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The criminal investigation into Russia’s links to the Trump campaign includes a senior White House official and we don’t know if we’ll ever fully be able to process such a betrayal from Trump’s Coca-Cola delivery guy. The president reportedly said firing James Comey eased a lot of his pressure, because the only thing this controversy was missing was language typically reserved for Maalox commercials. And Trump’s news cycle is so bad a Democratic congressman from not too long ago is being added to the sex offenders registry and no one seems to really care. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, May 19th, 2017:
INVESTIGATORS LOOKING AT POSSIBLE COVER-UP – “Ms. Conway, did you just eat that document?” “Mnphphphph!” Matthew Schofield and Lesley Clark: “Investigators into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential elections are now also probing whether White House officials have engaged in a cover-up, according to members of Congress who were briefed Friday by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. That avenue of investigation was added in recent weeks after assertions by former FBI Director James Comey that President Donald Trump had tried to dissuade him from pressing an investigation into the actions of Trump’s first national security adviser, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, members of Congress said, though it was not clear whom that part of the probe might target…. Cover-ups have traditionally been a major part of investigations that have threatened previous administrations. Articles of impeachment levied against Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton included allegations of obstruction of justice, as they were suspected of trying to hide other wrongdoing.” [McClatchy]
RUSSIA PROBE FOCUSING ON CURRENT WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL – Barron, how could you? Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky: “The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter. The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official. The revelation comes as the investigation also appears to be entering a more overtly active phase, with investigators shifting from work that has remained largely hidden from the public to conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas. The intensity of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, the people said.” [WaPo]
TRUMP FIRED COMEY BECAUSE THAT IS HIS XANAX – Matt Apuzzo, Maggie Haberman and Matthew Rosenberg: “President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved ‘great pressure’ on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting. ‘I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,’ Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. ‘I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.’ Mr. Trump added, ‘I’m not under investigation.’ The conversation, during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Mr. Comey — reinforces the notion that Mr. Trump dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives. Mr. Trump said as much in one televised interview, but the White House has offered changing justifications for the firing.” [NYT]
It’s Jared Kushner, freelance writer Yashar Ali says, citing four unnamed sources. Maybe that’s true?
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SAUDI ARMS DEAL MAY BE ILLEGAL – Take a number, y’know? Akbar Shahid Ahmed: “The human rights arm of the American Bar Association has sent the Senate a legal analysis saying that President Donald Trump’s plan for an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth more than $100 billion would be illegal because of the Saudis’ role in the ongoing conflict in Yemen. Citing ‘multiple credible reports of recurring and highly questionable [air]strikes’ by the Saudi military that have killed civilians, the U.S. ‘cannot continue to rely on Saudi assurances that it will comply with international law and agreements concerning the use of U.S.-origin equipment,’ Michael Newton, a prominent Vanderbilt University law professor and former military judge advocate general, said. Newton, in his 23-page opinion, said the strikes have continued ‘even after Saudi units received training and equipment to reduce civilian casualties.’” [HuffPost]
STAAAAAND BYYYYY YOOOUR MAAAAAAN – Assuming he isn’t disbarred, Rosenstein has a tremendous and lucrative future representing the Trump Organization in court. Ryan J. Reilly: “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who offered a memo used to justify President Donald Trump’s termination of former FBI Director James Comey, told members of Congress on Friday that he’d discussed the need for new leadership at the FBI with Attorney General Jeff Sessions long before Trump fired Comey. Rosenstein told members of Congress he knew that Trump planned to fire Comey before he wrote his memo. Rosenstein told members of the House of Representatives that he respected Comey, but believed his public handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails went against DOJ regulations.” [HuffPost]
TRUMP TO REFORM HEALTH CARE BY DESTROYING IT – He really seems to believe people will blame Obama for this. Josh Dawsey, Jennifer Haberkorn and Paul Demko: “President Donald Trump has told advisers he wants to end payments of key Obamacare subsidies, a move that could send the health law’s insurance markets into a tailspin, according to several sources familiar with the conversations…. Many senior administration officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, are leery of ending the payments, however, because it could immediately unravel the Obamacare insurance markets and strongly discourage insurers from participating next year.” [Politico]
THIS WON’T IMPACT RECIDIVISM AT ALL – Ryan J. Reilly: “The federal Bureau of Prisons has quietly fired an education specialist the Justice Department hired to serve as the first ‘superintendent’ of the educational system within federal prisons, HuffPost has learned. The Obama administration brought on Amy Lopez last year to overhaul educational programs for federal prisoners, with the hope of easing their re-entry into society and reducing recidivism. Lopez was fired last week ― leaving the future of the reform efforts under President Donald Trump in doubt. ‘They’re shitcanning it,’ a person who worked on the prison reform efforts disclosed to HuffPost this week.” [HuffPost]
CONGRESS’ WEED DEALER FIGHTING FOR YOU – There were a lot of weed puns we tried with all our might to avoid on this one. From Eliot: “It now has fallen on [Earl] Blumenauer to partake in a different type of weed dealing: serving as an unofficial liaison between official Washington and a cannabis industry that is, even by its own vigilant standards, pretty spooked by the prospect of a federal crackdown on it…. Blumenauer set out to calm nerves this week by holding meetings with cannabis industry representatives in Washington for a lobbying blitz…. He speculated that legalization could come about in a number of ways, including through legislation or by executive action from ‘the new administration that will replace Trump’ that de-lists marijuana as a controlled substance.” [HuffPost]
Trump’s weekend getaways are destroying a historic airport.
THIS ONE WEIRD TRICK WILL SAVE YOU $800,000 – Being rich. That’s the trick. Daniel Marans: “Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate for Montana’s open House seat, stands to get tax cuts worth nearly $800,000 a year if the House health care bill becomes law, according to a new analysis. The American Health Care Act, as the Republican bill that passed the House of Representatives is known, repeals the two tax hikes on higher earners that the Affordable Care Act used to fund expansion of insurance coverage: a 3.8 percent tax on net investment income and a 0.9 percent increase in the Medicare Hospital Insurance tax. Both taxes apply to individuals making $200,000 a year or more, and married couples making $250,000 a year or more.” [HuffPost]
WEINER PLEADS GUILTY SEXTING A MINOR, WILL REGISTER AS SEX OFFENDER – This is not the future liberals want. Andy Campbell, Sebastian Murdock and Sam Levine: “Former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) pleaded guilty on Friday to a federal obscenity charge after he sent explicit text messages to a minor. Weiner turned himself over to the FBI on Friday morning, and by 11:30 a.m. he was a convicted sex offender. He stood in a suit in Manhattan federal court, sobbing as he described how he met a stranger online ‘whom I knew to be 15 years old.’ ‘I engaged in obscene communication with this teen, just as I had done and continued to do with adult women,’ Weiner said in front of Judge Loretta Preska. He read from a letter he prepared for his plea, often pausing as he tried to compose himself.” [HuffPost]
BOB BECKEL: WE KNEW YE – Beckel can now pursue his original passion: being a stock photo of a grumpy man The Onion uses in its op-eds. David Moye: “Fox News announced on Friday it has terminated Bob Beckel, co-host of ‘The Five.’ The network released this statement to Variety: ‘Bob Beckel was terminated today for making an insensitive remark to an African-American employee.’ A black IT worker who came to work on Beckel’s computer reported the comment on Tuesday, according to attorneys Douglas H. Wigdor and Jeanne Christensen, who are currently representing the IT employee and other current and former staff ― including anchorman Kelly Wright ― in a class action suit alleging rampant racial discrimination at Fox News. Beckel allegedly told the employee he was leaving the office because the man was black, Wigdor and Christensen stated.” [HuffPost]
Your year was not bad, if you really think about it: “Huma Abedin filed for divorce Friday from disgraced perv hubby Anthony Weiner — the same day he pleaded guilty to sexting with a minor. Abedin brought an ‘Anonymous vs. Anonymous’ action in Manhattan Supreme Court, asking for the court to seal the case. The filing is uncontested, meaning she is not expecting a fight over custody of the couple’s only child, 5-year-old son Jordan, or their assets.” [New York Post’s Julia Marsh]
BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR – Here’s a baby emu annoying some basset hounds.
– We know that “spirit animal” jokes are stale, but this fat monkey — known as “Uncle Fat” — is definitely our spirit animal.
– The machine that draws yellow divider lines in parking lots is hypnotizing.
– Help scientists count elephants in the rain forest with this web app.
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