It now seems increasingly clear – because of the lack of any credible alternative explanation – that the White House is trying to squeeze AT&T because of the President’s vendetta against CNN. Rupert Murdoch’s role in the story is just the latest new development. But there’s something else I wanted to share, courtesy of a lawyer friend.
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Dr. Bandy Lee is a violence studies specialist. Trained as a psychiatrist at Yale and Harvard Universities, she focused on public-sector work as chief resident and on anthropological research in East Africa as a fellow of the National Institute of Mental Health. Bandy recently published “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” a book that offers insight into President Donald Trump’s mental state from herself and over two dozen other mental health experts. Based on their evaluations, their consensus is that Trump presents a clear and present danger to the country. You can read a Mother Jones interview with one of the book’s co-authors here.

Bandy will be in the Hive to discuss her book and diagnosing Trump. Post your questions and join us on Thursday! If you’d like to participate but don’t have TPM Prime, sign up here.

Just to state it explicitly, there is absolutely no way Roy Moore is going to sue the Washington Post over their reporting on his dating teenagers when he was in his early thirties. This is likely obvious to most. But I wanted to make it clear in case there’s any question. As a public figure, the standard Moore would have to meet to sustain a suit is all be impossible. Particularly, as a candidate in a major election, his behavior is inherently newsworthy and closest to the more civically important forms of speech. Even if you assume for the sake of conversation that all the accusers are lying, that wouldn’t be enough for Moore to win a suit. Since he is a public figure he would have to show actual malice in the Post’s reporting. That essentially means that the Post knew the allegations were false or had a reckless disregard for the truth, simply didn’t care. The depth of the sourcing which is visible in the story makes that all but impossible. Moore knows all this. This is just a way to signal to low information voters or ones desperate to believe him that he’s fighting the charges rather than admitting their truth. He’s not suing anyone.

I spent a bit of Friday afternoon watching an interview the Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin did with Randall Stephenson, the CEO of AT&T. I was watching because of my deep interest in what is happening with the Trump Justice Department and AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. Stephenson was very careful not to touch Trump’s potential role in this – unsurprisingly. Ross Sorkin wasn’t that aggressive in pressing. The weirdness confirms me in what I wrote here (sub req).

But there’s something else that came up that I wanted to flag.
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Fascinating piece here in the Times applying some Times level sleuthing to shed more light on those Papadopoulos court documents from last week. We get some idea of the backstory of Joseph Mifsud, apparently a failing and shambling academic career that was on its final skid when Russians showed up in 2014 with money and newfound respectability, an old story. Other gaps of the story are filled in. But the big one is Stephen Miller.
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I’m getting a lot of new information about the AT&T/Time Warner acquisition and what the Trump White House is up to. If you know things, please contact me at our comment email address under our logo. I can also provide secure means of communication.

A lot of Flynn threads are emerging in rapid succession that suggests a much broader and wilder universe of criminal wrongdoing. Here’s my backgrounder (sub req) on what might be coming.

As I mentioned Thursday, we have four open positions we are currently hiring for at TPM, one an existing but vacant position and three new positions: Senior Editor, Prime Editor, Assistant Editor and a third reporter to join our Investigations Desk team. Today we’re posting our listing for our Assistant Editor position.

Listing after the jump.
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National Security Adviser Michael Flynn stands with K.T. McFarland, deputy national security adviser, before speaking during the daily news briefing at the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. Flynn said the administration is putting Iran "on notice" after it tested a ballistic missile. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

This new story about Michael Flynn possibly negotiating to kidnap a legal American resident and exfiltrate him to Turkey is wild and really requires close attention. We had heard some time ago that this idea of kidnapping Fetullah Gulen had been discussed or perhaps hypothesized. But now we are hearing that Michael Flynn and perhaps his son were actively negotiating with Turkish interests about doing this during the transition.
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Jim Zeigler is the Alabama State Auditor who has recast the core narratives of the Gospels as a sort of barely legal dime novel as a way to justify the alleged actions of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. “Zechariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist. Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”
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CNN is now reporting that Robert Mueller’s Russia probe has now interviewed young White House advisor Stephen Miller. The focus seems to be on Miller’s knowledge of and possible involvement in the firing of James Comey. With this news, I want to remind everyone of Miller’s role on that pivotal weekend with Trump before the Comey firing and that still unexplained Air Force One incident on the Sunday night flight back to Washington. Here’s my report.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) laments that the GOP tax bill as currently written is a political disaster and Tuesday’s results prove it: “To me it’s about the most obvious message you can get. I just hope people listen. It’s just common sense. These aren’t [just] tough votes, they’re votes that go right against our constituents.”

Cameron Joseph on why the tax bill is now a heavier lift for vulnerable suburban GOPers.

TPM is currently hiring for four editorial positions, one existing position and three new positions: Senior Editor, Prime Editor, Assistant Editor and a third reporter to join our Investigations Desk team. I’ll be posting job listings for all of these positions shortly. But I wanted to start with the Senior Editor listing, an existing position based out of our New York office.

Listing after the jump.
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President Donald Trump meets with Russian Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, in the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. At right is Russian Ambassador to USA Sergei Kislyak. President Donald Trump on Wednesday welcomed Vladimir Putin's top diplomat to the White House for Trump’s highest level face-to-face contact with a Russian government official since he took office in January. (Russian Foreign Ministry Photo via AP)

I noted yesterday (sub req) that I think that even if Trump had or has come to hate Russia and Vladimir Putin he must know he can’t cross them now because of the compromising information they could easily use against him.

Here’s something else that needs to be flagged.
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Virginia Gov.-elect Ralph Northam walks onstage to celebrate his election at the Northam For Governor election night party at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

I was quite concerned that Ed Gillespie might win last night. The polls had tightened considerably over the last ten days. Gillespie had also significantly nationalized the race, explicitly getting behind President Trump’s most aggressive racist “nationalist” political symbols and messages. Had he won it would have been a big psychological blow to Democratic enthusiasm, confidence, and momentum. Beyond psychological impact, though gubernatorial races are never perfect proxies for national issues, it would have been a daunting substantive sign: that a conventional Republican candidate, running an aggressively Trumpite campaign, chockfull of racist cultural symbols and messages, could super-charge the GOP base and win, even with what appears to be historic levels of Democratic enthusiasm. I was not terribly worried that that was what a Gillespie win would mean in reality. But the perceived impact would have been immense and taken on a life of its own.
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Over the fierce objection of Gov. Paul LePage (R), Maine voters rose up and passed Medicaid expansion under Obamacare tonight, becoming the first state in the country to do so by ballot initiative.

Opponents of expansion fought it with a blitz of late misinformation, as Alice Ollstein reports.

A local newspaper quoted one canvaser for the measure, whose father has cancer and high out-of-pocket costs, “People have gotten used to having health care and they’re not just going to let it go. People are now realizing health care is an individual right.”