Over recent weeks we’ve learned much more about how Russian operatives used Facebook to support Donald Trump, attack Hillary Clinton and spread conspiracy theories pumped up the heat of the 2016 campaign. One big question has been: how effectively did they target those messages, given Facebook’s vast ability to target messages? And if they did target their messages to areas of particular Democratic weakness in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, how were they able to do that? Where did they get the data to drive the effort?
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We’re coming up on 23,000 total subscribers to Prime. We have 216 to go. We want to get there by Friday if we can. Can you help? Become a Prime subscriber. This is how to make sure journalism with smarts, drive, integrity and independence can thrive. Click right here to join us.

The Times is reporting that Robert Mueller is requesting documents relating to President Trump’s firing of Mike Flynn, firing of James Comey and that bizarre meeting with the Russian Ambassador and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in which Trump told Lavrov that firing Comey had taken the “pressure” off him. Since it’s been widely understood that Mueller is probing whether Trump obstructed justice in firing Comey, this isn’t altogether surprising. But it certainly seems to confirm this assumption since these are key events you’d want to know more about to make that case.
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We now know that from 2014 through 2016 the FBI had obtained a FISA warrant to surveil Paul Manafort because of his work for the Russia-aligned leader of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, and then for his party once he went into exile. They started again at some point in the second half of 2016. The second run was tied to the election. This is in addition to the FISA warrant monitoring Carter Page and the eavesdropping on the Russian Ambassador (fairly standard) which picked up conversations the Ambassador had with Michael Flynn.
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President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk to board Air Force One for a trip to Florida to meet with first responders and people impacted by Hurricane Irma, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Are Trump’s numbers finally ticking up?

If we go by Gallup, yes, he does seem to have ticked up a bit. I call it the Trump Storm Surge. Starting with Hurricane Harvey and continuing into Irma, Trump’s presence as caregiver in chief, stumbling as he’s been, does seem to have slightly buoyed his public support. 
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United States President Donald Trump speaks during the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

When the weak or the marginalized are defiant or even threatening, there is a self-regulating dynamic which limits the danger or renders it minimal. We can see this on both the domestic and international fronts. Chants of “black power” may be superficially comparable to chants of “white power”. But most of us intuitively understand they are very different. The defiance and demand of the marginalized or disempowered is inherently defensive in nature whereas the defiance and demand of the powerful is inherently aggressive and menacing.
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If you’ve been thinking of joining Prime or been meaning to, please make today the day. It’s easy to put it off until tomorrow. But make today the day. It just takes a moment. We have monthly and annual subscriptions. Take a moment and do it today. You’ll be glad you did. It’s critical to TPM’s future. Just click here.

Following up on my post below, let me add one more point. Below I noted that having two members of Trump’s campaign the subjects of active counter-intelligence investigations must have set off alarm bells in the US intelligence world. But of course it wasn’t just that. Law enforcement and US intelligence had known for years that Trump was heavily reliant on money from countries of the former Soviet Union, with much of that money coming from dubious sources. I discussed just how much they knew here.
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President Trump has signaled he would like to hold a military parade on Pennsylvania Avenue out front of the White House next July 4th to show off American military might. The parade would include tanks, jet fighters and other heavy armaments for public display through the streets of the national capital. “So we’re actually thinking about 4th of July, Pennsylvania Avenue, having a really great parade to show our military strength,” said the President. Read more here.

It is hard to know precisely what to make of tonight’s revelation that Paul Manafort was the subject of a FISA warrant before and after the 2016 election. Just when the FISA warrant was granted is not clear from the report. But the precise date would tell us a lot.
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I’m looking for people who decided a while ago they want to sign up for TPM Prime, our membership program, but haven’t gotten around to it. If that’s you, I need you to take the plunge and sign up. Today we’re kicking off the final two weeks of our annual membership drive. I know there are a lot of you out there. I get it. I don’t get around to things myself. My goal over these next two weeks is to pull you over the line. It’s really important to TPM’s future and you get access to an expanding menu of features and original content. It’s easy to sign up. It’s just 14 cents a day. And it makes all the difference in the world. If this is you, just click here. Thank you.

CNN is reporting that last year, during the campaign, Paul Manafort was the target of a FISA warrant. The FISA warrant was active before and after the November election. President Trump and Manafort apparently continued to be in contact in the early part of 2017, when the warrant was still active.

From CNN …

The conversations between Manafort and Trump continued after the President took office, long after the FBI investigation into Manafort was publicly known, the sources told CNN. They went on until lawyers for the President and Manafort insisted that they stop, according to the sources.

Obamacare repeal has been turned back now two times? Three times? It’s hard for me to know or keep track of how we score what counted as a ‘time’. We’ve been through this again and again. But this new round is as real as it gets. The CBO announced today that it will not be able to produce a full score of the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill for “at least several weeks.” But the Senate only has until the end of September to pass a bill with only 50 votes (complicated but those are the rules). So it appears they’re likely to plow ahead without knowing the cost or how many people will lose coverage under the new bill if they think they have the votes. This is real. It could happen very quickly.

It’s great that the Mueller probe appears to be almost leak free. At least in theory it’s great. It’s not great if you want to understand the progress of the investigation or what is likely to come of it – something we have an understandable, even pressing interest in. We’re reduced to making inferences based on the slivers of information which emerge from the probe. Here Tierney Sneed explains why the fact that Mueller got a search warrant to get information from Facebook actually tells us some key information about the progress of the probe because of what Mueller’s lawyers had to prove to a judge to get that warrant. Read this piece. It’s important context to understand where things are.
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Scott Weaver leads the climate science team at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The team conducts, assesses, and communicates climate science research to support the scientific foundation for cross-programmatic activities and policy development. Scott will be joining us in The Hive to discuss the scientific aspects of the climate change debate and the importance of federal budgets for science research. Post your questions and come join the chat on Friday! If you’d like to participate but don’t have TPM Prime, sign up here.

This is quite a paragraph (emphasis added)…

Tension between the two comes as life in the White House is shadowed by the investigation. Not only do Mr. Trump, Mr. Kushner and Mr. McGahn all have lawyers, but so do other senior officials. The uncertainty has grown to the point that White House officials privately express fear that colleagues may be wearing a wire to surreptitiously record conversations for Mr. Mueller.

I’ve spent a lot of time in recent months thinking about how we should be covering the news in light of huge changes in the news business and the world we’re covering in the last two to three years. How do we, as a small news organization, use our resources most effectively to inform our readers? The most fundamental and important way is to do more original reporting, which is where you’ve seen us focus most of our resources this year. We hope to have hired three additional reporters by the end of 2017 – not a dramatic increase for larger organizations but a big expansion for us. But it’s not only a matter of numbers. It’s how we deploy those resources. More specifically, how do we react to this new environment to do what we do better?
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As I mentioned last week, we delayed the last two weeks of our annual Prime drive until we had the signup system and account system simplified and more user-friendly. Check it out here. Our team put a lot of work into making it more user-friendly and awesome. With that now in place, we’re kicking off the final two weeks tomorrow. We will try to keep the pitches as congenial as possible. But remember, we are doing this because our subscription program is what has kept TPM vital and growing while many other publications, relying on ads alone, are cutting staff or ‘pivoting to video’. Your subscription keeps TPM vital, growing, focused on you and digging deeper into the myriad of stories that matter right now. If you’re a regular reader and you haven’t taken a moment to join Prime, please take a moment to join us now. It’s cheap, gives you a lot of cool features, and supports our independent journalism. Just click right here.

The people I’m really hoping to get to over these two weeks are the people who I sometimes meet who tell me how they love TPM and have been meaning to join Prime. Hopefully, those folks have signed up. But what I mean by this is that in my own life there are always a handful of things I want to do, should do, have been planning to do but for whatever reason haven’t done. I blame some mix of busy-ness, inertia, the pain of getting my wallet out and typing in those numbers and whatever other low on the scale crookednesses in the timber of my humanity that stand in the way. Anyway, I get it. That’s me too. But if that’s you, I’m going to do my best to bring you over the line. We know that there is a substantial number of our readers who are daily readers, plan to sign up for Prime, want to sign up but simply haven’t gotten around to it. If that’s you, we really need you to join the club too. It’s important. Just click here.

I strongly recommend you read this reply from George Packer to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ essay in The Atlantic. There’s an undeniable personal edge to this reply since Coates took Packer to task by name and called him to account for infidelity toward ideals which are central to any progressive and humane vision of America’s future. But I think he captures key things that are missing in Coates’ recent writing.
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TPM Reader PB reads some tea leaves about Google …

Recently I was at an industry round table which included many of the tech players. We are all being affected by certain decisions made by Google and more importantly so are Internet users.
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HOLD FOR JENNY KANE   In this Saturday, July 21, 2012, photo Equifax Inc., offices are seen, in Atlanta. Equifax Inc. is a consumer credit reporting agency in the United States. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

It now seems clear that the massive data breach at Equifax was caused not simply by aggressive hackers but by clear and potentially negligent security errors by Equifax itself. But fundamentally, this isn’t a security problem. It’s a market failure and a legal and regulatory failure.

There are many businesses in which the cost and assumed liability of taking possession of certain goods – real or intellectual – is quite high. Indeed, that is often a major part of the business model itself – they are paid to take on that liability. Some extreme examples are transporting dangerous or volatile chemicals. This may be the biggest personal data security breach yet. But breaches that are nonetheless quite large happen basically all the time and the costs to the company are usually negligible. Yes, there’s a big PR hit and there’s usually some fine. But the costs in fraud and disruption in the lives of affected consumers totally dwarfs the financial cost to the company. On the most basic measure, the costs are not great enough to prevent companies like Equifax from making really basic mistakes like failing to install new security patches in a timely manner. It’s a cost of doing business. 
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It hasn’t been the best 24 hours for Harvard University. You’ve probably heard that Harvard managed to piss almost everyone off by first extending and then rescinding a fellowship appointment to Chelsea Manning. But you may or may not have seen this article in the Times about a woman named Michelle Jones.

It is a fascinating and powerful story on many levels. Jones, now 45, just finished a 20 year stint in prison for killing her 4-year old son. It’s not entirely clear to me from the story – and I sense it was never entirely clear – whether Jones intentionally killed her son in a discreet act of violence or whether he died from some combination of physical beatings and neglect. Regardless, the ghastliness of the crime is not in dispute. Jones was originally sentenced to 50 years in prison and was released after 20 years for good behavior.
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