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A bombshell report on Rod Rosenstein fuels Trump’s suspicions; the Kremlin apparently wanted to smuggle WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange to Russia.
A New York Times report fuels Trump’s paranoia
- The New York Times reported today that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein proposed secretly recording President Donald Trump, according to numerous anonymous sources. Rosenstein, according to the Times, wanted to use the recordings to convince Trump’s Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would declare the president unfit to serve and remove him from office. [NYT / Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt]
- Then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe also allegedly wrote memos that confirmed the anonymous sources’ claims at the time of the proposal (16 months ago, in the wake James Comey’s firing). The memos have been turned over to special counsel Robert Mueller, head of the FBI’s inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. [Washington Post / Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky]
- The report depicts Rosenstein, who has overseen the Russia investigation since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, as “panic-stricken.” Rosenstein is already on thin ice with Trump, who has attacked him on Twitter a number of times. [CNN / Laura Jarrett and Jeremy Herb]
- Rosenstein says the report is “inaccurate and factually incorrect.” He also said that the anonymous sources are “biased against the Department” and “advancing their own personal agenda.” Another FBI source also said the idea was a joke. [Mother Jones / Dan Friedman]
- Republican politicians have frequently threatened to impeach Rosenstein since his involvement in the investigation grew. Now this threat “grows by the minute.” [Rolling Stone / Tim Dickinson]
- Because Sessions recused himself, Rosenstein is the only one with the power to fire Mueller. If Rosenstein is removed from the FBI, Trump could replace him with someone more willing to ax the special counsel. [Vox / Alex Ward]
- Trump has frequently accused Rosenstein, Mueller, and the Russia investigation of being part of the “deep state” looking to take him down. Experts say this report could serve as a “vindication of his belief.” [BBC]
Russia’s “bold plot” to smuggle Assange out of London
- The Kremlin allegedly discussed plans to smuggle WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London at the end of 2017. The plan to bring Assange to Russia was abandoned after it was deemed “too risky.” [Guardian / Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Dan Collyns, and Luke Harding]
- Assange was intensely isolated in the embassy for almost seven years after he began publishing classified documents from governments around the world on WikiLeaks. He sought refuge at the embassy in 2012 when Interpol, the international criminal police organization, issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of sexual assault. [Telegraph / Harriet Alexander]
- Assange was then involved in the 2016 US presidential election when he published emails from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her team, which were allegedly acquired by hackers from a Russian intelligence agency. [ABC / James Gordon Meek and Ali Dukakis]
- The Kremlin’s plan brings into question Assange’s ties to Russia, concerns that US authorities have had since the 2016 election. If he managed to escape to Russia, he could not be extradited to the US. [Business Insider / Sinéad Baker]
- The Russian Embassy has denied the report, tweeting that this was “Another example of disinformation and fake news by British media.” [Sputnik News]
- A costume company is, predictably, facing backlash after it began selling a sexy Handmaid’s Tale Halloween costume — bonnet and all. [Entertainment Weekly / James Hibberd]
- A beach in Greece has been coated in a 1,000-foot blanket of spiderwebs. Scientists say the spiders have joined together on the beach to have “a party” (which we will not be attending). [USA Today / Josh Hafner]
- Cody Wilson, the creator of blueprints for 3D-printable guns, has been arrested in Taiwan after Texan authorities issued a warrant for his arrest for alleged sexual assault of a minor. Taiwan says it plans to deport Wilson to the United States as soon as possible. [The Verge / Colin Lecher]
- Get ready, folks: Alec Baldwin is returning to Saturday Night Live as President Donald Trump. The new season premieres September 29 on NBC. [Hollywood Reporter / Katie Kilkenny]
“When we think about engaging and defeating the bully, we must remember that it isn’t just about getting home — it’s about thriving — and that our goal is not to switch places with the bully but to end bullying.” [DeRay Mckesson on dealing with white supremacy as one would a bully, from his new book On the Other Side of Freedom / Medium]
Watch this: Why every social media site is a dumpster fire
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube exploit our tribalism to keep us watching ads. That makes them a perfect target for trolls, conspiracy theorists, and con artists. [YouTube / Carlos Maza and Hunter Boone]
Sign up for The Weeds pop-up newsletter! Matt Yglesias dissects what’s really at stake in the 2018 midterms between now and Election Day.