The Biggest Stories in American Politics This Week

From Michael Cohen’s released recording to a pause in the trade war with Europe, it’s been a busy week in American politics. Here are five of the top stories you might have missed (and some links if you want to read further).

Michael Cohen released a recording of President Trump.

A tape of a 2016 conversation between Donald J. Trump and his former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, sheds new light on hush money payments to a former Playboy model — but questions remain.Published OnCreditImage by Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, released a secret recording on Tuesday of a conversation between Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump in which Mr. Trump appears to have knowledge of payments to a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with him.

The recording provides details on payments to the former model, Karen McDougal, but it does not definitively answer the question of whether Mr. Trump directed Mr. Cohen to make the payments in cash or by check.

The recording’s release contradicts repeated statements from Mr. Trump and his aides, and it shows how those in Mr. Trump’s orbit have used falsehoods to try to protect themselves from unflattering coverage and tough questions.

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The European Union agreed to a trade truce with the United States.

President Trump announced on Wednesday a number of trade initiatives with the European Union, including plans to “resolve” retaliatory tariffs.Published OnCreditImage by Doug Mills/The New York Times

The United States and the European Union paused the budding trade war on Wednesday after Mr. Trump said the Europeans agreed to work toward lower trade barriers and to buy billions of dollars of American soybeans and natural gas.

A day earlier, the Trump administration announced that it would provide up to $12 billion in emergency relief for farmers negatively affected by the trade war.

Though Mr. Trump is declaring victory in the solution between the two sides, the general outlines of his plan were reminiscent of earlier negotiations started under President Barack Obama.

Mr. Trump also took credit on Friday for the acceleration of economic growth in the second quarter, despite economists’ skepticism that the growth cannot sustain itself.

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The special counsel is examining President Trump’s tweets about James Comey and Jeff Sessions.

Investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, have told President Trump’s lawyers that they want to question him about his tweets.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is examining Mr. Trump’s tweets and negative statements about James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions as part of his inquiry into whether the president tried to obstruct the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

New documents also detail a financial arrangement between Rick Gates, who is cooperating with Mr. Mueller’s team after pleading guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators, and Elliott Broidy, a top fund-raiser for Mr. Trump.

The relationship between the two men is indicative of how some of the president’s associates marketed their administration access and sheds light on Mr. Gates, a key figure in the special counsel investigation.

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In presidential diplomacy, an all-caps threat, sanctions and a postponed meeting.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran at a meeting with a group of Foreign Ministry officials on Sunday in Tehran.CreditOffice of the Iranian Presidency, via Associated Press

Mr. Trump threatened Iran late Sunday via Twitter post, warning that the country would face “CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED” if it continued to threaten the United States.

The tweet only intensified questions about the long-term direction of Mr. Trump’s approach to Iran policy.

The White House announced Wednesday that the administration would postpone an invitation for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to visit Washington until after the conclusion of the Russia investigation, which John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, predicted would be “after the first of the year.”

And though he declined to provide specifics, Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, repeatedly defended the president that same day against senators skeptical of Mr. Trump’s approach to Russian diplomacy.

(Mr. Putin, for his part, said on Friday that he had invited Mr. Trump to visit Moscow, an idea the White House responded favorably to.)

And on Thursday, Mr. Trump abruptly announced that his administration would impose “large sanctions” on Turkey, a NATO ally, for detaining an American pastor accused of aiding a failed coup attempt there.

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In midterm primaries, a Trump favorite won — and the presidential endorsements continued.

Brian Kemp celebrated his win in the Republican runoff in the Georgia governor’s race on Tuesday.CreditMelissa Golden for The New York Times

Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, won the Republican nomination for governor on Tuesday after a well-timed endorsement from the president and a number of political ads that evoked Mr. Trump’s incendiary messaging.

The New York Times analyzed Mr. Kemp’s acceptance speech here. His victory adds to the pattern of pro-Trump candidates often emerging victorious over anti-Trump establishment candidates.

Mr. Trump then jumped into three more races on Friday, endorsing his preferred candidate in Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee by posting a series of tweets within minutes of each other.

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