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Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today, and none of them involve "Yanny" or "Laurel!"


Michael Cohen is knee deep in shit this morning as the FBI probes his bribe deal with a Korean aerospace company, and new reporting from Yahoo News shows Cohen was trying to open up a Trump Tower in Moscow in May of 2016, right as Trump was becoming the Republican nominee. But the kicker comes in the form of new reporting by Ronan Farrow who says that the leaking of Cohen's financials was done by a law enforcement official who feared someone might be trying to hide evidence of financial fuckery. Now, all of the piling on has left Cohen feeling abandoned, telling friends, "I just can't take this anymore." :( [Morning Maddow] [Archive]

New financial disclosures from Trump show a $100,000 repayment to Michael Cohen last year, and now ethics nerds are FREAKING OUT about Stormy Daniels, especially after acting director of the Office of Government Ethics sent a letter to Rod Rosenstein saying, "You may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing..."

Early this morning Michael Avenatti went on Morning Joe and revealed that he's vetting two other women who may have been paid to STFU about banging Trump. WHOA (and eww) if true!

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Chris Wylie says that CA and Steve Bannon wanted to use the stolen information from Facebook users to start a culture war that could suppress black voters during the 2016 campaign. Well, we mean, duh.

Evil Russian lawyers for Putin's Chef got into a shouting match with Mueller's prosecutors yesterday over the Russian troll farm case after Mueller's team gave the evil lawyers a bunch of evidence ... in Russian.

Robert Mueller has sent subpoenas to Roger Stone's social media guy, so of course Stone immediately ran to Alex Jones to cry about it.

In a series of stuttered sentence fragments loosely strung together, Rudy Giuliani went on Laura Ingraham to talk about Plan B and Plan C. Giuliani says that they never used the Russian "dirt" on Hillary Clinton (ergo NO COLLUSION), that Mueller's team told him that "they can't indict" Trump, there were SPIES in the Trump campaign, and that Michael Avenatti is a "make-believe lawyer."

Fox News spent yesterday desperately trying to spin DJTJ's Trump-Russia transcript, even going so far as to claim that Hillary Clinton sent that Russian lawyer lady to Trump Tower.

Everyone is looking back on the first year of the Mueller investigation this morning, and Politico has some details about the mysterious cadre of specialists he's tapped to help him investigate Russian fuckery.

Trump invited some California cops to the White House so they could take turns blowing him on camera while he railed against sanctuary cities and immigrants, stating, “You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.”

Kirstjen Nielsen was grilled by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee yesterday, and denied allegations that she was THIS CLOSE to quitting, or that she's been ordered to break apart immigrant families.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden has sent a letter to the DOJ demanding to know more about secret stingray tech. Stingrays have quietly been used by law enforcement officials big and small to intercept cellphone data, drawing fierce criticism from legal and privacy advocates.

Paul Ryan is threatening Republicans in the House who are attempting to force an immigration vote, saying that it would be a "big mistake" to take a vote on DACA right now.

As the new farm bill takes shape, House Freedom crazies sense blood in the water and are attempting to leverage their support by pushing an immigration bill.

There's a big push to get former US Attorney Preet Bharara to make a run for New York AG, and he hasn't exactly said no.

Political royalty is not exclusive to monarchies as the US continues to create political dynasties well into the 21st Century. Just look at the mysterious Greg Pence!

The GOP is waging a secret war to save the House with the Congressional Leadership Fund. The PAC is dumping millions of dollars and thousands of student volunteers in flyover country to knock on doors and remind people about the Trump tax cuts (for the super rich).

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is reaching out to Hollywood's super rich donor network in order to fund his likely 2020 presidential run. #HesRunning2020

That MSD security guard who ran during the shooting is getting an $8,700 state pension. Just FYI.

Steve Mnuchin and Peter Navarro were arguing like foul-mouthed school children while they were attempting to hammer out Trump's trade war.

The US ambassador to Moscow, Jon Huntsman, has decided not to speak the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum seeing as how it might look bad to appear in a photo with Viktor Vekselberg.

Comedian and SNL cast member Pete Davidson says that Trump faked a phone call to brag about book sales during a table meeting before his appearance on the show. Davidson concludes, "I swear on my life. We were all, like, ‘Yo, that phone didn’t ring.'"

REXXON emerged from his hidey-hole to give a sobering speech to VMI graduates about "alternative realities" threatening democracy, adding, "If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders in both public and private sector — and regrettably at times even the nonprofit sector — then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years." Should have thought about that before you gutted the State Department, dick.

GOOD NEWS! The Senate passed a measure to overrule the repeal of net neutrality! The legislation now faces an uphill battle in the House, but could become a flashpoint issue in upcoming elections.

Over the last three days a series of startling discoveries have shown that encrypted messages aren't as secure as we thought.

NICE TIME! Astronaut Scott Kelly reminisces about how, when he was a failing college student, the late Tom Wolfe inspired him to become on astronaut.

And here's your morning Nice Time! PENGUINS!

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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 lying in a gutter taking photos.

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I'd mentioned this week that there's definitely probably a tape out there of Donald Trump referring to a black person as a "nigger," because Trump is a racist and that's sort of what they do. Sarah Huckabee Sanders won't even affirmatively deny such a tape exists, and she's from the "two plus two equals five" school of communications management. I also speculated that once the tape was released, Republican supporters of the president would flock to defend his vile words: "Hey, if you rearrange the letters in "nigger," you get "ginger" and who doesn't like redheads and the occasional Dark 'n' Stormy?"

The shameful display has already started and the supposed recording isn't even available for pre-order on iTunes. George State Senator Michael Williams stated in appearance on CNN's "New Day Saturday" that if Trump -- who's the president, by the way -- did say "nigger," it would certainly concern him as an "individual" but "not necessarily as a person that is running our country." So, uh, what the hell is that? This has been a standard argument from Republicans ever since Trump crawled his way out of the sewers of birtherism and onto a major political stage: "We think Trump is a terrible human being -- seriously, we have to shower immediately after meeting with him -- but we still think he's a suitable steward of the most powerful nation on the planet."

Normally, you'd think this would work the other way. You know, your brother-in-law is a nice enough guy. Your sister certainly could've done worse. You don't mind the slightly rambling sports-ball discussions with him at family gatherings. He's good for looking after the kids (as long as your sister is present or reachable by cell), but you'd never invest your hard-earned money into whatever half-assed business venture he's trying to get off the ground nor would you back his run for any serious political office.

I've long had issues with the "brilliant asshole" archetype in TV and movies. It's almost always a white male (because women and minorities must be perfect) whose emotional immaturity and overall jerkass behavior we're told to overlook because they're so goshdarned awesome. Do you want some PC "cuck" or do you want Dr. House to figure out that the MS symptoms you're suffering are really just because you ate a stale doughnut? Sherlock Holmes doesn't have time for your feelings or social niceties -- not while he's solving mysteries and being dreamy.

Trump, however, isn't "brilliant." He's just a guy who says "nigger." They're hardly a scarcity in the market. You don't even have to venture out to a klan rally to find one. You can order online -- same day social media delivery.

Williams argues that Trump didn't use the word "nigger" when he was in the "office of the president." It was just some youthful indiscretion when he was almost 60. I don't even know where he's going with this. Does he think Trump has changed? He routinely insults and belittles black people. He also calls black NFL players who peacefully protest "sons of bitches." Was that his way of weaning off calling us "niggers"? Has he been wearing a "nigger" patch on his arm to control his cravings for the racial epithet?

"He used the word in his personal life," Williams said. (It was actually in a workplace context -- SER) "Now if he were president and were to go on TV and use the n-word, I'd have a major problem with that."

media.giphy.com

It's heartening repulsive to see that Williams draws the line at Trump holding an official "nigger" press conference. I think once we reach that point, Trump will probably also reveal that his buddies on the Supreme Court discovered a typo in the Thirteenth Amendment and black folks' work-life balance will start to really suffer.

"I will always say using the n-word is wrong, and it's bad, and should never be accepted in our society. But just because (Trump) might have done it years ago, not as our president, doesn't mean we need to continue to berate him because he used it," GOP state Sen. Michael Williams, who is white, told CNN's Victor Blackwell on "New Day Saturday."

Blackwell, who is black, had to sit there and listen to this crap from a white elected official who is just 45 years old. You know, the word "nigger" doesn't even appear in the Dred Scott decision, for example, but that's not necessary for reasonable people to understand that it was racist as hell. We all know Trump is racist, but now Republicans can't even repudiate the worst demonstrations of his racial animus. The first black president hasn't even been out of office for two full years and already "nigger" is being redefined. What would once end a campaign in its tracks when Blackwell and I were growing up is now just an "oops, my bad."

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Conservatives want to be oppressed. Or, rather, for everyone to think they are being oppressed and to then give them what they see as the impunity and moral upper hand that comes along with being an oppressed group of people. They want it very, very badly and think it is very unfair that all the people they have oppressed have this privilege and they do not. This morning, Trump took to Twitter to vow to protect them from the worst kind of oppression of all -- imaginary social media censorship!

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