When he was questioned about his use of Twitter in a 60 Minutes interview this week, Tesla founder and chief executive Elon Musk said: “I use my tweets to express myself. Some people use their hair. I use Twitter… Twitter’s a war zone. If somebody’s gonna jump in the warzone, it’s, like, ‘Okay, you’re in the arena. Let’s go!’”
So, they can’t say they weren’t warned.
Musk lived up to his word Tuesday morning, when he used Twitter to criticize the show, after CBS edited a clip from its interview with him to make it appear he had stated he didn’t want to be the carmaker’s chairman again.
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia—This city’s infamous “troll factory,” the focus of one of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments almost 10 months ago, is still out of bounds to journalists even if its efforts to swing the 2016 U.S. elections toward Donald Trump, or chaos, or both are now so well known that Russian state television jokes about them.
But the world is less familiar with another operation reportedly underwritten here by the very same buddy of President Vladimir Putin who allegedly funded the trolls at the Internet Research Agency. Often dubbed “Putin’s chef” because of the enormous catering contracts on which he built his fortune, Yevgeny Prigozhin is the central figure in that Mueller indictment (PDF).
He is also the alleged money man behind the Federal News Agency, known by the Russian acronym FAN, which wages information war by other means, specifically by pretending to be a legitimate source of solid reporting.
“I want you to listen to this closely because this has been bugging me for the last few days,” Don Lemon said towards the top of his primetime CNN show Monday night. “I just want to scream at the television when I see it.”
The host went on to explain that President Donald Trump “and his apologists” are “working very hard” to claim that Michael Cohen’s campaign finance felonies—allegedly at the direction of Trump—were “just like what Obama did during his campaign.”
Lemon was referring to civil reporting violations made by the Obama campaign in 2008 and uncovered by a 2012 audit by the Federal Election Commission, leading to the payment of a $375,000 fine.
As Donald Trump prepares to pick his third White House chief of staff in two years, aides and advisers say he is torn between two competing impulses. He understands that the right person for the role is someone who will be subservient to his management style and execute his vision. But his love for the glitzy hire has drawn him towards tapping a big name and alpha personality that he may clash with once again.
The competing interests were supposed to have been a non-issue with the likely ascension of Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers— a young, seasoned and, most importantly, behind-the-scenes political animal—to replace the departing John Kelly.
But Ayers turned down the role, and now the president and his aides are frantically searching for a candidate who can match Trump’s difficult, often contrasting demands. On Sunday, the president tweeted that he was still “in the process of interviewing some really great people for the position of White House Chief of Staff,” and chided members of the media for portraying Ayers as a lock. One current White House official compared it to tripping and then telling onlookers that you had meant to lose your footing.
We weren’t supposed to know about John Kelly’s departure as President Trump’s chief of staff until Monday. As The New York Times reported over the weekend, Trump agreed to let Kelly made the announcement on his own terms. But then before he could do it, the president blurted out the decision to reporters on Saturday.
Imitating Trump, Stephen Colbert said in his Late Show monologue Monday night, “I would like to humbly announce that it was me who dumped him. No matter what he tells you, that’s what happened. I’m the one who said we should see other presidents, OK? I just wasn’t that into him.”
Of course, Trump thought he had a replacement for Kelly lined up in the vice president’s chief of staff, or as Colbert referred to him, “bro who’s not going to let those nerds hold a luau on campus while he’s president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, Nick Ayers.”
In an extraordinary moment of theatre at a the glamorous industry awards ceremony, the compere announced, “I have a surprise for you in store. To announce the award for British Designer Womenswear, we have a very special guest. Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Sussex.”
The Trump administration on Monday doubled down on its unusual argument for the transgender troop ban: Transgender people can still serve—by not transitioning.
Appearing before the D.C. Circuit Court on Monday to appeal one of the injunctions against the service ban, Department of Justice Attorney Brinton Lucas maintained that if Defense Secretary James Mattis’ policy were implemented, transgender troops technically would not be “discharged on the basis of their transgender status.”
“But under the Mattis policy, they would have to identify with their biological sex to remain in the military, right?” the court asked.
Maria Butina, a Russian national who cultivated relationships with powerful American conservative activists, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to violate laws prohibiting covert foreign agents. As part of her deal, she has promised to cooperate with American law enforcement.
Butina is the first Russian national since the 2016 election to plead guilty to a crime connected to efforts to influence American politics. After running a gun rights organization in Russia, she moved to the United States, where she spent years building relationships with conservatives in hopes of influencing a future Republican presidential administration. During the campaign season, she questioned then-candidate Donald Trump about sanctions; built relationships in the upper echelons of the American gun rights community; arranged for NRA leaders to travel to Moscow; and bragged that she was a channel between Team Trump and the Kremlin, as The Daily Beast first revealed.
A reputed Crips gang member nearly executed an FBI agent in cold blood on a Brooklyn street, federal prosecutors said in court papers Monday.
The alleged gunman, Ronnell Watson, blocked in the undercover agent’s car and then opened fire as he tried to drive away, according to a criminal complaint.
Hit in the shoulder, the agent was nonetheless able to return fire and wound Watson—who then ditched his bullet-ridden car at an auto-body shop and rushed to a local hospital, where he told cops he had been an innocent bystander to a gunfight.