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Maddow: Mike Pence’s long list of Russia lies lands him in Mueller’s crosshairs

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MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow called out Vice President Mike Pence as well as a slew of others in President Donald Trump’s White House who might be in special counselor Robert Mueller’s crosshairs.

While recapping Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony to the Senate Thursday, Maddow noted that it was now accepted and admitted fact that the Trumps put out a false statement saying the meeting in Trump Tower was something other than what it was.

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“That’s obviously mendacious, right, but is it criminal?” Maddow asked. “It seems clear from the conceded facts that the president was personally involved in concocting a statement about that meeting that attempted to disguise the true nature and purpose of the Trump Tower meeting. To make it seem like something other than his campaign seeking Russian government assistance for their efforts against Hillary Clinton in the presidential campaign.

She explained that this statement seems to be something Mueller is focusing on.

“That’s really bad news for the president,” Maddow continued. “That means the special counsel has a veritable pu pu platter if that’s the stuff he’s running to ground. If that’s what he’s investigating, efforts to mislead the public about contacts with Russians, there’s a lot to choose from if that’s what the special counsel is going to be running to ground. If there’s potential criminality, there are a lot of misleading the public, creating a false pretext-type statements that have been made about Russia by members of the trump campaign and the Trump administration. A lot of them.”

She named off Paul Manafort, Kellyanne Conway, Hope Hicks, Donald Trump Jr. as well as Pence.

“Mike Pence did bluntly asserted multiple times that there had been no contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians during the campaign,” Maddow recalled. “That was false. Mike Pence’s bluntly asserted that Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn had never talked to the Russians about sanctions. That was false. Mike Pence bluntly asserted that he had no idea Mike Flynn had foreign business ties, even though Pence was running the transition when the transition was notified multiple times in writing and in person by Flynn’s lawyers that yeah, Flynn had foreign business ties.”

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She went on to say that Pence even said that Trump fired the FBI director because of the Justice Department recommendation, which we now also know is false because Pence was in the room when Trump read his letter explaining that he wanted to fire James Comey because of the Russia investigation.

“And that’s literally just the stuff we know about the vice president in terms of the lies that we know he has told specifically about Russia and that’s just the ones I can come up with off of the top of my head,” she said. “Give me a few days and I can give you quite a list.”

She went further, saying that if the CNN report is correct that Mueller is investigating administration officials who have made misleading statements on Russia, the meeting at Trump Tower is probably a good place to begin to find those lies.

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“Just keep this in mind,” she continued. “Donald Trump’s eldest son and namesake, Donald Trump Jr. still, today, was disclosing new contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians that happened during the campaign. Still today we got new stuff. Today Donald Trump Jr., according to the statement that he made to the Judiciary Committee, today he revealed three new previously undisclosed contacts that he had with Emin [Agalarov].”

She closed by asking what else the administration and campaign officials are still not disclosing if they’re giving new information even now.

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Google tightens political ads policy in effort to stop abuse

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Google on Wednesday updated how it handles political ads as online platforms remain under pressure to avoid being used to spread misleading information intended to influence voters.

The internet company said its rules already ban any advertiser, including those with political messages, from lying in ads. But it is making its policy more clear and adding examples of how that prohibits content such as doctored or manipulated images or video.

"It's against our policies for any advertiser to make a false claim -- whether it's a claim about the price of a chair or a claim that you can vote by text message, that election day is postponed, or that a candidate has died," Google ads product management vice president Scott Spencer said in an online post.

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Pope Francis begins Asia tour with visit to Buddhist temple

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Pope Francis will visit one of Thailand's famed gilded temples Thursday to meet the supreme Buddhist patriarch, on the first full day of his Asian tour aimed at promoting religious harmony.

The 82-year-old pontiff is on his first visit to Buddhist majority Thailand, where he will spend four days before setting off to Japan.

His packed schedule a day after touching down in Bangkok includes a meeting with the king and the prime minister before leading an evening mass expected to draw tens of thousands of people from across Thailand, where just over 0.5 percent of the population is Catholic.

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Hong Kong campus stalemate persists while US congress passes bill of support for democracy protesters

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Hardline Hong Kong protesters held their ground on Thursday in a university besieged for days by police as the US passed a bill lauding the city's pro-democracy movement, setting up a likely clash between Washington and Beijing.

Beijing did not immediately respond to the passage in Washington of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which voices strong support for the "democratic aspirations of the Hong Kong people."

But China had already threatened retaliation if the bill is signed into law by President Donald Trump, and state-run media warned Thursday the legislation would not prevent Beijing from intervening forcefully to stop the "mess" gripping the financial hub.

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