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Paul Begala calls out right-wing for promoting insane conspiracy about Pentagon staffer Evelyn Farkas

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Anderson Cooper’s AC360 panel discussed the latest conservative talking point that Evelyn Farkas — former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia — somehow confirmed that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower. Snopes has debunked this theory.

Cooper asked panelist Jeffrey Lord to please explain why it would be controversial for a former pentagon expert on Russia to suggest the outgoing administration was concerned that the Trump team — some of whom are under federal investigation for possibly colluding with Russia — would try get rid of any intelligence relevant to the investigation?

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“What’s controversial is that whatever went on in the administration and the Obama administration turned up in the New York Times and the Washington Post repeatedly,” Lord said. “So somebody was leaking classified information within the Obama administration.”

Kirsten Powers shot back at Lord, noting that Farkas never said Trump was surveilled by the Obama administration. “Incidental collection is not surveillance,” she said, adding, “Isn’t that the crux of what the smoking gun — that you believe that she’s saying that there was surveillance?”

After some back and forth over what constitutes surveillance versus incidental collection, Cooper asked political consultant Paul Begala, “Do you think the White House or its allies will be able to distract from all of this by continually bringing up Evelyn Farkas?”

“It’s not a smoking gun, it’s a smoke screen,” Begala explained. “Donald Trump is not very good at being president,” he said, noting that Trump has the lowest approval rating in American history for an incoming president. “But what he’s great at — and I mean this, the best I’ve ever seen — is distraction.”

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“He uses weapons of mass distraction,” Begala said. “That’s what the Farkas fracas is, it’s just a way to distract us.” Begala then pointed to an example of Trump distraction from earlier today. “Ten minutes before the Senate Intelligence Committee convened … What did Donald Trump do?”

“He tweeted out an attack on the House Freedom Caucus for primary elections that are 20 months away,” said Begala.

Watch the full clip below.

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Tapper smacks Mnuchin with Trump kids’ international business deals after attack on Biden son

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In a fairly contentious interview with Steve Mnuchin, CNN host Jake Tapper pointed out how Donald Trump's children -- Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric -- have been using their father's name to swing international deals after the Treasury secretary accused former Vice President Joe Biden's son of doing the same.

Mnuchin first dismissed reporting by the Washington Post and the conservative Wall Street Journal that Donald Trump was withholding Ukraine funding in an effort to get dirt on Biden and his son -- saying neither newspaper could be trusted -- he then complained to the CNN host about having to spend seven and a half minutes talking about Trump's Ukraine scandal.

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2020 Election

Will Trump peacefully vacate the Oval Office if he loses the presidential election in 2020? A lesson from 1800

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As primary season heats up in the United States, the Democrats are anxiously debating the best path to unseat Donald Trump in 2020. But the question of how to beat Trump is perhaps less urgent than the issue of whether he will accept defeat.

Trump has already questioned his loss of the 2016 popular vote with baseless accusations of voter fraud. He has also repeatedly toyed with the idea of extending his presidency beyond the eight-year limit enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, even trumpeting Jerry Falwell Jr.’s assertion that his first term be extended by two years to compensate for the Russia investigation. Perhaps most ominously, Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen warned while testifying before the House Oversight Committee in February 2019:

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Something is killing galaxies — and science is on the case

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In the most extreme regions of the universe, galaxies are being killed. Their star formation is being shut down and astronomers want to know why.

The first ever Canadian-led large project on one of the world’s leading telescopes is hoping to do just that. The new program, called the Virgo Environment Traced in Carbon Monoxide survey (VERTICO), is investigating, in brilliant detail, how galaxies are killed by their environment.

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