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Former FBI agent explains why Trump just opened himself to more legal problems

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Former FBI agent Asha Rangappa explained that the recent revelations that President Donald Trump made a promise to a foreign leader that made an intelligence official uncomfortable enough to declare themselves a whistleblower.

Rangappa explained that the President has a fairly wide latitude to conduct foreign affairs as he sees fit. But “when it comes to the ‘outside world,’ the President represents the sovereign: He is basically the voice of the United States and can negotiate with world leaders on its behalf.”

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She explained the separation of powers argument that the President should be able to discuss things confidentially when it has to do with diplomatic communications. World leaders should feel secure that their conversations with Trump are private, other than his Twitter feed.

“HAVING SAID THAT,” Rangappa tweeted in all capital letters. “There are limitations. First, as @jedshug has written (also in context of obstruction of justice), the President has a fiduciary obligation to act in the *best interests of the United States*. In other words, he cannot abuse his powers for personal gain — further, the ‘slice’ of his ‘exclusive’ Art. II powers is fairly narrow. Congress does have a say, for instance, whether we go to war in the absence of an emergency defensive action. It can also say that certain types of foreign policy actions are illegal.”

She then quoted former Barack Obama appointee Eric Columbus.

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“So, for instance, while President Reagan might have argued that his actions in Iran Contra were in the best interest of the U.S. (preventing [the] spread of Communism), they were nevertheless in violation of the Boland Amendment and still illegal,” she continued. “In fact, much of the extensive congressional oversight over intelligence functions stems from things like Iran Contra — you want to balance POTUS’ foreign affairs/nat sec powers with transparency, individual rights (e.g., warrantless wiretapping after 9/11), and accountability.”

The way that the law works is the whistleblower would approach the independent council or another separate entity to “vet” the complaint and if it is urgent escalate it.

“The IG has to look at the complaint, determine that it is credible and that it is urgent: That it is ‘[a] serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law or Executive order, or deficiency relating to to…an intelligence activity involving classified information,'” Rangappa quoted.

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Under the definition of “urgent,” the complaint can’t be a policy disagreement. The IG, in this case, came to Congress with the claim.

“So, we’re basically left with the fact that a Trump appointee, found this complaint to be ‘urgent,’ meaning that it is not merely a policy dispute, beyond the broad Art. II foreign affairs authority POTUS enjoys, and likely illegal — and which Congress must look at,” she continued.

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She closed by quoting Columbus’ key point: “the Inspector General who is fighting the Acting DNI to transmit this info to Congress WAS APPOINTED BY TRUMP. If this alarms him, it’s bound to alarm us.”

Read the full thread here.

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Maddow breaks down potential ‘direct financial connection’ between the Russian government and Donald Trump

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MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow read bombshell excerpts from a new book set for release on Tuesday.

The host interviewed David Enrich, finance editor at The New York Times, about his forthcoming book Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction.

The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" read excerpts from the book.

"There was no doubt that Deutsche Bank had extensive business dealings with Russia, and those dealings included acting as a conduit for dirty money to get out of Russia and into the western financial system," Enrich wrote.

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Trump said he ‘loved’ the fact that America is more divided than ever: ex-GOP congressman

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President Donald Trump bragged about increasing divisions in America during a White House meeting, a former Republican congressman explained on MSNBC on Monday.

Former Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) told host Joy Reid that "Donald Trump has intentionally tried to create the anxiety" that Americans are explaining.

"Garry Kasparov, the Russian freedom activist, has said the point of disinformation isn't to manipulate the truth, it's to exhaust your critical thinking," Jolly explained. "To exhaust your critical thinking, that's what we're experiencing as voters."

"I had a colleague that was in a meeting in the Roosevelt Room and he said he heard Trump say, 'Have you ever seen the nation so divided?' My colleagues and others said, 'No, we haven't.' Trump said, 'I love it that way.' This is the currency that he's peddling as political strategy, but it's not one we have to accept," Jolly explained.

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2020 Election

Bloomberg and Biden attack Sanders supporters’ ‘Trump-like’ tactics

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On Monday, The New York Times analyzed the state of the Democratic presidential primaries heading into the Nevada caucuses. One of the key new developments is a fresh volley of attacks on the behavior of supporters for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), which is being characterized as "Trump-like" by former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign, which has largely focused its attacks on President Trump, on Monday mounted a frontal offensive against one of his Democratic rivals for the first time, comparing Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign tactics with those employed by the president," wrote Thomas Kaplan, Kate Conger, and Reid Epstein.

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