Robert Mueller is now looking into Democratic uber-lobbyist Tony Podesta as part of his probe into lobbying work tied to Paul Manafort. This is not part to the Russian tampering in the 2016 election but rather the 2012-14 era work in Ukraine that Podesta worked with Manafort on. Tierney Sneed has our story.

This latest news that Bill O’Reilly is blaming the death of the son of his former colleague Eric Bolling on sexual harassment claims against Bolling just makes me think we are in some no-holds-barred competition to see who can be the most terrible.

I don’t know if anyone can beat Bill O’Reilly in this competition.

I didn’t know anyone could make Eric Bolling sympathetic.

As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, authoritarianism and illiberalism are not new to American politics. Nor do we have to focus on the fact that for almost the first century of our history a substantial percentage of the country’s population was owned as property and were believed to have, as the Chief Justice of the United States put it, “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” There was also a pronounced anti-democratic turn in American politics in the late 19th century; there were various political movements in the US in the early part of the century which qualify, both on the right and left; even our language of illiberal extremism remains largely defined by Richard J. Hofstadter’s 1964 essay ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics.’

None of this is new.
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The sourcing on this seems somewhat opaque. But Mashable is reporting that Facebook is testing a new system which would remove publishers from your Facebook timeline unless the publishers pay Facebook. This, frankly, doesn’t terribly surprise me. It’s how monopolies operate.
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Apple CEO Tim Cook, announces the new iPhone X at the Steve Jobs Theater on the new Apple campus on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Apple is in the process of introducing a series of features (or perhaps better to say, restrictions) to its Safari browser, along with the new version of its operating system OSX High Sierra, which promise to put serious obstacles in the way of advertisers tracking you across the web. There are countless ways this happens. But you see it most clearly when you go check out a new suitcase to purchase at some online vendor and then see suitcase ads following you around the web. Some people find this creepy and annoying. Others find it amusing and don’t care. Probably few consumers would mind seeing it go. But there’s some deeper stuff going on.
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I noted yesterday this great piece of reporting by Roll Call which essentially showed that the White House knew the President was lying from beginning about his claims about calling bereaved families. They then scrambled to get names and contact information from the Pentagon to retroactively make the President’s claims ‘true’ as soon as possible.

Now we have some good follow-on reporting from The Atlantic, showing how the White House started express shipping condolence letters as the crazy week of lies, disgrace and nonsense unfolded.
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Col. Jack Jacobs, a medal of honor recipient himself, says Gen. John Kelly should simply apologize. More broadly, I thought this brief discussion from him is a good meditation on the moral sewer of Trumpism and even more, Donald Trump himself. He damages and diminishes everyone.

This is amazing, comical, sad. From Roll Call

In the hours after President Donald Trump said on an Oct. 17 radio broadcast that he had contacted nearly every family that had lost a military servicemember this year, the White House was hustling to learn from the Pentagon the identities and contact information for those families, according to an internal Defense Department email.

The email exchange, which has not been previously reported, shows that senior White House aides were aware on the day the president made the statement that it was not accurate — but that they should try to make it accurate as soon as possible, given the gathering controversy.


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Today White House Press Briefing may turn out to be uglier than yesterday’s. Sarah Sanders just doubled down on the phony FBI building story, claimed Wilson said the really bad things off camera and then it was “highly inappropriate” to get into a “debate” with a Marine 4 Star General.

“If you want to go after General Kelly that’s up to you but i think that that … if you want to get into a debate with a Four Star Marine General I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”

Why is most of the legitimate press ignoring that new Hillary/Uranium story Trumpers are going crazy about? Mainly it’s the story. But it’s also the byline: John Solomon. I explain with an Editor’s Brief (sub req).

Lost in the storm and anguish over John Kelly’s attacks today was a sobering reality. The ideological and rhetorical spine of his remarks was a paean to MAGA. The old days were good. We had real religion. Things were right with women. There was no abortion. Honor was sacred and respected. Now it’s all crap because of people like Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D), a showboater from Florida who transgressed our last sacred space.
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There was a lot to absorb from John Kelly’s verbal fusillade in the White House press briefing. I would say, a lot to criticize. But one of the oddest and cheapest moments came after he lashed out at Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) over her comments about the President. He then brought up a dedication ceremony for a new FBI field office in Miami that he and Wilson attended in the Spring of 2015.

Here’s what Kelly said
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Rep. Frederica Wilson responds to John Kelly’s attack: “John Kelly’s trying to keep his job,” Wilson told POLITICO on Thursday. “He will say anything. There were other people who heard what I heard.”

We’ll have reports on specifics shortly. But Chief of Staff John Kelly just spoke during the White House press briefing about the entire military bereavement phone call controversy. It was volcanic. He mercilessly attacked Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, both for her comments a couple days ago and for an earlier incident (which frankly seemed like a cheap shot). Kelly took basically complete responsibility for everything President Trump had done, what he had said, how he handled the phone calls to the families of the four who died in Niger.
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This is an uncomfortable topic. But when I came into the office this morning, CNN was interviewing the parents of Army Specialist Etienne Murphy about their son. It was a shattering interview. It’s the kind of thing that makes you wonder whether it isn’t exploitative for networks to put these families on camera at all. It seemed important to Etienne’s mother to read a statement she’d written about her experience. And if you’re going to do such interviews, the CNN host handled the interview with great sympathy and tact. The Murphys, like other families, had never received a call or any contact from the President.

But it also occurred to me: a lot of the relatives who received calls seem to be white and a number of ones who didn’t or had bad experiences seem to be black.
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**HOLD FOR STORY S HALL** Show is a Twitter mobile phone icon in Philadelphia, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

While the storm and anguish of President Trump’s latest controversy rolls over the news, we’ve learned a lot more about the Russian influence operation supporting Donald Trump’s candidacy last year. Over recent weeks we had already found out about those few hundreds of accounts on Facebook and something in the range of $100,000 in paid advertising on the Facebook platform. Then there was a comparable series of findings on Twitter. More is in the process of emerging from Google and the various platforms it controls. But over recent days, as the information keeps coming, the very repetitiveness of the new findings or the constancy of the flow has perhaps obscured its newness and how much it expands the story.
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President Donald Trump, left, sitting next to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, right, speaks during a meeting of the committee and members of the President's economic team in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Another simply bizarre new thread in the Trump bereavement call story. The Post called the families of service members who’ve died in the line of duty since Trump became President. There were some good stories, some bad; some had never heard from the President. There were a lot of what you might call Trumpian moments. But the really bizarre story was his conversation with Chris Baldridge, the father of Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge, killed in Afghanistan.
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We’re now getting all the accounts of just what President Trump said last night to the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, how she interpreted it, how her Congresswoman did, how her family did. These are harrowing situations under the best circumstances. Even for a normal person, a normal President, it’s hard to know just what to say. But why are we here? Why is this whole thing happening? It’s happening because, for whatever reason, Trump went silent on this, not only with the families but even with the public.
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Here’s the President’s comment on the Alexander-Murray Obamacare stabilization proposal from his speech this evening at the Heritage Foundation.

“And I’m pleased the Democrats have finally responded to my call for them to take responsibility for their Obamacare disaster and work with Republicans to provide much-needed relief to the American people. While I commend the bipartisan work done by Senators Alexander and Murray — and I do commend it — I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the Obamacare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies.”

… per the White House pool report.

Here’s my backgrounder (sub req) on the likely fall out of this Obamacare stabilization bill which has been tentatively agreed to in the Senate. It puts Republicans in an awful bind.