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Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today!


Trump personally instructed Michael Cohen to lie about plans for his Trump Tower Moscow project, according to Buzzfeed News. Citing sources close to the Trump-Russia investigation, Buzzfeed reports Trump not only told Cohen to lie to Congress about all the plans for his Russian trash palace during the 2016 campaign, but Ivanka and DJTJ knew all about it too! Trump even encouraged Cohen to set up a meeting with Putin during the campaign, reportedly saying, "Make it happen." WHOA, (HOLY SHIT) if true!

Even though it's not sure how to pay them, the State Department is recalling federal workers, citing the "myriad critical issues requiring U.S. leadership around the globe." (Like cancelling congressional trips to visit the troops.) A message from the the State Department says workers may get paid in the next pay period, but notes it isn't sure how long it can afford to pay diplomats, foreign service officers, department staffers, or direct-hire foreign nationals, leading one State department staffer to tell Politico, "Neither diplomacy nor managing one's personal finances can effectively be performed in staccato." WaPo reports federal employees are now engaged in small acts of rebellion, like sick-outs and refusing to pay for travel on their personal credit cards, while the administration bends over backwards for key donors in the farm, oil and gas industries.

Now that he isn't going to be hobnobbing and brown nosing in Davos with other fabulously rich people, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is trying to avoid testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee about how the IRS is processing tax returns during the government shutdown. Mnuchin says the committee should talk to the IRS, but committee chair Rep. Richard Neal issued a statement saying he "strongly believe[s] Secretary Mnuchin himself should appear."

Trump may have thrown a tantrum after hearing about Nancy Pelosi's national security delegation to reaffirm US support for our NATO allies and speak with troops in Afghanistan, but that didn't stop him from sending Melon Trump to Mar-a-Lago on Air Force One! Why fly commercial when you have a private plane, or a government-funded military escort?

CNN's Barbara Starr reports the Pentagon is privately freaking out about Trump's impulsive orders and repeated use of the military as a tool to achieve his own spastic political goals. Citing at least a dozen current and former military officials, many of whom can't criticize the president without being "You're Fired," Starr reports military brass has struggled to follow orders from the Burger King due to a high probability that they will harm US troops and foreign policy aims, like ordering plans to attack Iran, or the wishy-wash order to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan (via Twitter). After photos surfaced of Trump signing a MAGA hat for Navy SEALS, one anonymous official told CNN, "We are not a voting bloc for any president."

A new OIG report has found that the Trump administration was separating migrant children from their parents long before they announced the zero tolerance policy, and potentially thousands of children were unaccounted for since nobody in Homeland Security or HHS bothered to keep track of how many kids were being thrown in or out of Trump's baby jails. NBC News is also reporting the administration considered speeding up the deportation process by denying asylum-seeking immigrants their legal right to asylum hearings, and maybe even deporting children without their parents. The administration purposely targeted migrant families, hoping media attention would scare the tired, huddled masses from seeking shelter in the land of opportunity.

The Federal Reserve just confirmed what everyone under 35 has been bitching about for over a decade -- the dramatic increase in student loan debt is preventing millennials from buying homes and settling down with 1.7 brats, a crappy car, and a miserable mortgage in suburbia. The report goes on to say the $1.52 trillion student loan bubble will get worse in coming years thanks to rising education costs and the Trump administration's clawing back of federal aid. Thanks for nothing, jerks!

After House Democrats initially rejected a Republican continuing resolution, Missouri Republican Rep. Jason Smith shouted, "Go back to Puerto Rico," at California Democratic Rep. Tony Cardenas on the House floor. When Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee led a number of Democrats to almost beat the shit out of the Republican minority, Smith apologized. Cardenas tells Roll Call the two are "patching things up," though a spokesman for Smith tried to whitewash the comment as a reference to Democrats' recent trip to Puerto Rico. It's not "racist," it's "racially tinged."

From the safety of his hidey hole, Mitch McConnell penned a WaPo op-ed crying about Democrats trying to restore voting rights, end decades of Republican gerrymandering, and force dark money donors into the light. SO UNFAIR! Aww, wittle Mitchey gonna' cry about his secret corporate da-da!

Never Trump Republicans flailing in the outskirts of political power are pushing Maryland's Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to primary Trump in 2020 because they think the 62-year-old cancer survivor, having just coasted to reelection, will be better than the indictable man-child who took over their party. Politico notes Trump's campaign team has been working behind the scenes to squeeze out old money neocons who try to encourage party loyalists to vote their conscience (again).

Mitch McConnell has been greasing Mike Pompeo's gears, hoping to convince him to run for US Senate in Kansas. Sources tell WaPo that Trump is not happy about this, but it's rumored McConnell is trying to edge out a possible Senate run by Trumpian racist, Kris Kobach.

The Nation has an interesting op-ed/analysis on why 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard doesn't know doodly squat about foreign policy, and why her authoritarian-leaning affinity for dictators, coupled with her long history of Islamaphobia, make her A Idiot. Gabbard did (finally) say she was sorry for hating LGBT people for over a decade, by blaming everything on her dad.

A judge in Chicago has found three police officers not guilty of trying to cover up the 2014 murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. The judge decided the officers didn't falsify police reports or lie to investigators after Van Dyke pumped 16 shots into McDonald, and that witnesses were "not credible." In related news, Van Dyke is expected to be sentenced later today. LOCK HIM UP!

HuffPo's Ashley Feinberg sat down with Twitter CEO @Jack Dorsey and tried to get him to explain his "bohemian" (read: cowardly) bullshit on dealing with neo-Nazis, Alex Jones, and why he apologized to rightwing idiot Candice Owens. Dorsey tried to avoid responsibility for the possibility that Donald Trump might someday instruct his minions to murder journalists, because that's all hypothetical. Silicon Valley and corporate apologists are already calling Feinberg a "cyber bully." Look, all she suggested was that instead of deleting his account, @jack should delete his website.

If you like getting thrown out of bars for arguing about nerdy policy details (like me!), check out this thinky piece in Wired that argues Donald Trump's stubborn and nationalistic racism may lead to a more globalized world where future leaders avoid Trumpian zero-sum pitfalls in the interest of greater cooperation and deal making. Cheers!

And here's your morning Nice Time: Painted puppers!

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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or in a gutter taking photos.

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