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November 20, 2018

Get ready for another contentious investigation into a government official's email use.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Tuesday called for "some kind of investigative effort" after The Washington Post reported that Ivanka Trump in 2017 used a personal email account to send hundreds of emails about government business. Blumenthal told CNN that either the Office of Government Ethics or Congress itself should conduct an investigation into this matter because Trump "in a sense" has put herself "above the law." He also said "there's no way that she had no knowledge of the rules."

The report on Ivanka Trump's email use naturally drew comparisons to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was hammered during the 2016 election for her use of a private email server while at the State Department. Blumenthal agreed with this comparison and decried "hypocrisy," while Trump's lawyer says her situation is not like Clinton's because she didn't have a private server in her house and didn't send classified material, per CBS News' Mark Knoller.

But Trump's email use, which the Post reports violated federal records rules, is drawing criticism even from some past members of the administration, with former communications director Anthony Scaramucci calling it "hypocritical" and former legislative affairs director Marc Short saying it "certainly looks bad." Watch Blumenthal's comments below. Brendan Morrow

10:47 a.m.

Today in wild misinterpretations: Russia is somehow claiming that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report — specifically intended to outline the evidence regarding Russia's interference in the 2016 election — didn't uncover "a single piece of evidence" pointing to illegal meddling.

Mueller, of course, bolstered U.S. intelligence conclusions by stating Russia interfered in the 2016 election in a "sweeping and systematic fashion." Mueller determined that President Trump's campaign did not criminally coordinate to aid in the interference, but the report plainly lays out that interference occurred. Reuters reports that Russia’s foreign ministry dismissed the findings on Friday, breezing past the evidence that showed the Kremlin working to find Hillary Clinton's "missing" emails, the Russian troll farm that waged a social media disinformation campaign, and the contact between Russian operatives and Trump campaign officials that sought to push Russian influence in 2016.

"The report confirms the absence of any arguments to the effect Russia allegedly intervened in the U.S. election," claimed Georgy Borisenko, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s North America Department in Russia's news outlet TASS. "Not a single piece of evidence is there. The authors of the report have in fact confessed they have nothing to report." Mueller may have something (like a couple hundred pages) to say about that. Summer Meza

10:15 a.m.

House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) issued a subpoena on Friday to obtain the full, unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's conduct surrounding the meddling, reports The New York Times.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the subpoena earlier this month, anticipating a desire for an unredacted report and Mueller's underlying documentation. The subpoena has now been fired off, demanding to see Mueller's evidence and summaries of key witness interviews by May 1.

If Attorney General William Barr ignores it, the Judiciary Committee could hold him in contempt, setting up a potentially lengthy court battle.

Nadler said the report was troubling and "it now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct." In addition to requesting "the full version of the report and the underlying evidence," House Democrats have called on Mueller to testify publicly to clarify some of his findings. Read more at The New York Times. Summer Meza

9:27 a.m.

President Trump was abnormally silent in the hours following the public release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, choosing mostly to tweet quotes from his favorite Fox News commentators, and only briefly crowing about the findings during a White House event. He didn't even stop to talk to reporters on the White House lawn on Thursday, despite bragging in recent weeks about the report's "total exoneration" of him and his campaign.

On Friday, Trump changed his tone, dismissing elements of the report as "total bulls--t" on Twitter. He didn't specify which statements he considered "fabricated & totally untrue," but did appear to possibly reference former White House counsel Don McGahn, who Mueller said refused to end the special counsel investigation at Trump's request. McGahn apparently felt Trump was asking him to do some "crazy sh-t," and was also somewhat alarmed when Trump criticized him for taking notes, something Trump seemed to reference in his angry tweets. Summer Meza

9:09 a.m.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged to Special Counsel Robert Mueller that a claim she once made about former FBI Director James Comey wasn't "founded on anything," but she's refusing to admit it was an intentional falsehood.

Mueller's report revealed Sanders admitted she baselessly told reporters that "countless members of the FBI" had complained about Comey, while Mueller said "the evidence does not support those claims." But Sanders explained herself by describing the remarks as a "slip of the tongue." On Friday, Sanders told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos grilled Sanders about the admission on Good Morning America.

But Sanders wouldn't even concede that her comments to Mueller were any kind of admission. Stephanopoulos pushed back on her assertion that the falsehood could simply be an accident. "That's not a slip of the tongue, Sarah, that's a deliberate false statement," he said. Sanders claimed her misstatement didn't actually misrepresent the situation.

"Actually, if you look at what I said," she argued, "I said the slip of the tongue was in using the word 'countless,' but there were a number of FBI, both former and current, that agreed with the president's decision [to fire Comey] and they've continued to speak out," she said.

Stephanopoulos pointed out that she had pushed the same talking point on multiple occasions, asking "Why can't you acknowledge that what you said then was not true?" Watch the clip below. Summer Meza

8:21 a.m.

Two ACLU lawyers wrote a letter to New Mexico authorities requesting an investigation of a right-wing militia group that has been detaining groups of migrant families at gunpoint before handing them over to Border Patrol agents near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Members of the group, the United Constitutional Patriots, this week posted video of about 200 migrants apparently stopped near the border. "We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum," the lawyers, María Martínez Sánchez and Kirsten Greer Love, said in the letter.

Hector Balderas, New Mexico's attorney general, said the group's members "should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement." Jim Benvie, a spokesman for the group, said its actions were legal, like "a verbal citizen's arrest." Read more at The New York Times. Harold Maass

8:07 a.m.

The Kremlin announced Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a summit later this month.

The news marked the latest indication that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has pivoted toward Russia since the February collapse of his second summit with President Trump without a deal on denuclearization and the lifting of U.S. sanctions. A day earlier, North Korea test-fired a new tactical guided weapon, the isolated Communist regime's first public weapon test since Kim's first summit with Trump last year.

Russia said Putin invited Kim. Russian media said Putin would meet Kim in Vladivostok on Russia's Pacific coast as Putin heads to a summit in Beijing. Read more at The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Harold Maass

April 18, 2019

Sure, the Mueller report dropped today. And sure, it's a few hours before a holiday weekend. But Facebook has a bit of unfortunate news to share with you.

Remember last month, when Facebook said it stored a whole bunch of passwords in plain text when they should have been encrypted, potentially affecting "tens of thousands" of Instagram users? Yeah, it quietly updated that blog post Thursday to say it's more like "millions of Instagram users."

In the blog post first unveiled last month, Facebook said it would tell "hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users" and "tens of millions of other Facebook users" that their passwords were stored in an unencrypted database available to 20,000 Facebook employees. Now, a few more Instagram users get to join the fun. Facebook said it found "no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed the passwords," though given the site's very shaky past year, that's not too reassuring.

The news comes just a few hours after Facebook told Business Insider that it collected email contacts from 1.5 million users who signed up after May 2016 and "unintentionally uploaded" them to Facebook. The addresses were collected when users typed in their email passwords to verify the addresses they'd signed up with. Facebook didn't tell these users their email contacts would be imported into the site, but there was no way to opt out of the upload or cancel it once it began. Facebook said those contacts were "used to improve Facebook's ad targeting," Business Insider writes in yet another reassuring addition to Facebook's track record. Kathryn Krawczyk

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