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Former FBI counterintelligence chief destroys ‘wholly unrealistic’ rightwing conspiracies about ‘rogue’ Russia investigation

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On Friday, the New York Times reported that the FBI opened an investigation into whether President Donald Trump was secretly working on behalf of the Russians.

Rightwing media personalities immediately began defending Trump and accusing the FBI of retaliating against Trump for his criticism of the FBI.

“[The FBI] might open an investigation into you without your knowledge into something appalling. Maybe it’s beating your wife, maybe it’s dealing fentanyl to kids, maybe it’s betraying your country in some alliance with Vladimir Putin,” said Fox News host Tucker Carlson Friday. “You don’t need to have done it. But once they investigate you, they can always leak two years later that they were investigating you for this crime that you didn’t commit or at least they found no evidence you committed.”

MSNBC’s Brian Williams discussed the development with a panel that included former FBI counterterrorism boss Frank Figliuzzi.

“My first response when I saw this reporting was I wish it hadn’t happened, to be honest with you,” Figliuzzi said. “And I’m a huge champion of freedom of the press… But I also know that we have a president that is mercurial at best, and I’m concerned that he’s going to react in a way to this—we’ve already seen some communication from the White House tonight—that causes him to act out again special counsel Mueller, and/or Rod Rosenstein.”

Figliuzzi said the other thing he’s been hearing is rightwingers talking about the “deep state” that is out to get Trump.

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“I’ve been hearing that there was a conspiracy somehow, that there was a rogue FBI,” he said. “I think it’s important for people to understand that intelligence and counterintelligence work in the FBI is by far the most regulated part of the FBI.”

Figliuzzi said it’s “wholly unrealistic” to believe anyone in the FBI was plotting against Trump.

“You’ve got to keep the rule book in your top drawer,” he said. “I lived as counterintelligence agent with the attorney general guidelines in the top drawer of my desk and referred to them daily until I’d memorized entire portions of them. That’s how heavily regulated this is.”

“Any notion that some rogue agent could open a counterintelligence investigation against the president of the United States is just—misguided,” he said. “The number of lawyers that would have had to touch this and allowed it to happen is almost immeasurable.”

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Morning Joe guest reveals why even Ivanka is afraid to deliver bad news to Trump: ‘He’ll explode’

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President Donald Trump's inner circle is growing smaller and smaller, and the few aides he trusts are afraid to deliver any bad news to him -- and panelists on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" agreed the situation was dangerous.

Co-host Mika Brzezinski asked Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire if the president trusted any of his advisers, and the White House correspondent said he may still seek out counsel from Ivanka Trump.

"He might listen to his daughter, who is in there, but no," Lemire said. "That has been what's happened over the last year and a half, in particular, is the erosion of the guardrails, the erosion of adults in the room who could walk in there and say something. Mind you, it didn't always work, (but) now those people don't even exist."

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2020 Election

New Republican group wants to register more voters to keep Texas red

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The push by the group, a super PAC called Engage Texas, comes as national Democrats zero in on the state in 2020.

With national Democrats looking to make Texas a battleground, a new Republican group is launching to register hundreds of thousands of new voters here and convince them to help keep the state red in 2020.

The group, a super PAC named Engage Texas, is the brainchild of some of the state's biggest GOP donors, and it is led by a former top staffer at the Republican National Committee. It comes as Texas Republicans look to gain ground in an area where their Democratic counterparts have dominated in recent years: signing up new voters.

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2020 Election

Texans approve of Trump’s job performance but have questions about his character, UT/TT Poll says

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More than half of the state's voters think President Donald Trump is doing a good job, but they're not as pleased with some of his character traits, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

If you ask registered voters in Texas about the job performance of the people they’ve elected to high office, the top two names on their list are President Donald Trump and Gov. Greg Abbott, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

But the support is not overwhelming: 52% of voters approve of the job Trump is doing in office, while 44% disapprove. And 51% said Abbott is doing a good job, while 31% disapprove of the governor’s work.

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