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U.S. ambassador says Russia is a ‘wild country’

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The US ambassador to Moscow questioned Friday how a Kremlin-linked television channel accessed his private schedule, calling Russia a “wild country” in an altercation with its reporters.

Michael McFaul wrote on Twitter that NTV, a state-run broadcaster that has aired smear documentaries against the opposition, seemed to know his appointments and was waiting as he came to visit a prominent rights activist.

“Not true. State Dept does not publish my schedule,” McFaul said on Twitter, adding that the meeting with activist Lev Ponomaryov from the For Human Rights group had not been scheduled through the consulate either.

NTV published a statement on its website saying the channel had a “wide network of informants.”

The Russian media has given McFaul a rough ride since he took up his post in January, during mass protests against Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin.

He was slammed for meeting opposition leaders on his second day at work.

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A commentator on state-controlled Channel One even speculated whether the author of a book called “Russia’s Unfinished Revolution” had come “to finish the revolution.”

McFaul is far from the first diplomat in Moscow to complain of harassment in recent years.

In 2006, pro-Kremlin groups picketed the British embassy, accusing then-ambassador Tony Brenton of financing the opposition and calling for him to resign.

In 2007, the Estonian ambassador Marina Kaljurand suspended the embassy’s work after pro-Kremlin activists tried to physically attack her in protest at a Soviet war memorial being moved from central Tallinn.

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McFaul, a former academic specialising in politics, was one of the architects of US President Barack Obama’s “reset” in relations with Russia. He is the first US ambassador in Russia to constantly air his views on Twitter.

In a meeting on Friday, the influential head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, urged McFaul to help heal what he acknowledged as a rift between the countries.

“I’m convinced there can be no reset until we change our attitudes toward each other,” the patriarch said, quoted by Interfax news agency.

“Of course we can rub salt on the wound and create negative attitudes toward each other, but this is counterproductive.”

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NTV late Thursday aired a video of McFaul, a fluent Russian speaker, grilling its reporters on how they knew of his meeting and accusing them of hounding him.

“How did you know about this meeting, if that’s not a secret? How did you get the information that I would be here? You can’t answer,” he said.

“For me this is a very serious question because this is against the Geneva convention if you are going to get information from my telephone or my Blackberry,” McFaul said.

In the footage, a woman reporter seen on camera told him she heard of the meeting from “open sources” without specifying.

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Visibly riled, McFaul told the journalists their behaviour reflected badly on Russia.

“This is a wild country, it turns out. This is not normal. It does not happen in our country, it does not happen in Britain, in Germany, in China. Only here and only with you,” he said.

He later apologised for the comment on Twitter, explaining he meant to say the NTV crew was acting wildly, not that Russia was wild.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a press briefing Thursday that McFaul had wondered how media was “getting word about his schedule,” but did not comment on the possible involvement of the Russian government.

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“I’ll just say he was asking a rhetorical question,” Toner said.

Shortly before he ended his term in Russia in 2008, Britain’s Brenton told The Mail on Sunday weekly that: “One of the sad things about working here is that you have to assume you are being listened to.”

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Fox & Friends attacks Mueller’s credibility: ‘I don’t think he knows the details of the report’

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The hosts of "Fox & Friends" questioned Robert Mueller's credibility after Congress set a date for the former special counsel to testify about his findings.

Mueller will testify July 17 to lay out evidence of alleged crimes by President Donald Trump and his campaign associates, and Fox News broadcasters suggested questions that could undercut his impartiality.

"How did it make you feel when president of the United States said that you're compromised, or how did it make you feel when the president of the United States kept attacking the process?" said co-host Brian Kilmeade. "What did you think about the rumors he was going to fire you? I'm not sure he is going to answer that either."

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How the DOJ just asked the Supreme Court to essentially become a ‘branch of the Trump administration’

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With the fate of the nation's electoral maps — and thus the very basis of democracy — hanging in the balance, the Supreme Court is poised to rule on the controversial Census case. But at the last minute, Justice Department Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote new a new plea to the justices asking them to take an even more extraordinary step than simply ruling on the issue before them.

Indeed, law professor Richard Hasen wrote in Slate on Tuesday that if the court goes along with Francisco's request, it will essentially act as a part of the Trump administration.

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2020 Election

Where, when and how to watch NBC’s 2020 Democratic Party presidential debate

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Election 2020 is kicking off for Democrats in Miami, Fla. this Wednesday and Thursday night at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and it's going to be a doozy.

For starters, 20 out of 24 candidates will take the stage in a two-night debate expected to span approximately four hours in total. Candidates will be allowed 60 seconds to answer questions with an additional 30 seconds to respond to follow-up. No opening statements will be allowed, but candidates will be able to deliver closing remarks.

In addition to NBC hosting the debate, MSNBC and Telemundo will pitch in their parts. The debate airs from 9 to 11 p.m. EST. both nights. Additionally, viewers have the option of tuning in to live stream the debate on social media via NBC's YouTube channelTwitter account and Facebook page.

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