Bannon Oversaw Collection of Facebook Data

“Stephen Bannon oversaw Cambridge Analytica’s early efforts to collect troves of Facebook data as part of an ambitious program to build detailed profiles of millions of American voters,” the Washington Post reports.

“The 2014 effort was part of a high-tech form of voter persuasion touted by the company, which under Bannon identified and tested the power of anti-establishment messages that later would emerge as central themes in President Trump’s campaign speeches, according to Chris Wylie, who left the company at the end of that year.”

Among the messages tested were “drain the swamp” and “deep state.”

Said Wylie: “The only foreign thing we tested was Putin. It turns out, there’s a lot of Americans who really like this idea of a really strong authoritarian leader and people were quite defensive in focus groups of Putin’s invasion of Crimea.”

Farenthold May Resign from Congress

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) “is considering stepping down from Congress before the end of his term,” Politico reports.

“Farenthold already announced he would not seek re-election in his southeastern Texas district, after Politico reported he settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with $84,000 in taxpayer funds. But he now is on the brink of leaving Congress well before the end of his term, which would allow him to dodge an Ethics Committee investigation into allegations of inappropriate office behavior.”

Trump Ignored Warnings of National Security Advisers

“President Trump did not follow specific warnings from his national security advisers when he congratulated Russian President Vladi­mir Putin Tuesday on his reelection, including a section in his briefing materials in all-capital letters stating ‘DO NOT CONGRATULATE,'” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump also chose not to heed talking points from aides instructing him to condemn Putin about the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom with a powerful nerve agent, a case that both the British and U.S. governments have blamed on Moscow.”

Flake Would Support Impeachment If Trump Fires Mueller

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told the Washington Post that he would support impeachment proceedings against President Trump if the president ends special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election “without cause.”

Said Flake: “We’re begging him: ‘Don’t go down this road. Don’t create a constitutional crisis. Don’t force the Congress to take the only remedy that Congress can take. To remind the president of that is the best way to keep him from going down that road. To fire Mueller without cause, I don’t know if there is any other remedy left to the legislative branch.”

Pruitt Spent $120K on Trip to Italy

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “spent more than $120,000 in public funds last summer for a trip to Italy that included a meeting of G-7 ministers and a private tour of the Vatican,” the AP reports.

“The known cost of Pruitt’s previously reported trip grew this week after the agency disclosed a heavily censored document showing expenses for Pruitt’s security detail cost more than $30,500. That’s on top of nearly $90,000 spend for food, hotels, commercial airfare and a military jet used by Pruitt and nine EPA staff.”

Quote of the Day

“Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration.”

—Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, quoted by BuzzFeed, explaining to friends why he quit his job as a Fox News analyst.

Undercover Secrets of Trump’s Data Firm

“An undercover investigation by Channel 4 News has revealed how Cambridge Analytica claims it ran key parts of the presidential campaign for Donald Trump.”

“The British data company was secretly filmed discussing coordination between Trump’s campaign and outside groups – an activity which is potentially illegal.”

“Executives claimed they ‘ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy’ for President Trump.”

Look Who Posed with the Russian Ambassador

Mother Jones found an interesting photo of Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix.

”He happens to be posing with Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom. The photo was taken days after Democratic National Committee files and emails hacked by Russian intelligence were dumped online by WikiLeaks at the start of the Democratic Party’s convention. The previous month, the Trump campaign had hired Nix’s company, and by this point, it had been widely reported that Russian intelligence was behind the DNC hack.“

Ex-Playboy Model Sues to Break Silence on Trump

“A former Playboy model who claimed she had an affair with Donald Trump sued to be released from a 2016 legal agreement requiring her silence, becoming the second woman this month to challenge Trump allies’ efforts during the presidential campaign to bury stories about extramarital relationships,” the New York Times reports.

“The model, Karen McDougal, is suing the company that owns The National Enquirer, American Media Inc., which paid her $150,000 and whose chief executive is a friend of Mr. Trump’s.”

Trump Seeks to Add Another High Profile Lawyer

“President Trump’s legal team has reached out to Thedore B. Olson, one of the country’s most high-profile and seasoned litigators, to join forces amid mounting challenges in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election,” the Washington Post.

“The addition of Olson would come as President Trump, feeling vulnerable to the investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, has told confidants that he wants to recruit top-tier talent and shake up his group of lawyers.”