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The Art of the Trump-Putin deal: Here are 5 things the president may have agreed to do

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Say you’re Vladimir Putin, and you did a deal with Trump last year. I’m not suggesting there was any such deal, mind you. But if you are Putin and you did do a deal, what did Trump agree to do?

1. Repudiate NATO. NATO is the biggest thorn in your side – the alliance that both humiliates you and stymies your ambitions in the Baltics and elsewhere. Trump almost delivered on this last week by pointedly not reaffirming Article 5, which states that an attack on one NATO ally is an attack on all.

2. Antagonize Europe, especially Angela Merkel. She’s the strongest leader in the West other than Trump, and you’d love to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Germany. Your larger goal is for Europe to no longer depend on the United States, so you can increase Russia’s influence in Europe. Trump has almost delivered one on this, too. Now Merkel even says Europe can no longer depend on America.

3. Reject the Paris accord on the environment. This will anger America’s other allies around the world and produce a wave of anti-Americanism – all to your advantage. Nothing would satisfy you more than isolating the United States. Seems like Trump is about to deliver on this one, too.

4. Embarks on a new era of protectionism. Or at least anti-trade rhetoric. This will threaten the West’s economic interdependence, and loosen America’s economic grip on the rest of the world. Trump is on the way to delivering on this one.

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5. End the economic sanctions on Russia imposed after the annexation of Crimea and Russian backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine. No delivery on this as yet, but you understand why. Trump has got to cope with all the suspicion in the U.S. over the deal he made with you to win him the presidency. Once that dies down, he’ll end the sanctions. (In the meantime, he’ll hand back to you two diplomatic compounds that were taken by the U.S. in late December as punishment for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.)

And what did you agree to do, Vlad? Not only help him win the presidency, but also shut up about it so he wouldn’t be impeached and then convicted of treason.

In other words – if you did do a deal – Trump is still in the process of delivering on his side of it, as are you. That’s the art of the deal.

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BUSTED: CNN’s panel of women defending Trump’s racism were literally the ‘Trumpettes’

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CNN aired a panel that featured “Republican women” defending President Trump’s racist tweets, but failed to mention that they were actually part of a pro-Trump group whose members the network had interviewed in the past.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

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Ben Carson is Donald Trump’s faulty human shield against accusations of racism

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Ben Carson is back in the news — after another long absence — because Donald Trump has once again been accused of racism.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

The secretary of Housing and Urban Development is the only African-American member of the president’s Cabinet, and is often trotted out to clean up after Trump makes a mess too obviously problematic for the media to ignore. While Trump has tried to spin his recent racist attacks on four progressive freshman congresswomen as a strategic maneuver meant to manipulate Democratic infighting to his advantage, Carson's re-emergence from his stupor should be a clear indication that the president’s team recognizes the damage that can be caused by his unforced errors.

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An illegal trend could be emerging after Trump let Kellyanne Conway off the hook for breaking federal law

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Federal workplaces are supposed to be free of politics, but a Trump administration appointee used a government forum Wednesday to express support for the president’s reelection.

At a conference on religious freedom hosted by the State Department, an official told the crowd of several hundred people that “hopefully he will be reelected,” referring to President Donald Trump.

It’s illegal for federal employees to engage in political activities while they are on the job.

“It’s a violation of the Hatch Act for a federal official, to say in her official capacity, to hope that the president will be reelected,” said Kathleen Clark, an expert on legal ethics at the Washington University in St. Louis.

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