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REVEALED: Sean Spicer enlisted CIA director and GOP watchdogs to push back on Russia reports

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White House press secretary Sean Spicer reportedly enlisted the CIA director and a Republican senator in an effort to discredit a newspaper report about the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia.

After the New York Times reported Feb. 15 that Trump campaign aides had “repeated contacts” with Russian intelligence officials, Spicer connected reporters from the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC), reported Axios.

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Spicer also gave reporters’ phone numbers to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, who offered to make the calls himself but “was in and out of an event,” according to a senior administration official who described the press secretary’s campaign to the website.

The Axios report adds new details and reveals Pompeo was involved in a pushback campaign reported Friday by the Washington Post.

Spicer personally picked up the phone and connected Pompeo and Burr with the reporters and then remained on the line for their brief conversations, Axios reported.

Those calls were orchestrated after White House chief of staff Reince Priebus tried unsuccessfully to get the FBI’s director and deputy director to speak with news organizations to dispute the accuracy of reporting on the alleged campaign ties to Russia, the Post reported.

Pompeo and Burr told the reporters simply that the Times report was not accurate but frustrated the journalists by declining to offer specifics.

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Intelligence officials from the Obama administration told the website that Pompeo’s involvement was unusual because the CIA director rarely speaks with individual reporters but was typically held in reserve to speak with publishers and executive editors in cases where reporting could potentially harm national security.

Democrats have questioned whether public comments about the probe made by Burr and Nunes at the White House’s request have compromised the congressional investigation.

“It’s doubtful that Congress can conduct an objective and independent investigation into ties between this White House and the Russian government if it is collaborating so closely on media pushback with the White House press secretary,” George Little, a top CIA and Pentagon spokesman under Obama, told Axios.

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Spicer declined to comment on the Axios report, but the website’s White House source said the press secretary did not know at the time whether an investigation was underway about the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian intelligence.


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In a secluded region in Russia’s Arctic they are rejecting Putin in rare protest

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Lyudmila Laptander, an activist advocating autonomy for her mineral-rich Nenets region in the Russian Arctic, worries authorities are planning to sacrifice its traditions for the promise of economic enrichment.

"If Nenets is merged with another region, I worry that no one will look after our language or our traditions, and that our small villages in the tundra will be forgotten," said Laptander, 61, a member of the Yasavey cultural group.

The autonomous region on the edge of the Arctic Ocean was gripped by protests in May against the government's plans to integrate it with neighbouring Arkhangelsk.

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People are paying to hire this donkey to crash their Zoom meetings

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The coronavirus pandemic has led millions of people to embrace meetings via Zoom, but admittedly, those can be as tedious as in-person conferences.

So one animal sanctuary in Canada, in dire need of cash after being forced to close to visitors, found a way to solve both problems.

Meet Buckwheat, a donkey at the Farmhouse Garden Animal Home, who is ready to inject some fun into your humdrum work-from-home office day -- for a price.

"Hello. We are crashing your meeting, we are crashing your meeting -- this is Buckwheat," says sanctuary volunteer Tim Fors, introducing the gray and white animal on a Zoom call.

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Republican senators are suddenly trying to social distance — from Trump

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There’s something interesting in today’s news:

A number of Republican Senators have said they are skipping the Republican National Convention this year. The convention was originally scheduled in Charlotte, North Carolina, but at Trump’s insistence was relocated to Jacksonville, Florida, last month. The stated reason was that Democratic North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper would not commit to permitting a full convention out of concerns about the spread of coronavirus, but the abrupt switch to Florida, less than 80 days before the convention, still seems odd to me. Regardless, the switch has created a new problem: Florida is in the midst of a dramatic spike in coronavirus cases, setting a record for new cases in a single day during the weekend —11,458—and running low of ICU beds.

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