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1:30 PM ET, February 19, 2018


 Top Items: 
Darren Samuelsohn / Politico:
Conservatives urge Trump to grant pardons in Russia probe  —  After months of criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, President Donald Trump's supporters are issuing increasingly bold calls for presidential pardons to limit the investigation's impact.
Discussion: Axios, The Daily Caller and Raw Story
Byron York / Washington Examiner:
A non-alarmist reading of the Mueller Russia indictment … There's been no shortage of breathless reaction to Trump-Russia special prosecutor Robert Mueller's indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian organizations for their efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Discussion: Betsy's Page
Blake Hounshell / Politico:
Confessions of a Russiagate Skeptic  —  If, like me, you've been following every twist and turn of the Russia investigations, you've probably wrestled with the same question that has been gnawing at me for more than a year now: What if there's nothing there?
Thomas L. Friedman / New York Times:
Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now  —  Our democracy is in serious danger.  —  President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy.
Discussion: Politico
Margot Cleveland / The Federalist:
How A Plea Reversal From Michael Flynn Could Uncover More Federal Corruption
Discussion: The Gateway Pundit
Washington Post:
Trump lashes out over Russia probe in angry and error-laden tweetstorm … WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump lashed out with fresh anger about the intensifying Russia probe over the weekend, accusing Democrats of enabling a foreign adversary to interfere in the 2016 election and attacking …
Washington Post:
Top U.S. officials tell the world to ignore Trump's tweets … MUNICH — Amid global anxiety about President Trump's approach to world affairs, U.S. officials had a message for a gathering of Europe's foreign policy elite this weekend: Pay no attention to the man tweeting behind the curtain.
Jacqueline Thomsen / The Hill:
Trump surveyed Mar-a-Lago members over gun control in wake of school shooting: report
Discussion: RedState and The Week
New York Times:
How Does Trump Stack Up Against the Best — and Worst — Presidents?  —  Where does Donald Trump rank on the list of American presidents?  —  We surveyed presidential politics experts to sketch out a first draft of Trump's place in presidential history.  —  Since our previous survey in 2014 …
CBS News:
Oprah follows up with the partisan voters in Michigan  —  Last fall, Oprah Winfrey spoke with 14 Michigan voters, seven of whom voted for Donald Trump.  Winfrey sat down with the voters again to get their thoughts on Trump's first year in office  —  Oprah Winfrey
New York Times:
Tools of Trump's Fixer: Payouts, Intimidation and the Tabloids  —  As accounts of past sexual indiscretions threatened to surface during Donald J. Trump's presidential campaign, the job of stifling potentially damaging stories fell to his longtime lawyer and all-around fixer, Michael D. Cohen.
Page Six:
Ronan Farrow banned from NBC?  —  There is an internal war brewing after it was claimed that Ronan Farrow has been banned by NBC News' top exec Andy Lack.  —  Farrow was booked on Rachel Maddow's prime-time MSNBC show on Friday to discuss his story about Donald Trump's alleged affair with former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal.
Discussion: Mediaite and AOL
Anne Applebaum / Washington Post:
Why Facebook is afraid of Robert Mueller … Who is afraid of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III?  President Trump is afraid.  So are those who worked on his campaign.  But they are not alone.  —  Over the weekend, Rob Goldman made it clear that some of America's biggest social media companies are scared of Mueller, too.
Discussion: Breitbart and Front Page Magazine
Sheera Frenkel / New York Times:
Fact-Checking a Facebook Executive's Comments on Russian Interference
Scott Shane / New York Times:
How Unwitting Americans Encountered Russian Operatives Online
Discussion: National Review and VICE News
Madison Park / CNN:
Florida school shooter obtained 10 firearms  —  CNN will hold a town hall with the victims' classmates, parents and community members.  “Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action” will air live Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET.  —  School shooter Nikolas Cruz will attend a 1 p.m. ET hearing …
Jeffrey Toobin / New Yorker:
Trump's Miss Universe Gambit  —  For years, he used his beauty pageants to boost business interests abroad.  A 2013 contest, in Moscow, may also have helped give him the Presidency.  —  The first-round results of the 2013 Miss Universe pageant seem to have come as a surprise …
Discussion: Raw Story and Joe.My.God.
Jill Abramson / New York Magazine:
Do You Believe Her Now?  —  With new evidence that Clarence Thomas lied to get onto the Supreme Court, it's time to talk seriously about impeachment.  —  Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas testifying before the Senate in 1991.  Paul Hosefros/The New York Times/Redux (Hill); Jose R. Lopez/The New York Times/Redux (Rhomas)
Discussion: Daily Wire, National Review and thecut
Nina Burleigh / Newsweek:
HOW AN ALT-RIGHT BOT NETWORK TOOK DOWN AL FRANKEN  —  White nationalist provocateurs, a pair of fake news sites, an army of Twitter bots and other cyber tricks helped derail Democratic Senator Al Franken last year, new research shows.  —  While everyone has been focused on Russian meddling …
Discussion: Raw Story
New York Times:
Texas Democrat Writes Giant-Killer Narrative One Livestream at a Time  —  By Michael TackettPhotographs by Tamir Kalifa Feb. 19, 2018  —  BEAUMONT, Texas — Operating on two hours' sleep, Beto O'Rourke was 20 hours into his day and looked it.  His white shirt and gray slacks were an accordion of wrinkles.
Jonathan Lai /
Pa. Supreme Court to offer new congressional map in gerrymandering saga.  Here's what to expect.  —  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is set to release a new congressional district map on Monday, after weeks of political and legal fighting following its ruling that the map adopted in 2011 was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.
Discussion: Political Wire
Dave McNary / Variety:
‘Black Panther’ Smashes Records With $218 Million at Holiday Weekend Box Office  —  Disney-Marvel's “Black Panther” is heading for a super-heroic $218 million debut over the four-day President's Day weekend at 4,020 North American locations, estimates showed Sunday.
Discussion: ThinkProgress, theGrio and The FADER
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 More Items: 
Neil MacFarquhar / New York Times:
Inside the Russian Troll Factory: Zombies and a Breakneck Pace
Matt Viser /
State election officials across country returning to paper ballots
Sally Jenkins / Washington Post:
LeBron James and Laura Ingraham shouldn't be so quick to write each other off
Discussion: Washington Monthly
Matthew Nussbaum / Politico:
White House: Trump supports stronger background checks for gun buys
Discussion: Breitbart and New York Times
Kate Buck /
Passenger drops farts so putrid pilot is forced to make emergency landing
Discussion: The Daily Caller and Fox News
Afrin: Syria ‘sending fighters to help Kurds against Turkey’
Discussion: Bloomberg and The Daily Caller
David Sharp / Associated Press:
Trump once again wants to cut energy assistance to the poor
Discussion: Axios
 Earlier Items: 
Charles M. Blow / New York Times:
Attacking the ‘Woke’ Black Vote
Abigail Tracy / Vanity Fair:
“The Canaries Are Dying”: How Trump Is Making Republicans Pick Their 2018 Poison
Discussion: Raw Story
David Edwards / Raw Story:
Rush Limbaugh attacks Parkland students for marching and ‘bashing’ NRA: ‘This is totally political’