everything from then on, and you wont know what youre going to do until youre there. That is my fundamental sort of living example—life is going to hinge. You have to just be aware, alive, and evolved enough to able to pivot because its going to pivot you. . . . Be ready for life to hinge on you.

When it came time for Curtis to make her way back down the hallway, marching with her handlers to the next interview, she did so humming The Hustle.

I suppose I should consider it an honor that I was recently agented by Michael Ovitz. I dont mean that Ovitz represented me in a negotiation, but that I was metaphorically on the other side of the bargaining table from the man who fundamentally re-invented the role of the agent, and became synonymous with a hyper-aggressive dealmaking style in 1980s and 90s Hollywood. The deal I was trying to strike seemed simple—an interview with Ovitz pegged to his new memoir, Who Is Michael Ovitz? Like a studio and an agency with a star vehicle in development, we both had something to gain from getting along.

To speak with Ovitz, I did what you do, requested an interview through his publisher and spent a weekend reading his book, which is actually pretty fun and dishy and sometimes feels like a buddy comedy, with his CAA co-founder and consigliere Ron Meyer in the role of the likable guy and Ovitz as a Tommy Lee Jones type. Reading Ovitzs book prepared me for the man I was about to interview, who had brokered the deals for movies like Schindlers List, Tootsie, and Rain Man, and had predicted and orchestrated many of the changes that would shape the entertainment industry over the last 40 years. Now 71 and working predominantly as an adviser to companies in Silicon Valley, Ovitz seemed like a guy who would have a lot of interesting things to say. Even better, in the book, he seemed to be grappling with something extraordinary, and that is the realization that he had spent much of his storied career acting like a total dick. I was a Terminator, Ovitz writes, explaining his hard-charging persona. The fear my opponents felt derived from sheer hopelessness. How could they beat someone so tireless, so relentless? So inhuman? That was the image I took great care to project, anyway. It was an image I grew to hate. Who wants to scare the living shit out of people? Points for self-reflection, I thought.

I reached out to schedule an interview for a long-lead piece on agencies I was working on, and for an online story pegged to the books publication. At this interview, would I get the Terminator? Or the apparently newly self-aware guy? Best to be prepared for either. To arm myself, I hit some highlights from Ovitzs personal tool kit—I googled Sun Tzus book The Art of War and watched Steven Seagal Aikido videos on YouTube. So that was how Ovitz got a Japanese electronics company (Sony) to pay $3.4 billion for the studio that had just made Ishtar (Columbia)! Amazing. I also expected that Ovitz might be a little wary about talking to Vanity Fair, since it was in a pretty disastrous 2002 interview with this magazine, during a career low point, that he dismissed many of his former colleagues as being members of a gay mafia, a choice of words he now deeply regrets, and admits in his book was, as stupid as it was offensive.

Nevertheless, Ovitz accepted my request and at the appointed time, I sat by my phone, with my recorder. Through an assistant, Ovitz pushed it later. Was this an Aikido move? Never mind. I could make it work. When Ovitz got on the line, he spoke in the quiet voice he had once used as a power move to force studio executives to lean into their speaker phones, and I learned he saw this conversation playing out differently than what I had agreed upon with his book publicist. I complimented the book, which I genuinely liked, and asked my first question:

Vanity Fair: A lot of times in the book you use the word agent as a verb. Like, I was agenting my kids, or, So and so was agenting me. What does it mean to you when someone is agenting?

I have a couple questions on that. We could start with the future of agencies, if thats where youd like to start.

We then spoke for 30 minutes, a period in which Ovitz delivered some fascinating off-the-record observations, gave me some suggestions for the future piece I was working on, and asked questions about me and my job. He called me Rebecca a lot, which is good, because it's my name and so it sounds to me like a dulcet song. Ovitz was smart and self-deprecating, the kind of guy you could see giving 10 percent of your salary to, for no other reason except that he seemed interested in you as a person. He then asked me to e-mail him some sample questions for the interview I thought we were supposed to be doing, so he could mull them over. O.K., I said, I would. I did. Ovitz e-mailed within 24 hours, and said he was traveling and he would get back to me soon. This was one of CAAs rules for its agents, which Ovitz writes about in his book, that you must always return calls by the end of the day, or have your assistant buy you some time. I waited. Then this weeks Hollywood Reporter landed, with Ovitz and his new fiancée, designer Tamara Mellon on the cover, with an interview conducted at their 28,000-square-foot, art-filled Benedict Canyon estate. It was a fine interview, asking some of the same questions I had planned to ask, albeit with a boost for Mellon, who appeared on the cover of the magazines 2018 red carpet designers issue just as she opens her new L.A. store. Someone did some nice agenting, I thought.

I reached out again, and Ovitz demurred. Happy to talk about anything to assist but think I am going to pass on the Q&A idea. I am Q&Aed out." He ended the e-mail with a smiley-face emoji.

Wait, what had just happened? Michael Ovitz, whose name rarely appeared in print without the adjective feared in front of it, had just given me a digital kiss-off. In his CAA days, Ovitz was known for sending fancy, personal gifts to people he wanted to charm after a meeting, so much so that he had a lavish gifting budget at the agency. This was not, clearly, one of those kind of meetings. I flipped back to my interview transcript, for anything usable on the record from our conversation. There wasnt much, but after I pressed him, he had explained what he meant when he described people as agenting.

Agenting is a form of manipulation, of coercion, Ovitz said. I dont mean in the negative or pejorative. Its a form of getting what you need to get for yourself, or for your client. So if youre agented, someones working on you, you know?" How can you tell when youre being agented?, I had asked him. Experience, he answered.

Was I, in that moment, being agented? I wondered to myself, but did not ask. And by the way, its not all negative, Ovitz said. If you wrote us a story, Rebecca Keegan writes a story, and she wants it put together with a director, and she wants it packaged, wed have to agent it… We have to convince people to meet with you. They then meet with you. We have to convince them to drop other things to work with you. Is that a negative? No, I think its a positive. Now, I can give you negative examples of agenting as well. A negative example would be if youre pushing something that shouldnt be pushed. Such as?, I asked. Lets say your story was terrible, he answered. Yes, lets just say it was. I mean, its plausible.

Although the repeated sound of my own name was putting me into a pleasant, dreamlike state, I really wanted to know more about CAAs agenting style, which Ovitz and his team had designed to meet a clients every need, from fresh-squeezed guava juice in their trailer to private-school admissions help for their kids. What was it like to devote your every waking moment to the most high-maintenance people in the world? We were a max-service group, CAA, Ovitz said. Maximum service. If Rebecca was a client and had a problem, we would try to take care of it, didnt matter what it was. And theres a point where it just takes it out of you. It just takes it out of you. How much can you give? And when you did it as long as I did it, you get to a point and you just say, I cant do it anymore.

That I understood, the weariness he must have felt after decades of rolling calls, hustling deals, and using ancient Chinese military principles to get people their damn guava juice. Still, it was clear Ovitz was still holding onto some vestige of his CAA lifestyle. Twenty years after he founded the company, Ovitz left CAA in 1995. But Ovitz has never, as far as I can tell, left agenting.

For months after leaving the White House amid a tariff tiff with Donald Trump this spring, Gary Cohn appeared to be adrift. As the former Goldman Sachs exec wandered between his Upper East Side apartment and his home in the Hamptons, his future seemed equally murky. Its hard to be in the middle of everything, in the most important office in the world, and then have nothing to do, one person who knows Cohn well told my colleague William D. Cohan. Hell want to be back in the mix. A Wall Street job seemed like a stretch, but rumor had it Cohn was mulling starting his own private-equity firm or becoming the C.E.O. of a tech company. He was even, according to Anthony Scaramucci, considering crypto.

Cohn isnt the only Wall Street dinosaur to go digital. After railing against the endeavor for months, Wall Street seems to have made an uneasy truce with the blockchain. JPMorgans Jamie Dimon, who once called the cryptocurrency a fraud that wouldnt end well and would get someone killed, announced this summer that his firm is testing [blockchain] and will use it for a whole lot of things. Others have been more hesitant to throw their support behind digital assets. Before stepping down from his C.E.O. perch at Goldman earlier this month, Lloyd Blankfein called bitcoin a vehicle for fraud—a confusing pronouncement given that shortly thereafter, the firm announced plans to build a crypto-trading desk. Months later, the firm pulled an apparent 180, reportedly hitting pause on its plans.

But going wholesale from Wall Street to blockchain—albeit with a stopover in the swamp—isnt unheard of. Goldman Sachs alum Matthew Goetz started a cryptocurrency hedge fund called BlockTower Capital, and former head of J.P.Morgan global commodities Blythe Masters is now running a blockchain company, Digital Asset Holdings LLC. Moreover, instead of focusing on cryptocurrencies themselves, Spring Labs builds the technology behind them, making Cohns decision slightly less absurd than working directly with an alternative currency like dogecoin. The downside, of course, is that crypto is as volatile as its ever been: on Thursday, the global market lost $6 billion in value. Cohns timing, then, leaves something to be desired. But if his time in the White House is any indication, hes more than willing to weather some reputational damage.

On Friday, after a week of reports appearing to confirm the widely held suspicion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Turkish authorities seemingly drove the nail into the coffin, claiming to have audio and visual evidence that the Saudi dissident—a U.S. resident— was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul just over a week ago. The footage, per CNN, shows that there had been an assault and a struggle inside the consulate and, crucially, the moment that Khashoggi was killed. But while the president of the United States appears relatively unmoved by the prospect of his pal M.B.S. murdering a member of the press, the business community is a bit more torn!

In one corner, you have executives who are sufficiently horrified by what allegedly went down at the Saudi consulate that theyre abandoning plans to do business with Saudi Arabia, which the crown prince has pledged to open up to foreign investment. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has suspended talks with the country about a proposed $1 billion investment in the companys space ventures, and is stepping down from his position as director of two Saudi tourism projects. Uber C.E.O. Dara Khosrowshahi has said he wont participate in a major investor conference, Future Investment Initiative, which is set to take place in the kingdom later this month. Its a somewhat ballsy move considering the Saudi sovereign wealth fund sunk $3.5 billion into the ride-hailing start-up in 2016, and companies are generally loathe to criticize major shareholders (although Uber didnt have much to say when M.B.S. was merely locking up cousins and starving Yemen). Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments, resigned from the conferences advisory board on Thursday, while Silicon Valley executives Dan Doctoroff, Sam Altman, and Tim Brown have also said theyll stop helping with the crown princes futuristic smart city, called Neom, that the Saudis have been trying to build in the desert.

But not everyone is taking the moral stand the Trump administration wont. In yet another corner, you have executives who apparently need a lot more evidence—a body, perhaps, or a signed confession by the crown prince—before theyre willing to alienate a potentially extremely lucrative source of revenue. According to the Huffington Post, those still slated to attend the F.I.I. conference—known as Davos in the Desert—include T.P.G. Capital chairman David Bonderman, BlackRock C.E.O. Larry Fink, Blackstone C.E.O. Stephen Schwarzman, and JPMorgan C.E.O. Jamie Dimon, whose spokesperson wouldnt let him answer questions about his attendance during a Friday conference call with reporters.

Naturally, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, whose boss is refusing to punish M.B.S., wouldnt miss this thing for the world:

The electric-car maker submitted a trademark application on October 8 for Teslaquila, describing the planned product as a distilled agave liquor. It was filed as based on intent to use, which means Tesla doesnt have the product ready just yet. The company needs to actually be making a product to obtain the trademark.

He did not say if the company plans to expand into the cannabis business, but considering a weed joke was the alleged catalyst for him being stripped of his chairmanship, perhaps its in the offing!

From the people who brought you coal plants should self-regulate, the atmosphere could use more methane gas, we dont need no stinking Paris climate accord, lets hear it for asbestos, and a little radiation is good for you comes we like our air unbreathable, thankyouverymuch, per The New York Times:

An Environmental Protection Agency panel that advises the agencys leadership on the latest scientific information about soot in the atmosphere is not listed as continuing its work next year, an E.P.A. official said.

The 20-person Particulate Matter Review Panel, made up of experts in microscopic airborne pollutants known to cause respiratory disease, is responsible for helping the agency decide what levels of pollutants are safe to breathe. Agency officials declined to say why the E.P.A. intends to stop convening the panel next year, particularly as the agency considers whether to revise air quality standards.

Critics like Gretchen Goldman, research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the Times this is part of a pattern of the E.P.A. trying to cut science out of the process, while supporters of Trumps climate-destroying agenda were simply content to gloat over the good fortune of having a president in office who understands that keeping the air safe to breathe is some Commie bullshit. Apparently it seems the enviros still dont understand that elections have consequences, said Thomas Pyle, president of a think tank that supports fossil fuels.

Chinas trade surplus with the United States surged to a record high of $34.13 billion in September, compared with $31.05 billion in August, Chinese customs data showed on Friday . . . Chinas large trade surplus with the United States has long been a sore point with Washington and is at the center of an increasing bitter dispute between the worlds two biggest economies.

President Trump is on track this year to preside over the new record for the largest trade deficit in the history of U.S.-China relations, beating the record that was set under his watch last year, Ryan Hass, a China expert at the Brookings Institution, told Vox. Trump chose during the presidential campaign to use the trade deficit as a measure of success, and by that measure, his strategy is failing.

Its an extensive list of stuff, the JPMorgan C.E.O. said Friday during a call with reporters, naming Trumps trade war with China, Brexit, flare-ups across Europe, and the unwinding of bond-purchasing programs by central banks all over the world. Im just pointing that out. No one should be surprised if it happens down the road.

Theres nothing quite like the gathering of middle-aged celebrity men for a game of volleyball. Especially when those men are Leonardo DiCaprio, Gerard Butler, Jamie Foxx, and Tobey Maguire. Yes, you read that right: the four actors gathered in Malibu on Saturday for a game of beach volleyball and cornhole, and theres even photographic evidence of the hangout.

As TMZ pointed out, DiCaprio has spent his summer playing volleyball with a crew of celebrities. He was first photographed hitting the court over Fourth of July, during a party that he co-hosted with Sean Penn. The next week, Ansel Elgort was his opponent. Later, he was seen playing a game with __Scott Eastwood.__

Theres no word on what exactly has ignited Leos love for an intense game of volleyball. Perhaps hes just enjoying summer to the fullest. Theres still one more weekend left of the season, though; how much star power can he muster to send out the summer in style?

Donald Trump has a long history of peddling information his administration affectionately refers to as alternative facts, more commonly known as lies. In virtually every instance, these lies are 1) designed to make him sound better by burnishing his fragile ego, and 2) extremely easy to debunk, to the extent that some require only a working set of eyes. So far, the presidents greatest whoppers include the one about the size of the crowd at his inauguration (largest audience ever!), and that he would have won the popular vote if millions of people hadnt cast illegal ballots. More recently, hes insisted that 3,000 people did not actually die as a result of last years hurricane in Puerto Rico, and that the figure was made up by Democrats in order to make him look as bad as possible, a completely insane claim that he has naturally doubled down on several times.

On Monday, Trump continued in the same tradition, yelling on Twitter about how great tariffs are and declaring, against all evidence to the contrary, that no ones been hurt by his trade policies.

The problem with these tweets, aside from turning the word tariff into a verb, is that they, like their author, are full of shit. First off, as The New York Times notes, metals-manufacturing jobs have increased by fewer than 1,000 since the president announced the steel and aluminum tariffs that caused the one sane person in the administration to quit. The other, more insidious alternative fact is the suggestion that virtually no one has felt the effects of the cost increases. That claim is likely news to the companies that have been forced to lay off employees and could go out of business, unable to either absorb the higher metal costs or shift production overseas (those opting for the latter have enjoyed escalating threats by POTUS to run them into the ground). It might also surprise, say, the farm workers who received a $12 billion bailout from the federal government to make up for the harsh impact of retaliatory tariffs on soybeans.

While only certain consumer products have jumped in price—washing machines jumped 20 percent after Trump slapped tariffs on imported washers—economists predict that the effects on consumer prices across the board could be noticeably larger if he follows through with another $200 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods. (He also threatened earlier this month to tax almost all Chinese imports, which would certainly be fun for his constituents.) And while President Art of the Deal is under the impression that Beijing is this close to caving and giving him exactly what he wants, reality suggests otherwise:

China will reject new trade talks if President Donald Trump moves ahead with the next round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese products, throwing into doubt the prospect of a diplomatic breakthrough, according to two people familiar with the matter. . . . Beijing has already said it will retaliate for the new round of tariffs.

In a column that ran in Chinas widely read Global Times, the people Trump thinks its a great idea to continue antagonizing wrote: It is nothing new for the U.S. to try to escalate tensions so as to exploit more gains at the negotiating table. We are looking forward to a more beautiful counterattack and will keep increasing the pain felt by the U.S. Luckily, the president knows exactly what hes doing, and surely wont let this thing get out of hand.

Trumps tariffs are totally not hurting anyone, but on the off chance they were going to, a plucky young tech start-up has been given a reprieve:

The Trump administration will spare a category of high-tech products that includes the Apple Watch and AirPods headphone from the next round of tariffs its imposing on Chinese goods, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The government is expected to release as early as Monday the final list of as much as $200 billion of Chinese products that will be hit with a new 10 percent tariff, according to five people familiar with the matter. A product code that covers Apple Inc.s Watch and AirPods—as well as similar smart watches, fitness trackers, and other goods made by competitors including Fitbit Inc.—is not on the list, the two people said.

Apple C.E.O. Tim Cook has said he hopes calm heads will prevail in the trade-war conflict, but short of that actually happening, its good to know the little guy can breathe easy.

People are blaming the president for the escalating trade dispute, National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow said on Monday in a speech to the Economic Club of New York. I say, do not blame Trump for this—this being the conflict he started when he began slapping levies on Chinese goods last spring against the protests of the last guy who had Kudlows job. He inherited this trading mess, Kudlow clarified. Hes trying to fix it. He is a reformer. It is not an easy task.

Billionaire hedge-fund manager would rather lose money, elect Bernie Sanders than have to look at Trump

There are things more important than making money is a line you dont often hear come out of billionaire investment managers mouths, ditto I would vote for Bernie Sanders. But were living in crazy times, which is why Seth Klarman, a notoriously press-shy hedge-fund manager who was New Englands biggest G.O.P. donor until roughly two years back, said both those things in the pages of The New York Times over the weekend, and then some.

The F.E.C. filings that will come out on Sept. 20 will show that Mr. Klarman is now giving almost exclusively Democrats—and donating far more money than he ever has . . . So far this cycle hes ponied up $4.9 million. He has given to 150 or so candidates, including Joe Kennedy, Conor Lamb, Beto ORourke, and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as dozens of lower-profile candidates. Liberal super PACs aimed at helping the Democrats take back the Senate and the House received $1 million and $2 million, respectively. Its quite a list for someone who says, Im not a Democrat.

For Mr. Klarman, the logic is plain: We need to turn the House and Senate as a check on Donald Trump and his runaway presidency.

What if it came down to a choice between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders? While a President Sanders would be appalling, he says Mr. Sanders is not unhinged and so he would pull the lever for him.

To be fair, we probably could have seen this change of heart coming, based on Klarmans remarks this time last year that The president is a threat to democracy and something about Nazi Germany. As for his peers, who may share similar views but are having trouble saying anything publicly due to their wallets being weighed down by last years tax cuts, Klarman would kindly request that such people pull their heads out of their asses.

He is dismissive of the notion, voiced by many conservatives, that Mr. Trump—whom he describes in his most recent investor letter as displaying ill temper, chronic impulsivity, limited attention span, ignorance of history and flawed judgment—has instituted some good policies. I dont care what good things are happening because I am drawn to focus on the democratic norms that are being eroded, he said. It doesnt matter what the ends are. The means disqualify the ends. Any good decisions Mr. Trump makes, he said, should be seen as random or lucky.

And heres how you know hes serious: Me giving this interview could conceivably upset a few of my clients, Klarman told the Times. I love all my clients. I want them to stay as clients. But its more important that I do what my conscience requires by speaking out. There are things more important than making money.

I never say never to anything but no, the JPMorgan C.E.O. said during an interview with ABCs This Week with George Stephanopoulos, a week after he told CNBC that he would kick Trumps trust-fund ass in a presidential race. According to Dimon, machsimo got the better of him when he let slip he was smarter, tougher, and originally from a poorer section of Queens that would play well with the working class in the general election.

Hedge fund manager-turned-Carolina Panthers owner can look forward to a Twitter-based tantrum in 3…2…

Its the biggest pile of bull-dingy ever, David Tepper told CNBC of an unnamed individuals attack on football players kneeling during the National Anthem. These are some of the most patriotic people and best people. These are great young men. It just makes me so aggravated and angry. OK? Its just wrong. Its just dead wrong.

I support higher taxes: The billionaire behind the National Debt Clock has had it with Trump (The Washington Post)

Hurricane Florence damage estimated at $17 billion to $22 billion and could go higher—Moodys Analytics (CNBC)

Starting on Sunday night, and then throughout Mondays news cycle, you could almost hear a collective sigh emanating across Wall Street—private equity, financial managers, bankers, and various sub-industries that make money from money. Their momentary relief corresponded with the emergence of the seemingly exculpatory narrative being patched together in real time by Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, and Donald Trump, the American president, regarding what really happened to Jamal Khashoggi, the apparently murdered Washington Post columnist. Rogue killers inside the Saudi embassy in Istanbul? Really? What bone saw? What cleaning crew?

This narrative, of course, wasnt persuasive enough to provide cover to many Wall Street executives headed to M.B.S.s forthcoming tentpole, the Future Investment Initiative, known as Davos in the Desert and scheduled for next week. In September, Jamie Dimon, the chairman and C.E.O. of JPMorgan Chase, had said how much he was looking forward to attending the Riyadh conference. He was eager to discuss the growing importance of technology in business. Artificial intelligence, big data, and machine learning are helping JPMorgan Chase reduce risk and fraud, upgrade service, improve underwriting, and enhance marketing across the firm, he was quoted as saying on the F.I.I. Web site. We know technology has been a great force, and for the benefit of all of us, that force should not be left unleashed. Regardless, as Andrew Ross Sorkin reported in The New York Times, Dimon pulled the plug on Sunday night. So did Larry Fink, the C.E.O. of BlackRock, and Steve Schwarzman, the founder and C.E.O. of Blackstone, the following day. (Sorkin, himself, announced that he wasn't going last week.) The names of the confirmed attendees are now gone from the F.I.I. Web site.

But, in truth, pulling out of Davos in the Desert is just a public-relations stunt, and it will likely only be a matter of time before Wall Street returns to the desert and doing business with M.B.S. and the Saudis. The rogue killers narrative, while not persuasive now, may eventually allow business leaders a shielding talking point with which to facilitate future endeavors. The point of the bullshit Saudi story isnt for you to believe it, the truth-telling journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted Monday night. They know you know its false. The point is to give some kind of cover to all the business, political, and media elites (including the U.S. Govt) to continue to do business with them once the rage dissipates.

Theres simply too much money at stake for Wall Street to take a principled stand—the sort of posture that it has never been very good at assuming, anyway. Does anyone really think that Wall Street will now permanently walk away from the Saudis, given that for years few objections were loudly voiced as they waged a ruthless war against the Yemenis? JPMorgan Chase has been doing business with the Saudis for some 80 years. The firm appears to have an early lead on the much-coveted Aramco initial-public offering, which could be a $200 billion I.P.O., with underwriting fees of as much as $1.4 billion, if and when it ever happens. Thats probably not something that Dimon is going to walk away from on principle. Nor will Schwarzman abandon Blackstones much-touted infrastructure fund, which has secured a $20 billion commitment from the Saudis. Finks BlackRock, the worlds largest money manager with $6.4 trillion under management, likely has no intention of abandoning Saudi Arabia either. How do I know? Because Fink said so himself on CNBC Tuesday morning: BlackRock wont run away from doing business with the Saudis even if it turns out that M.B.S. had Khashoggi killed. Ive been going to Saudi for years and years and years, as much as three or four times a year, he said. As a friend of the countrys, I wanted to do this—get out of attending the Future Investment Initiative—in a way . . . that preserved the relationship that we have, that we worked so long for.

Its all just an elaborate charade, designed to let the Khashoggi debacle fade from the headlines so that business can return to usual. Its consistent with what Trump said himself about his decision not to come down harder on the Saudis by supporting economic sanctions as some senators are considering. I know [senators are] talking about different kinds of sanctions, Trump said yesterday but [Saudi Arabia is] spending $110 billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs, like jobs and others for this country. I dont like the concept of stopping an investment of $110 billion into the United States. It doesnt even matter that the $110 billion figure is a proven exaggeration.

No less a bellwether of American capitalism than Goldman Sachs finds itself at the white-hot center of the Saudi dilemma. While neither the new Goldman C.E.O. David Solomon nor his new deputy John Waldron were planning to go to Riyadh for the summit, Solomon did make a point of having a 40-minute visit with M.B.S. in May, during one of his first overseas trips as C.E.O.-in-waiting. Hes extremely impressive, Solomon told me in July. Hes got a lot of energy. Hes passionate about what hes doing. Hes very, very engaged in what hes trying to accomplish, and hes trying to change his country, which has an impact on the world for the better. He said that Goldman was eager to help the Saudis, with both capital and advice, achieve the vision that M.B.S. laid out in his 2030 Vision plan to reduce the countrys dependence on fossil fuels. Solomon was also in Jeddah, in July, to meet with Saudi cabinet ministers to engage in a further discussion about the 2030 goals. We, like others, are definitely re-assessing, Jake Siewert, Goldmans head of communications, e-mailed me yesterday. Will keep you posted on that. We have at least one mandate there.

For the past two weeks, compelling evidence has led many to believe that Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi was killed on the orders of the Saudi Arabian government when he went to visit the kingdoms consulate in Turkey on October 2. While Donald Trump, at this point, sees no reason to punish the country, or even to make a stink about it with his buddy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the business community has reacted somewhat differently, with major executives from tech, media, and Wall Street announcing they wont attend the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, a conference put on by the Saudi government thats scheduled to take place next week. BlackRock founder and C.E.O. Larry Fink was one such business magnate, pulling out of quote, unquote Davos in the Desert on Monday after reportedly failing to convince the Saudi government to postpone it. Despite this seemingly rational choice, however, Fink doesnt want anyone to get the wrong idea: the worlds largest money manager may not be making the trip to Riyadh next week, but that doesnt mean he wont continue to do business with Saudia Arabia, even if he gets definitive proof it murdered Khashoggi.

No, BlackRock chief Larry Fink responded when asked by CNBC if the firm would severe financial ties with the Saudis [if it turns out that the kingdom ordered the slaying of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi].

We do business in 80 different countries. There are many countries where we may disagree, said Fink, whose firm manages $6.4 trillion in assets.

Noting that the possible murder of a dissident journalist via bone saw was a big issue with BlackRocks employees and clients, Fink said that the Saudis understood why he ultimately had to cancel. Ive been going to Saudi for years and years and years, as much as three or four times a year, he said. As friend of the countrys, I wanted to do this in a way . . . that preserved the relationship that we have, that we worked so long for.

As CNBC notes, Fink has often spoken out about issues that other Wall Street executives would rather not comment on, like gun control and social change, and is considered to be an important voice thanks to his immense power in the industry. So its certainly interesting—to say the least—to see him use that voice to say, Im not gonna let what could turn out to be a planned murder and dismemberment get in the way of a lifelong business relationship.

Since journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey on October 2 and was never seen again, credible—some might call it compelling!—evidence has emerged that Crown Prince Mohammed Bone Saw bin Salman may have personally ordered a 15-man operation that resulted in the Saudi dissident being killed and dismembered. When Donald Trump finally got around to commenting on the matter last week, it was to tell reporters that he has no plans to send a message that those sorts of things are unacceptable to the U.S., and to wonder aloud whether the fuss was even merited, on account of Khashoggi not even being a U.S. citizen (he is a permanent resident of Virginia). On Monday, though, perhaps sensing that he needed to do more to justify his refusal to punish the kingdom, the president took a new-yet-familiar tack: he explained that King Salman—ole Bone Saws octogenarian father—had denied the allegations to him personally, and that theres no reason whatsoever not to trust the guy.

Speaking to reporters en route to visit areas destroyed by Hurricane Michael while he hit the links, Trump relayed the news that hed had a nice chat with the king, who assured him that Saudi Arabia definitely had nothing to do with Khashoggis disappearance, despite claims by Turkey that there is audio and visual evidence of Khashoggi being killed inside the consulate. Of course, taking Salman at his word despite evidence to the contrary is the same move Trump pulled in Helsinki last summer, where he explained that there was no reason to believe multiple U.S. intelligence agencies charges of Russian election meddling because Vladimir Putin himself had denied it, and there was simply no way the ex-K.G.B. agent would have lied.

On Monday, though, Trump took things one step further, not only parroting Saudi Arabias denial but offering up an alternative theory on the kingdoms behalf re: what might have happened to the Washington Post columnist. I dont want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers, Trump told reporters. Coincidentally, thats the same theory the kingdom was apparently planning to float in order to shield M.B.S. (who probably knows a lot more about the situation than his father anyway) from blame.

The presidents comments opened a window for King Salman and Prince Mohammed to stand by their denials of involvement in Mr. Khashoggis disappearance.

Seasoned observers of Middle East politics, including some at senior levels of the Turkish government, have speculated for days about the likelihood that the royal court would seek to accuse a rogue operator within the Saudi security services of killing Mr. Khashoggi.

Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, wrote in a Twitter post on Monday that he had heard the Saudis were pushing a rogue killers theory and called it extraordinary that the kingdom was able to get the president on board.

In fact, mere hours after Trump put it out there that a killing may have occurred, but not in a way that would make the crown prince look bad, CNN learned that the Saudis are said to be preparing a report that will acknowledge . . . Jamal Khashoggis death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong, one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey, according to two sources. One source says the report will likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and transparency and that those involved will be held responsible.

You see? It was merely an attempted kidnapping gone wrong! Lots of people have bone saws handy when theyre performing interrogations! No reason for anyone to get their panties in a bunch, these things happen all the time! Its unclear if the forthcoming report will explain why Saudi Arabia flatly denied any knowledge of anything Khashoggi-related for nearly two weeks before changing the narrative to O.K., we killed him, but it was an accident, but thats probably neither here nor there.

Last week, as it became clear that a photo op with Mohammed bin Salman wouldnt be the best look, corporate directors, media conglomerates, and Silicon Valley executives began dropping out of the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, a conference put on by the Saudi government thats scheduled to take place next week, and thats better known as Davos in the Desert. But one group of people was more reluctant to cancel their trips: Wall Street C.E.O.s, most of whom were still slated to attend as of Friday rather than threaten some extremely lucrative relationships. Finding themselves stuck between a rock and a bone saw, a trio of top executives reportedly attempted to come up with a plan B, per *The New York Times:*

Over the weekend, [JPMorgan C.E.O. Jamie] Dimon consulted by telephone with two other powerful Wall Street executives, the head of BlackRock, Laurence D. Fink, and Blackstone Groups chief, Stephen Schwarzman, said two people familiar with the conversations. All three depend on the kingdom for revenue.

Mr. Dimon, Mr. Fink, and Mr. Schwarzman pressed Saudi officials to postpone the event, the two people said. The three executives and their staffs reached out to the Treasury Department and urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to press for the event to be postponed or to publicly make his attendance conditional on more disclosure from the Saudis about Mr. Khashoggis disappearance.

When that failed, Dimon pulled out of the conference on Sunday night, and Fink and Schwarzman followed suit on Monday morning. Obviously, though, deciding not to attend F.I.I. and ending their business relationship with Saudi Arabia are two very different things:

President Donald Trump said that Sears Holdings Corp. had been mismanaged for years before it declared bankruptcy. Among those responsible for its management: his Treasury secretary.

Steven Mnuchin was a member of Searss board from 2005 until December 2016, and before that was a director for K-Mart Corp., which was acquired by Sears in 2005.

Sears has been dying for many years, Trump told reporters on Monday. Its been obviously improperly run for many years and its a shame. He did not say whether hed discussed the matter with Mnuchin, or whether hed asked the Treasury secretary, who was college roommates with Sears chairman Eddie Lampert, if he was applying the same business know-how to the management of the U.S. economy.

Not so much for U.S. factories, but like the old saying goes, you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet . . . or in this case, to destroy the companies your tariffs were supposed to be helping. Per *The Wall Street Journal:*

The latest tariffs, a 10 percent levy on $200 billion of Chinese imports, including bicycles and bicycle parts, took effect in September and are slated to rise to 25 percent at year end. In all, the U.S. has levied tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports, from steel and aluminum to bamboo furniture and luggage. China has responded with tariffs on $110 billion of U.S. exports.

Companies that have brought manufacturing back to the U.S. say tariffs are raising their costs and making them less competitive. Its hard to build things here, said Manville Smith, a vice president at JL Audio Inc. It would be nice if our government would help us, not hurt us.

Mr. Smith and other smaller manufacturers said they are disadvantaged under the current tariff rules. Chinese-made finished goods that use the same components often can enter the U.S. from China without paying these duties. So, a Chinese loudspeaker avoids the tariffs, but one assembled at JL Audios facility in Florida faces a 25 percent duty on key parts next year. A European loudspeaker would also avoid the tariffs, even if it used Chinese components.

Former Instagram C.E.O. on why he quit Facebook: No one ever leaves a job because its awesome (CNBC)

Murdoch started small, taking the Southern Australian Adelaide News, the family-owned daily he received upon his fathers death, and turning it into a regional success. Still in his early 20s, Murdoch expanded quickly, buying up other newspapers and boosting their numbers with his trademark focus on sex, sports, and scandal.

Over the next several years, his empire grew to include media properties in New Zealand, Britain, and finally, the United States, where he bought the San Antonio Express-News, founded the supermarket tabloid Star, and eventually purchased the New York Post and publisher HarperCollins. In the 1980s, he extended his dominion to include television, too, buying a stake in Twentieth Century Fox and, in 1990, forming British Sky Broadcasting (now known as Sky, the U.K.s largest pay-TV broadcaster).

Murdoch, now in his 80s, has an aggressive editorial sensibility that has made him a bête noire to some. On the left, he is often pilloried for his conservative ideology, which he has worked to popularize through right-leaning outlets like The Wall Street Journal and Fox News. And his inclination to court controversy has sometimes crossed into the criminal realm: in 2011, Murdochs News of the World, among other companies, was accused of bribery and phone hacking to get scoops, leading to him being investigated by both the British government and the F.B.I. In 2012, he resigned as director of News International and from several other companies connected to it. (Murdoch doesnt shy from more personal scandals either, divorcing his third wife, Wendi Deng, amid rumors she had an affair with Tony Blair, and recently marrying former model Jerry Hall, 25 years his junior.) In 2015, it was announced that Murdoch would be stepping down as the C.E.O. of 21st Century Fox, handing his two sons, James and Lachlan, the keys to the kingdom. Still, Murdoch by all reports is still firmly in charge of his empire, despite frequent questions about a plan of succession.

With Disneys $71 billion takeover of the bulk of 21st Century Fox coasting toward an anticipated closing in the early part of next year, the media-obsessed have taken to their venerable sport of gaming out the coming changes in the upper ranks of the soon-to-be-combined mega-behemoth. Who stays and who goes, people jockeying for positions—thats the story, one veteran media executive told me recently.

But perhaps the most intriguing question of all concerns someone who is already known to be going: 21st Century Fox C.E.O. James Murdoch. Rupert Murdochs younger son was originally seen as being up for one of the top jobs at Disney, as well as a potential heir to Bob Iger—who has run the company since 2005, and, with the Fox deal nearing completion, is now widely considered to be the most powerful man in media. But it became clear in the spring that James would, in fact, be taking a different path. As part of a strategic reorganization announced in March, top Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Bob Chapek were elevated to expanded roles that appeared to mark them as the two most likely Iger successors. By May, The Wall Street Journal was reporting that Murdoch has begun to tell associates that he isnt going to Disney. Later that month, when Peter Kafka prodded Murdoch about his plans onstage at a Recode conference in Southern California, the most he was able to get out of his interview subject was, Its been kind of the five-year mark since I moved back to New York, so I think its time to do something new.

Ever since, the hot speculation has been that Murdoch is going to set up a venture-capital fund. He hasnt confirmed this publicly, but in media circles, the whispers about Murdochs plans are getting louder. One new tea leaf, several people familiar with the matter told me, is that Murdoch has committed to an office space in downtown Manhattan for after he leaves Fox. (Murdoch has been clear about staying on as C.E.O. until the deal closes.) One source told me Murdoch wants to invest in a handful of efforts in media, tech, and other areas, and that the planned space is large enough that it could potentially accommodate small start-ups. I think hes looking forward to getting on with it. Hes energized, this person said.

In the meantime, the musical chairs of the Disney-Fox mash-up is well underway. President of 21st Century Fox, Peter Rice, and Fox Television Group chair Dana Walden are reportedly poised to assume senior roles at Disney overseeing television operations. Ben Sherwood, meanwhile, who has run the Disney-ABC Television Group since 2015, is reportedly set to leave the company upon the close of the deal. Two weeks ago, 21st Century Fox announced that after the ink dries, general counsel Gerson Zweifach will return to his former firm, Williams & Connolly, and Deadline says Disney is expected to confirm which 21st Century Fox honchos are joining the Iger empire as early as October 1. One particularly noteworthy matter, as a long-standing member of the corporate-media class suggested to me this week, involves who will get to make programming decisions for the companys streaming video services, which are the new front in the content wars being waged between legacy media players and technology giants like Netflix, Apple, and Amazon. As for the company tentatively titled New Fox, which will include Fox News, the Fox broadcast stations, and several other assets not going to Disney, the executive appointments so far include Lachlan Murdoch as C.E.O. and John Nallen, the current chief financial officer of 21st Century Fox, as chief operating officer.

Through a spokesman, James Murdoch declined to comment. But one gets a sense of where Murdochs head is at from people who know him well. On the Recode Media podcast last month, Kafka asked Jason Hirschhorn, C.E.O. of Redef and a friend of Murdochs since high school, for some insight into Murdochs turn away from Disney. I dont want to betray any confidences. I was surprised, Hirschhorn said. He was the heir apparent. It was a confusing time over there . . . Its been rumored that James is going to do something on the V.C. front . . . If youre James Murdoch and you grew up spending most of your life working for your father, and youre always compared to your father, and no matter how smart—you may be a captain of industry anywhere else, [but] youre still Ruperts son. Maybe James thought, Its time for me to do my own thing.

Rupert Everett spent years laboring over The Happy Prince, a film about Oscar Wildes difficult final days set shortly before the celebrated Irish author and playwright died in exile, after being imprisoned on charges of gross indecency. Now, after a protracted development process that began in 2012, the film is finally about to open in theaters. But Everett, who performed triple duty on the film—he not only stars, but also wrote and directed it—wants potential audiences to know that this movie is more than a typical passion project.

Its a film for the Trump era in a way, because its a film about what society does to a man—how society can punish a man just for being homosexual, Everett said at a Cinema Society screening of his film at iPic Theater in Manhattan Monday night. Now, we have a very comfortable life, but you never know whats going to happen in America next, or anywhere. As a minority, you always have to be vigilant. Indeed, Everett added, the global fight for L.G.B.T.Q. rights is still far from over—just look at countries like Russia.

That said, Everett also acknowledged the intensely personal aspects of the film—and why Wildes story resonates so deeply with him. I think, for me personally, hes a very important historical figure, whos a gay person whos worked in a largely heterosexual world, he said. Hes like a patron-saint figure. Thats why Ive always been very attached to him.

At the screening, Everett thanked other attendees, including Julianne Moore, Colin Firth, and Anna Wintour, for their support of his film and his work over the years.

In the American mind, California has been a place of fresh starts and re-invention. So it makes sense that Hope Hicks is heading west to serve as chief communications officer for New Fox, the parent company of Fox News, based in Los Angeles. Hicks, a 29-year-old former P.R. flack, had experienced a difficult time in New York after exiting Donald Trumps White House at the end of March. She was hounded by paparazzi, who photographed her jogging in Central Park with Rob Porter, her West Wing office romance, who left the White House after allegations of spousal abuse surfaced (Porter denied it). And shes also had to spend time and six figures on legal fees, (apparently funded by the Republican National Committee), dealing with Robert Muellers investigation. The opportunity to work for the Murdochs on another coast would be a chance for a reset.

Until Trumps presidency, working in the White House was a guaranteed ticket to plum jobs in the private sector. West Wing officials, gilded résumés in hand, transitioned easily to investment banks, media companies, and universities. Like a lot of Trump alumni, Hicks had a more challenging time. Its the Trump taint, one former West Wing official told me. She took a lot of meetings, but the big offers didnt roll in. She said she was looking for a big job in media and investment banks, one executive who met with her recalled. At one point it appeared like she might even go back to the White House and replace the embattled chief of staff, John Kelly. (Hicks declined to comment.)

But the Trump-Kushner nexus finally came through. In August, Page Six reported that Hicks had lunch at Avra on the Upper East Side with media banker Aryeh Bourkoff, the C.E.O. of LionTree and a close friend of Jared Kushners (during the 2016 presidential campaign, Kushner reportedly had conversations with Bourkoff about launching Trump TV). Around this time, Hicks began talks with Lachlan Murdoch, who is becoming chairman and C.E.O. of New Fox, the slimmed-down media company comprised of assets the Murdochs did not sell to Disney. Sources said Trump and Kushner put in calls to Rupert Murdoch to recommend Hicks.

Two weeks ago, Hicks had offers from both Bourkoff and Fox, sources said. In the end, working for Fox across the country was the more attractive opportunity. Its unclear what this means for her relationship with Porter, whos so far been unable to find a job, a former West Wing colleague told me. Its a big job. Plus she gets to move to L.A., a friend said. Although, of course, since shes working for Fox, which often works for Trump, its in another sense not a fresh start at all.

In Alexis Blooms new documentary Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes, a former Fox News staffer recalls his early days at the conservative cable channel.

It was imparted on me right from the beginning that it was not about journalism, explains Joe Muto, a former associate producer of The O'Reilly Factor. His commentary sounds especially eerie in the Fake News era: It was about drawing the biggest audience possible. We used to call it riling up the crazies. Thats what we were there to do. We were there to stir up outrage.

Divide and Conquer, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival this week, is part character study of Ailes, the political consultant and media mastermind who founded Fox News in 1996, and part post-mortem of Trumps election. The two went hand in hand; explains Muto, Trump is such a Fox-y character that if he wasnt real, Roger Ailes would have created him in a lab.

Bloom, who previously co-directed Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, initially intended to make a documentary about Rupert Murdoch, the News Corp media mogul who hired Ailes. But Bloom ran into issues of access. And besides, Bloom told Vanity Fair this week, Hes tough to watch. Murdochs had such an enormous influence on our lives, on our media landscape. But hes this organism thats perfectly designed to make money. And thats the only thing that animates him. Doesnt make a terribly good subject for a documentary.

Ailes, who died last year, was a bit more charismatic. He spent some of his early career on-camera and, in one of his more light-hearted trivia notes, at one point tap-danced as a means to maintain a slim physique. Ailes also had a more intriguing backstory than Murdoch: born in Ohio, Ailes was diagnosed with hemophilia as a child and lived in fear of the medical condition. Though he could not cure the disorder, he found a way to inflict fear in others.

Asked how much sympathy she has for film subjects like Ailes—a man accused of stoking outrage, serial sexual harassment, and extinguishing the careers of women who resisted him—Bloom was careful not to cast men like him as black-and-white villains. Its too convenient to make them a monster, or sort of shovel them into a paradigm, said Bloom. Were all in this together. Were all human. I grew up in apartheid South Africa where there was sort of extraordinary evil in very ordinary guises. People who enforced apartheid on a daily level, from not letting black Africans into the tennis club or onto the beach—not all of those people were evil, although their acts were certainly despicable. I fundamentally connect with all people as human. And if youre going to do a film like one about Roger, you have to know that hes ordinary and human in some way.

Ailes certainly had his hangups: he spun lies and created a false mythology for himself. (He incorrectly claimed, for example, that he invented the split-screen effect). His relationship with his mother had not been very physical—in an interview, Ailes confessed this could have been because his mother felt responsible for his hemophilia. Ailes was also wildly paranoid, so much so that he carried a gun at all times, installed a steel door to guard his office, and outfitted his personal and professional lairs with cameras.

Ailes began his career working up the production ladder on The Mike Douglas Show before pivoting to politics. As a consultant to Nixon during the 1968 presidential campaign, Ailes helped repair Nixons image after his disastrous first debate with John F. Kennedy. Years later, he would exercise his eye for optics in less savory ways—at Americas Talking, the channel he ran before Fox News, Ailes encouraged the female anchors to wear short skirts and sit at translucent desks where their legs were backlit. Explains one staffer in the film, Roger always knew the lowest common denominator in people—he knew how to strike at that.

Bloom had to carefully navigate her interviews with women who say they were sexually harassed by Ailes. Some accusers did not feel comfortable sharing their stories. Others had accepted settlements, preventing them from speaking to the filmmaker. Bloom ended up interviewing former Republican National Committee field adviser Kellie Boyle, former WNYW correspondent Lidia Curanaj, and former model Marsha Callahan,—all three of whom say they were punished, in one way or another, for resisting advances from Ailes.

It was not until 2016, two decades after founding Fox News, that his behavior caught up to him. Former Fox and Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual-harassment lawsuit against Ailes that inspired dozens more accusers to come forward. (Vanity Fair contributor Sarah Ellison reminds us in the film that it was Donald Trump who helped Ailes find a crisis-management team.) His hand forced by the Murdochs, Ailes resigned from Fox News with a letter that did not indicate he had done anything wrong. The following year, before taking responsibility for his alleged actions, Ailes died.

Asked what she wants audiences to take from the film, Bloom said, I just hope the film gives a deeper understanding of the current moment in America. The monetization of fear, and the weaponization of fear, and how a channel like Fox News is really making money off stoking peoples fears. Ailes may be dead, but his legacy—Fox News—remains. And his impact on politics, Bloom pointed out, continues post-Roger.

We are living in extraordinary times, dear reader: media colossuses are merging; our technology megaliths have faltered; virtually every element of human life is being reconsidered and artificially mimicked; and weve even become obsessed with adult scooting—all while the Dow Jones continues to float at an unprecedented level. Meanwhile, the Russia investigation remains ongoing, and our culture is undergoing an overdue reckoning. Are we at the end of one age or the beginning of the next?

Sign of the apocalypse? Thanks to her 100 percent ownership stake in her\neponymous makeup line, Jenner is now worth $900 million.

A New York Times whodunnit: The anonymous author of the most famous\nopinion piece in recent history not only garnered more than 15 million\npage views for the Times but also seized the attention of an audience of\none.

Not a media company? Long the premier destination for makeup tutorials\nand iPhone-unboxing videos, Wojcickis YouTube found itself at the\nepicenter of controversy after the Parkland shooting in early 2018, when\nthe platform inadvertently boosted conspiracy-theory videos. Wojcicki\nhas insisted that YouTube isnt a media company. But what is it, then?

Taking flight: Gelman, a Lena Dunham pal and former Clinton campaign\nstaffer, is a co-founder of the women-only co-working space and social\nclub, the Wing. With five locations in three cities and about 5,000\nmembers paying up to $3,000 for annual memberships, the Wing is already\neyeing international expansion, with planned outposts in London, Paris,\nand Toronto.

Disrupting the Street: One of the most senior women on Wall Street,\nKrawcheck was more or less defenestrated from her big jobs at both\nCitigroup and Bank of America. Shes now the co-founder of one of the\nlargest digital businesses focused entirely on helping women to better\ninvest their money.

Equity for all: Hamiltons firm aims to rectify Silicon Valleys woeful\ngender- and racial-inequality dynamics. She has invested in excess of\n$4 million in more than 100 companies led by under-represented\nfounders, and this year she announced a new, $36 million fund\nexclusively to invest in the ventures of black women.

The lefts best hope: If Bernie launched the democratic-socialist\nrevolution against ossified neoliberalism, these are his\nsuccessors—avatars of the lefts flirtation with universalism and its\nbest attempt to close the enthusiasm gap.

Jareds boy in Riyadh: Through his familys $1.4 trillion fortune,\nM.B.S. has earned audiences with some of the American business\ncommunitys biggest names, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin,\nApple C.E.O. Tim Cook, and Amazon C.E.O. Jeff Bezos—and, yes, Jared\nKushner.

Its all on Dara: Gurleys firm is one of Silicon Valleys more prolific\nventure-capital concerns, thanks in part to its early bet on Uber. The\ncompany is hoping that Khosrowshahi can stick to his plan and take Uber\npublic next year.

No holds barred: The first African-American woman to head up a major\nbroadcast television network, Dungey made her name developing hit\nshows—but grabbed headlines this year when she canceled Roseanne after\nthe shows star issued a racist tweet.

Irelands greatest export: It took less than eight years for the\nsoftware developed by the Collison brothers, who grew up in County\nLimerick, to become the $9.2 billion payment platform of choice for\neveryone in Silicon Valley.

Evidence of tween-world domination: The producer and Illumination\nfounder and C.E.O. has a hand in several animated-film franchises—Ice\nAge, Despicable Me, Minions, The Secret Life of Pets, and now\nSing—with sequels for the latter three currently under way. Despicable\nMe 3 alone brought in more than $1 billion worldwide last year.

The only person everyone actually likes: The unofficial Nice Guy of\nSilicon Valley, Butterfield sits at the helm of a now ubiquitous\nworkplace-messaging company. This year, Slack was valued at $7.1\nbillion.

The professional: As Vice co-founder Shane Smith stepped back from the\nday-to-day, Dubuc was brought in to tame the wilds of the companys\ncorporate culture—and make sure its #MeToo problems (not to mention\nrevenue issues) are fixed.

Little-screen bigwigs: If cable-news personalities are the celebrities\nof the Trump era, these are a red-carpet murderers row.

Renaissance man: In 2018, Glover was master of multiple pop-cultural\ndomains: he starred in the movie Solo, nabbed 16 Emmy nominations for\nhis TV series Atlanta, and hit No. 1 on Billboards Hot 100 chart with\nThis Is America.

The clothes make the boss: When Lakes tech-retail company Stitch Fix\nheld an I.P.O. in November 2017, she became the youngest female founder\nto take a company public.

Alone in the world: The admired and respected Murdoch, who bears a\nresemblance to the Kendall Roy character in HBOs Succession, has been\ntight-lipped about his next act after the Disney deal closes and he\nexits the family business. The pervasive assumption is a new investment\nvehicle of his own design.

The queen of cable: Hammer is set to become possibly the\nlongest-reigning female executive in TV history. And Steve Burke and\nBrian Roberts will increasingly rely on her as NBCU fights for terrain\nin a landscape dominated by Netflix, Amazon, and Bob Igers latest land\ngrab.

Friends of the pod: Theyre the new cabal of audio phenoms proving that\npodcasting is a place for star power—and money. In two short years,\nformer Obama staffers Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Tommy Vietor, and Dan\nPfeiffer have turned Crooked Media, home of Pod Save America, into a\nrevenue-generating powerhouse that can sell out Radio City Music Hall.

Im with her: Herds dating app—built on the premise that women making\nthe first move fosters more interesting conversations and better\nconnections—is now worth a billion dollars.

Hes baaack . . . : A year after leaving his post as C.E.O. of Uber\nin disgrace, Kalanick is making a comeback: as the founder of a venture\ncalled 10100, which will invest in e-commerce and real-estate companies,\nand as the C.E.O. of real-estate start-up City Storage Systems.

Peak Landgraf: The head of cable-network FX has distinguished himself\nfor both his astute analysis of pop culture (he coined the term peak\nTV) and for incubating award-winning shows such as The Americans and\nAtlanta. As Disney takes over Fox and sets its sights on streaming\ndominance, Landgrafs long view could be an asset.

A new call of duty: Kotick, the godfather of modern gaming, will need to\nre-invent the wheel to stay relevant in the next couple of years as\ngames like Fortnite, which are free to play, become cultural obsessions.

After the iPhone: As interest in the iPhone wanes, Cue has overseen the\ngrowth of two emerging businesses: Apple News, and the tech giants\nforays into film and television projects. Apple is reportedly spending\nmore than $1 billion on original content.

Wing man: WeWork is no stranger to the adage Spend money to make\nmoney, and over the past year, the real-estate work-space tech venture\nhas done plenty of the latter in pursuit of the former—acquiring a\nbevy of start-ups across sectors and making investments in others,\nincluding the women-only social club the Wing.

The long game pays off: Gorman, a former McKinsey management consultant,\nhad his doubters when he re-oriented the white-shoe Morgan Stanley\naround the asset- and wealth-management businesses after the financial\ncrisis. In the last year, Morgan Stanleys market capitalization\nexceeded that of Goldman Sachs.

Breaking down barriers: DuVernay has made advancing the careers of women\nand people of color in the entertainment industry part of her legacy.\nFrom hiring only women to direct her OWN series, Queen Sugar, to\ndistributing womens films through her company, Array, to becoming the\nfirst woman of color to direct a movie with a budget over $100 million,\nA Wrinkle in Time, DuVernay has pushed hard to open up new\nopportunities.

Baller: Johnson was 2018s second-highest-paid actor, according to\nForbes, but the top in actual box-office earnings. (George Clooney\nearned the No. 1 spot by selling his Casamigos tequila brand.) His\ncombined 179 million followers on social media have been the engine by\nwhich the star markets his films, which he now also produces, through\nhis Seven Bucks Productions company.

The pinch hitter: After eight years dutifully heading up consumer\nproducts and interactive media for Disney, Pitaro got Bob Igers\nblessing to run the conglomerates vaunted sports brand in the wake of\nJohn Skippers drug-related exit. Pitaro wants ESPN to move away from\nthe political commentary that thrust the network into the white-hot\ncenter of the culture wars.

Zucked: Spiegel has seen his stock, user numbers, and net worth fall\nover the past year after Instagram and Facebook copied almost all of\nSnaps features to great success. But he made about $640 million in its\nI.P.O.

Hacking software stocks: Step aside, Oprah. Smith, the founder of Vista,\none of the nations most prolific and successful private-equity firms,\nis the countrys wealthiest African-American, with a net worth of $4.4\nbillion. At Vista hes Mr. Everything: C.E.O., investment guru, and head\nof investor relations. The last is probably his easiest job, given his\nwild success at investing in software, and only software.

The ultimate data guy: Under Vestberg, who was promoted this summer from\nchief technology officer to succeed Lowell McAdam, Verizon wasted no\ntime reining in the ambitions of the Yahoo-AOL media mash-up known as\nOath. Vestberg likes content as much as the next guy, but he has bigger\nfish to fry: rolling out Verizons next-gen 5G network by years end.

The genius behind the flossing phenomenon: Fortnite, the crown in Epics\nportfolio, has become a global phenomenon, played by professional\nathletes, middle-aged middle managers, and tweens alike. In total, the\nbattle-royal-style concept has attracted some 125 million gamers.

Evidence of election-hacking remorse? Chan and her husband, Facebook\nC.E.O. Mark Zuckerberg, have been busy in 2018, pouring millions into\nmidterm-election initiatives with the help of Facebook co-founder Dustin\nMoskovitzs Open Philanthropy Project.

Impact investor: McGlashan represents the new generation of leaders at\nTPG, the private-equity powerhouse with stakes in everything from Uber\nto Vice, and leading the $2 billion Rise Fund. Although there have been rumors aplenty that a change is afoot,\nTPG, unlike its private-equity rivals, has no plans for an I.P.O.

Exit strategy: Greens firm has poached talent from more senior\nventure-capital competitors, and its star has risen in recent years\nthanks to a series of smart investments and acquisitions, including the\nsale of Dollar Shave Club, Bonobos, and Jet.com.

Bezoss scripted weapon: Formerly the president of NBC Entertainment,\nSalke took the reins at Amazon Studios earlier this year, replacing Roy\nPrice, who was ousted amid sexual-harassment allegations, which he\ndenied. With Amazons deep pockets and Salkes extensive experience in\nscripted-series development, she is well placed to do battle in the\nincreasingly competitive streaming wars.

The $1 billion bet: When the former C.E.O. of DreamWorks Animation and\nthe former C.E.O. of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and eBay joined forces\nlast spring on a mobile-first streaming platform called NewTV, they\nraised $1 billion in their first financing round from companies such as\nSony Pictures, Viacom, Disney, and Comcast.

Three-hundred-million-dollar man: The TV super-producer once joked hed\nbe buried on the Fox lot, but when Netflix courted Murphy earlier this\nyear—a few months before the studios merger with Disney was approved\nby shareholders—he signed a $300 million, five-year deal with the\nstreamer.

A tale of two companies: Square has seen its value almost triple in the\nlast year. Twitters value, on the other hand, bobs up and down like a\nyo-yo, as it remains the presidents favorite mouthpiece and occasional\nweapon.

Vlad the Impaler: The Russian leader recently won another six-year term,\nhosted the World Cup, and humiliated Donald Trump in Helsinki. His\napproval ratings in Russia have fallen, but he still commands the sort\nof fear Trump only dreams about.

Work, work, work, work, work: Shes a hit-making recording artist (more\nthan 250 million records sold, nine Grammys, 14 No. 1 singles); a\nfashion icon with a newly launched lingerie line and collaborations with\nPuma and other brands; and an actress (Oceans 8). Her Fenty Beauty\ncosmetics debuted a year ago and earned $100 million in its first 40\ndays.

Display of political intelligence: First, he persuaded Lady Gaga to\ndeglamorize for the lead in his Oscar-buzzy directorial debut, a remake\nof A Star Is Born. Then he showed an early cut of Star to Steven\nSpielberg and the keepers of Leonard Bernsteins estate to get the\ncomposers music in a biopic that he will star in, direct, and produce.

Disrupting the bottom of the ocean: Andreessen is starting to invest in\nA.I.-related technologies that will eat jobs in the U.S., including\nAtrium, a legal technology firm that plans to replace some lawyers\nduties with machine-learning algorithms.

The after-Lloyd: On October 1, he has a big new job, succeeding Lloyd\nBlankfein to run Goldman Sachs, where hell either keep the powerful\ninvestment bank in its lane or spearhead an expansion to compete better\nwith bigger, more profitable commercial-banking rivals.

Popcorn auteur: With his directorial debut, Get Out, Peele suggested he\nis that rare kind of filmmaker who can captain a box-office hit and\nignite a deep and lasting cultural conversation. At his company,\nMonkeypaw Productions, Peele is extending his idea of popcorn-friendly\ngenre projects into five TV series and multiple movies.

Season of change: Hes heading into the coming election season with a\nnew contract, a new boss, and a mission to keep the fire burning with\nCNNs wall-to-wall coverage of the man Zucker once transformed into a\nbawdy embodiment of reality TV.

Hollywood hitmaker: Coogler just may deliver Disney a rare non-animated\nbest-picture Oscar nomination, for Black Panther, when the nods are\nannounced in January. The Marvel film grossed more than $1.3 billion\nworldwide this year, refuting naysayers who doubted whether the film,\nwith a predominantly black cast, would sell overseas.

Its Shondaland, and were just living in it: The prolific writer and\nshow-runner has decamped to Netflix, lured by a four-year, nine-figure\ndeal that gives her the freedom to put her unique stamp on a slate of\nseries, mini-series, and films.

The media-industry savior: Her primary media project for the next\nseveral years is The Atlantic, which Emerson bought a majority stake in\nlast year. But media gossips cant help wildly speculating about what\nother companies might one day reap the rewards of Powell Jobss\nstrategic beneficence.

The new boss man: As of June, hes the guy in charge of Warner Bros.,\nHBO, CNN, TBS, and a lot more. Not bad for a career phone-company\nexecutive whose name didnt register in media circles just one year ago.

Dont hate the player: This year has been a mixed bag for Tepper. His\nfund lost approximately 10 percent of its value in the second quarter,\nbut hes still worth around $11 billion, and he recently acquired the\nCarolina Panthers football team for a record $2.2 billion.

Power in numbers: When the #MeToo movement took off, a number of\npowerful Hollywood women began holding planning meetings last fall,\neventually expanding their ranks to include more than 300 women in the\nentertainment industry. Times Up has since raised more than $20 million for a sexual-harassment legal-defense fund, re-invented the red carpet as a forum for activism, used its power to push for more inclusion among film critics and entertainment reporters, and has now hired its first C.E.O., Lisa Borders.

And now appearing on the small screen . . . The eminence largely\nbehind Star Wars, Star Trek, and Mission: Impossible is currently\ndirecting Star Wars: Episode IX, and recently joined forces with Tencent\nto launch gaming division Bad Robot Games.

Display of acquisition-philia: Zaslav kicked off the year with\nDiscoverys $12 billion takeover of Scripps Networks, including HGTV,\nthe Food Network, and the Travel Channel. With more M&A on the horizon,\nDiscovery could be seen as a potentially attractive target for a\nmega-merger, itself.

Boy genius: Buterin is worth around $100 million (double that on a good\nday) after co-founding Ethereum, the efficient and blockchain-friendly\ncrypto-currency that banks and financial institutions have fallen in\nlove with.

Investor payoff: Pinault is the first C.E.O. of a fashion conglomerate\nto make sustainability not just a talking point but part of the\ncompanys underlying culture, and has invested heavily in this goal. He\nhas also invested in young talent at the helm of his major houses.

Display of disruptive expertise: Before founding electric-scooter\nupstart Bird, VanderZanden was chief operating officer at Lyft and,\nlater, V.P. of international growth at Uber—jobs that would set him up\nfor the familiar task of dealing with local regulations and bringing new\ntransit options to cities worldwide.

No longer VRBO for millennials: Airbnb launched a luxury-vacation rental\nservice, and has toyed with the idea of starting its own airline. Chesky\nhas eyed 2019 for an I.P.O., but nothings set in stone yet.

The alter-Uber: Now valued at a lofty $15 billion, Lyft has managed to\navoid the negative attention that its primary competitor, Uber,\nregularly attracts. The company is also eyeing an expansion: as of\nAugust, Lyft had surpassed 5,000 driverless BMW rides, and in July the\ncompany acquired bike-share operator Motivate.

Golden-shower glory: The former head of M.I.6s Russia desk compiled the\ninfamous dossier that raised the possibility Donald Trump was vulnerable\nto Russian blackmail. Steele even grew a beard and went into\nhiding—merely adding to his mythic reputation on the left.

Prestige play: After helping to nab almost $2 billion worth of box\noffice in a decade with genre franchises, Blum gained awards cred by\nnotching best-picture Oscar nominations for producing the feature-film\ndebuts of directors Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and Jordan Peele (Get\nOut).

May the Schwarz be with him: For years, Gray has run the\nhyper-successful real-estate portfolio at Blackstone—the\nprivate-equity behemoth with more than $439 billion in assets under\nmanagement—masterminding its buyout of Hilton, one of the most\nsuccessful Wall Street deals ever. Now hes getting what he deserves:\nthe blessing to succeed founder Stephen Schwarzman as the firms C.E.O.

Evidence of brand prowess: The Oscar winners personal brand extends to\nher Draper James lifestyle line, a popular book-of-the-month club, and\nher digital-media company, Hello Sunshine, a joint venture with AT&T\nand Peter Chernin, which just signed TV deals on five series: three with\nApple, one with Hulu, and another with Amazon—all with the central\nfocus of telling female-driven stories.

The Bezos of crypto? If theres one thing that happens very quickly in\nSilicon Valley, its your net worth going from nothing to everything. A\nfew years ago, Armstrong was a software engineer at Airbnb. Now, hes at\nthe forefront of everything to do with crypto-currency and bringing\nBitcoin to the masses after co-founding Coinbase, the app that allows\nyou to buy and sell crypto with the ease of shopping for toilet paper\nand toothpaste on Amazon.

Army of one: Tenacity pays off. In 2016, Palantir, co-founded by Trump\nsupporter Thiel, sued the government over an unfair bidding process in\ntrying to secure defense contracts, and won. Earlier this year, the U.S.\nArmy announced it had awarded Palantir an $876 million contract for\nbattlefield software.

Late-night Trump bump? The comics unflinching nightly takedowns of\nTrump, along with viral monologues and a guest roster that included John\nKerry, Bob Woodward, and Beto ORourke, have helped push his ratings\npast those of his tamer competitors Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel.

The kids are all right: After surviving a harrowing massacre at the\nhands of a lone gunman, Emma González and David Hogg, along with several\nof their peers, organized the March for Our Lives, which drew nearly two\nmillion people, making it one of the largest marches in American\nhistory. Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, and Matt Deitch have helped turn\nit into a movement.

The Insta of China: Tencent, which owns the super-popular app WeChat, is\nthe first Asian-based tech company to hit a $500 billion market cap.

The closer: Netflixs seemingly bottomless checkbook has irritated every\ncompetitor in Hollywood, but its Sarandoss personal salesmanship that\nhas helped close key deals with marquee show-runners such as Shonda\nRhimes and Ryan Murphy, and endear Netflix to skeptical cinéastes like\nAlfonso Cuarón and Martin Scorsese.

No more Clippy: Microsoft has been on a tear since Nadella took over as\nC.E.O., in 2014, and his expansive vision for the company continues to\ntransform its corporate culture. After buying LinkedIn, Nadella resumed\nhis shopping spree this year with the acquisition of code database\nGitHub for $7.5 billion.

One-man Netflix-slayer? AT&Ts bet on Time Warner really comes down to\na gamble on whether Plepler, with millions more in his war chest, can\nrely on his golden gut to out-program Netflixs vaunted algorithm and\nseemingly limitless resources.

The new king of the Street: Thanks to Trumps new tax law, JPMorgan\nChase is rolling in the dough like never before. Last years quarterly\nprofits reached a record of $6.5 billion to $7 billion or so, and\nprofits this year have poured in at more than $8.7 billion every three\nmonths. With the retirement of Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman, Dimon is the\nundisputed king of Wall Street banks.

The only thing people like about Facebook! Not only has Instagram\nmanaged to replicate all the successful parts of Snapchat, but its also\nFacebooks last, best hope: a platform insulated from the data-privacy\nscandals and misinformation that have plagued its parent company.

Lying low: Pichais steady stewardship of Google and relatively low\nprofile have allowed him to sidestep controversies involving the\ncompanys monopolistic power, the proliferation of conspiracy videos on\nYouTube, and an ill-received plan to launch a censored version of its\nsearch engine in China. In the meantime, Google is quietly making a\nmajor push into A.I. and challenging Amazon with its own smart-assistant\ndevice, Google Home.

Outfoxed: Its been a bumpy year for the top two executives of NBC. The\ncompanys news division was rocked by #MeToo scandals, and Roberts had\nto call off Comcasts pursuit of 21st Century Fox when the bidding got\ntoo hot. The good news is that NBC and Comcast were ahead of the game in\nthe M&A frenzy that continues to upend Big Media.

Ulterior motives? At a glance, Murdochs once unimaginable divestiture\nof 21st Century Fox looked like a white flag in Big Medias war with\nSilicon Valley. But look a little closer: the octogenarian mogul gets to\nkeep the things he likes best—Fox News and his global newspaper\nfleet—and it doesnt hurt that he and his brood are set to become\nDisneys second-largest shareholders, either.

Pulitzer Kenny: In addition to his 12 Grammys, 17.8 million albums sold,\nand net worth of $58 million (thanks, partly, to deals with Nike and\nAmerican Express), Lamar this year received a Pulitzer Prize for his\nalbum DAMN., the first non-jazz or classical record to win the award in\nits 75-year history.

Not bad for a failed musician: Ek, who once dreamed of being a musician,\nhas now created the worlds most popular music-streaming platform.\nSpotify, which eschewed the traditional banker-laden pre-I.P.O. road\nshow, is now worth $33 billion, and growing. The next frontier: video.

Post-peak Musk? After years of receiving adulation in the press, Musk\nmade headlines this year for all the wrong reasons. While SpaceX has\ngrown into the worlds most important aerospace company, Musks personal\nbehavior has rattled Wall Street.

Creature of Congress? If Sandberg has aspirations beyond being\nFacebooks number two, she will have to help Zuckerberg fix the most\npowerful social network on earth—especially given whats at stake in\nthe 2018 midterms and 2020 election. Otherwise, she may again find\nherself testifying before Congress.

Mogul-hunting: Their reporting for The New Yorker (Farrow) and The New\nYork Times (Kantor, Twohey) brought down Harvey Weinstein, opened the\nfloodgates of #MeToo journalism, and culminated in a shared Pulitzer\nPrize. Kantor and Twohey signed a high-profile book deal and walked the\nOscars red carpet. Farrow churned out exposés that ended the careers of\nNew York attorney general Eric Schneiderman and CBS C.E.O. Les Moonves.

Globalization and its discontents: Didi has been on a tear since running\nUber out of China in 2016. The company has aggressively expanded its\nride-sharing empire into Mexico, Australia, Japan, and throughout\nSoutheast Asia.

Mister Fantastic: Marvel Studios has released 20 hit films in the past\ndecade, and this year may have its first best-picture contender in Black\nPanther. Expect Feiges power to grow under the coming Disney-Fox\nmerger, which will see popular Fox-licensed characters from the X-Men,\nDeadpool, and Fantastic Four comics united under the Disney banner, and\nFeiges trusted stewardship.

The G.O.A.T.: The winningest player in modern history returned from\npregnancy to reach two Grand Slam finals, redefine motherhood in sports,\nand continue as a board member of SurveyMonkey, all while remaining the\nworlds highest-paid female athlete.

Showtime: When James signed his four-year, $154 million deal to play\nwith the Los Angeles Lakers, some wondered if the move was intended to\nget the four-time N.B.A. M.V.P. closer to Hollywood. His SpringHill\nproduction company, with offices on the Warner Bros. lot, is working on\na remake of House Party and a sequel, Space Jam 2, starring James and\nproduced by Ryan Coogler. James is also involved in TV projects for HBO,\nShowtime, and NBC.

Gravity-free zone: Neither a record-breaking $5 billion fine from\nEuropean regulators nor the presidents constant Twitter barrage could\nimpede Alphabet, Googles parent company, which continues to beat Wall\nStreet expectations as it also creeps toward the vaunted trillion-dollar\nmarket-capitalization threshold.

Übermensch: A little over a year ago, few people in Silicon Valley had\nheard of the Iranian-born entrepreneur running Expedia. But after Uber\nnearly imploded under Travis Kalanick, Khosrowshahi appears to be\nturning around a company that seemed like it was about to crater from\nself-inflicted injuries. Can he stay the course and take Uber public\nnext year?

One hundred billion reasons: With its $100 billion Vision Fund,\nJapanese giant SoftBank has quickly become one of the most powerful\nplayers in tech, muscling out rivals with its massive bets on Uber,\nsemiconductors, and WeWork, among dozens of other companies. Son, the\ncompanys enigmatic founder, has said he expects artificial intelligence\nto surpass humanity within the next 30 years.

The quant: After conquering Trumps Department of Justice to consummate\nhis acquisition of Time Warner, the Dallas-based telecom executive now\nsits atop a war chest of premium film and television programming, from\nHBO to CNN. Its enough to keep AT&Ts 159 million mobile customers\nglued to their smartphones.

The breadwinner: Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z just collaborated on a\n48-date tour in support of their album, Everything Is Love, which is\nexpected to bring in more than $200 million this year. In 2017, Beyoncé\nalone earned more than $100 million, while her performances at\nCoachella, a tribute to historically black colleges, secured her role as\na cultural figure well beyond the realm of music.

Im still C.E.O., bitch! In a year punctuated by a data-privacy scandal,\ndisinformation campaigns, a massive one-day stock capsizing, and growing\nskepticism on Capitol Hill, Zuckerberg, who as a young founder\ninfamously printed cards with the mantra Im CEO, Bitch, continues\nto exercise nearly unchecked power at Facebook.

Returning to higher ground: As the midterms approach, the Obamas have\njust begun tiptoeing back onto the national scene, but they remain as\ninfluential as ever—particularly Michelle, whose forthcoming book,\nBecoming, is the first highly anticipated release in the familys pair\nof multi-million-dollar deals with Penguin Random House and Netflix, and\nwho launched her own get-out-the-vote campaign. The former First Ladys\nupcoming book tour transcends authordom—shes selling out stadiums à\nla Joel Osteen, or Mick Jagger.

Trillion-dollar man: While other tech C.E.O.s were skewered in the\npress for their role in the 2016 election mess, Apple stayed above the\nfray while also becoming the first American company with a\ntrillion-dollar market capitalization. The truth is, we could make a\nton of money if we monetized our customer—if our customer was our\nproduct, Cook recently said, in a veiled reference to Facebook.\nWeve elected not to do that.

A new front in the streaming wars: This time last year, Iger was\nconsidering taking on Trumps divisive rhetoric and running against him\nin 2020. But Igers political ambitions were suspended when he saw the\nopportunity to buy 21st Century Fox, for a cool $71 billion. An\nantidote to AT&Ts $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, the move\nhelped usher Disney into a new era of streaming—and open a new front\nin its battle with Netflix.

Started at the bottom . . . : Hastings founded Netflix two decades\nago with a thesis that consumers would one day stream billions of hours\nof content over the Internet. Now the company has a market\ncapitalization of $160 billion and recently beat out HBO on Emmy night for the first time.

Display of Vulcan chess mastery: Antagonism from President Trump and\nBernie Sanders notwithstanding, Bezos has continued to grow both his\npersonal wealth (he recently overtook Bill Gates as the worlds richest\nperson) and the value of his company, which hovers around the\ntrillion-dollar mark.

Evidence of institutional inscrutability: The unofficial hero of the\nanti-Trump resistance, and the avatar of American institutionalism, may\nor may not satisfy the appetite of an electorate searching for answers\nabout what really went down between the Trump campaign and Russia. But\nMueller, and his nearly three dozen indictments and guilty pleas, is\nproof of the power of the law.

Reporting by Nick Bilton, Maya Kosoff, Joe Pompeo, Gabriel Sherman, William D. Cohan, Abigail Tracy, Emily Jane Fox, Bess Levin, Tina Nguyen, Claire Landsbaum, Ben Landy, Krista Smith, Anna Lisa Raya, Joy Press, Rebecca Keegan, and Yohana Desta.

Two days after Donald Trumps election, Jamal Khashoggi returned to the Red Sea port city of Jeddah from Washington where hed given a foreign-policy talk lightly critical of then president-elect Trump, when he received a phone call from the media adviser to the kingdoms ascendent deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, better known by his initials M.B.S. He said, Youre not allowed to tweet or write your column or give comments to foreign journalists, Khashoggi recalled to me in March 2018. I was ordered silent.

As a member of the Saudi elite for decades, Khashoggi understood that political expression had strict limits in the kingdom, but M.B.S.s apparent determination to quell even mild dissent on foreign soil left Khashoggi unnerved. Ten months later, in September 2017, he fled to Washington. I began to feel whatever narrow space I had in Saudi Arabia was getting narrower. I thought it would be better to get out and be safe, he told me.

I initially contacted Khashoggi for a prospective article about the young princes relationship to the White House, which I shelved because he was one of the few people who would speak openly. When he left Saudi Arabia, Khashoggi told me, he didnt see himself in the mold of a dissident. Hed been editor-in-chief of the Saudi newspaper Al Watan and a media adviser to Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabias ambassador to Britain. Moreover, he wanted M.B.S. to succeed. He truly wants to make Saudi Arabia great again. But he is doing it the wrong way, Khashoggi told me.

But a month after his departure from the kingdom, Khashoggis view of M.B.S. fundamentally changed. Saudi security services arrested scores of prominent businessmen and imprisoned them inside the Ritz-Carlton under the guise of an anti-corruption crackdown. Khashoggi soon began hearing from friends in Saudi Arabia that prisoners were coerced, in some cases tortured, into turning over billions of dollars to the government. It was tough. Some were insulted. Some were hit. Some claim they were electrocuted, he said. The purge, which also included intellectuals, media personalities, and moderate clerics, convinced Khashoggi that M.B.S. had sold himself as a reformer when in fact he was a brutal authoritarian. When the arrests started happening, I flipped. I decided it was time to speak, he told me.

Khashoggi subsequently landed a column in The Washington Post where he wrote critically about M.B.S.s internal power grab; his reckless military intervention in neighboring Yemen, where he has created a humanitarian emergency; and the princes bizarre plot to kidnap Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri. Saudi Arabia wasnt a free society, but people werent being arrested like this, he said. The people M.B.S. arrested were not radicals. The majority were reformers for womens rights and open society. He arrested them to spread fear. He is replacing religious intolerance with political closure. An adviser to one prominent Saudi businessman who was arrested told me: People are scared. It has become a bit of a police state.

Tragically, Khashoggis self-imposed exile didnt keep him safe. Earlier this month, Khashoggi entered Saudi Arabias consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents he needed for his upcoming wedding and never emerged. Turkish officials have told Western journalists that a kill team of 15 Saudi agents detained Khashoggi inside the consulate, tortured him to death, and dismembered his body with a bone saw. M.B.S. and his father, King Salman, have denied their involvement in Khashoggis disappearance, but already the grisly episode has damaged M.B.S.s ambitions to cultivate global elites. A parade of C.E.O.s including Ubers Dara Khosrowshahi, JPMorgan Chases Jamie Dimon, and BlackRocks Larry Fink have canceled plans to attend an investment conference hosted by M.B.S. next week at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton dubbed Davos in the Desert, though Fink, at least, has said hell maintain his business ties to the kingdom.

Khashoggi and I spoke last March during M.B.S.s three-week tour of the United States that was designed to cement M.B.S.s image on the global stage as an avatar of a modern Middle East. In the Times, Tom Friedman wrote a column gushing that M.B.S. possessed a fire hose of new ideas about transforming his country . . . who talks the language of tech, and whose biggest sin may be that he wants to go too fast. One media C.E.O. who met with the prince on his visit praised the princes plans to allow women to drive and movie theaters to open. M.B.S. was feted by the Trump administration, Rupert Murdoch, Jeff Bezos, and even Oprah.

The elites embrace of M.B.S. had been one of the chief foreign-policy goals of the Trump White House, particularly Jared Kushner. Saudi Arabia was crucial to Kushners yet-to-be-released Middle East peace plan that involved building a Sunni-Israeli alliance to broker peace with the Palestinians and counter an expansionist Iran. Jared had a vision from the very beginning, a former West Wing official said. Kushners support for M.B.S. at times bordered on blind faith. In November 2017, the Post reported that Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh just days before the Ritz arrests began and stayed up several nights discussing strategy with M.B.S. til 4 A.M. (The White House declined to comment.)

Kushners bromance with M.B.S. generated criticism from Trumps national security team, especially former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Tillerson said, The kids a rookie, he doesnt know the region. He was beyond dismissive, a former West Wing official said. Another former West Wing official recalled: There were many confrontations between Tillerson and Jared where Tillerson was emotionally angry that Jared was in contact with M.B.S. I remember in a couple of instances, Tillerson would confront Jared about directly talking to M.B.S. Rex felt out of loop. (Tillerson did not respond to a request for comment.)

Diplomats who served in the region also question Kushners logic of investing so much in an untested and impulsive young royal. Ive taken to calling M.B.S. a progressive authoritarian. Hes using this anti-corruption push toward cleaning up but also removing rivals, said Robert Jordan, who served as George W. Bushs ambassador to Saudi Arabia after 9/11.

Yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Riyadh to diffuse the global crisis over Khashoggis death—a State Department spokesperson said in a statement that he conveyed the importance of conducting a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation in meetings with both M.B.S. and King Salman. As of now, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin still plans to attend the conference at the Ritz.

Just two weeks before production was set to start, Annapurna Pictures is letting go of Jay Roachs prestige-y drama about former Fox leader Roger Ailes and his damning sexual misconduct scandal. According to The Hollywood Reporter, disagreements arose about the films reported $35 million budget.

Roachs film has been a much buzzed-about project for the last few weeks, assembling an all-star cast that includes John Lithgow as Ailes, Nicole Kidman and not Naomi Watts as former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson, Charlize Theron as former Fox anchor Megyn Kelly, and Margot Robbie as associate producer Kayla Pospisil. It was reported as recently as Monday that Malcolm McDowell had just signed up to play Rupert Murdoch.

For all intents and purposes, the film seemed like a perfect project for a production company like prestige-y Annapurna—rich (if utterly depressing) source material, an established director, and a cast that will carry this thing into the center of the awards-season conversation. Even its relatively modest budget is on par with the films that Megan Ellisons company usually green-lights. So, what went wrong? Representatives for Annapurna have not yet responded to Vanity Fairs request for comment.

Per T.H.R., Canadian-based company Bron Studios—which has previously fueled films like Fences—has stepped in to co-finance Roachs movie. In addition, plenty of outfits are now circling the free agent, including Oscar-guzzlers Focus Features, Amblin, and Participant Media.

It seemed like the beginning of a beautiful friendship. In May, inside a white tent on the French Riviera with the green flag of Saudi Arabia waving overhead, Hollywood producers and agents were sipping strong coffee from tiny cups and picking at plates of dates. Representing his countrys first-ever delegation at the Cannes Film Festival, Ahmad Al Maziad, the C.E.O. of Saudi Arabias General Culture Authority, was making the case for his kingdom to his Hollywood guests, offering branded tote bags, lushly photographed brochures of Saudi film locations, and the promise of some of the worlds most generous film-production tax incentives. Were coming to build an industry, Al Maziad said during an interview in the back of the tent.

Five months later, the partnerships Riyadh and Hollywood began to forge appear to be falling apart over the disappearance—and alleged murder—of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi from the countrys consulate in Turkey earlier this month. On Monday, Endeavor, the talent agency that had entered a deal to receive $400 million from the Saudi Public Investment Fund in exchange for a 5 to 10 percent ownership stake, was working towards breaking the arrangement, according to a source close to the company. At a trade show in France, Endeavor C.E.O. Ari Emanuel told an audience that he was personally really concerned about the disappearance of Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Actor Gerard Butler canceled a plan to fly to Saudi Arabia this week to promote his new military thriller, Hunter Killer, telling reporters during a press stop at the Pentagon on Monday that it felt incredibly insensitive to go to Saudi Arabia. A spokesman for the WWE, which plans to host a major wrestling event in Saudi Arabia in November, said they are currently monitoring the situation.

Khashoggis disappearance, which Turkish officials attribute to a grisly assassination and cover-up by Saudi agents, comes as the entertainment industry had just been getting started in Saudi Arabia, at the behest of the kingdoms controversial young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. (According to reports, Saudi officials, who have denied involvement in Khashoggis disappearance, are preparing to blame it on a botched interrogation attempt.) In the spring, as part of a coast-to-coast charm offensive that included a meeting with President Donald Trump, M.B.S., as he is known, visited Los Angeles and met with media moguls like Disney C.E.O. Bob Iger, Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch, and Oprah Winfrey. He pitched his reforms—which included allowing women to drive and ending a 35-year ban on cinemas—and sought high-stakes partnerships in the entertainment business. He made an impassioned plea to me to consider building Disneyland in Saudi Arabia, and I listened with curiosity and somewhat of an open mind, Iger told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations this spring. I ended up saying that I would visit and see for myself. . . . Whether we grow or not there, I dont know, but Ill go.

In April, a showing of Black Panther at an ornate, 1,000-seat performance hall in Riyadh opened a box-office market projected to reach $1 billion. This is gonna be like Hamilton for a while, because we cant build the cinemas fast enough, National Organization of Theatre Owners President John Fithian said at the time. Saudi Arabias tax incentives—a 35 percent location rebate on production costs for films that shoot in the country, and a 50 percent rebate on salaries for any local talent employed—are higher than the rebates in Canada, the U.K., and New Zealand, which have driven major Hollywood productions to those countries.

Though there seemed to be promise in the market when the Saudis touted their plans at Cannes, there also was skepticism that such a conservative country could work with Hollywood. Movies exhibited there will be censored in accordance with Saudi norms; at its screenings, Black Panther had a short kissing scene excised. Western filmmakers who shoot in Saudi Arabia will have to conform to content guidelines that Al Maziad and his colleagues are currently developing.

Hollywoods business in Saudi Arabia has been somewhat of a smoke screen, said one veteran studio executive. Its a potentially interesting market, but its not in the near future a game changer. A lot of people have announced things because it sounded good. In terms of it affecting their [profits and loss], its not significant. There are only three theaters there now and very few movies can get through the [censorship issues]. One day it could be a big market, but its not going to be if the human-rights violations continue.

For Hollywood, the stakes might be low—but for the small community of Saudis who have begun to work in the industry, they are immeasurably higher. Saudi-born filmmaker Haifaa al-Mansour, who recently made the Netflix film Nappily Ever After, was planning to return to her country to begin shooting The Perfect Candidate, about a female doctor, financed by Germany and Saudi Arabia, and made with help from the new Saudi filmmaking incentives. The most exciting thing for me is to see more films coming from Saudi, al-Mansour said during an interview in April. A lot of Saudi young people are hungry to see themselves. Al-Mansour, who is currently in production on another project for Netflix, was not available for comment about how her plans have been affected by Khashoggis disappearance.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks with high-level Saudi leaders about Khashoggi, and State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pompeo thanked the king for his commitment to supporting a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation of the Khashoggi disappearance and made clear his concern about the case to the foreign minister.

Youve got to hand it to Elon Musk. The multi-billionaire knows how to get media attention, albeit in a Michael Avenatti kind of way. Whether tweeting that he had secured funding to take Tesla private at $420 a share, being sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission when he said funding didnt materialize, mocking the agency after it agreed to settle allegations of securities fraud against him (but before a judge has approved the deal), or smoking a spliff on an Internet radio show, the guy is a bona fide hornets nest for shareholders.

In an age when we are all on input overload, as my colleague Nick Bilton has noted, Musks ability to cut through the piles of gibberish with his own version of it has probably been quite effective at bringing attention to Tesla, his $40 billion cutting-edge electric-car manufacturer; Space X, his rocket-ship company; and to the Boring Company, his business that is building an underground tunnel in California. (Good luck to James Murdoch, a board member who is rumored to be ascending to chairman, to curb this behavior.)

But is Wall Street getting sick of his shtick? Just as there seems to be widespread agreement in the canyons of finance that, all things considered, it would be better if the 47-year-old Musk stopped acting like an impetuous teenager and more like a corporate C.E.O., there is still widespread disagreement about which direction Tesla is going. Is it headed into bankruptcy, soon to be owned by stiffed creditors, or is it on its way to being the next Amazon-lite? That seems to be the burning question at the moment among Wall Street analysts.

Some, like Maynard Um, at Macquarie Research, started his coverage of Tesla on Tuesday with an outperform rating and a price target for the stock of $430 per share, a coy $10 per share higher than the marijuana-inspired price at which Musk said he was going take the company private in August. Um wrote that Tesla is a disruptive technology growth company in the equally disruptive markets of electric cars, energy storage, and energy generation. He predicted Tesla would reach profitability in the second half of 2018, a point that definitely remains to be seen, given that Tesla had an operating loss of $1.7 billion in the first six months of the year. Teslas stock price is around $250 these days, so Um, and any investors who take his advice to buy the stock, could be in for a long wait until $430.

Then there is Berenberg Bank, which in the great tradition of Henry Blodget and Amazon from once upon a time, has a $500 price target on Tesla. The market, the small 428-year-old German investment bank observed, underestimates the full extent of Teslas technological advantage . . . which manifests in the entire electronic architecture of the vehicle as well as the battery-management system.

Perhaps, instead, the market is actually focused on Teslas production problems, its ongoing operating losses, its looming debt payments—$1.8 billion of Teslas some $11 billion in debt is coming due in the next 13 months—and its dwindling cash balances. Fahmi Quadir, the founder of the tiny Safkhet Capital, is famous for making an early call that Valeant Pharmaceuticals would have its day of reckoning. Hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman equally famously lost more than $4 billion betting the opposite would be true. In July, Quadir started betting that Teslas stock price would fall.

Quadir told Bloomberg yesterday that Tesla was between a rock and a hard place because it needs more capital—some say as much as $2 billion more before long—and it will likely be forced to raise new capital in either the equity markets, likely at a discounted price, or in the debt markets, which is already choking on Tesla debt. If Musk goes the debt route, he will likely have to pay up for it. The companys $1.8 billion senior notes, issued at an interest rate of 5.3 percent last year, now yield 8.65 percent, meaning Musk will likely have pay investors at least 8.65 percent, and probably more, to convince them to buy a new issue of Tesla debt. Its becoming more and more apparent that Tesla is having difficulties paying their bills, Quadir said. I saw a lot of the same with Valeant.

Another indicator of trouble is the increasing cost to investors who want to insure the risk that Tesla will default on its debt. The premium required—up front—to insure $10 million of Teslas bonds in case they default sometime in the next five years is now $2 million. Two months ago that cost was below $1.3 million. In other words, the market is telling investors that the risk of a debt default at Tesla is increasing, and if you want to do something about it, whether you own the Tesla bonds or not, itll cost you $700,000 more today to make that bet than it would have cost two months ago. Part of what the debt market worries about with Tesla are three looming convertible-debt payments that are coming due in the next 13 months. If the Tesla stock were trading higher than the current price, the debt holders would convert the debt into equity and the problem would disappear. But, for instance, the $920 million convertible-debt maturity due in March will have to be repaid using some of Teslas around $2 billion in cash—about half of what it had a year ago—unless the Tesla stock is trading at $360 per share, and that seems increasingly unlikely.

If Musk is concerned in the least about any of this, hes not letting on. Last week, in an e-mail to employees, he said Tesla was very close to achieving profitability and proving the naysayers wrong. Hes been tweeting lately about Teslas Model 3 having the lowest probability of injury of any vehicle ever tested, whatever that means, and hes been retweeting the news that the Model 3 is the top-selling American-made car in the country. On Sunday, he was also trumpeting the latest successful launch, and landing, of one of his Space X rockets, from an Air Force base in California.

What will Larry do? That was the question being asked around Hollywood on Wednesday afternoon, after news broke that billionaire Oracle founder Larry Ellison had stepped into the fray at Annapurna Pictures, the company created by his daughter, Megan Ellison, in an attempt to stem the bleeding caused by her slate of high-end, auteur-driven projects.

The past 36 hours have been a whirlwind for Annapurna. First, the production company announced it was bowing out of the untitled movie about former Fox News C.E.O. Roger Ailes, a mere two weeks before the start of production. Set to be directed by Jay Roach (Trumbo) from a script by Charles Randolph (The Big Short), and to star John Lithgow, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie, the film is now being shopped to three different studios. That news coincided with a report that Annapurnas head of production, Chelsea Barnard, a longtime employee, had left her position, and that the company recently offloaded its high-profile, Jennifer Lopez-starring film, The Hustlers at Scores, to STX Entertainment. (One source said Annapurna abandoned the film a month ago after it couldnt sell off the international rights.)

These chaotic moves have caused people who are in business with 32-year-old Megan to wonder if their movies are still moving forward—and left others holding their breath, hoping that one of the few remaining outfits that finances challenging films doesnt go belly-up.

I dont care how much money daddy gives you—you have to make something turn a profit, said one producer, who declined to be identified. Yet I applaud [Megan], and desperately want her to succeed. She hasnt made a single movie with a questionable filmmaker, and there arent enough people out there who are financing filmmakers. You could argue about how much shes spent, but nevertheless I have to applaud her.

Two sources confirmed to Vanity Fair that Larry is indeed stepping in with a cash infusion for Annapurna, though the extent of his involvement remains questionable—as do rumors that Larry wanted the Ailes film shelved due to his close relationship with Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch. Variety reported that the tech billionaire will be orchestrating a major reorganization of Annapurna, with layoffs expected. The company disputed these claims. Larry has been supportive and empowering of Megan as C.E.O. of this company, said spokesperson Ashley Momtaheni. His involvement has not changed since she founded Annapurna.

Megan first made a name for herself in 2012, with the $45 million financing of Kathryn Bigelows Oscar-nominated Zero Dark Thirty, about the killing of Osama bin Laden. Since then, she and her company have backed projects from artists as diverse as Spike Jonze (Her), David O. Russell (American Hustle, Joy), Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master, Phantom Thread), and Richard Linklater (Everybody Wants Some!!, the upcoming Whered You Go, Bernadette), proving to be champions of prickly auteurs.

Things started to get wonky, as another producer put it, when Megan decided to expand her financing/production operation into a distribution and marketing entity in January 2017—a costly proposition that required her to staff up quickly and outlay big chunks of cash. The significant overhead, coupled with expensive employees, has proven challenging to the company, especially since none of the movies Annapurna has released in the past 18 months have been big moneymakers. Its one wide release, Bigelows Zero Dark Thirty follow-up, Detroit, proved to be a risk for the nascent label when it grossed only half of its $34 million budget. Yet insiders at the company insisted these are normal growing pains for a new film operation.

Its not helpful that Megan has proven to be a mercurial manager, sources said, one who is both passionate about her artists and challenging to work for. Filmmakers, though, couldnt ask for a more engaged partner, and are effusive in their praise.

They all love her so much, said Nina Yang Bongiovi, one of the producers of this summers Annapurna release Sorry to Bother You, from emerging voice Boots Riley. If she were to go away, it would be a sad time for our business. When we were selling the film [at Sundance], she came in with a different approach. Its very anti-corporate, anti-studio, and thats really refreshing for artists.

It might not be best for the bottom line, though. Yang Bongiovi recognizes that the risks Ellison takes are costly. All of [Annapurnas] movies are hard, she added, pointing out that Sorry to Bother You was one of the bright spots in the companys recent history (it grossed $17 million on a $3.2 million budget). I dont know what they do internally, but they love auteur directors. Maybe thats not the best structure, but its best for the movie.

Mark Boal, screenwriter and producer of Detroit, is also a believer in Annapurnas viability. The distribution [business] is really tough, and the road is littered with failed distribution companies, but Megan is here to stay, he said. Shes a visionary and has great taste. It would be stupid to discount that.

The company has high expectations for its upcoming slate. Its bullish about the awards potential for Oscar winner Barry Jenkinss Moonlight follow-up, If Beale Street Could Talk, which will debut on Nov. 30, and Adam McKays Christmas Day-opener, Vice, starring Christian Bale as former vice president Dick Cheney. More commercially, Annapurna is a co-distributor of MGMs Creed II, which stars Michael B. Jordan and opens Nov. 21, and Laikas upcoming animated film, Missing Link, opening in April. It will also co-distribute the next Bond film, Bond 25, but that wont happen until 2020.

Until then, two sources close to Megan said she is taking a hard look at her upcoming roster and is likely to decrease spending on individual films. Its an unwelcome proposition to filmmakers, but if it keeps the fledgling studio in business, theyll take it. After all, Megan Ellison is one of the few Hollywood financiers willing to make tough bets.

Martha Ortiz is the vibrant genius behind Ella Cantas success. Working in professional kitchens in Hong Kong and Paris, she then returned to Mexico to learn all there is to know about her countrys cooking before setting up shop in Park Lanes Intercontinental, and attempting to defy the informal dictum that London struggles to serve up quality Mexican food. Producing some of the best churros in the capital, each dish at Ella Cantina is beautifully presented and expertly balanced: the tamale melts in the mouth, and a seabass al pastor is moist, cooked in a banana leaf and licked by the flames of the grill. Intriguingly, the menu reads like a play. Overture (appetisers) opens into Drama (starters), climaxes in Main Act (mains) and then culminates in Final Curtain (desserts), which include the utterly delicious mystery dish Maria arrives from México.

Stepping into Street XOs hidden basement is a bit like entering a den of iniquity, where you leave all social dining conventions behind, and are encouraged to eat with your hands, get sauce on your face, and use all your senses to taste food. Youre not meant to call it fusion, but David Muñoz fuses together street food traditions and tastes from the world over to create something entirely unique: fish and chips made from raw Aji fish with yuzu sauce, a Pekinese dumpling served with strawberry hoisin sauce and crispy pigs ear, and ramen of foie gras and guinea fowl are just a few stand-out dishes.

With a 40-page wine list, you better know what you want to drink at Jason Athertons tapas bar. Luckily, theres an expert sommelier on hand to guide you through the vast selection and help pick pairings for little plates of duck egg on romesco sauce with melt-in-the-mouth ham, or cod wrapped in cabbage with bacon marmalade. Traditional Spanish fare like pan con tomate is on the menu, packed with hits of biting garlic, as well as ham croquettes and patatas bravas. Close by Selfridges, Social Wine and Tapas is a neat stop for a post- (or mid-) shopping refuel.

The team behind the hugely popular Palomar are enjoying equal —if not more—success with The Barbary in Neals Yard. The restaurant has little over 20 seats, all positioned around a metal horseshoe bar and overlooking the open kitchen, where the flames from the grill singe pork chops, sirloin steak and octopus. Expect to queue (even the owners have to) to get your hands on a smorgasbord of North African dishes: charred monkfish with a vibrant green sauce, broccoli topping black tahini with harissa oil and lamb cutlets that arrive at your seat, still on fire.

Ten years on and still going strong, you have to book in advance to get your chops around Bocca di Lupos rustic Italian plates. The order of the day is food you know, but not food youd cook. It feels homely in the restaurant, yet formal. Crescentine (fried bread) with squacquerone (a soft cheese) and parma ham are a perfect segue into deep-fried courgette flowers, which give way to a salty squid bolognese. All the pasta is handmade (of course), and the orecchiette with nduja is a delight. Leave room for salt-baked sea bream, which is juicy, moist and delicate.

Opened in 2008 with a novel press for champagne button on each table, youd be forgiven for thinking the success would be short lived. But a decade on, Soho-based Bob Bob Ricard has shown staying power, garnering cult status. The interiors are chintzy in the best way: all gilt gold and plush blue velvet. Darkened lighting and velvet curtains separate booths from one another, and, for those awkward about buzzing for booze, theres an impressive wine and cocktail list. The food is Russian-English fusion, and so it would be rude not the start the meal with sub-zero vodka and caviar (the list is extensive).

45 Jermyn Street, part of Fortnum & Mason, has been drawing a crowd since its opening in 2015. The interiors are chic: pistachio green accents, terracotta leather chairs and banquettes and marble tops with art deco lamps you will certainly want to slip into your bag. Impeccably dressed waiters deliver even better service. The offering is classic British cuisine, regularly changing to celebrate seasonal produce. The Beef Wellington with peppercorn sauce flambéed at the table is a spectacle and followed by nostalgic desserts like knickerbocker glory. Be sure to save room for a cocktail at the marble-topped bar—the new menu of drinks is not for the faint-hearted.

Rupert Street has a line-up of excellent eateries with Palomar and Evelyns Table sandwiching the sensational flavours being cooked up at Xu. The Northern Taiwanese restaurant comes from the team behind Bao, so you know its going to be good before you even decide to go. It exceeds expectations, from the dark cherry wood interiors, to the warm and attentive service and last but not least, exceptional dishes. Order both kinds of dumpling (Xian Bing and Taro)—theres no picking between them—and the beef rib pancake to start. Follow up with the char sui pork for the most complex and comforting main course in Soho; it manages to convey sweet, sour, charred and rich notes all at once and sits atop some excellent barbecued cucumber. You will leave sated, smiling and wondering how soon is too soon to come back.

Getting a project about the latter days of writer and queer iconoclast Oscar Wilde to the screen was a labor of love for Rupert Everett, who wrote, directed, and stars in The Happy Prince. The film, which premiered at Sundance and opens in theaters on October 5, takes a sad, swooning look at the (literal) trials and travails of the celebrated wit, revered now but persecuted in his time. Vanity Fair has the exclusive first trailer for the film.

Everetts deeply committed performance takes center stage, of course, but hes joined by a rogues gallery of British acting luminaries, including Colin Firth as Wildes devoted friend Reggie Turner, Emily Watson as Wildes long-suffering wife, and Tom Wilkinson as a priest ministering to Wilde in his final days. Perhaps most germane to our interests, though, is the dashingly handsome Colin Morgan, who plays Alfred Bosie Douglas, Wildes younger, bon vivant lover for a time. (Fantasy fans may recognize Morgan as Merlin from the long-running series of the same name.) With its sterling cast and period-piece biopic heft, The Happy Prince could be a dark horse in this years Oscar race, particularly for Everetts fully felt performance.

Bezos popularized online shopping, and even when the dot-com bubble killed off many e-commerce companies, Amazon thrived. Amazon shares have only increased over time, and the company sells everything from clothes and music to cloud-computing services. Amazon has launched a smartphone and TV-streaming box. The company has revolutionized logistics, even reportedly leasing its own planes to move Amazon merchandise, so its no longer at the mercy of third-party shippers.

But Amazon isnt Bezoss only endeavor. He bought The Washington Post for $250 million in 2013, and Bezoss space-exploration company, Blue Origin, became one of the first commercial companies to launch a re-usable rocket, and hell likely keep churning out more creative endeavors with the passing of time. What really matters is, companies that dont continue to experiment, companies that dont embrace failure, they eventually get in a desperate position where the only thing they can do is a Hail Mary bet at the very end of their corporate existence, he told Business Insiders Henry Blodget.

It is perhaps too simple to attribute Amazons new $15 minimum wage to Bernie Sanders, although the democratic-socialist senator has not shied away from taking some credit. For months, Sanders has engaged in a fiery, populist campaign against the e-commerce giant and its billionaire founder, Jeff Bezos, for what he has described as an insane failure to pay workers a living wage. It is completely unacceptable that ordinary Americans should be subsidizing the wealthiest people in the world like Jeff Bezos when they pay their employees such inadequate wages, he tweeted in August. Count to ten, he wrote in another tweet. In those ten seconds, Jeff Bezos, the owner and founder of Amazon, just made more money than the median employee of Amazon makes in an entire year.

Amazons swift capitulation suggests a prudent calculation of political risk. Although Amazon at first fired back at Sanders directly—breaking with its tradition of issuing boilerplate rebuttals to reports of poor working conditions at its 100-plus fulfillment centers across the country—on Tuesday the company appeared to have a change of heart, confirming that it would be raising its minimum wage by November 1. The change affects more than 250,000 full- and part-time employees in the U.S. and U.K., Whole Foods workers, and more than 100,000 seasonal staffers brought on board during the holiday season. We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead, Bezos said in a statement. Were excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.

Looking past the spectacle of the love fest, market analysts quickly turned to the real motivations behind Amazons come-to-Jesus moment. For one, Bezos presumably wanted to ward off the incipient techlash that has weighed on the FAANGs—Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. Bezos has been particularly cognizant of the political dangers percolating in Donald Trumps Washington. In recent years, he has bought a home in Kalorama, near Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and has increased Amazons lobbying spend by more than 400 percent. Still, his purchase of The Washington Post in 2013 made him an irresistible target for Trump, who has gone to war with Bezos, tweeting out baseless theories about how Amazon gets special treatment from the U.S. Postal Service (Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon, he wrote in one tweet) and deriding the Post as nothing more than an expensive (the paper loses a fortune) lobbyist for Amazon.

With Amazon squeezed from both sides of the political spectrum—Bernie on the left and Trump on the right—Bezos would have been foolish not to make peace with one of the two barbarian tribes at his gate. Last month, Senator Elizabeth Warren warned that she was concerned about Amazons anti-competitive practices, and called on lawmakers to address the companys issues with aggregation and monetization of user data right now. Over the summer, Rohit Chopra, the new Democratic head of the Federal Trade Commission, retained as a temporary adviser Lina Khan, a 29-year-old who, as a relatively unknown law student, published a viral piece called Amazons Antitrust Paradox. (Anti-trust issues have recently become a bugbear on the right, too, though mostly tied to anger over alleged First Amendment violations at Twitter and Facebook.) Now, those forces on the left appear to be pacified—or at least quieted for the time being.

Bezos may have had more prosaic business imperatives on his mind as well. This summer, Amazon workers abroad went on a series of highly publicized strikes. Whole Foods workers have been trying to unionize in the wake of consolidation and layoffs. Meanwhile, Amazons retail competitors like Target have given their employees pay bumps, raising minimum wages to $11 or $12 per hour. And as Amazon rounds the corner into the holiday season, with the national unemployment rate below 4 percent and employers vying for seasonal employees, a $15 minimum wage gives it a leg up as it seeks to hire its usual 100,000 seasonal employees, making it a more attractive place to work for a few months than another, lower-paying employer.

If Amazon and Bezoss endgame is to trade short-term profitability for long-term market share, then this move makes perfect sense. Amazon has the resources to weather a wage hike, and the trade-off is a familiar one for the company: in the 90s and the 2000s, when it was conquering the e-commerce world, Amazon survived off of little to no margin. Now that it has a dominant market position, a near-trillion-dollar valuation, and the worlds richest man at the helm, Amazon is well poised to push around its competitors by bidding up the price of labor, and in the process, perhaps inadvertently doing some much-needed good for its workers.

Jeff Flake was dominating the national news. His elevator epiphany—confronted by two victims of sexual assault, Flake suddenly called for a renewed F.B.I. background investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh—made him the center of the political universe. Except, strangely enough, back in the state that the Republican senator actually represents. Arizona voters gave up on Flake a long time ago: polls show his most recent job-approval rating at a dismal 30 percent—and thats up from a truly awful 18 percent in 2017.

Which is a large part of why Flake is retiring after just one term, and why, despite his prominence on the national stage, he is a non-factor in the race to fill his senate seat. Yet even though Flake is departing, the problem that sunk him remains at the vexing center of the dead-heat campaign to replace him: how, in a politically pale-purple state, do you deal with President Donald Trump?

Flakes approach was tortured and maddening. He made a show of criticizing Trump—for sucking up to Vladimir Putin, for the Muslim travel ban, for reactionary trade and immigration policies—then voted in line with Trumps position more than 80 percent of the time. The combination left Flake looking like an ineffectual grandstander, and it made him a prime target of Trumps scorn. When congresswoman Martha McSally won the Republican Senate primary, Trump mockingly tweeted that she had turned down Flakes endorsement—something Flake has denied but McSally has not bothered to clarify.

The general election race is proving a stark contrast in personalities, if not policies. McSally, 52, is a stolid, retired Air Force colonel who flew combat missions over Iraq. Kyrsten Sinema, 42, is an openly bisexual former Green Party member who protested the Iraq War. McSally represents a Tucson district that borders Mexico; Sinema represents a mostly suburban Phoenix congressional district that includes Tempe, the states liberal stronghold. Sinemas political and personal lives have gone through dramatic transformations over the years. She grew up starkly poor; at one point her family lived in an abandoned Florida gas station. Raised Mormon, she left the church before attending law school and becoming a social worker who campaigned for Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential election.

Both women, however, are trying to run to the center in their Senate campaigns, and with good reason. Democrats have narrowed the voter-registration gap with Republicans, but third parties and independents account for more than one-third of Arizonas electorate. Its a play for the middle, says Jeremy Duda, a veteran political reporter at the Arizona Mirror. Everyone expects a heightened Democratic turnout, but they are both trying to persuade undecided moderates and independents. Sinema downplays that shes a Democrat. Her ads say, Shes independent, just like Arizona. The contest is most likely to be decided in the white, affluent suburbs of Phoenix and Tucson. Earlier this week, in the wake of the Kavanaugh confirmation fight, an Arizona Republican strategist met with a group of 60 such women and saw a distinct opening for the Democrats. The average age was about 55. And man, it was palpable in the room—women feeling insulted by this guy, Trump, Chuck Coughlin, a Republican consultant, says. They are looking for answers on who can represent them. McSally has to get Republican women to stay with the party, and Sinema has to win over enough of them, because you cant win a statewide office in Arizona if youre a Democrat without getting Republican votes. Suburban women—thats where the war is.

McSally has been trying to paint Sinema as a closet hard-core lefty and a selfish opportunist. Sinema has parried with a TV ad that included her brother wearing a Blue Lives Matter T-shirt, and by pledging to vote against Chuck Schumer as majority leader should the Democrats regain the upper hand in the Senate. She has also been emphasizing McSallys vote to repeal Obamacare as part of a wider Republican threat to Social Security and Medicare—issues that play well with the states large population of retirees. We see those concerns quite prominently in the polling data in Arizona, a national Democratic Senate strategist says. Were cautiously optimistic.

While Arizona has been edging slightly leftward over the years, largely because of a growing Latino population, the state has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since Dennis DeConcini won in 1988. Early voting began Wednesday; the only debate in the race, next Monday, could prove a late turning point—as could a Trump rally. Both candidates have wrestled with how to deal with the presidents fiercely loyal base. According to an early October poll by Data Orbital, Trumps approval rating with Arizona Republicans is 78 percent. Sinema has tried to defuse the Trump factor by saying shed vote with the president if he does something good for the state. McSally embraced Trump in order to win the Republican primary, but has kept him at arms length since then. If Trump came out and they could keep him talking about the trade deal and the economy, that would be a huge win, says Coughlin, the Republican consultant. But I dont think the McSally folks trust him to stay message disciplined, so theyve been hinky about getting him out here again. Jeff Flake can tell his would-be successors all about Trump making people jittery.

In a video seen and heard round the Internet on Friday morning, two women cornered Republican Senator and judiciary member Jeff Flake in a Senate elevator as he made his way to the judiciary hearing that would determine whether Brett Kavanaughs nomination would move forward. One demanded, Dont look away from me. Look at me and tell me that it doesnt matter what happened to me, that you will let people like that go into the highest court of the land and tell everyone what they can do to their bodies.

That was Maria Gallagher, and she and activist Ana Maria Archila broke through a flank of reporters to try to get through to the senator. Earlier that morning, Flake confirmed he would vote yes on Kavanaughs nomination, all but ensuring the judge would be confirmed to the highest court in the country after a day of testimony between him—the sputtering, angry, indolent, and tearful Supreme Court hopeful—and the composed woman who accused him of sexually assaulting her in high school, Christine Blasey Ford. (Kavanaugh has denied all allegations of sexual assault.)

Only Flake knows why, a couple hours later, he reversed his guarantee of a yes vote for Judge Kavanaugh, and instead demanded an F.B.I. investigation into the allegations before he would vote for confirmation, which could take one week. (He still voted for Kavanaughs nomination to go forward.) But those who felt enraged by the hearings took heart in these two people appearing to get through to a person who actually has control of the outcome of this thing.

Gallagher told the Daily Beast that she hadnt expected to encounter Flake in the hallway, though she was hopeful she would, and that she hadnt told anyone she had been sexually assaulted before and it came out in the moment. Her parents learned about it from the video as well. And according to The New York Times, the other woman, Archila, is a member of the Working Families Party (which supported Cynthia Nixon in New Yorks Democratic gubernatorial primary) and an executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, a liberal organizing group based in New York.

She had been protesting the nomination all week and had told Flake about her own sexual assault at a previous date. There by the elevator she reminded him that she had told him her story because I recognized in Dr. Fords story that she is telling the truth. What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit in the Supreme Court. This is not tolerable. You have children in your family. Think about them.

When news broke at the end of last month that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had offered White House Chief of Staff John Kelly his resignation, Washington was thrown into a tailspin. After hours of conflicting reports, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders shut down speculation with a statement confirming that Rosenstein remained the No. 2 official at the Justice Department. And yet, following a New York Times report that Rosenstein had suggested secretly recording Donald Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, his future at the D.O.J. remained an open question. But on Monday, Trump finally quashed speculation that Rosenstein was a dead man walking. No, I dont, Trump told reporters when asked whether he had plans to fire Rosenstein, who is accompanying him on a trip to Orlando, Florida.

Trumps denial is certain to assuage fears among allies of Rosenstein, who is viewed as a key figure standing between the president and special counsel Robert Mueller. But good news for Rosenstein could be bad news for his boss, Jeff Sessions. Since Muellers appointment in spring 2017, Trump and his allies have alternately targeted either Sessions or Rosenstein, the pendulum swinging from one to the other depending on things like the presidents mood, and the days news. As rumors of Rosensteins ouster swirled last month, Sessions expressed relief that, at least for the time being, his deputy was the one under fire. It is good to be home, he told an audience in his home state of Alabama. Thank you so much. That is a warm welcome, and I appreciate it. Itll make my day, and, who knows, I may need this today—going back to Washington, you never know whats going to happen next in the capital city. Thats for sure.

Trump himself has likewise oscillated between blaming Rosenstein for the probes expansion, and blaming Sessions. But ultimately, as my colleague Chris Smith explained, he only needs to get rid of one. The firing of Rosenstein, who took over the Mueller probe when Sessions recused himself last year, would be interpreted as a clear assault on the D.O.J. investigation, and the pushback would likely be immense. Indeed, the muted reactions from some of Rosensteins harshest critics to rumors of his firing suggested that even Trump allies realize the political cost may be too high.

Firing Sessions, on the other hand, may not be viewed as a targeted strike against Mueller—after all, the A.G. recused himself from the probe early on. And it would likely carry the same benefits as firing Rosenstein, without the toxic optics: Trump could simply appoint a new attorney general who wouldnt need to recuse themselves, and who, if confirmed by the Senate, may prove perfectly willing to dismantle Muellers probe. It is important, too, that Trumps frustrations with Sessions appear to be much more personal in nature than those he has with Rosenstein. He was the first senator that endorsed me, the president lamented to reporters last month. Im very disappointed in Jeff. Very disappointed. If Trump can only get rid of one Justice Department higher-up, it is safe to assume hed rather oust Sessions.

On Sunday, California did something extraordinary: it took the Internet back in time, restoring Obama-era rules that require open access to the Web in defiance of the Trump White House and the Federal Communications Commission. Other states—including Washington, Oregon, and Vermont—have enacted their own net-neutrality rules in the year since the Trump administration eliminated them, but California chose to flout the F.C.C. in the most blatant of ways, not only reinstating Obamas rules, but banning providers from offering free data on specific apps. Data caps and throttling would effectively be curbed for all customers in California.

Shortly after Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law, the Department of Justice slapped the state with a lawsuit. The Justice Department should not have to spend valuable time and resources to file this suit today, but we have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement on Sunday, calling the law extreme and illegal. The suit was applauded by F.C.C. chairman Ajit Pai, the architect of the White Houses net-neutrality agenda, who earlier this month criticized the measure as anti-consumer, illegal, egregious, and radical. Pai also claimed the new law would hurt consumers. The law prohibits many free-data plans, which allow consumers to stream video, music, and the like exempt from any data limits, he said in a statement.

At issue is whether statewide net-neutrality laws are legally viable. Proponents of the California law say the F.C.C. has no power to interfere in state legislation, and at least one expert agrees: An agency that has no power to regulate has no power to preempt the states, according to case law, Barbara van Schewick, a law professor at Stanford Law School, told CNN. When the F.C.C. repealed the 2015 Open Internet Order, it said it had no power to regulate broadband Internet access providers. That means the F.C.C. cannot prevent the states from adopting net-neutrality protections because the F.C.C.s repeal order removed its authority to adopt such protections.

Hanging over the administrations legal contretemps with California is Donald Trumps own personal war with Silicon Valley. Last month, after the president cited a partisan study on Twitter that suggested Googles search results were biased against him, Sessions announced he would meet with several state attorneys general to discuss a growing concern that [tech] companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms. The D.O.J. suit against California is a far more concrete threat than the meeting, which experts dismissed as groundless saber-rattling at the behest of a furious president. But it is unlikely to be a political winner. While Trumps base has been animated by the bias controversy, the vast majority of voters say they favor Obama-era net-neutrality rules.

Still, any attack on California will surely be welcomed by many on the right, who always find reason to take issue with the liberal states militantly progressive stances, whether on clean energy (Governor Brown recently signed a renewable energy bill that is seen as a rebuke of Trump) or immigration (the state maintains a sanctuary law that shields undocumented immigrants). The party of states rights, after all, has always drawn the line at positions it opposes.

While Donald Trump zeroes in on Facebook and Google, Bernie Sanders has for months been waging war against another tech giant. In statement after statement, the progressive senator from Vermont has decried Amazon, claiming that the $954 billion company doesnt pay enough workers a living wage—especially those who toil in its more than 100 fulfillment centers across the country. Many of the attacks have been personal: It is completely unacceptable that ordinary Americans should be subsidizing the wealthiest people in the world like Jeff Bezos when they pay their employees such inadequate wages, he tweeted earlier this week. Count to ten, he wrote in another tweet. In those ten seconds, Jeff Bezos, the owner and founder of Amazon, just made more money than the median employee of Amazon makes in an entire year. Not content to bludgeon the company from the confines of Twitter, Sanderss office has also appealed directly to Amazon employees: Have you used public assistance, such as food stamps, Medicaid or subsidized housing, in order to make ends meet? asks a form on his Web site.

By now, these sorts of accusations are commonplace. But Amazons response was not. Instead of brushing off the claims with a boilerplate statement or an internal memo, as Bezos did in response to a damning New York Times story in 2015, the company published an entire blog post on Wednesday devoted to debunking Sanderss claims. In addition to calling his allegations inaccurate and misleading, Amazon claimed that the average hourly wage for a full-time associate in our fulfillment centers . . . is over $15/hour. In one particularly angry line seeming to insinuate that Sanders is out-of-touch, Amazon wrote, Sanders references to SNAP, which hasnt been called food stamps for several years, are also misleading because they include people who only worked for Amazon for a short period of time. The company added that it had offered Sanders a tour of its fulfillment centers, and invited its workers to respond with their positive experiences. Its post was later updated to include one worker testimonial.

Amazons own claims run counter to dozens of reports of worker mistreatment. In recent years, stories have proliferated about warehouse workers skipping bathroom breaks to keep their jobs; taking home less than the minimum wage; and walking as many as 15 miles a day inside warehouses, while handheld scanners tell management how much idle time they spend between fulfilling customer orders. In Amazons Breinigsville, Pennsylvania, warehouse, workers were allegedly forced to work in 100-degree heat, leading some to become dehydrated and collapse. (Amazon eventually installed air conditioners in the warehouse.) Since 2013, according to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, seven people have died on the job in Amazon warehouses. (In response to the N.C.O.S. study, Amazon said in a statement that it is proud of [its] safety record and thousands of Amazonians work hard every day innovating ways to make it even better.)

So far, the responses to Sanderss form have told similar stories. If my aunt wasnt helping I wouldnt be able to make it, at least put food on the table, wrote one current worker in Cleveland, Tennessee. Was homeless sleeping in the parking lot after I no longer could afford rent, wrote a former worker in Fort Worth, Texas. If anyone wanted to experience what a turn of the 20th century American sweat shop might have looked/sounded/felt like, wrote a former employee in San Antonio, they [can] look no further than Amazon.

When Bezos was named the richest man in modern history at the end of last month, it threw the plight of Amazons workers into even sharper relief, coinciding with a spate of protests from Amazon workers around the world over poor working conditions. As I wrote last month, there was always the danger that Bezoss massive wealth would become a liability for his company. And Sanders, in his relentless fight against the one percent, seems resolved to make Bezos the face of U.S. income inequality.

Amazon seems uniquely wary of Sanders, and for good reason. While damning stories have not been enough to ruffle the company, rising political tensions have. In the past five years, as it has grown in size, Amazon has increased its lobbying spending 400 percent, mostly staving off Washington regulators. More recently, however, Trump has given Wall Street reason to worry. After a series of tweets in which the president claimed the company gets special treatment from the U.S. Postal Service (Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon, he wrote in one), Amazons stock plunged 5 percent. Worse for Bezos, the negative attention is increasingly bipartisan. Sanders is the most popular politician in the country, at least according to recent polling, meaning his words could prove substantially weightier than the (notoriously unpopular) presidents. He could also inspire other progressive lawmakers to mimic them. If there is to be a sustained effort to cut Amazon down to size, after all, it would help if it outlasted Trumps tenure in the White House.

Something mysterious changed Jeff Goldblum as recently as 2014. The guy has always radiated raw energy, a charm that, for decades, has tethered audiences eyes to him whether theres a screen or more recently a jazz-club stage between them. But in the last four years or so, Goldblum has managed to throw a yoke around that energy and drive it towards, well, style.

Or maybe what happened is not some great mystery of the universe. Goldblum, whose blockbuster credits (Thor: Ragnarok, Jurassic World) belie his real range, readily explains that he met his stylist, Andrew T. Vottero, on the set of a shoot. Weve been in cahoots every since, he told Vanity Fair.

Together, theyve leaned so far into mens fashion they almost tip over. Vottero found his 6-foot-5-inch client a flame-ridden Prada button-down that would make Guy Fieri steam with jealousy, for example. Goldblum wore it on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and in a Who wore it better? moment for the ages, rapper Pusha T wore the top, too. There were no hard feelings, of course. just Goldblumian charm: Let me say publicly that Pusha T and I are in no competition, and I sit at your feet Pusha T. I think you wore that shirt absolutely beautifully and I did the best I could.

The past half-decade has been interesting for Goldblum, a time thats been filled with tinted glasses and pinky rings and gorgeous leather jackets and hair thats fixed in a blue wave of some kind, the likes of which is coming in the midterm elections. But allow Goldblum to take you back through the era before Vottero, when he, had no stylist, and nobody did. I dont think anyone had a stylist back then, he said. Thats proliferated like running shoes and yogurts and stuff like that. But Ive always been susceptible to that last person I talked to.

This is a man who can say, Well, I have a Saint Laurent chino on, a stretchy chino. I do favor the stretchy. This is a man who can look at his own star on Hollywood Boulevard and say, Another glorious moment for Mr. Goldie. You know its going to be fun.

We are living in extraordinary times, dear reader: media colossuses are merging; our technology megaliths have faltered; virtually every element of human life is being reconsidered and artificially mimicked; and weve even become obsessed with adult scooting—all while the Dow Jones continues to float at an unprecedented level. Meanwhile, the Russia investigation remains ongoing, and our culture is undergoing an overdue reckoning. Are we at the end of one age or the beginning of the next?

Sign of the apocalypse? Thanks to her 100 percent ownership stake in her\neponymous makeup line, Jenner is now worth $900 million.

A New York Times whodunnit: The anonymous author of the most famous\nopinion piece in recent history not only garnered more than 15 million\npage views for the Times but also seized the attention of an audience of\none.

Not a media company? Long the premier destination for makeup tutorials\nand iPhone-unboxing videos, Wojcickis YouTube found itself at the\nepicenter of controversy after the Parkland shooting in early 2018, when\nthe platform inadvertently boosted conspiracy-theory videos. Wojcicki\nhas insisted that YouTube isnt a media company. But what is it, then?

Taking flight: Gelman, a Lena Dunham pal and former Clinton campaign\nstaffer, is a co-founder of the women-only co-working space and social\nclub, the Wing. With five locations in three cities and about 5,000\nmembers paying up to $3,000 for annual memberships, the Wing is already\neyeing international expansion, with planned outposts in London, Paris,\nand Toronto.

Disrupting the Street: One of the most senior women on Wall Street,\nKrawcheck was more or less defenestrated from her big jobs at both\nCitigroup and Bank of America. Shes now the co-founder of one of the\nlargest digital businesses focused entirely on helping women to better\ninvest their money.

Equity for all: Hamiltons firm aims to rectify Silicon Valleys woeful\ngender- and racial-inequality dynamics. She has invested in excess of\n$4 million in more than 100 companies led by under-represented\nfounders, and this year she announced a new, $36 million fund\nexclusively to invest in the ventures of black women.

The lefts best hope: If Bernie launched the democratic-socialist\nrevolution against ossified neoliberalism, these are his\nsuccessors—avatars of the lefts flirtation with universalism and its\nbest attempt to close the enthusiasm gap.

Jareds boy in Riyadh: Through his familys $1.4 trillion fortune,\nM.B.S. has earned audiences with some of the American business\ncommunitys biggest names, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin,\nApple C.E.O. Tim Cook, and Amazon C.E.O. Jeff Bezos—and, yes, Jared\nKushner.

Its all on Dara: Gurleys firm is one of Silicon Valleys more prolific\nventure-capital concerns, thanks in part to its early bet on Uber. The\ncompany is hoping that Khosrowshahi can stick to his plan and take Uber\npublic next year.

No holds barred: The first African-American woman to head up a major\nbroadcast television network, Dungey made her name developing hit\nshows—but grabbed headlines this year when she canceled Roseanne after\nthe shows star issued a racist tweet.

Irelands greatest export: It took less than eight years for the\nsoftware developed by the Collison brothers, who grew up in County\nLimerick, to become the $9.2 billion payment platform of choice for\neveryone in Silicon Valley.

Evidence of tween-world domination: The producer and Illumination\nfounder and C.E.O. has a hand in several animated-film franchises—Ice\nAge, Despicable Me, Minions, The Secret Life of Pets, and now\nSing—with sequels for the latter three currently under way. Despicable\nMe 3 alone brought in more than $1 billion worldwide last year.

The only person everyone actually likes: The unofficial Nice Guy of\nSilicon Valley, Butterfield sits at the helm of a now ubiquitous\nworkplace-messaging company. This year, Slack was valued at $7.1\nbillion.

The professional: As Vice co-founder Shane Smith stepped back from the\nday-to-day, Dubuc was brought in to tame the wilds of the companys\ncorporate culture—and make sure its #MeToo problems (not to mention\nrevenue issues) are fixed.

Little-screen bigwigs: If cable-news personalities are the celebrities\nof the Trump era, these are a red-carpet murderers row.

Renaissance man: In 2018, Glover was master of multiple pop-cultural\ndomains: he starred in the movie Solo, nabbed 16 Emmy nominations for\nhis TV series Atlanta, and hit No. 1 on Billboards Hot 100 chart with\nThis Is America.

The clothes make the boss: When Lakes tech-retail company Stitch Fix\nheld an I.P.O. in November 2017, she became the youngest female founder\nto take a company public.

Alone in the world: The admired and respected Murdoch, who bears a\nresemblance to the Kendall Roy character in HBOs Succession, has been\ntight-lipped about his next act after the Disney deal closes and he\nexits the family business. The pervasive assumption is a new investment\nvehicle of his own design.

The queen of cable: Hammer is set to become possibly the\nlongest-reigning female executive in TV history. And Steve Burke and\nBrian Roberts will increasingly rely on her as NBCU fights for terrain\nin a landscape dominated by Netflix, Amazon, and Bob Igers latest land\ngrab.

Friends of the pod: Theyre the new cabal of audio phenoms proving that\npodcasting is a place for star power—and money. In two short years,\nformer Obama staffers Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Tommy Vietor, and Dan\nPfeiffer have turned Crooked Media, home of Pod Save America, into a\nrevenue-generating powerhouse that can sell out Radio City Music Hall.

Im with her: Herds dating app—built on the premise that women making\nthe first move fosters more interesting conversations and better\nconnections—is now worth a billion dollars.

Hes baaack . . . : A year after leaving his post as C.E.O. of Uber\nin disgrace, Kalanick is making a comeback: as the founder of a venture\ncalled 10100, which will invest in e-commerce and real-estate companies,\nand as the C.E.O. of real-estate start-up City Storage Systems.

Peak Landgraf: The head of cable-network FX has distinguished himself\nfor both his astute analysis of pop culture (he coined the term peak\nTV) and for incubating award-winning shows such as The Americans and\nAtlanta. As Disney takes over Fox and sets its sights on streaming\ndominance, Landgrafs long view could be an asset.

A new call of duty: Kotick, the godfather of modern gaming, will need to\nre-invent the wheel to stay relevant in the next couple of years as\ngames like Fortnite, which are free to play, become cultural obsessions.

After the iPhone: As interest in the iPhone wanes, Cue has overseen the\ngrowth of two emerging businesses: Apple News, and the tech giants\nforays into film and television projects. Apple is reportedly spending\nmore than $1 billion on original content.

Wing man: WeWork is no stranger to the adage Spend money to make\nmoney, and over the past year, the real-estate work-space tech venture\nhas done plenty of the latter in pursuit of the former—acquiring a\nbevy of start-ups across sectors and making investments in others,\nincluding the women-only social club the Wing.

The long game pays off: Gorman, a former McKinsey management consultant,\nhad his doubters when he re-oriented the white-shoe Morgan Stanley\naround the asset- and wealth-management businesses after the financial\ncrisis. In the last year, Morgan Stanleys market capitalization\nexceeded that of Goldman Sachs.

Breaking down barriers: DuVernay has made advancing the careers of women\nand people of color in the entertainment industry part of her legacy.\nFrom hiring only women to direct her OWN series, Queen Sugar, to\ndistributing womens films through her company, Array, to becoming the\nfirst woman of color to direct a movie with a budget over $100 million,\nA Wrinkle in Time, DuVernay has pushed hard to open up new\nopportunities.

Baller: Johnson was 2018s second-highest-paid actor, according to\nForbes, but the top in actual box-office earnings. (George Clooney\nearned the No. 1 spot by selling his Casamigos tequila brand.) His\ncombined 179 million followers on social media have been the engine by\nwhich the star markets his films, which he now also produces, through\nhis Seven Bucks Productions company.

The pinch hitter: After eight years dutifully heading up consumer\nproducts and interactive media for Disney, Pitaro got Bob Igers\nblessing to run the conglomerates vaunted sports brand in the wake of\nJohn Skippers drug-related exit. Pitaro wants ESPN to move away from\nthe political commentary that thrust the network into the white-hot\ncenter of the culture wars.

Zucked: Spiegel has seen his stock, user numbers, and net worth fall\nover the past year after Instagram and Facebook copied almost all of\nSnaps features to great success. But he made about $640 million in its\nI.P.O.

Hacking software stocks: Step aside, Oprah. Smith, the founder of Vista,\none of the nations most prolific and successful private-equity firms,\nis the countrys wealthiest African-American, with a net worth of $4.4\nbillion. At Vista hes Mr. Everything: C.E.O., investment guru, and head\nof investor relations. The last is probably his easiest job, given his\nwild success at investing in software, and only software.

The ultimate data guy: Under Vestberg, who was promoted this summer from\nchief technology officer to succeed Lowell McAdam, Verizon wasted no\ntime reining in the ambitions of the Yahoo-AOL media mash-up known as\nOath. Vestberg likes content as much as the next guy, but he has bigger\nfish to fry: rolling out Verizons next-gen 5G network by years end.

The genius behind the flossing phenomenon: Fortnite, the crown in Epics\nportfolio, has become a global phenomenon, played by professional\nathletes, middle-aged middle managers, and tweens alike. In total, the\nbattle-royal-style concept has attracted some 125 million gamers.

Evidence of election-hacking remorse? Chan and her husband, Facebook\nC.E.O. Mark Zuckerberg, have been busy in 2018, pouring millions into\nmidterm-election initiatives with the help of Facebook co-founder Dustin\nMoskovitzs Open Philanthropy Project.

Impact investor: McGlashan represents the new generation of leaders at\nTPG, the private-equity powerhouse with stakes in everything from Uber\nto Vice, and leading the $2 billion Rise Fund. Although there have been rumors aplenty that a change is afoot,\nTPG, unlike its private-equity rivals, has no plans for an I.P.O.

Exit strategy: Greens firm has poached talent from more senior\nventure-capital competitors, and its star has risen in recent years\nthanks to a series of smart investments and acquisitions, including the\nsale of Dollar Shave Club, Bonobos, and Jet.com.

Bezoss scripted weapon: Formerly the president of NBC Entertainment,\nSalke took the reins at Amazon Studios earlier this year, replacing Roy\nPrice, who was ousted amid sexual-harassment allegations, which he\ndenied. With Amazons deep pockets and Salkes extensive experience in\nscripted-series development, she is well placed to do battle in the\nincreasingly competitive streaming wars.

The $1 billion bet: When the former C.E.O. of DreamWorks Animation and\nthe former C.E.O. of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and eBay joined forces\nlast spring on a mobile-first streaming platform called NewTV, they\nraised $1 billion in their first financing round from companies such as\nSony Pictures, Viacom, Disney, and Comcast.

Three-hundred-million-dollar man: The TV super-producer once joked hed\nbe buried on the Fox lot, but when Netflix courted Murphy earlier this\nyear—a few months before the studios merger with Disney was approved\nby shareholders—he signed a $300 million, five-year deal with the\nstreamer.

A tale of two companies: Square has seen its value almost triple in the\nlast year. Twitters value, on the other hand, bobs up and down like a\nyo-yo, as it remains the presidents favorite mouthpiece and occasional\nweapon.

Vlad the Impaler: The Russian leader recently won another six-year term,\nhosted the World Cup, and humiliated Donald Trump in Helsinki. His\napproval ratings in Russia have fallen, but he still commands the sort\nof fear Trump only dreams about.

Work, work, work, work, work: Shes a hit-making recording artist (more\nthan 250 million records sold, nine Grammys, 14 No. 1 singles); a\nfashion icon with a newly launched lingerie line and collaborations with\nPuma and other brands; and an actress (Oceans 8). Her Fenty Beauty\ncosmetics debuted a year ago and earned $100 million in its first 40\ndays.

Display of political intelligence: First, he persuaded Lady Gaga to\ndeglamorize for the lead in his Oscar-buzzy directorial debut, a remake\nof A Star Is Born. Then he showed an early cut of Star to Steven\nSpielberg and the keepers of Leonard Bernsteins estate to get the\ncomposers music in a biopic that he will star in, direct, and produce.

Disrupting the bottom of the ocean: Andreessen is starting to invest in\nA.I.-related technologies that will eat jobs in the U.S., including\nAtrium, a legal technology firm that plans to replace some lawyers\nduties with machine-learning algorithms.

The after-Lloyd: On October 1, he has a big new job, succeeding Lloyd\nBlankfein to run Goldman Sachs, where hell either keep the powerful\ninvestment bank in its lane or spearhead an expansion to compete better\nwith bigger, more profitable commercial-banking rivals.

Popcorn auteur: With his directorial debut, Get Out, Peele suggested he\nis that rare kind of filmmaker who can captain a box-office hit and\nignite a deep and lasting cultural conversation. At his company,\nMonkeypaw Productions, Peele is extending his idea of popcorn-friendly\ngenre projects into five TV series and multiple movies.

Season of change: Hes heading into the coming election season with a\nnew contract, a new boss, and a mission to keep the fire burning with\nCNNs wall-to-wall coverage of the man Zucker once transformed into a\nbawdy embodiment of reality TV.

Hollywood hitmaker: Coogler just may deliver Disney a rare non-animated\nbest-picture Oscar nomination, for Black Panther, when the nods are\nannounced in January. The Marvel film grossed more than $1.3 billion\nworldwide this year, refuting naysayers who doubted whether the film,\nwith a predominantly black cast, would sell overseas.

Its Shondaland, and were just living in it: The prolific writer and\nshow-runner has decamped to Netflix, lured by a four-year, nine-figure\ndeal that gives her the freedom to put her unique stamp on a slate of\nseries, mini-series, and films.

The media-industry savior: Her primary media project for the next\nseveral years is The Atlantic, which Emerson bought a majority stake in\nlast year. But media gossips cant help wildly speculating about what\nother companies might one day reap the rewards of Powell Jobss\nstrategic beneficence.

The new boss man: As of June, hes the guy in charge of Warner Bros.,\nHBO, CNN, TBS, and a lot more. Not bad for a career phone-company\nexecutive whose name didnt register in media circles just one year ago.

Dont hate the player: This year has been a mixed bag for Tepper. His\nfund lost approximately 10 percent of its value in the second quarter,\nbut hes still worth around $11 billion, and he recently acquired the\nCarolina Panthers football team for a record $2.2 billion.

Power in numbers: When the #MeToo movement took off, a number of\npowerful Hollywood women began holding planning meetings last fall,\neventually expanding their ranks to include more than 300 women in the\nentertainment industry. Times Up has since raised more than $20 million for a sexual-harassment legal-defense fund, re-invented the red carpet as a forum for activism, used its power to push for more inclusion among film critics and entertainment reporters, and has now hired its first C.E.O., Lisa Borders.

And now appearing on the small screen . . . The eminence largely\nbehind Star Wars, Star Trek, and Mission: Impossible is currently\ndirecting Star Wars: Episode IX, and recently joined forces with Tencent\nto launch gaming division Bad Robot Games.

Display of acquisition-philia: Zaslav kicked off the year with\nDiscoverys $12 billion takeover of Scripps Networks, including HGTV,\nthe Food Network, and the Travel Channel. With more M&A on the horizon,\nDiscovery could be seen as a potentially attractive target for a\nmega-merger, itself.

Boy genius: Buterin is worth around $100 million (double that on a good\nday) after co-founding Ethereum, the efficient and blockchain-friendly\ncrypto-currency that banks and financial institutions have fallen in\nlove with.

Investor payoff: Pinault is the first C.E.O. of a fashion conglomerate\nto make sustainability not just a talking point but part of the\ncompanys underlying culture, and has invested heavily in this goal. He\nhas also invested in young talent at the helm of his major houses.

Display of disruptive expertise: Before founding electric-scooter\nupstart Bird, VanderZanden was chief operating officer at Lyft and,\nlater, V.P. of international growth at Uber—jobs that would set him up\nfor the familiar task of dealing with local regulations and bringing new\ntransit options to cities worldwide.

No longer VRBO for millennials: Airbnb launched a luxury-vacation rental\nservice, and has toyed with the idea of starting its own airline. Chesky\nhas eyed 2019 for an I.P.O., but nothings set in stone yet.

The alter-Uber: Now valued at a lofty $15 billion, Lyft has managed to\navoid the negative attention that its primary competitor, Uber,\nregularly attracts. The company is also eyeing an expansion: as of\nAugust, Lyft had surpassed 5,000 driverless BMW rides, and in July the\ncompany acquired bike-share operator Motivate.

Golden-shower glory: The former head of M.I.6s Russia desk compiled the\ninfamous dossier that raised the possibility Donald Trump was vulnerable\nto Russian blackmail. Steele even grew a beard and went into\nhiding—merely adding to his mythic reputation on the left.

Prestige play: After helping to nab almost $2 billion worth of box\noffice in a decade with genre franchises, Blum gained awards cred by\nnotching best-picture Oscar nominations for producing the feature-film\ndebuts of directors Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and Jordan Peele (Get\nOut).

May the Schwarz be with him: For years, Gray has run the\nhyper-successful real-estate portfolio at Blackstone—the\nprivate-equity behemoth with more than $439 billion in assets under\nmanagement—masterminding its buyout of Hilton, one of the most\nsuccessful Wall Street deals ever. Now hes getting what he deserves:\nthe blessing to succeed founder Stephen Schwarzman as the firms C.E.O.

Evidence of brand prowess: The Oscar winners personal brand extends to\nher Draper James lifestyle line, a popular book-of-the-month club, and\nher digital-media company, Hello Sunshine, a joint venture with AT&T\nand Peter Chernin, which just signed TV deals on five series: three with\nApple, one with Hulu, and another with Amazon—all with the central\nfocus of telling female-driven stories.

The Bezos of crypto? If theres one thing that happens very quickly in\nSilicon Valley, its your net worth going from nothing to everything. A\nfew years ago, Armstrong was a software engineer at Airbnb. Now, hes at\nthe forefront of everything to do with crypto-currency and bringing\nBitcoin to the masses after co-founding Coinbase, the app that allows\nyou to buy and sell crypto with the ease of shopping for toilet paper\nand toothpaste on Amazon.

Army of one: Tenacity pays off. In 2016, Palantir, co-founded by Trump\nsupporter Thiel, sued the government over an unfair bidding process in\ntrying to secure defense contracts, and won. Earlier this year, the U.S.\nArmy announced it had awarded Palantir an $876 million contract for\nbattlefield software.

Late-night Trump bump? The comics unflinching nightly takedowns of\nTrump, along with viral monologues and a guest roster that included John\nKerry, Bob Woodward, and Beto ORourke, have helped push his ratings\npast those of his tamer competitors Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel.

The kids are all right: After surviving a harrowing massacre at the\nhands of a lone gunman, Emma González and David Hogg, along with several\nof their peers, organized the March for Our Lives, which drew nearly two\nmillion people, making it one of the largest marches in American\nhistory. Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, and Matt Deitch have helped turn\nit into a movement.

The Insta of China: Tencent, which owns the super-popular app WeChat, is\nthe first Asian-based tech company to hit a $500 billion market cap.

The closer: Netflixs seemingly bottomless checkbook has irritated every\ncompetitor in Hollywood, but its Sarandoss personal salesmanship that\nhas helped close key deals with marquee show-runners such as Shonda\nRhimes and Ryan Murphy, and endear Netflix to skeptical cinéastes like\nAlfonso Cuarón and Martin Scorsese.

No more Clippy: Microsoft has been on a tear since Nadella took over as\nC.E.O., in 2014, and his expansive vision for the company continues to\ntransform its corporate culture. After buying LinkedIn, Nadella resumed\nhis shopping spree this year with the acquisition of code database\nGitHub for $7.5 billion.

One-man Netflix-slayer? AT&Ts bet on Time Warner really comes down to\na gamble on whether Plepler, with millions more in his war chest, can\nrely on his golden gut to out-program Netflixs vaunted algorithm and\nseemingly limitless resources.

The new king of the Street: Thanks to Trumps new tax law, JPMorgan\nChase is rolling in the dough like never before. Last years quarterly\nprofits reached a record of $6.5 billion to $7 billion or so, and\nprofits this year have poured in at more than $8.7 billion every three\nmonths. With the retirement of Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman, Dimon is the\nundisputed king of Wall Street banks.

The only thing people like about Facebook! Not only has Instagram\nmanaged to replicate all the successful parts of Snapchat, but its also\nFacebooks last, best hope: a platform insulated from the data-privacy\nscandals and misinformation that have plagued its parent company.

Lying low: Pichais steady stewardship of Google and relatively low\nprofile have allowed him to sidestep controversies involving the\ncompanys monopolistic power, the proliferation of conspiracy videos on\nYouTube, and an ill-received plan to launch a censored version of its\nsearch engine in China. In the meantime, Google is quietly making a\nmajor push into A.I. and challenging Amazon with its own smart-assistant\ndevice, Google Home.

Outfoxed: Its been a bumpy year for the top two executives of NBC. The\ncompanys news division was rocked by #MeToo scandals, and Roberts had\nto call off Comcasts pursuit of 21st Century Fox when the bidding got\ntoo hot. The good news is that NBC and Comcast were ahead of the game in\nthe M&A frenzy that continues to upend Big Media.

Ulterior motives? At a glance, Murdochs once unimaginable divestiture\nof 21st Century Fox looked like a white flag in Big Medias war with\nSilicon Valley. But look a little closer: the octogenarian mogul gets to\nkeep the things he likes best—Fox News and his global newspaper\nfleet—and it doesnt hurt that he and his brood are set to become\nDisneys second-largest shareholders, either.

Pulitzer Kenny: In addition to his 12 Grammys, 17.8 million albums sold,\nand net worth of $58 million (thanks, partly, to deals with Nike and\nAmerican Express), Lamar this year received a Pulitzer Prize for his\nalbum DAMN., the first non-jazz or classical record to win the award in\nits 75-year history.

Not bad for a failed musician: Ek, who once dreamed of being a musician,\nhas now created the worlds most popular music-streaming platform.\nSpotify, which eschewed the traditional banker-laden pre-I.P.O. road\nshow, is now worth $33 billion, and growing. The next frontier: video.

Post-peak Musk? After years of receiving adulation in the press, Musk\nmade headlines this year for all the wrong reasons. While SpaceX has\ngrown into the worlds most important aerospace company, Musks personal\nbehavior has rattled Wall Street.

Creature of Congress? If Sandberg has aspirations beyond being\nFacebooks number two, she will have to help Zuckerberg fix the most\npowerful social network on earth—especially given whats at stake in\nthe 2018 midterms and 2020 election. Otherwise, she may again find\nherself testifying before Congress.

Mogul-hunting: Their reporting for The New Yorker (Farrow) and The New\nYork Times (Kantor, Twohey) brought down Harvey Weinstein, opened the\nfloodgates of #MeToo journalism, and culminated in a shared Pulitzer\nPrize. Kantor and Twohey signed a high-profile book deal and walked the\nOscars red carpet. Farrow churned out exposés that ended the careers of\nNew York attorney general Eric Schneiderman and CBS C.E.O. Les Moonves.

Globalization and its discontents: Didi has been on a tear since running\nUber out of China in 2016. The company has aggressively expanded its\nride-sharing empire into Mexico, Australia, Japan, and throughout\nSoutheast Asia.

Mister Fantastic: Marvel Studios has released 20 hit films in the past\ndecade, and this year may have its first best-picture contender in Black\nPanther. Expect Feiges power to grow under the coming Disney-Fox\nmerger, which will see popular Fox-licensed characters from the X-Men,\nDeadpool, and Fantastic Four comics united under the Disney banner, and\nFeiges trusted stewardship.

The G.O.A.T.: The winningest player in modern history returned from\npregnancy to reach two Grand Slam finals, redefine motherhood in sports,\nand continue as a board member of SurveyMonkey, all while remaining the\nworlds highest-paid female athlete.

Showtime: When James signed his four-year, $154 million deal to play\nwith the Los Angeles Lakers, some wondered if the move was intended to\nget the four-time N.B.A. M.V.P. closer to Hollywood. His SpringHill\nproduction company, with offices on the Warner Bros. lot, is working on\na remake of House Party and a sequel, Space Jam 2, starring James and\nproduced by Ryan Coogler. James is also involved in TV projects for HBO,\nShowtime, and NBC.

Gravity-free zone: Neither a record-breaking $5 billion fine from\nEuropean regulators nor the presidents constant Twitter barrage could\nimpede Alphabet, Googles parent company, which continues to beat Wall\nStreet expectations as it also creeps toward the vaunted trillion-dollar\nmarket-capitalization threshold.

Übermensch: A little over a year ago, few people in Silicon Valley had\nheard of the Iranian-born entrepreneur running Expedia. But after Uber\nnearly imploded under Travis Kalanick, Khosrowshahi appears to be\nturning around a company that seemed like it was about to crater from\nself-inflicted injuries. Can he stay the course and take Uber public\nnext year?

One hundred billion reasons: With its $100 billion Vision Fund,\nJapanese giant SoftBank has quickly become one of the most powerful\nplayers in tech, muscling out rivals with its massive bets on Uber,\nsemiconductors, and WeWork, among dozens of other companies. Son, the\ncompanys enigmatic founder, has said he expects artificial intelligence\nto surpass humanity within the next 30 years.

The quant: After conquering Trumps Department of Justice to consummate\nhis acquisition of Time Warner, the Dallas-based telecom executive now\nsits atop a war chest of premium film and television programming, from\nHBO to CNN. Its enough to keep AT&Ts 159 million mobile customers\nglued to their smartphones.

The breadwinner: Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z just collaborated on a\n48-date tour in support of their album, Everything Is Love, which is\nexpected to bring in more than $200 million this year. In 2017, Beyoncé\nalone earned more than $100 million, while her performances at\nCoachella, a tribute to historically black colleges, secured her role as\na cultural figure well beyond the realm of music.

Im still C.E.O., bitch! In a year punctuated by a data-privacy scandal,\ndisinformation campaigns, a massive one-day stock capsizing, and growing\nskepticism on Capitol Hill, Zuckerberg, who as a young founder\ninfamously printed cards with the mantra Im CEO, Bitch, continues\nto exercise nearly unchecked power at Facebook.

Returning to higher ground: As the midterms approach, the Obamas have\njust begun tiptoeing back onto the national scene, but they remain as\ninfluential as ever—particularly Michelle, whose forthcoming book,\nBecoming, is the first highly anticipated release in the familys pair\nof multi-million-dollar deals with Penguin Random House and Netflix, and\nwho launched her own get-out-the-vote campaign. The former First Ladys\nupcoming book tour transcends authordom—shes selling out stadiums à\nla Joel Osteen, or Mick Jagger.

Trillion-dollar man: While other tech C.E.O.s were skewered in the\npress for their role in the 2016 election mess, Apple stayed above the\nfray while also becoming the first American company with a\ntrillion-dollar market capitalization. The truth is, we could make a\nton of money if we monetized our customer—if our customer was our\nproduct, Cook recently said, in a veiled reference to Facebook.\nWeve elected not to do that.

A new front in the streaming wars: This time last year, Iger was\nconsidering taking on Trumps divisive rhetoric and running against him\nin 2020. But Igers political ambitions were suspended when he saw the\nopportunity to buy 21st Century Fox, for a cool $71 billion. An\nantidote to AT&Ts $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, the move\nhelped usher Disney into a new era of streaming—and open a new front\nin its battle with Netflix.

Started at the bottom . . . : Hastings founded Netflix two decades\nago with a thesis that consumers would one day stream billions of hours\nof content over the Internet. Now the company has a market\ncapitalization of $160 billion and recently beat out HBO on Emmy night for the first time.

Display of Vulcan chess mastery: Antagonism from President Trump and\nBernie Sanders notwithstanding, Bezos has continued to grow both his\npersonal wealth (he recently overtook Bill Gates as the worlds richest\nperson) and the value of his company, which hovers around the\ntrillion-dollar mark.

Evidence of institutional inscrutability: The unofficial hero of the\nanti-Trump resistance, and the avatar of American institutionalism, may\nor may not satisfy the appetite of an electorate searching for answers\nabout what really went down between the Trump campaign and Russia. But\nMueller, and his nearly three dozen indictments and guilty pleas, is\nproof of the power of the law.

Reporting by Nick Bilton, Maya Kosoff, Joe Pompeo, Gabriel Sherman, William D. Cohan, Abigail Tracy, Emily Jane Fox, Bess Levin, Tina Nguyen, Claire Landsbaum, Ben Landy, Krista Smith, Anna Lisa Raya, Joy Press, Rebecca Keegan, and Yohana Desta.

Its a happy day, one former Time journalist told me Monday morning, on the heels of the previous nights news that Marc Benioff, the billionaire C.E.O. of Salesforce, and his wife, philanthropist Lynne Benioff, had agreed to purchase the iconic but sputtering property for $190 million. The deal, which is expected to close within 30 days, heralds a denouement to one of the summers more languid auctions. As Disney was swallowing up 21st Century Fox for $71 billion, and AT&T was acquiring Time Warner for $85 billion, Meredith had bought Time Inc. for $1.8 billion earlier this year, only to sell off its most prestigious properties—Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, Money—in a veritable yard sale. While there was significant initial interest in the titles, the sales process went on longer than many expected, leaving some media observers wondering if the deals would fall below Merediths expectations.

But Times $190 million price tag astonished media circles. Its only $60 million less than what Jeff Bezos paid for The Washington Post in 2013, and its about 10 percent of what Meredith paid for all of Time Inc. Sources told The Wall Street Journal that Time brought in $173 million in revenue and $33 million in operating profit last year, meaning the Benioffs are paying a notable premium to own the brand. They now join a growing list of beneficent patrons—including Bezos, Laurene Powell Jobs (The Atlantic), and Patrick Soon-Shiong (the Los Angeles Times)—who are offering legacy titles a second life.

Benioff is already being treated like a conquering hero. Alan Murray, chief content officer of the former Time Inc. titles, likened Times new owner to the magazines legendary founder. He said Benioff was a perfect successor to Henry Luce. Its a dream deal. Hes willing to invest in great journalism. John Huey, a former editor in chief of Time Inc., told me, Those of us in the Time diaspora could not have hoped for a better outcome. Time has been suffering under something resembling the private-equity model—starvation—for quite a while now, and that wont work. Whats been needed is someone with genuine entrepreneurial chops and the capital to back it up. The Bezos model, if you will.

Initially, Benioff had been in talks to buy Fortune, but those discussions fizzled out at some point in recent months, according to people with knowledge of the sale. (Another source noted that Fortune was fraught with complications for Benioff since it covers him and his company closely.) Around Labor Day, however, Meredith reconnected with Benioff to gauge his interest in Time, and things moved rapidly from there, sources said. The sense among people familiar with the process is that Lynne Benioffs interest went a long way in terms of getting the deal done. There was just real resonance with the brand for her, one of the people with knowledge of the talks told me.

Last week, Time editor in chief Edward Felsenthal and his deputies flew out to San Francisco to make their final presentation in a process that had taken the better part of a year. Broadly speaking, the vision that the Benioffs bought into was about the digital-first transformation of a historic print journalism outlet; Times video growth, in particular, was also a big part of the sell, people familiar with the conversations told me. It went so well that by the end of the meeting, everyone was already talking about what the press release would say. The Time crew headed to the Tonga Room, a tiki-themed restaurant in the bowels of the Fairmont Hotel, to celebrate over dinner and Mai Tais.

In a series of text messages with The New York Times—while he was getting a massage on Sunday night—Benioff said, When Time emerged as the candidate we all felt it was right. That took nine months to figure out. Time is the best fit for us. . . . I didnt realize two weeks ago I was going to buy Time. The timing of it all explains why the Benioff-Fortune rumors were red-hot around the end of August, as I reported several weeks ago—the gossip was legit, its just that people had the name of the magazine wrong. (A message to an e-mail address checked by Benioffs team wasnt immediately returned; Meredith declined to comment.) Before Benioff entered the picture, there were three other Time suitors in the process of lining up financing; two were considered serious prospects, with one of those being a group led by the Irish media entrepreneur Liam Lynch, sources confirmed.

During an all-hands meeting in the Time newsroom on Monday morning, Felsenthal got a round of applause. Editors have already begun scouting for new office space in Lower Manhattan. The anticipated date of their move out of the former Time Inc. headquarters at 225 Liberty Street is unclear, but the sale is set to close within 30 days, and Im told that the timeline of transitioning fully to new ownership is expected to be generous.

Inside Meredith, attention will now turn to Sports Illustrated and Fortune, where employees are anxiously awaiting their own white knights. Fortune staffers were excited about the prospect of Benioff becoming their owner. Now theyre hoping Fortunes lucrative events business will help the publication fetch a similarly enviable price from a similarly enviable buyer. In the meantime, theyre looking on the bright side. As one staffer put it, Limbo is better than layoffs.

On Monday morning, as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was resigning/not resigning/being fired/not being fired back in Washington, his immediate boss stepped onstage in Hoover, Alabama, wearing a wry smile. It is good to be home, Jeff Sessions said, with evident feeling, as applause echoed. Thank you so much. That is a warm welcome, and I appreciate it. Itll make my day, and, who knows, I may need this today—going back to Washington, you never know whats going to happen next in the capital city. Thats for sure.

The roomful of law-enforcement professionals laughed knowingly. Sessions, their states former senior senator-turned-United States attorney general, has been under withering verbal attack by President Donald Trump pretty much nonstop for the past two years, ever since Sessions recused himself from supervising the investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election. That domino led to Rosenstein hiring Robert Mueller as special counsel, which led to Trumps fury that the top two leaders of his Department of Justice havent done enough to defend him. Jeff Sessions is a good man and was a respected colleague of mine for two decades, Republican Senator Richard Shelby says. He represented Alabama well in the Senate, and now represents our entire country with honor. He and the president obviously have a strained relationship, and I wish that were not the case.

Only the pleas of Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham, who are trying to contain the pre-midterm mayhem, have stalled the inevitable. Now, perversely, Trumps determination to ditch Sessions appears to be increasing the chances of Rosenstein retaining his job. Republicans can make the case that sparing the deputy attorney general not only calms things down for the moment, but will allow Trump to install a new attorney general who is not recused—and who could curtail or shutter Muellers probe. Why fire two when one will do? The downside, to Trump, is that the longer Rosenstein stays, the longer Mueller is protected.

Regardless of how the Rosenstein melodrama plays out, the manner in which Sessions leaves is significant. If the attorney general resigns, Trump is free to pick any of the other 357 people in his administration who have been confirmed by the Senate. (I spoke with him three weeks ago, and I dont see how he would ever quit, says Willie Huntley Jr., a Mobile, Alabama, attorney who has known Sessions for 30 years. This is his dream job.) If Sessions is fired, there is likely to be a legal fight involving the Vacancies Reform Act of 1998. The law is not supposed to be gamed by firing a person, and then being able to pick anybody to fill in as acting, says Ryan Goodman, an N.Y.U. School of Law professor and former Defense Department special counsel. But theres a debate among legal experts about whether it applies if a person is fired.

Inside the Department of Justice, career officials have tried to tune out Trumps criticisms, but it hasnt been easy. It was not until the president accused Sessions personally of not taking control at the D.O.J. that he shot back, says Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor from Alabama. That was not lost on prosecutors. Yet by refusing to leave voluntarily, Sessions could finally make a symbolic point about the D.O.J.s independence—and hand Mueller a bit more ammunition. I think the attorney general fundamentally respects the institution—in contrast to the president, who views prosecutions through a political-retribution lens, says Carrie Cordero, a former Justice Department official. Forcing the president to fire him would be taking a stand against the politicization of the department. And I cant think of anybody in the Cabinet who exceeds the attorney general in loyalty to the presidents domestic-policy agenda. Trump cant fire Sessions on the merits of the job hes doing. Thats why the president wants him to resign—its difficult to come up with a non-obstruction-related reason to fire Jeff Sessions.

If the president wants to go the cautious route in replacing Sessions, he could promote Noel Francisco, currently the U.S. solicitor general and a staunch conservative. Or Trump, besieged, could turn to a strident loyalist—Jeanine Pirro, or even Rudy Giuliani—though the confirmation hearings would be ugly. Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie is also likely to be in the mix. The fallout from Trumps expected housecleaning of D.O.J. leadership could also add momentum to post-midterm panic among Republicans. Plenty can happen between now and November 6, of course, but most reliable models predict that the Democrats will regain control of the House, and polls are now showing a surprisingly good chance of the blue wave washing over the Senate as well. For all the attention on this fall, though, congressional Republicans are already nervously eyeing whats in store for 2020.

Remember, the 2018 cycle is our good cycle, says Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist and a fierce Trump critic. There are 21 Republicans up next time, in 2020—a whole bunch of vulnerable Republicans up. Seven of those seats are held by Republicans who will be 70 or older, and could take the opportunity to retire. The most endangered remaining incumbents are first-termers Dan Sullivan, of Alaska; Cory Gardner, of Colorado; and Thom Tillis, of North Carolina, all of whom won by low-single-digit margins in swing states in 2014. Maines Susan Collins could also become a target, depending on how she comes out of the ongoing Brett Kavanaugh confirmation fight. Right now, the Republicans are all a bunch of cowards. They hope Trump wont tweet about them, Wilson says. But that cowardice will last until the moment it doesnt—and when it breaks, its going to break hard. If we get wiped out in the midterms and Trump looks like a wounded beast, a political survival mechanism is going to kick in.

Jeff Sessions could make the 2020 campaign even more interesting. Last weekend, in advance of his speech, the attorney general went tailgating at the Auburn-Arkansas football game, stoking chatter in Alabama political circles that he wants to reclaim his old Senate seat by running against Democratic incumbent Doug Jones. Win or lose, Sessions would surely have more fun than hes had working for Donald Trump.

In a less degenerate era, the presidents remarks over the Labor Day weekend might have prompted an earnest conversation about impeachment. Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department, Donald Trump tweeted on Monday, criticizing the U.S. attorney general for not burying evidence of alleged criminal corruption by two of his close political allies, Representatives Chris Collins of New York and Duncan Hunter of California, both of whom were recently indicted. Two easy wins now in doubt, he added. Good job Jeff.

This is perhaps the closest Trump has come to explicitly arguing for a two-tiered justice system: one for his political enemies, like Hillary Clinton, and one for friends who prove their loyalty. The presidents tweet is a naked admission that he thinks law enforcement by his Justice Department should serve his political goals, Washington defense attorney William Jeffress, who worked on the Valerie Plame leak case, told me. That is the opposite of what thinking people of both parties have believed strongly for decades, and if the president is allowed to succeed it would undermine federal law enforcement like nothing else in our lifetimes.

Instead, Washington has responded with a resounding shrug. While Republican Senator Ben Sasse issued a fiery statement accusing the president of turning the United States into some banana republic, his was a lone voice of indignation among his colleagues. The president is entitled his opinion, Senator John Kennedy said during an interview with CNN on Tuesday. I dont see it either in the statute or constitution that I have oversight of the presidents tweets.

Trump, after all, has repeatedly proven that he can transgress the acceptable bounds of American politics without any pushback from Republican leadership. In an e-mail Tuesday morning, G.O.P. strategist and vocal Trump critic Rick Wilson offered a world-weary summation of how the party has come to accommodate Trump. What this reads like is an overt attempt to once again subvert the rule of law, Wilson wrote. It is so far outside the bounds of presidential decorum that . . . oh, fuck it . . . who am I kidding?

The collective silence following Trumps efforts to weaponize the Justice Department is all the more disturbing because it highlights how far Trump has gotten toward achieving his goal. The last time Trump ordered one of the nations top law-enforcement agents, F.B.I. director James Comey, to lay off one of his supporters, special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate. Today, after months of berating Sessions for a similar lack of loyalty, Washingtons outrage seems exhausted.

Of course, much has happened since last July, when Trump first said he would never have appointed Sessions had he known that the attorney general was going to recuse himself from the Russia probe. Republicans have grown accustomed to the presidents constant attacks on the Justice Department, which Trump has urged to prosecute Clinton, Comey, and other critics of his administration.

Perhaps more important, Democrats know that Trumps comeuppance will have to wait until after November, when they are likely to retake the House. Trump has grown increasingly comfortable exerting his influence over the attorney general and the F.B.I., eroding the constitutional firewall between the White House and the Justice Department. In the meantime, Mueller continues to his quiet, diligent investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice. Icarus didnt know how close was too close to the sun until it was too late—and neither do the rest of us noted G.O.P. strategist Terry Sullivan, who ran Senator Marco Rubios 2016 presidential campaign, invoking the ancient Greek tale of a man destroyed by hubris. Well have to wait to see him falling from the sky before we know.

Back in the late 1990s, long before he became one of the most philanthropic and altruistic captains of industry that the world has ever known, Bill Gates was perceived as a ruthless enfant terrible businessman—a Justice Department-thwarting swashbuckler whom Scott McNealy, the former C.E.O. of Sun Microsystems, referred to as probably the most dangerous and powerful industrialist of our age. Bob Metcalfe, the founder of 3Com and a personal associate of Gates, compared him and his emphatic partner, Steve Ballmer, to huge teenage boys who dont know how big theyve gotten, and they keep knocking things over. At the time, many feared that Gates was going to gobble up American industries, one by one, and become as seemingly omnipotent as a modern-day John D. Rockefeller.

Two decades later, humbled by regulation and perhaps wiser with age, Gates has steadily turned his attention to other legacy-defining pursuits. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the eradication of malaria, H.I.V., and polio around the globe; agricultural development in Africa; projects to give millions of people access to clean water; and countless other causes.

As perhaps the first teenage genius of the Internet Age, Gates has blazed trails that his successors continue to follow. In many influential Silicon Valley circles, its widely assumed that Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, or Jeff Bezos will inevitably force the hands of government regulators as their companies approach (or pass) the trillion-dollar market-capitalization threshold. But Gatess second act as a magnanimous doer of good deeds also appears to be a harbinger of the future for many successful technologists who have ascended to great heights. I was reminded of this thought on Sunday evening after it was reported that Marc Benioff, the co-founder and co-C.E.O. of Salesforce, agreed to purchase Time for $190 million.

Benioff is following in the tradition of Mike Bloomberg, who bought a struggling BusinessWeek for $5 million, plus debt and liabilities, in 2009; Bezos, who bought The Washington Post for $250 million a few years later; and, most recently, Laurene Powell Jobs, who bought a majority stake in The Atlantic. In all cases, new ownership has revivified the properties. But at what point does one single person have too much influence? Are the people who made their fortunes in one distinct arena qualified to enter different fields, simply because they have the money? Or is that the continuation of a world in which young adults make the fundamental distinctions about totemic notions like privacy? Benioff has indicated that he isnt going to be involved in the management of Time, but its hard to imagine that hes just going to blindly support the property sans the curiosity of a guy who built a colossal business and planted a mammoth flagship skyscraper in Americas richest pot of gold.

In an almost parodic interview with David Streitfeld of The New York Times, during which he was getting a massage, Benioff texted Streitfeld a cartoon image of a man under a towel with cucumbers on his eyes. In the conversation, it was clear that Benioff, too, adheres to something like the day-one theory. I live with a beginners mind, Benioff texted the Times in the interview about his latest acquisition, which Benioff followed up with a screenshot of a quote from the Zen master Suzuki: In the beginners mind, there are many possibilities; in the experts mind, there are few.

Back in his day, Rockefeller was considered a monster on account of his laser-focused attention to controlling cost (like Amazon) and ruthless approach to destroying competitors (like Facebook), and a belief that he alone was the best person to shape society (like almost everyone in Silicon Valley). As Ron Chernow elaborates in Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., Rockefeller took advantage of the U.S. governments inability to adapt to change, and a lack of regulation, to grow his business and place his imprint on society. Were watching the same choreography play out in real time today, only with different side effects. And as these acquisitions of big media brands like Time and The Washington Post prove, the tech titans who are shaping the world today will be part of our lives for the next century or more, long after theyre gone. Buying newspapers, magazines, blogs, or adhering to the ruthless rules of other governments ensures that the world continues to be shaped in the way they believe it should be—even if were not sure thats the way it should be shaped.

It turns out that George W. Bush, the former fortunate First Son turned beloved Texas governor turned reviled 43rd president of the United States, spent the years following his tumultuous twin turns in the Oval Office tucked away in his Dallas home with a painting. His attention to detail was uncanny for a politician previously deemed so incurious. His work first hit the worlds stage in 2013, just four years after leaving the White House, when a Romanian hacker revealed images of two self-portraits Bush had created of himself—one in the shower, and one in the bathtub. In the years since, Bush has focused his work outward, on landscapes and world leaders. In 2014, his presidential library exhibited 30 portraits hed painted of people like Tony Blair, Vladimir Putin, and Angela Merkel.

Bush, the eponymous eldest son of the 41st commander in chief of the United States, had the presidential pedigree. As a Yale undergraduate and Harvard Business School veteran who completed stints as an oil executive and Major League Baseball team owner before serving as governor of the second-largest state, Bush also had a folksy, southern twanging, malaprop-popping relatability about him. He was a true Connecticut cowboy—an Ivy Leaguer with White House roots and Texas boots who practically invented the idea that a president should be someone the electorate would want to down a beer with. He could not correctly pronounce nuclear, yet he could pull off starting a get-out-the-vote campaign speech with a story about pig manure.

On the issue of voting, Bushs first bid for the White House against then sitting vice president Al Gore was so close it came down to a recount and, eventually, a Supreme Court ruling. It all came down to votes in Florida, to ballots and hanging chads, and weeks of legal battles until the high court declared an end to the recount, with Bush as the victor. It was the fourth time in history that a president took the White House but did not win the popular vote.

Bushs presidency was equally fraught. Less than eight months after assuming office, two planes flew straight into the Twin Towers in New York City, toppling them to the ground. Another flew into the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed in Pennsylvania. The events of September 11, 2001, ultimately launched a global war on terror—an invasion into Afghanistan to stop the Taliban and another into Iraq over weapons of mass destruction, which never materialized—that continues to this day. He weathered Hurricane Katrina, some would say unsuccessfully, enacted the Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind, and controversial interrogations at Guantánamo Bay. When he left office in 2009, Bushs approval rating was at 22 percent—the lowest in the 70 years Gallup had been tracking the figure. Thanks in large part to the electoral and constituent-gathering mastery of Karl Rove, it all worked.

A juggernaut just stepped into the awards race. The first trailer has finally dropped for Vice, Adam McKays upcoming biopic about Dick Cheney (played by an unrecognizable, uncanny Christian Bale). Its a searing first look, with Bale turning in a grizzled, domineering performance as the former vice president. Surprisingly, though, its Sam Rockwell who really steals the show here, delivering an eerily perfect impression of George W. Bush—nailing his Texan accent and consummate well, huh expression.

Bush opens the trailer, chomping on a chicken leg and asking Cheney plainly if hed like to be his vice president. Cheney, a businessman with greater aspirations, isnt terribly interested in the symbolic gig. However, he begins, if we came to a different understanding, I can handle the more mundane jobs. He just wants to handle, oh, a few things here and there—like bureaucracy, the military, energy, and foreign policy. Small fries, all.

In the vein of McKays Oscar-winning based-on-recent-events film The Big Short, Vice tells the story of the Cheneys rise to power through sweeping shots, smart dialogue (penned by McKay), and movie magic. And makeup. So much makeup. Bale disappears into the role with the help of some extra weight, prosthetics, and seamless wig work. Nearly all traces of the Oscar-winning actors profile disappear when he slips into veep mode, save for the brief moment in the trailer where hes shown playing young Cheney in a brown wig.

Amy Adams and her floofy blonde coif also get some shine as Lynne Cheney, the former Second Lady. When you have power, people will always try to take it from you, always, shes seen warning her husband. Steve Carell also pops up into the trailer as former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, squinting and asking Cheney if the years have made him more ruthless. If you have to ask . . .

Vice has yet to debut on the festival circuit, so critics havent been able to weigh in on whether itll be a major contender this awards season (though there are rumors it will debut at this Novembers AFI Fest). Its late entry and splashy, topical subject matter could mean that this film will be top of mind for Academy voters, giving McKay a fresh edge over competitors. Plus, the trailer is festooned with transformative performances from stars who either already have Oscars, or have previous nominations to their name. Its one of the most Academy-friendly projects of the season—and it doesnt hurt that the film is based on a true story. Bradley Cooper and his awards strategists are probably coming up with a plan of attack as we speak. Vice will hit theaters on Christmas Day.

This month marks two years since a leaked Access Hollywood tape ended Billy Bushs then-ascendant career at NBC, and the TV personality marked the occasion with some social-media wisdom Monday. I have concluded that I am NOT extraordinary, Bush wrote of his experience as a pariah, after the world heard him snicker along on a hot mic that caught Donald Trump casually suggesting that hed committed sexual assault. Terrible things can happen at any moment to ANYONE.

I have an idea, Bush continued in his Instagram post. Lets stop tolerating this escalating war on flaws and the obliteration of people for things we all do. Its fueled by an activist media and (anti) social media and its barbaric. We are humans and thus fallible. Lets take better care of each other.

This isn't the first time Bush has attempted a rhetorical airing of grievances. In December of 2017, the New York Times published an op-ed in which he addressed the women who had accused Trump of sexual assault. I will never know the fear you felt or the frustration of being summarily dismissed and called a liar, but I do know a lot about the anguish of being inexorably linked to Donald Trump, he wrote. (Trump has denied the allegations.)

But Bushs Instagram post on Tuesday seemed to be a step down another, increasingly familiar path: one in which powerful people, often men, accused of committing or abetting bad behavior put their public trial itself on trial. Woody Allen, for instance, was a small but pivotal figure in a recent profile of his wife, Soon-Yi Previn, who called the allegations of abuse against him so upsetting, so unjust. (Allen has also claimed that Dylan Farrow and her family are cynically using the opportunity afforded by the Times Up movement to repeat this discredited allegation.) Roseanne Barr claimed the backlash she received over her racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett was actually a smear—an intentional misunderstanding of a harmless tweet about politics.

And then there is Brett Kavanaugh, who furiously denied allegations of sexual misconduct from multiple women and declared the entire controversy a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election—fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups. Despite all of it—or perhaps because of it—he was confirmed to the Supreme Court on Saturday, just days before Bush posted to Instagram and inevitably linked himself to Kavanaugh in the process.

No, Bush did not assault anyone, and perhaps two years in the wilderness is enough price to pay. But Bushs version of the Access Hollywood story proves that, however formative the last two years have been, he doesnt fully understand what happened—or who the real victims are. Then again, blaming the media worked fairly well to get Kavanaugh and Trump what they wanted. Maybe Bush has learned something after all.

Barbara Pierce Bush got married in Maine over the weekend. The 36-year-old daughter of George W. Bush and Laura Bush tied the knot with screenwriter Craig Louis Coyne at Walkers Point in Kennebunkport, Maine, where her family has long had a home.

The bride, who is the co-founder and chair of nonprofit Global Health Corps, wore an ivory silk Vera Wang custom gown and was walked down the aisle by her father, as well as her grandfather, former president George H.W. Bush. Her grandmother, after whom she was named, died at the age of 92 in April, but the younger Barbara was able to include her in her special day. She told People that she wore a bracelet her grandfather gave her grandmother on their 70th anniversary in 2015. Her something blue was a pair of blue earrings from her twin sister and matron of honor, Jenna Bush Hager.

Im crying 24 hours later . . . there were so many happy tears, Bush Hager, the Today show contributor, said when she called in to the show from Maine Monday morning. They wanted to get married here [Maine], because my grandfathers here, so it was a very secret wedding—a little bit like my elusive sister—but also just family in a place that means family love, and it was beautiful."

She said that she gave a toast to her sister at the ceremony. I just told her and everybody how much she means to me, but I ended, actually, with a letter that my grandfather wrote to my grandmother. Because I searched all the romantics, and Shakespeare just wasnt doing it. [Her grandfather] was sitting right next to me as I read it.

She added that her grandfather, who is 94 years old and was briefly hospitalized earlier this year, was able to stay through the dinner after the wedding. But it was her youngest daughter, three-year-old Poppy, the ring bearer, who Bush Hager says stole the show, by nearly tackling her aunt with a bear hug during a solemn moment of prayer in the ceremony.

Finally, theyre here, the little ones who steal the show at every wedding and polo match they ever attend: Prince George, five, and his sister, Princess Charlotte, three.

George and Charlotte both arrived by car to St. Georges Chapel moments before Princess Eugenies wedding to Jack Brooksbank began; Charlotte, as has become her custom, practiced her expert royal wave, while George more cautiously tried his out. The two were accompanied in the car by Lady Louise Windsor, their 14-year-old cousin, presumably put in charge of keeping them in line.

When they stepped out of the car to enter the chapel, Charlotte continued practicing her wave—even refusing to hold Georges hand, as was clearly intended, and turning back around to face the crowds. Meanwhile, a fellow page boy, six-year-old Louis de Givenchy, danced an out-and-out jig on the steps; being cooped up in a car is a lot for any six-year-old.

Inside the chapel, seven-year-old Savannah Phillips was placed between George and Charlotte for their roles in the processional, though she might not exactly be a calming influence—over the summer, in a single weekend, she was spotted pushing George down a hill at a polo match and clapping her hand over his mouth during Trooping the Colour.

At this point, George and Charlotte are old pros, having walked in more weddings than Katherine Heigl in that movie about walking in a lot of weddings. I think it was called Always the Page Boy, Never the Page?

Their official royal wedding roles are page boy and bridesmaid, respectively. Alongside them are Princess Eugenies cousins children, including Autumn and Peter Phillipss daughters, Savannah and Isla, six; Zara and Mike Tindalls daughter Mia, four; and Sophie Winkleman and Freddie Windsors daughter Maud, five. Maud is also Eugenies goddaughter.

Princess Eugenie is ninth in line to the throne right now. (The needle seems to always be moving these days.) She and Brooksbank met on a ski trip and dated for about seven years before getting engaged in January.

Prince George and Princess Charlotte are wedding professionals by now. Earlier this year, it was Georges page-boy pants and Charlottes enthusiastic wave that won over royal wedding watchers at Prince Harry and __Meghan Markles wedding in May. They were just as charming, if not a little bit naughty, at their aunt Pippa Middletons wedding in the spring of 2017. And theyve done it again: on Saturday, they acted as page boy and bridesmaid at the Norfolk wedding of Sophie Carter, a close friend of Kate Middletons.

This time, George, who broke typical royal protocol in May by wearing pants and not shorts to his uncles wedding, seemed to follow the rule book this time. He wore blue knickerbockers, which hit just below his knee; under the knickerbockers, he and the other page boys wore white stockings.

The bride, who was named as one of Charlottes godparents upon the three-year-olds birth in 2015, also stuck with a traditional look: she wore a long-sleeved, white lace gown, thick headband, and long veil. She can be seen, per the Daily Mail, picking up an unimpressed-looking Charlotte for photos.

Kate, who wore a blue Catherine Walker coat (weve seen it before with a matching lace dress and flower crown, never seemed far behind her two wedding cherubs. Prince William, who wore a black suit with a light blue vest underneath, also looked to be on Toddler Watch.

George, according to the Mail, was in quite the opposite mood from his sister, cheerily leading his fellow page boys on a march around St. Andrews Episcopal Church. (They were reportedly pretending to be soldiers.) That kind of confidence is unsurprising for a five-year-old who is in high demand for wedding parties.

Prince Harry has just provided definitive proof (as if any was needed) that The Lion King spans the generations. Like his nephew George, Harry is a fan of the 1994 Disney film, which came out in theaters when he was nearly 10 years old.

Per Daily Mail reporter Rebecca English, while at the WellChild Awards in London on Tuesday, Harry revealed his Disney film preference randomly in conversation.

Throughout the event, he and Meghan met children who benefit from WellChild, a national charity for sick children in the U.K. One of these children was Matilda, who gave Meghan a bouquet of white roses. Later, Matilda, whos seven and is an aspiring nurse with spina bfida, told English that Meghan gave her back one of the roses to put in her memory box and that Harry made her pinky promise to never stop smiling. In Englishs video, Meghan is also seen joking that Harry can have one of her roses after he feigned sadness that Matilda didnt have a bouquet for him.

Meghan and Harry also reportedly mentioned liking Zootopia and Moana, especially that frisky chicken Heihei. And Meghan proved that she is able to get her royal laughs in somewhere when she made a ginger joke about her husband:

You cant marry the Cinnamon Prince and not make a joke about it; Meghans getting the hang of this royal life thing. That, and how to rock a sleek pantsuit regardless of whether the Queen approves.

The first man to play masked killer Michael Myers—the real star of the Halloween franchise—was Nick Castle, who went to college and played in a band with Halloween director and co-writer John Carpenter. Castle had no formal training as an actor, but neither did many of his successors—a little less than a dozen actors over the past 40 years.

Their backgrounds range from stunt coordinator (Dick Warlock, of Halloween II) to professional wrestler (6-foot-8-inch Tyler Mane, Adult Michael in the 2007 and 2009 Halloween remakes) to Stella Adler Studio-trained actor (James Jude Courtney, of this years Halloween sequel). But all managed to successfully disappear into the part, a role that has transformed over the decades (and 11 films) from the embodiment of pure evil (as Donald Pleasences paranoid Dr. Loomis put it in the original film) to a recognizably human stain on real, flesh-and-blood survivors like Loomis and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), Michaels sister—the P.T.S.D.-stricken star of David Gordon Greens 2018 Halloween, which comes to theaters October 19.

Michael Myers is, admittedly, a bit of a cipher; in an interview, 2007 Halloween-remake director Rob Zombie aptly described the part as a lead character whose face you never see, and who never says anything. But each man whos played him has brought something unique to the role. Here, seven actors who have played Michael open up about scaring children, walking like wood through water, and setting themselves on fire—all in the name of Halloween.

The role of Michael Myers can be subtly challenging; because the character wears a mask and doesnt speak, he must be understood through body language. Since the beginning of the Halloween franchise, that has led casting directors, producers, and stunt coordinators to emphasize stunt-readiness over other traditional on-camera experience—and the ability to move with a menacing, catlike grace.

Rob Zombie, Director, Halloween (2007): The funny thing about that mask: its so blank that everybody projects on to it what they want to see, and how he should behave. Sometimes, Id get pushback along the lines of, Michael Myers cant do that? According to who? The Michael Myers Handbook? I never got a copy of that.

Nick Castle, Michael Myers, Halloween (1978): I was paid $25 per day for Halloween. That was a lot at the time! You have to remember: my interest in doing the film was being on set, so I could demystify the experience of filmmaking and directing. I expected to hang around the set for no money. But hey, $25 per day, and all I had to do was wear a rubber mask.

Its a mystery what John [Carpenter, who directed the first Halloween] saw in me and the way I moved. I asked John, What is this character going to do? And he said, Just walk across the street. I knew Michaels movements werent going to be robotic. He was a real guy. Hes not rushing.

Dick Warlock, Michael Myers, Halloween II (1981): [Halloween II director Rick Rosenthal] never gave me any instruction on how to play [Michael]—nothing at all about the walk. Debra Hill was there every day, and Debra never said, Can you make the walk a little faster, Dick? or Can you make your movements a little swifter? Years later, in an interview, she said, Dick Warlock never got the walk down. Well, give me a break. Im a stunt guy; Im not an actor. If I wasnt doing it right, you should have told me.

Don Shanks, Michael Myers, Halloween 5 (1989): I went in to meet with [director Dominique Othenin-Girard]. His one direction was, I want you to get up and walk like wood through water. I did, and he said, Perfect, you got it. I interpreted that direction as: youre rigid, but youre still adapting to the water. Youre moving smoothly through the water; youre not getting pushed through it.

Chris Durand, Michael Myers, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998): Think about how a tiger will lock eyes on its prey with a singular focus.  As I was stalking my victims, I tilted my head down slightly, locked onto them, and did a deep, guttural growl. To his credit, the sound guy picked up on my growling and subtly layered it into the final edit. I dont believe that any of my castmates ever picked up on that, but it lent a certain primal energy to each take.

James Jude Courtney, Michael Myers, Halloween (2018): Years ago, I met a real hit man through a mutual acquaintance—he wanted his life story written, so he was living with me. He had just left a safe house and served in a penitentiary up in the Northwest. I absorbed his life just by hanging out with him every day. I took him to see a film I was in called The Hit List. We walked out of the screening, and he said to me, Jimmy, its a really nice movie, but thats not how you kill people.

Theres a stealth efficiency to the way an actual trained killer works. Movies tend to dilute that quality with dramatic pauses and dialogue, which a true predator would never waste time doing. That efficiency is what I took to the part of Michael Myers.

Michael has been terrifying children for decades, both on-screen and off—and appearing with the character can be especially frightening for a young actor. Still, many of Michaels teenage and pre-teen targets have taken to working with him like old pros.

Shanks: [then-11-year-old co-star Danielle Harris] did all her own stunts. I was literally stabbing in the dark, because I cant see her. They blind Michael at the end of Halloween II, so they put nylon netting over the eyes, which makes it a little difficult doing the stuntwork.

But Danielle trusted me. Theres a scene where Im chasing her in a car, and I get pretty close to her. But she knows Im not going to hit her. That gives you a little more freedom to do what you want—to be creative, but not to have that fear of Is this guy going to hit me?

Durand: We shot the exterior of the rest-stop sequence on the first day of shooting. The setup: a mom and her young daughter pull into a rest stop, desperately needing to use the bathroom. They rush up to the ladies room, but the door is locked. So they go into the mens room instead. I was supposed to crack the mens-room door open and peek over the doorframe. But they neglected to tell the little girl that I was in there, and that she wasnt supposed to pull the door open.

[Seven-year-old actress Emmalee Thompson] marched right up to the door, swung it open, and came face-to-face with Michael. I watched the blood drain from her face.  Boom, that fast—we were down for an hour as I ripped the mask off and helped to get her calmed down again. After about an hour, she decided that I wasnt such a bad guy after all.

Zombie: Theres a scene, in the first remake, where Michael bursts through the door. Everybody knew what was going to happen, because the scene was in the script. But Tylers big, and I dont know if she [actress Jenny Gregg Stewart] had seen his mask yet. When he came smashing through the door, her scream was completely genuine. She told me it was; she was freaked out.

Tyler Mane, Adult Michael, Halloween (2007) and Halloween II (2009): You mean Jenny Gregg Stewart from the first movie? I dont remember that! We always rehearse the scenes several times before shooting, and I only put the mask on at the very last minute. So that surprises me, but maybe. In the moment, its good that she was scared, I guess!

Daeg Faerch, Young Michael, Halloween (2007): Theres that one shot right before I kill [William Forsythe], and the camera is outside the house looking in. The killing scenes werent scary for me, but they left me alone in that house for that take, and I was afraid of the dark. I was young, and I was by myself.

Stuntwork is key to Michaels enduring appeal; in most Halloween films, the masked villain appears to be just about indestructible. Stunt coordinators like Warlock and Donna Keegan (from Halloween H20) work to ensure their Michaels have what they need to safely hit their marks—but human actors arent always as durable as the character theyre playing.

Castle: The most difficult scene is easy for me to remember. It was a scene shot in the middle of the night, where Michael jumps on top of a car as hes escaping the mental hospital. It wasnt freezing, but it was in the mid-40s. I was in a hospital gown and underpants. I dont think John let me know what he had in store for me.

He turns to the crew and says something like, O.K., start the water cannons. The hospitals sprinkler system was more like a fire hose. The water arced into the air, and when it came down on me, it felt like icicles hitting me on the back.

It was the most painful thing Id ever experienced outside of a broken arm. That was the one scene that I really remember thinking, Maybe I should have got more than $25.

Shanks: The most physically demanding scene was when Michael gets blown out of the mine shaft, and I fall into the river, at the beginning of the film. That river was full of melted snow, so it was maybe 30 degrees. The mask was stuck to my face, and I couldnt get the water out. I also had to grab a safety net on the other side of the river and pull myself out. If I missed the net and went around the rivers bend, Id hit a water processing plant. Then Id get killed.

Warlock: For the scene where I was set on fire: they quickly flashed on a wall of propane flames, and when I walked through the fire, the flames ignited my suit. Then I walked as slowly as I could. I had six stunt guys standing by with fire extinguishers, just waiting for me.

If you watch closely, youll see theres a little jiggle in my arms, and then I fall down. Thats because I burned my arm. I trusted the guys I got that stunts suit from, so I didnt see that it had zippers on the arm. The flames went right through the suit. They were superficial burns, really; the doc applied a salve to them.

We did the stunt two times; for whatever reason, the first take didnt work out. It got hot quicker than I thought it would. If it wasnt for that zipper, I could have gone another 10, 15 seconds. It was intense.

Michael Myers has passed into popular legend—but the men who played him, of course, also have very personal associations with the character. For these actors, Michael brings to mind thousands of enthusiastic horror-conventions fans, as well as co-stars like Pleasence and Curtis—all of whom helped to make Michael an iconic horror monster.

Mane: [Michael] hits a very primitive nerve. Hes human, but hes not. Theres something very off there when you cant see the face or read what hes thinking. Hes like a shark in that you cant reason with him, you cant out-run him, and hes completely unstoppable. Plus, add that white mask with eyes that are skull-like holes, and everything about him screams death.

Castle: There was a period of time where Id think, Oh my god, this is going to go on my tombstone. It wont say anything about me directing The Last Starfighter. It wont say anything about anything else. All itll say is that I was known as the guy who wore a mask in Halloween. But then I loosened up. Its not every day that you can look across your desk and see a plastic figurine of yourself. Its a lot of fun.

Faerch: Ive been rapping for seven years now, but my fans kept telling me that they knew me from Halloween, so I figured I should connect the two things together. Doing the music video for Halloween on Friday the 13th was really fun. I got to relive—or re-kill—some of my favorite moments.

Normally, fans all understand that its just a movie. There are times though when I have to impress upon them that thats not me. Im Daeg. I rap and hang out with my friends. Im not Michael Myers.

Courtney: Fraternities are cool, whether its combat veterans or football players or journalists. Thats something that only these guys and I get to know. No one else will get to experience that. Part of the honor of this experience is being able to join a club with these distinguished gentlemen who happen to kill people for a living.

Shanks: One time, I had just wrapped for the night. And [co-star and series regular Donald Pleasence] raps on my trailer door and says, Might I ask a favor? I have this scene where I know that youre out there, and it would help me if I knew that you really were physically out there—even though I dont see you. I thought that was the least I could do.

The 32-year-old man who will marry Princess Eugenie a week from today is not, at least in the U.S., much of a known entity. Jack Brooksbank—who will be marrying Eugenie, ninth in line to the throne, on October 12—is the U.K. brand ambassador for Casamigos tequila (yes, thats the George Clooney and Rande Gerber tequila). He met Eugenie in Switzerland about seven years ago while skiing in [a] Swiss resort town; Sarah Ferguson seems to like him; and . . . those seem to be the most pertinent facts about him!

But Brooksbank is letting us in—somewhat surprisingly—to his mindset in the weeks leading up to the wedding (which will be televised in the U.S. and the U.K., it was announced this week), as he spoke with Daily Mail columnist Sebastian Shakespeare at the launch of Harrys Bar, James Street this week. Brooksbank said he has arranged for, naturally, Casamigos to be served at the reception (as it reportedly was at Prince Harry and Meghan Markles reception, too). Ive not been kept out of all the planning. I get to decide some things. Im in charge of drinks, and well be serving Casamigos, he said. (Brooksbank also owns a company titled, whaddya know, Jack Brooksbank Ltd., which distributes alcoholic drinks.)

Clooney attended Harry and Meghans wedding, but it is unclear if hell be at Eugenie and Brooksbanks. I cant say if George Clooney is coming, he told the Daily Mail. (We are going to take that as a yes.) He added, Ill need to take a few minutes for myself before the speeches, because Im terrified. Its very exciting, but Im a little bit nervous.

Thankfully for Brooksbank, some of the pressure will no doubt be taken off with the attention that will surely be paid to the presence of Meghan, Kate Middleton, Harry, Prince William, Princess Charlotte, and Georges, both prince and (probably) Clooney, at the event.

How did you spend your weekend? Did you head out for a beach day with your pals, only to be semi-disappointed by cloudy skies and an annoying friend-of-a-friend who joined in last minute? Did you finally catch Crazy Rich Asians? Did you sleep in and then lie in bed for hours watching Instagram Stories? Or did you go on your very first bird-hunting trip with the Queen in the lush British countryside??!?!

Yes, for young Prince George, the answer is that last one. According to The Suns royal correspondent, Emily Andrews, the five-year-old spent the weekend at Balmoral, the Queens summer compound, along with mother Kate, Prince Charles, Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex (and their children, Louise and James), as well as Princess Anne and Zara and Mike Tindall. The group went hunting for grouse, a medium-to-large game bird with a plump body and feathered legs, on Friday morning, before heading to lunch (with the Queen delightfully driving the car herself, as can be seen in a photograph Andrews shared on her Twitter account).

George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis are not seen in the car shot, though Andrews says they were all present for the weekend festivities. Typically the Balmoral trip takes place in early September, but it was bumped earlier this year due to George and Charlottes school schedules. (Georges first day of school this year is September 6.) It would seem Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were absent for the weekend retreat, perhaps focused on spending time with their new dog (whose name we still eagerly await).

Grouse hunting is not an unusual sport for the royals, who historically have frequently taken part in the sport, but certain Twitter users are expressing their dismay over Georges involvement in the activity. Cosmopolitan rounded up a few particularly enraged tweets, with some calling it a modern day media gaff and a shame that another innocent child will grow up to believe that killing animals for fun will be the normal thing to do. And in a sort of counter-reaction to that reaction, other Twitter users are noting that many of those individuals expressing anger are likely meat eaters themselves. No matter where you come down on the issue, one thing is certain at least: the Queen is almost certainly never going to see any of these tweets.

Im not used to seeing people who look like me on TV. Its a baked-in expectation, despite my own evolving awareness of diversity on television, and the industrys examples of groundbreaking, representative work. When I do notice that stories feel like my own life, its not typically because the characters are Indian-American or first-generation immigrants, but because they are, like me, insufferable snobs who live in Brooklyn.

Watching NBCs debuting comedy I Feel Bad, which revolves around the life of Indian-American protagonist Emet (Sarayu Blue), felt like looking in a funhouse mirror. Like me, Emet has a nerdy job and unresolved anger issues; my hair, at present, is a downmarket attempt to look like her hair. Im also with a tall, disheveled white man (Emets husband, David, is played by perennial cute-husband Paul Adelstein), and I also struggle to bridge the cultural divide between his experience of the world and that of my very Indian parents, led by my irrepressible mother. It was hard to ignore the resemblance between my own parents idiosyncrasies and the characters depicted by Brian George (the Israeli-English actor best known as Babu Bhatt on Seinfeld) and Madhur Jaffrey (who, in addition to her sitcom role, is a world-famous ambassador of Indian cooking and the mother of another performer, Sakina Jaffrey). In the second episode, Georges character, Sonny, steals fruit from a neighbor while wearing a brightly colored golf shirt—and then has the temerity to call the police on an interloper he sees elsewhere. Thats my dad all right.

On the other hand, theres a flat cheeriness about Emets story that makes it nearly impossible for me to relate to; its like viewing my own life through a thick layer of candy coating. Emets problems might be similar to mine, but the strictures of a network sitcom prevent them from being unappealingly dark, weird, or heavy. I have enjoyed the episodes of Fresh Off the Boat that Ive seen, but I understand more now the frustrations of chef and memoirist Eddie Huang, whose life the show is based on. In 2015, when that show debuted, he sounded off on what it turned into in the pages of New York magazine: a universal, ambiguous, cornstarch story about Asian Americans resembling moo goo gai pan . . . But who is that show written for?

I find myself asking the same of I Feel Bad, a show I nevertheless cannot tear my eyes away from. Its a fresh idea, needled half to death; the sloppy and overfull pilot is what happens when a boardroom and a PowerPoint come together to make a television show. Emet is the daughter of immigrants, but shes neutralized her otherness through immersion into the cult of American female domesticity; her problem, were told, is that shes too giving. And as maddening as this mom-pandering is, its probably the only way this show could be sold.

Whats especially, painfully obvious, like a brick to the face, is how the show tries to ignore, or at least smooth over, the alienation Emet must feel. Emets only character trait, amidst the hastily sketched mom-and-wife tropes, is that she is Indian-American. But the commonplace agonies of immigrant life have been spun into tepid sitcom banter so unconvincingly upbeat that the grins seem to stifle screams.

This is most marked in Emets relationship with her spry, judgmental mother, Maya (Jaffrey), which even in a sanitized pilot is barbed with poison. David jokes, early on, that his mother-in-law screwed up his wife, which prompts Emet to agree that her mothers treatment led to her tiny nervous bald spot, presumably from anxiously yanking her own hair out. Mayas first words to her daughter, a tight 45 seconds into the pilot, are: Mamas running off to work, huh. Fancy career lady, abandoning her kids. Emet gives as good as she gets: as she buckles her baby into a stroller, she bends over and coos, Im so sorry we cant afford to pay a stranger to take care of you. In the primary drama of the first episode, Emet reminds her mother that Maya used to throw her shoes at her as a disciplinary tactic. Maya is unrepentant: And you used to duck! Like a tiger!

Emet and Mayas relationship is not uncommon—and neither are Mayas parenting practices, which have parallels in other cultures around the world. (A colleague reminded me that la chancla is as dreaded in Latin America as a chappal is in India.) But in any paradigm, such a dynamic is not without attendant pain, and Emet is fairly direct about how much damage she feels her mother did to her. Whats exceptional about their relationship is not just that it is heightened with the drama of slipper-throwing, but that they have enacted this relationship in America, where a wildly different set of norms and expectations are at play; they are enacting it now that Emets an adult, with a white husband and three mixed-race children to witness her experience.

Throughout the first episode, Emet fixates on the problem of trying to be a good mother to her children without emulating her mothers excesses. But the trauma of her own experience continues to snake across the screen, poorly suppressed yet without an outlet to emerge. Possibly for that very reason, the episode actually finds most of its comic energy in Emets co-workers, a group of regressive but lovable video-game programmers who spend their first on-screen scene debating whether Emet, their boss, is doable. (In their defense, she asked them the question—but in my defense, thats sexual harassment.) Its a desperate attempt to bring the drama of Emets story out of a thorny mother-daughter dynamic and into the safer environment of sexually charged workplace banter. It has nothing to do with being Indian-American.

My most cynical guess for what went wrong here is simple but depressing: being Asian-American is not a sitcom premise. Its rich territory, to be sure; the finest episodes of Master of None, from Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, were the episodes where the co-creators examined the legacies of their immigrant parents. The astonishing novel Severance, from Ling Ma, wraps a story of apocalypse into a series of bedside conversations with the narrators mother. And cannily, the film Crazy Rich Asians, starring Fresh Off the Boats Constance Wu, is ultimately framed not as a romance between her character and Henry Goldings, but as an extended wooing of his formidable mother, played by Michelle Yeoh.

But this isnt laugh-out-loud territory. Jaffrey is a spirited performer, and in the second preview episode, she snags at least one brilliant moment in forcing her white son-in-law to calculate how much it will cost to support her until death. But when Emet and Maya are on screen together, the show almost falls to pieces under the weight of trying to leaven their dynamic. Its telling, and precedented; while that other Asian-American sitcom Fresh Off the Boat features a complicated character portrait in the cold and hard-nosed Jessica Huang (Wu), the abusive philanderer Louis Huang has been re-written into a perpetually affable restaurateur played by cheery Randall Park. Sitcoms have historically handled difficult material: Married… with Children told the daily travails of a couple who hated each other, and The Honeymooners used the threat of physical violence as a punch line. But maybe the average story of an immigrant person is harder to joke about.

As of its first two episodes, I Feel Bad does not seem to know how to make comedy—or even simply story—out of its central anxieties of identity. Forcing a standard template onto a story about being different is strikingly wrongheaded. And thats the bigger, and thornier, problem here: at some point in I Feel Bads journey from idea to screen, it went from a comedy about being different to a sitcom about making different seem as safe, accessible, and non-threatening as possible. As it turns out, thats not what being different means at all.

At a time when the Russian government was escalating its efforts to help Donald Trump win the presidency, Rick Gates, then deputy chairman of the Trump campaign, was making inquiries of his own. Shortly after he joined the Trump campaign alongside Paul Manafort in 2016, Gates sought proposals from an Israeli intelligence firm, Psy-Group, for social-media influence and opposition-research campaigns, The New York Times reports.

Gates was first introduced to Psy-Group in March 2016, just days after he and Manafort joined the campaign to stave off a Ted Cruz-led Republican revolt. George Birnbaum, a longtime Republican operative who attended the introductory meeting at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Washington, told the Times that Gates was interested in finding the technology to achieve what they were looking for. Gates reportedly sought a proposal targeting Cruz through the use of fake online personas, which was intended to corral 5,000 Republican delegates away from the Texas senator and toward Trump. Another proposal, per the Times, described opposition research against Hillary Clinton. A third mapped out a months-long plan to sow discord. Together, the proposals were labeled Project Rome, and referred to Trump, Clinton, and Cruz Lion, Forest, and Bear, respectively. In total, the work would have cost the Trump campaign $3 million. (A lawyer for Gates declined the Timess request for comment.)

The Trump Tower meeting was not the first time Zamels name surfaced in connection with the Russia probe. Back in May, a report from The Wall Street Journal alleged that Psy-Group inked a business deal with Robert Mercer-backed data firm Cambridge Analytica in December 2016; the deal reportedly outline[d] a partnership whereby the two firms could cooperate on a case-by-case basis to provide intelligence and social-media services, the aim of which was, in part, to help both companies win government contracts. A source told the Journal that the deal was signed without Mr. Zamels involvement, but the existence of the deal drew yet another link between the Russia probes fringe players.

The Gates/Psy-Group saga, too, is something of a Whos Who of Robert Muellers investigation: Gates, of course, cut a plea deal with Muellers team, and Nader is reportedly cooperating with the special counsel. Prince has also been ensnared in the investigation, for his involvement in a January 2017 Seychelles meeting, and has previously said that he cooperated with Mueller. People familiar with the matter told the Times that Mueller has obtained copies of the various proposals Gates perused, and that he is particularly interested in a $2 million payment Nader made to Zamel after the 2016 election.

Welcome to the era of Henry Golding. The actor, one of the breakout stars of rom-com blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians, has been carefully booking roles in the wake of the films success and hes just lined up a project so perfectly assembled that it seems quite possibly too good to be true. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Golding is set to co-star alongside Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke in Last Christmas, a romance (swoon) directed by Paul Feig. The filmmaker also recently directed Golding in the truly wild thriller A Simple Favor. Might we be witnessing a new actor-director perma-combo in the works, akin to Feigs relationship with Melissa McCarthy? One can only hope, dream, et cetera.

Not only will Last Christmas be directed by Feig, but it will also be based on a script by Oscar-winning treasure Emma Thompson and English playwright Bryony Kimmings. The details are still under wraps, per T.H.R., but the film will be a holiday romance set in London. That would have been impossible to tell from the cryptic title and all the British accents involved, but thankfully, we now know for certain.

In an interview with the Radio Times, Kimmings let slip a few other details, most importantly that the film is based on the nostalgic, broken-hearted Wham! song of the same name. In addition, George Michael gave the idea for the film his blessing prior to his death in 2016.

Kimmings also revealed that her original draft of the script included a trans lead, inspired by Michaels advocacy for the L.G.B.T.Q. community. Michael was openly gay. I tried to slip in some trans people and make sure there was queer politics in there, Kimmings said in the interview. I dont know how much of that remains!

At the time, Kimmings admitted she had not seen the final version of the screenplay. I doubt therell be a trans lead, she added. But I hope that theres quite an element of queer in there, because you know its the story—its based on the song, Last Christmas.

A release date for Last Christmas has not yet been set (but we imagine it will be released, you know, during the holiday season in the coming years).


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