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Trump official paid president’s campaign $744,000 for experts to pump up her ‘personal brand’: report

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In April, President Donald Trump’s Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Seema Verma faced public backlash after a report detailed a $2.25 million contract she awarded to Republican consultants to bolster her own public image.

But the scandal may have been even worse than that. According to Politico, among the 40 outside contractors hired as part of this contract included “eight former White House, presidential transition and campaign officials for President Donald Trump” — who charged up to $380 per hour for “strategic communications” work and relied on the federal government’s convoluted contractor system to conceal what they were doing.

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Among the contractors Verma hired were Marcus Barlow, her former spokesman when she was consulting for Mike Pence while he was governor of Indiana. Barlow’s contract allowed him to bill up to $425,000 in one year — which is more than twice the salary of the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Also hired were Ken and Keith Nahigian, who worked for multiple GOP presidential campaigns and the Trump transition team, Brad Rateike, who advised the Trump campaign, and Maggie Mulvaney, a Republican fundraiser who is now working on Trump’s re-election team.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services deny anything improper, with a spokesperson saying, “When the administrator started in 2017, [Verma] wanted to ensure that the agency was communicating with the American people about CMS programs and not just relying on inside-the-beltway health press. At that point, CMS did not have the specialized expertise or bandwidth needed to execute on a strategic communications plan for the agency’s work in ensuring all Americans have access to affordable, high quality health care.”

Verma has long been a controversial figure in the Trump administration. She is the mastermind behind the plan to encourage states to disenroll working-age adults without a job from Medicaid, which resulted in tens of thousands of low-income people — including some who are working — being kicked off the rolls in Arkansas. This work requirements plan is largely stalled in federal court.


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Fox News reporter and right-wing conspiracy theorists planned to wiretap family of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich: report

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The Daily Beast on Monday evening broke a bombshell report on a secret 2017 meeting in Texas on a right-wing conspiracy theory where espionage was discussed.

"One of their topics was responding to online critics of wealthy Texas businessman Ed Butowsky, who had recently been outed as a driving force behind a retracted Fox News story about murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich," The Beast reported. "The group that gathered at Butowsky’s home included a conspiracy theorist, a Fox reporter fighting for her career, a former private intelligence contractor married to star journalist Lara Logan, and a Democratic PR operative who lost his business in the face of sexual assault allegations."

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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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