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‘It was too stupid’: NBC reporter explains how Russians trying to spread fake Mueller docs flubbed things badly

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MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow revealed Wednesday that she and her team were the targets of a Russian disinformation campaign, and it seems she wasn’t the only one.

According to NBC News reporter Ben Collins, those who got direct messages from the Russian accounts found the information either complicated or obviously false.

“Thankfully, I think they thought reporters were stupid,” Collins said. “We’re not this stupid. A bunch of us looked into this at the time. They sent it to a ThinkProgress reporter and a researcher named Josh Russell and they didn’t even know it was to be the hack of the Russian investigation. We didn’t know what it was, therefore, we couldn’t intuit the larger grand scheme that it was supposed to be [Robert] Mueller being incompetent based on this stuff.”

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Court documents released by special counsel’s office Wednesday said that the documents released on a Russian website were altered and falsified to make it seem as if the investigation was either a fraud or being bungled.

“It was a long tail mess-up some time back in November that’s now surfacing,” said Collins.

He called it a kind of “Russian doll situation,” but reporters who attempted to fact-check the information couldn’t even open the first Russian doll.

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Taliban release two Western hostages in Afghanistan

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The Taliban handed two Western hostages over to US forces in southern Afghanistan Tuesday, three years after they were abducted, in a swap for three high-ranking insurgent prisoners that could boost peace talks.

The exchange of American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks for the militants -- including Anas Haqqani, brother to the Taliban's deputy leader -- was welcomed by both the United States and the insurgents.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the releases "give us hope for the success of intra-Afghan peace negotiations, which the United States stands ready to support."

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President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukraine getting ‘tired’ of Trump scandal

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday that his country is "tired" of questions related to the Trump scandal, amid a critical week of public impeachment hearings in Washington.

"We have our country, we have our independence, we have our own problems," he complained after a press conference in Kiev with visiting Czech prime minister Andrej Babis.

Hearings began last week in Washington into whether US President Donald Trump ordered to freeze US military aid to Ukraine in an effort to get Kiev to launch investigations against potential 2020 election rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

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Audience breaks into applause as Vindman explains why he’s not afraid of testifying against Trump

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Republican efforts to undermine Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman apparently failed to persuade the audience in the impeachment hearing room.

The National Security Council staffer was showered with applause after reading the closing portions of his opening statement for a second time at the request of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY).

"Can you read the last paragraph for me again, the second-to-last one, can you read that again for me?" Maloney said. "I think the American public deserves to have it again."

Vindman agreed, and said his father would probably appreciate that.

"Dad, my sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol, talking to our elected officials, is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family," Vindman said. "Do not worry, I'll be fine for telling the truth."

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