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


For his birthday, Trump is asking foreign governments to help him win reelection in 2020. Congressional Republicans are shrugging off Trump's apparent attempt to commit another ALLEGEDLY treasonous offense by bitching about HER EMAILS and THE DOSSIER. Last night former Fox News talking head-turned Trump campaign spox Kayleigh McEnany walked back some of Trump's words in an interview with CBS News where she said Trump would "do both: Listen to what they have to say, but also report it to the FBI," and handle foreign fuckery on a "case by case basis." During an appearance on Laura Ingraham's white power hour, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell framed calls to safeguard our elections from foreign fuckery as a Democratic ploy to "harass" Trump "every day."

Yesterday Sen. Mark Warner introduced the FIRE Act in an attempt to force political campaigns to report Not American election fuckery to the FBI, but Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn was apparently huffing glue when she objected and called the bill "overboard," arguing that presidential campaigns would have to reveal the names of vendors, voter service suppliers, door knockers, and phone bank operators. An exasperated Mark Warner called Blackburn's characterization "not accurate," adding "The only thing that would have to be reported is if the agent of a foreign government or national offered something that was already prohibited." Warner later told a robotic and blank-faced Chuck Todd, "If the American public, no matter whether they watch Fox or MSNBC or anything in between, isn't outraged by the comments that [Trump] made yesterday, then shame on Americans as well. Shame on all of us."

That George Stephanopoulos interview with Trump gets worse. This morning ABC released more snippets where Trump calls former White House counsel Don McGahn "confused," and disputes McGahn's testimony that Trump repeatedly tried to "You're Fired" Robert Mueller. He then goes on to defend his refusal to sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller about obstruction of justice, stating, "They were looking to get us for lies or slight misstatements," adding "it was very unfair. Very, very unfair. Very unfair." Trump then called Stephanopoulos a "little wise guy," and said "there was no crime. There was no collusion," and called the Mueller investigation "a setup."

Trump started celebrating his birthday early this morning by calling into Fox News to relay his endorsement of foreign fuckery,call Joe Biden names, ramble about who he wants to run against in 2020, whine about people wanting Kellyanne Conway to be thrown out with the rest of the trash, and call Nancy Pelosi a "fascist" for saying Trump World is trying to cover up their high crimes and misdemeanors.

It took two years, but Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao finally sold her stock in two building supply companies. Chao tells the WSJ that it was never a conflict of interest, just the appearance of one, and that she intends to keep her stock in Wells Fargo ... until people start whining about that too.

After months of rumor and speculation, and 94 days of impromptu press gaggles on the driveway, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is taking her smokey eyes and table cloth dresses and (finally) pissing off. Bye Felicia, enjoy your job at Fox News, or shilling televangelist telethons, or whatever carnival barking huckster decides to throw you a bone.

Two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman were attacked yesterday morning. Without offering any evidence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran. After the Twitterati started likening this to the Gulf of Tonkin and Iraq "yellow cake" incidents, US CENTCOM released a statement and surveillance footage from a Navy P-8 surveillance plane apparently showing an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps patrol boat removing a "likely limpet mine" from the hull of the one of the ships, the Kokuka Courageous, a Japanese ship. The statement concludes that the US has "no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East, but that we would "defend our interests." Reuters is reporting a radio broadcast from Iran's Foreign Minister calling the accusations "suspicious" and alarming." This morning the New York Times is reporting that the ship's operator is saying the ship was "attacked by a flying object," adding that the crew disputes the use of "a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship," and concluding, "There is zero possibility that they were torpedoes," as damage to the ship is above the waterline. If you just want to cut through the jargon, the international investigative news nerds over at Bellingcat have a great thread on Twitter breaking down all the available evidence with open source information, including GPS coordinates, marine traffic, archived news stories, photos, analysis of the CENTCOM video, and more.

The White House has released its annual report on the global war on terror, and it's notable for what's NOT listed. There's curiously nothing about US forces deployed in Libya, and only a general statement about the number of US personnel in Yemen.

A $733 billion defense bill lurched ahead yesterday following almost 21 hours of debate. Among the things included in the bill are limits on the proposed SPACE CORPS, limits on raiding DOD coffers for Trump's goddamn wall, and plans for dealing with sexual assault at military academies. As expected, Republicans threw tantrums that their pet projects, like low-yield nuclear weapons, were not included.

House Democrats are moving ahead with a plan to partially separate military commanders at service academies from prosecutorial decisions in cases of sexual assault. House Republicans are pissed because Democrats stuck the measure onto the defense authorization bill, but Rep. Jackie Speier, a sponsor of the bill and head of the HASC's personnel panel, told them to fuck off, saying, "I have spoken to countless survivors who saw their dreams, and bright futures, extinguished after reporting assaults and harassment. These amazing candidates, many of them who lead their academy classes in grades and citizenship, deserve a fair and just independent review process."

The unlikely partnership between Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz could potentially produce some actual legislation that doesn't suck. Aside from bans on lobbying, the two are reportedly working on a bill to offer birth control "over-the-counter." Fingers crossed Ted Cruz doesn't do that thing where he is Ted Cruz.

The DNC has announced the names of all the candidates who made the cut for the first Democratic debates. Only three of the most prominent candidates did not make the cut, including Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam, Masshole Rep. Seth Moulton, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (who's only wasting time and political capital by not running for the fucking Senate). Vanity Fair has a vicious little piece wondering if the first debate might be a complete cluster fuck due to the DNC refusing to make a kids table for all the whackjobs and Tim Ryans.

A number of 2020 Democratic candidates are hitting up some red states in an attempt to kick Trump's LOW RATINGS deeper into the gutter.

Julian Castro did a Fox News town hall to remind everyone that, unlike all the Tim Ryans, he's a serious candidate in 2020. Castro punted, dodged, and juked his way out of a number of thorny questions, like his own Hatch Act violation while serving in the Obama administration, so that he could "introduce" himself to people who will probably won't get the chance to vote for him in 2020 anyway.

The wife of INDICTED California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty to ripping off thousands of dollars in campaign donations for vacations, boozy parties, fancy dinners, private school tuition, and then trying to hide it. One of Hunter's 2020 Democratic opponents, Ammar Campa-Najjar, said, "We deserve more than a congressman who is quite literally useless in Congress using taxpayer dollars to pay his legal fees."

Joe Crain WAS a popular weatherman in Springfield, Illinois, until he took issue with his station's corporate owner, Sinclair Broadcasting. Crain was just fired from his station, WICS, for protesting on air about a corporate mandate to use an unnecessarily flashy graphic whenever mother nature took a leak on middle America. When Sinclair fired Crain on Wednesday it triggered a flood of support for the meteorologist, including advertising boycotts and a less than subtle bit by Colbert.

What Happened To Weatherman Joe Crain? www.youtube.com

Facebook plans to unveil its cryptocurrency, Libra, next week and it's just locked down the backing of Visa, Mastercard, and Uber. The scuttlebutt around the web is that Zuckerberg's created a sketchy clone of BitCoin, and it's been begging nerds to endorse a white paper explaining his latest get rich quick scheme.

David Fahrenthold reports the Trump Organization quietly sold off a multi-million dollar mansion in Beverly Hills. Records show the Trump Organization curiously sold the property off market for $13.5 million, about $10 million more than the area's median value for surrounding homes, to an Indonesia politico and business partner.

Jordan Klepper wanted to know who will be the first person to walk on Mars, so he went to Space Camp (instead of Silicon Valley!) and talked to 18-year old Alyssa Carson.

Will This Be the First Person to Walk on Mars? - Klepper www.youtube.com

Seth Meyers pointed out that Trump's mock-up of a new Air Force One were like busy work puzzles for a child.

Trump Says He'd Take Foreign Dirt on a 2020 Opponent: A Closer Look www.youtube.com

And here's your morning Nice Time: IT'S PRINCE MICHAEL!

Employee of the Month - Aaron's Animals www.youtube.com

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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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