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May 18, 2018

For the second morning in a row, President Trump accused the FBI via Twitter on Friday of embedding a "spy" in his presidential campaign, a charge he tweeted Thursday would be "bigger than Watergate!"

Trump attributed these "spy" accusations to National Review's Andrew McCarthy and Fox Business personalities, but Axios notes that speculation has been spreading through the conservative media ecosystem. On Thursday, The Washington Post tied the spying allegation to the push by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and other Trump allies in Congress, plus Stephen Bannon, to uncover the identity of a longtime FBI and CIA informant who contributed to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and other ongoing investigations. "The stakes are so high," the Post reports, the FBI "is taking steps to protect other live investigations that the person has worked on and is trying to lessen any danger to associates if the informant's identity becomes known."

On CNN Friday morning, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani conceded that neither he nor Trump knows if there really was an "informant." Pressed by Chris Cuomo, Giuliani said people had told the Trump team about the spies "off the record — you don't know if they're right or not, they're people who knew a little about the investigation." "But the president this morning is quoting a Fox News commentator as his source," Cuomo cut in, noting that Trump could just pick up the phone and ask the Justice Department himself. Peter Weber

10:56 a.m. ET
Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Amazon has reportedly spent several years hawking its facial recognition technology to law enforcement agencies, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday to accuse the company of having "officially entered the surveillance business," The New York Times reports. Amazon's service, called "Rekogniton," was developed in late 2016, and it identifies "faces and other objects in images," the Times writes. Amazon has promoted the technology to police departments, noting that officers can use it to aid investigations — or, say, track "undocumented immigrants or black activists," as the ACLU warns.

In one extreme case, in Orlando, police are apparently using Rekognition to search for "people of interest" in surveillance cameras "all over the city," the ACLU alleges. (A spokesman for the Orlando Police Department told the Times that it is not at this time using Rekogniton in investigations or public spaces). Amazon's promotional materials also suggest using Rekognition in police body cameras.

A spokesperson for Amazon Web Services told the Times that the company requires users of Rekognition to follow the law and "be responsible," and that the deployment of the technology is not so unlike other image recognition programs already used around the country. That isn't reassuring for many critics, though.

"People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government," the ACLU writes. "[A]utomating mass surveillance, facial recognition systems like Rekognition threaten this freedom, posing a particular threat to communities already unjustly targeted in the current political climate. Once powerful surveillance systems like these are built and deployed, the harm will be extremely difficult to undo." Jeva Lange

10:30 a.m. ET

The government of Sweden has updated a Cold War-era pamphlet guiding residents on what to do "if crisis or war comes" and "their everyday life [is] turned upside down." The revised pamphlet is being distributed to every household in Sweden for the first time in more than three decades.

The content is both practical (buy lots of tortillas) and strategic: "If Sweden is attacked by another country, we will never give up," it says. "All information to the effect that resistance is to cease is false."

"We all have a responsibility for our country's safety and preparedness, so it's important for everyone to also have knowledge on how we can contribute if something serious occurs," said Dan Eliasson, director of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), which is sending the pamphlets. "Sweden is safer than many other countries but threats exist."

Sweden is not a member of NATO and has not been at war for two centuries. However, an MSB statement to CNN indicated the pamphlet distribution is prompted by the "security situation in our neighborhood," referring to Russian activity in the Baltic region. Bonnie Kristian

10:19 a.m. ET

Taking a page from National Security Adviser John Bolton's playbook, Vice President Mike Pence threatened North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with regime change and a violent death if he does not cooperate with U.S. demands in his upcoming talks with President Trump.

If Kim does not make a deal, Pence said, U.S.-North Korea conflict will "end like the Libya model ended." In Pence's telling, this is not a "threat" so much as a "fact," but it is unlikely Kim will hear it that way. His regime views Libya as a negative object lesson for cooperation with Washington, as after voluntarily relinquishing his nuclear weapons program, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was deposed with U.S. help and brutally killed. Bonnie Kristian

10:11 a.m. ET

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Monday for a contentious debate over the basis for the investigation into whether President Trump's campaign colluded with Russian meddling during the 2016 election.

Host Tucker Carlson asked how Swalwell would feel about an informant reporting to the FBI about one of his political campaigns, referring to recent reporting that an FBI informant spoke to two Trump campaign advisers to ask about suspicious contacts. "If they didn't have probable cause, I'd be pissed," said Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. However, Swalwell argued, the FBI did have probable cause to investigate the Trump campaign.

"Of the evidence I've seen, there were very good reasons to be concerned about the contacts that the Trump campaign had," said the congressman, who insisted that investigators had acted appropriately in launching the probe. Carlson disagreed with just about everything Swalwell said, laughing at the notion that "probable cause" meant anything and accusing Swalwell of lacking common sense.

The two continued to spar as Swalwell presented unclassified evidence that the Trump campaign's actions merited an investigation, with Carlson demanding a "smoking gun" to prove collusion and Swalwell suggesting Trump was dumb enough to admit his crimes in public. Watch the full combative interview below, via Fox News. Summer Meza

9:43 a.m. ET

Less than three months ago, NRA spokesperson and radio host Dana Loesch was sparring at a CNN townhall with Parkland shooting survivors and a mother who had lost her child. On Tuesday, she was once again on television to respond to the latest school shooting, although this time she had a rather unusual proposal for stemming the epidemic of violence.

Speaking on Fox & Friends, Loesch said "we need to make sure we are funding security measures" in schools, and to do that she suggested, "How about we take the half a billion dollars from Planned Parenthood and redirect that into making sure that our schools are secure, and that we have armed security and metal detectors?"

Many advocates for gun reform have protested against "armed security," arguing that more guns in schools is not the solution. "In the event an armed guard actually did intervene [in an active shooting], more deaths or injuries would likely be the result," writes Slate. "Armed guards exchanging fire with one or more shooters would result in a chaotic scene filled with deadly crossfire, and would complicate any law enforcement response too." Additionally, armed teachers and security guards have been known to leave loaded guns behind in the bathroom.

Watch Loesch's appearance on Fox News below, via ThinkProgress' Aaron Rupar. Jeva Lange

9:25 a.m. ET

If Trump is "crossing a line" by going after the Justice Department investigation of him and his campaign, "will his own party speak up?" CNN's Chris Cuomo asked Tuesday morning, posing the question to recently retired Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), making his New Day debut. "Forgive me if this seems cynical, call it out if so, but I think that's a rhetorical question: Will Republicans stand up against the president? The answer is no, they are assisting him, Devin Nunes, other members of this kind of formative cabal. ... Your party's going to let him do what he wants to do here, yes of no?"

"Well, for the moment I think that's true, but the midterms will be a seminal test," Dent said. "I mean, this could be a very difficult midterm election and I suspect after that election, I think some views might change. I think we have to conduct much more rigorous oversight, and I've been concerned about this."

Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), who is still in Congress and on the House Intelligence Committee with Nunes, said "of course" he's not comfortable with what Nunes and Trump are doing on the investigation, and "nobody should be." Nunes is essentially "sending a signal around the world that some quirky, completely factless investigation may cause you as an informant or you as a CIA asset to be exposed, and that is going to make us profoundly less safe." Watch below. Peter Weber

8:51 a.m. ET

President Trump has been agitating about news an FBI informant approached members of his campaign in 2016, and with help from House Republicans, he's on the verge of getting top secret information on the informant. "Carrie, I need your help understanding the president's position about why he is so exercised about the idea that the FBI would use a confidential informant to investigate a crime," CNN's Alisyn Camerota asked legal analyst Carrie Cordero on Tuesday's New Day. Cordero said using informants is "not particularly unusual" and has a low legal bar, but "what is unusual is revealing the actual identity of sources, publicly for sure and even to congressional intelligence oversight personnel."

Chris Cuomo took a whack at making Trump's argument. The FBI is on firm legal ground, he said, but "this isn't about law, it's about politics and ... it feeds a narrative that Donald Trump wants the American people to believe, which is that they're out to get you in the Deep State of government, and I'm going to fight them." Trump definitely has "a persecution complex" and the White House's official strategy "in all but name" is "investigate the investigator," political analyst John Avlon said. "Presidents who have attacked prosecutors — in particular, Nixon, Clinton — it's because they've had something to hide," he added. One "surreal" thing that isn't helpful to Trump's "Witch Hunt" argument "is that both campaigns were being investigated by the FBI. We only knew about one." Peter Weber

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