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GOP senator makes excuses for Manafort sharing Trump campaign data with accused Russian spy

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On Tuesday, a bungled redaction by attorneys for Paul Manafort revealed that President Donald Trump’s former campaign boss held an overseas meeting with accused Russian spy Konstantin Kilimnik and shared polling data with him in the runup to the 2016 campaign.

On Wednesday morning on CNN, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) defended Manafort’s meeting with the Russian spy by arguing that Manafort, who had worked on behalf of a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, had known the spy for many years and that there was nothing odd about a presidential campaign sharing confidential campaign polling data with a foreign adversary.

Lankford described Manafort’s work on behalf of a pro-Putin “puppet” who fled the country under charges that he orchestrated mass killings and is now in hiding under Putin’s protection in Russia, as doing work for “the Ukranian government.”

“This is an ongoing relationship that Paul Manafort had with Ukraine—he was a representative of Ukraine, worked for the Ukrainian government, and was trying to work for a peace proposal—which, by the way, I didn’t support what he was doing and don’t support what he was doing was appropriate,” Lankford said. “But he had Ukrainian clients, this was a Ukranian client.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller has accused Kilimnik of ties to Russian intelligence, but Lankford described him as a former military man.

“This person also previously worked for the Russian military, so did most everybody in that, so I don’t see this as a deliberate contact with the Russian government, this is a person that he’d worked with for a decade and a half at that point, in Ukraine,” he said.

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“We need to get the whole story on it because it makes it seem like it was some secret backchannel communication,” he said of the secret backchannel communication between the Trump campaign and a charged Russian spy which Manafort lied to investigators about. “If it was, this was someone that Paul Manafort had known for a very long time and trusted.”

Watch the segment below.

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‘I don’t have to do it, legally’: Trump says he can invade Iran without Congress’ permission

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On Monday, CNN reported that in a new interview, President Donald Trump said that he can invade Iran without congressional approval — and that although he would "like the idea" of keeping Congress in the loop, he doesn't "legally" have to do so.

"I like the idea of keeping Congress abreast, but I wouldn't have to do that," said Trump. In response to the fact that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said he must obtain congressional approval first, Trump said, "I disagree. I think most people seem to disagree."

"I do like keeping them — they are intelligent people," added Trump. "They will come up with some thoughts. I actually learned a couple of things the other day when we had our meeting with Congress which I think were helpful to me. I do like keeping them abreast, but I don't have to do it, legally."

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CNN

US foes are goading Trump because they know he’s a ‘blow-hard and full of bluster’: CNN analyst

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President Donald Trump walked back from the brink of atrocities last week, from calling off a military strike against Iran to pushing back planned Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in major American cities.

On Monday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin told anchor Wolf Blitzer how foreign adversaries have been emboldened to challenge Trump — because for all his bombast, they know they are calling a bluff.

"I think Donald Trump is pretty well a known quantity at this point," said Toobin. "I mean, I think people around the world know he's a blowhard, knows he's full of bluster. But that's no reason to get into a war."

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CNN

CNN’s Brooke Baldwin stunned that Trump fans don’t care how many women accuse him of assault

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CNN's Brooke Baldwin on Monday expressed astonishment that journalist E. Jean Carroll's rape allegations against President Donald Trump haven't gotten more attention.

During a discussion with CNN's Gloria Borger, Baldwin broke down how a shocking number of women have made allegations of sexual misconduct against the president, who was also caught on camera bragging about sexually assaulting women in the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape from 2006.

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