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The Trump family has dangerously blurred the lines between foreign lobbying and espionage: Ex-FBI agent

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Former FBI special agent Clint Watts told MSNBC on Thursday that it almost didn’t really matter if sex spa owner Cindy Yang’s interactions with President Donald Trump amounted to espionage or lobbying — the real issue is that everyone, including foreign countries, sees the president and his family as “open for influence.”

“In this case, Ms. Yang, you can’t tell what’s influence, you can’t tell what’s espionage, you can’t tell what is just good political donations,” Watts said. Lobbying, he added, was traditionally a “very formalized” process. “But in this case, we just see open doors and access.”

“We’ve even seen reports of foreign countries saying ‘we should go at Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, they are open for influence, let’s try and nudge up to them,'” Watts continued. “Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a spy. It’s a great way to advance your interest for a very low cost, and the doors seem to be wide open on this White House.”

That radical departure from established norms was the reason so many of Trump’s associates were running afoul of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), Watts said.

“I think that’s why you’re seeing from the Mueller investigation this reoccurring theme of going after the FARA act, and are we going to enforce it or not,” he said, adding that the “focus on Ms. Yang” was a dead end, and offering advice for Congress.

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“I know that is a sensational story, but I think a better question Congress can be asking when it comes to counterintelligence is just go to the intelligence community and ask one simple question,” Watts said. “‘How many times since the Trump Administration started have we seen espionage targets that we believe are trying to penetrate the U.S. government show up at the White House, or Mar-a-Lago, with Trump campaign people.’ You don’t need to be specific on those but it will tell you the severity of the problem.”

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CNN

‘The president is lying’: Trump gets immediately debunked by CNN after claiming he stopped ‘send her back’ chant

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President Donald Trump said Thursday that he stopped the North Carolina rally crowd from chanting "send her back" during a rant about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). But CNN immediately called him out for the false claim.

"I didn’t like that they did it and I started speaking very quickly," Trump told the press. "Excuse me. Really? If you would have heard, there was a tremendous amount of noise and action and everything else. I started very quickly. And I think you know that. Maybe you’re giving me too much credit. You’re used to giving me too much credit. Thank you, everybody. I will try. I will certainly try, yes."

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Breaking Banner

Trump’s racism isn’t a grand plan to win in 2020 — he’s just a ‘blithering idiot’: GOP strategist

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President Donald Trump over the last week has made overtly racist attacks on four Democratic women of color, which has led to speculation that the president believes using racism is the key to winning reelection in 2020.

However, Republican strategist Stuart Stevens, who is currently working for Trump primary challenger Bill Weld, says it would be a mistake to confuse Trump's bigoted impulses with a well thought out battle plan.

"There is always this need to attribute this master plan to Trump because otherwise, you have to come to terms with the fact that he’s a blithering idiot," Stevens said in an interview with the Huffington Post.

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2020 Election

Here is why Nancy Pelosi allowed a House impeachment vote

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Admitting that he isn't privy to insider knowledge from the Democratic leadership, Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Bernstein suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may be playing a much longer game on the possibility of impeachment hearings on Donald Trump than her detractors believe.

Wondering, "Is Nancy Pelosi closer to impeachment?' Bernstein writes, "Usually, when a regular bill or resolution has been introduced, it’s then referred to committee. If the majority party doesn’t want to consider the bill, it will die with no further action. Under House rules, however, any member can force an impeachment resolution onto the floor as pending business. That’s what [Rep. Al] Green (D-TX) did Wednesday."

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