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Mike Bloomberg’s plan is to bait Trump into self-destruction — even if he isn’t the nominee: report

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Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City who has at various times identified as both a Republican and a Democrat, did not launch his presidential campaign in a conventional way. He jumped into the race months after the other candidates, is not even targeting the early states, and is blanketing the national airwaves with a scorched-earth advertising campaign with no seeming strategy to actually lock down delegates.

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But there may be a reason behind all of this. According to Bess Levin in Vanity Fair, Bloomberg doesn’t have the singular goal of winning the nomination. Rather, his goal is to bait President Donald Trump into meltdown after meltdown — and boost whoever the Democratic nominee ends up being, even if it isn’t him.

“Speaking at a Texas barbecue restaurant on Saturday, Bloomberg said that if he’s knocked out of the race, he’ll direct future funds toward attacking Trump, supporting whoever wins the nomination—even if that person happens to be Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, whom he basically regards as Communists,” wrote Levin. “‘I really don’t agree with them,’ he said, of the progressive candidates, ‘but I’d still support them, yes, because compared to Donald Trump that’s easy.’ He said that he has no plans to run any negative ads against any Democratic candidates, focusing all of his energy on trolling 45. In addition to funneling cash to whoever goes head-to-head with the president, Bloomberg would seemingly donate much of the gigantic, more-than-800-person team he’s assembled to the nominee, along with other resources.”

Bloomberg’s strategy of getting under Trump’s skin to strengthen Democrats was on full display this week, as he rolled out a massive ad buy attacking Trump for threatening protections for pre-existing conditions — a wedge issue that drove many conservative voters to support Democrats in 2018. Trump replied with enraged tweets lying about his health care record and attacking “Mini Mike Bloomberg.”

Bloomberg, who was evidently hoping for that response, had a retort ready:

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Bloomberg, it seems, is running not just for president but for kingmaker. And he wants to do so by tricking Trump into dragging himself as far into the gutter as possible.

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Furious Trump grilling aides on how impeachment is playing with voters: report

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According to a report in the New York Times, a furious Donald Trump spent Thursday afternoon huddled with close White House aides worrying how voters are reacting to his impeachment as it heads to a Senate trial.

Following an afternoon where he tweeted about how unfair the impeachment process has been ( “I JUST GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL!” he wrote) -- and snapping at reporters -- the Times reports the president later bunkered down with staffers to discuss what to do next.

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The Trump administration misled the country by saying there were ‘no casualties’ from Iran attack: report

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After Iran targeted missiles at U.S. military personnel in Iraq in retaliation for the kill of a top general, the Trump administration declared that there were no casualties from attack, and — at least for the time being — it allowed the conflict to de-escalate.

But on Thursday night, a new report from Defense One revealed the initial claim that there were “no casualties” from the attack was false. It reported that 11 U.S. troops were injured in the attack and taken to hospitals to be treated for “traumatic brain injury.”

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State of emergency: High tension in Virginia as right-wing gun fanatics descend on Richmond

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Buried under the cascade of serious national news Wednesday was the alarming story that Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia had declared a state of emergency through next Tuesday evening in Richmond, the state capital. The declaration includes a ban on firearms and other weapons near Capitol Square, where the Democratic-led state legislature meets. Monday is a scheduled "lobbying day" for the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a far right pro-gun group, and Northam's office announced that law enforcement has "identified credible threats of violence surrounding the event, along with white nationalist rhetoric and plans by out-of-state militia groups to attend."

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