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Too weird to check: Michael Cohen reveals secret third client to be … Sean Hannity

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When I heard this morning that he had had only three clients this past year and was unwilling to name the third, I thought immediately that it had to be someone famous. Not because of the dynamics of the situation; if anything, you’d be more reluctant to reveal a client’s name if he *isn’t* famous and used to public notoriety than if he is. I thought it had to be someone famous, and shocking, because our political reality is an increasingly ludicrous television show. Of course Cohen would have a mystery client and of course it’d be a character we’d met before.

Honestly, my guess was that it was the Clintons. Or James Comey. Either one contracting with Michael Cohen for legal services would make zero sense, I know, but that’s the beauty of television drama. It doesn’t need to make sense. It just needs to be juicy.

But no. Somehow, the mystery client revelation is even juicier than that:

Hannity’s name came out because there’s a new hearing in federal court this afternoon on Cohen’s request to review his own seized files for privileged material before the feds do. (Or rather, before they do so any further.) Judge Kimba Wood wanted to know how many clients he has and who they are, as that would give her a sense of how much privileged material there might be. Just three clients, she was told. One, of course, is Trump. The other is Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy, whose dirty laundry was aired last week when it emerged that Cohen had done a hush-money deal with a former mistress for him too. We’d prefer not to name the third client, though, said Cohen’s lawyer. Too bad, said Wood. Let’s have it.

And that’s how we arrived at the greatest plot twist yet in season three of “The Apprentice: Oval Office.”

It’s true, says Hannity:

Hannity’s going to take enormous heat here, partly for salacious reasons and partly for ethical ones. The salacious heat will come from the fact that Cohen’s legal work for Trump and Broidy appears to consist mostly (or entirely?) of arranging hush money for ex-girlfriends. There’s zero evidence right now that that’s what Hannity enlisted Cohen for, but that’s the conclusion that many will jump to, unfairly. There’s a more interesting mystery, though, than what Cohen did for Hannity: Namely, why did a guy with a mountain of money choose to hire a goon like Cohen for legal work? Hannity could have paid any lawyer in America whatever they asked to handle his business and they would have been discreet and competent. Instead he went to Cohen. Even if it was for something as pedestrian as drafting a will, why not call up a white-shoe Manhattan firm and pay to have the best of the best handle it instead?

There’s no turning down the ethical heat, though. How do you cover a major story like the feds seizing Michael Cohen’s files on a “news” channel without disclosing that you have a personal interest in the story?

You can predict how Hannity will play this. “I’m not a journalist!” he’ll say. “I’m a talk-show host!” Well, (a) that’s not what he’s been saying recently. Of late he’s taken to calling himself an “advocacy journalist” and likes to tout the scoops he gets from reporters like Sara Carter. But (b) even if you accept that he’s not a journalist, it doesn’t follow that he shouldn’t be held to very basic ethics like mentioning that his opinion on the legality of the FBI seizing files from a lawyer might be influenced by the fact that he’s, er, his personal lawyer. You can be partial and ethical. Hiding a conflict of interest from viewers is one but not the other. We’ll see if Fox does anything or if he gets another wrist slap like the time he cut a campaign commercial for Trump.

Exit question: Is the ethical problem diminished here by the fact that literally everyone realizes Hannity would be cheerleading for Cohen and Trump against the feds even if they had no business together? Can you be so deep in the tank for the president’s interests, in other words, that your own conflict of interest is negligible?

Update: From Hannity frenemy Shep Smith, who was live on the air when the news broke:

You can start counting the minutes until a piece appears somewhere online, probably at CNN.com, about Fox News reporters having conniptions over the fact that Hannity didn’t disclose his business relationship with Cohen before reporting on it.

Update: A golden moment in Fox history:

Update: Assuming this is true, you can rule out anything salacious like a hush-money agreement on Hannity’s behalf:

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You won’t have Maggie Haberman to kick around anymore (on Twitter, anyway)

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Another voice on Twitter is falling silent (at least mostly) but it has nothing to do with the recent Great Twitter Purge. New York Times columnist Maggie Haberman is throwing in the towel for the time being, while allowing the possibility that she may return after a break. The first indication of her imminent departure came, ironically enough, on Twitter.

I’m not sure how “no reason or prompt” fits into the explanation, but Haberman expanded on her decision in a column yesterday.

I woke up last Sunday morning feeling anxiety in my chest as I checked the Twitter app on my phone, scrolling down to refresh, refresh, refresh. There was a comment I started to engage with — I opened a new post, tapped out some words, then thought better of it and deleted the tweet. The same thing happened repeatedly for the next two hours.

The evening before, I had complained to a close friend that I hated being on Twitter. It was distorting discourse, I said. I couldn’t turn off the noise. She asked what was the worst that could happen if I stepped away from it.

There was nothing I could think of. And so just after 6 p.m. last Sunday, I did.

After nearly nine years and 187,000 tweets, I have used Twitter enough to know that it no longer works well for me. I will re-engage eventually, but in a different way.

Haberman goes into greater detail than simply saying it “wasn’t working for her” anymore. She describes at length the, “viciousness, toxic partisan anger, intellectual dishonesty, motive-questioning and sexism” she regularly encounters. In a sweeping bit of generalization, she describes the platform has having become, “an anger video game for many users.”

Having been a user of the system for eight years now, and not wanting to come off as too much of a jerk, all I could really think to say is, “welcome to Twitter.”

People leave Twitter all the time, some permanently and others just for a break. And yes, if you allow it to absorb your life it can definitely be an overwhelming experience. But as I said, that’s only if you let it. The fact is that Twitter is what you make of it, particularly in terms of how much time you’re willing to invest and to what purpose. Many of us (including yours truly) went through a period during their early days on the internet where our entire evening could boil away because… Oh My God… Somebody Is Wrong On The Internet.

I can remember some of my first online community interactions on the web. For a time I enjoyed participating in some USENET newsgroups. Since we’ve always kept pets I spent a brief period participating in the alt.cats community. What could go wrong in a group that enjoys talking about cats, right? Let me enlighten you. I ran into some Brit who was virulently opposed to keeping cats as indoor pets and thought they should all live outdoors. And yes, I spent weeks in a flamewar with him on that subject which sometimes kept me up until the wee hours of the morning because of the time difference between us. To this day I’m not sure which one of us came off looking more like the troll.

The point is that I eventually learned that I didn’t have to do that. Twitter is no different. If you’re getting so much hate and trolling that you’re losing your mind you can always simply shut down (or ignore) your mentions. It’s easy enough to set up groups of people you actually want to hear from. If you’re a relatively famous blue checkmark person (and Haberman definitely qualifies) you can also tone down the noise by filtering your mentions to only show verified accounts. Mute is also a wonderful feature if those other filters don’t do the trick.

But mostly it’s just a question of how compelled you feel to engage or how much weight you assign to some anonymous user who wants to call you names, impugn your reputation or otherwise haunt you. Personally, I find that my eyes are the best filter of all. After enough time walking through the maelstrom of the various social networks, you can quickly skim past the comments that aren’t going to add to the experience and simply engage with the ones who are either positive or at least offering constructive criticism.

I’m sure Maggie Haberman and I don’t see eye to eye on much but I’ve been following her on Twitter for some time. She frequently highlights and links to articles which I at least find worth my time to read and possibly even respond to here. I hope she comes back.

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Rep. Mark Meadows Calls For Carter Page FISA Docs to be Declassified, Unredacted

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On Saturday, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton announced documents related to the FISA warrants on Trump’s former campaign advisor, Carter Page were released by the FBI — and arrived at JW headquarters.

Fitton said Saturday evening Judicial Watch received the requested documents and even though they are heavily redacted, they confirm the FBI and DOJ misled the courts.

Obama’s Deep State DOJ and FBI withheld information about Hillary Clinton and the DNC being behind the information used to obtain the FISA warrant.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) called for the FISA docs to be declassified so “Americans can know the truth.”

Meadows tweeted: Potentially groundbreaking development here. The Carter Page FISA docs should be declassified and further unredacted (protecting only sources and methods) so Americans can know the truth.


If the previous admin was funneling campaign research toward surveillance, we need to know.

Comey, Rosenstein, McCabe and Sally Yates all signed the FISA applications even though Hillary’s fraudulent Russia dossier was used as a pretext to obtain the warrants.

Obama’s Deep State FBI and DOJ obtained a FISA warrant on Carter Page in October of 2016 and three subsequent renewals in order to spy on Trump’s campaign and transition team.

By law, the FBI must present to the FISC new, compelling information gathered from current monitoring in order to get a FISA warrant renewed every 90 days…

However, the applications filed to renew the Carter Page FISA warrants simply recycle old Christopher Steele/Yahoo information [Michael Isikoff’s Yahoo article on Carter Page] from the original application, reported Paul Sperry.

The newly released docs also reveal Peter Strzok did indeed provide information which was used to obtain a FISA warrant on Carter Page, directly contradicting his sworn claims to GOP lawmakers.

And President Trump isn’t allowed to question our intel agencies after all of this corruption??

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Nikki Haley: For peace, we need to tell the truth about Hamas

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UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, along with presidential adviser Jared Kushner, ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and assistant to the president Jason Greenblatt, published a piece today at CNN arguing that peace in Gaza will require telling the truth about Hamas. Haley recounts a recent vote in the UN when it seemed, for the first time, a majority of other nations might actually agree:

On the surface, everything about the General Assembly session on June 13 appeared to be business as usual. Algeria offered a grossly one-sided resolution blaming Israel — and Israel alone — for the recent violence in Gaza. The resolution blatantly ignored the facts.

Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza, has been inciting the violence at the Israeli boundary fence for months, using Palestinian civilians as human shields. And Hamas and other terror groups have fired more than 100 rockets and sent untold numbers of flaming kites, some displaying swastikas, into Israel in the past month, hoping to kill as many Israeli civilians and destroy as much property as possible. And yet the Algerian resolution not only failed to hold Hamas terrorists accountable for their role in the violence, it failed to mention Hamas at all.

In response, the United States proposed a simple amendment to the resolution that called out Hamas for its role in the skirmishes. A minimum fealty to the truth demanded that the United Nations condemn Hamas by name for firing rockets into Israel and for allowing other terror groups to do the same…

When the amendment came to a vote, a miracle by UN standards happened. Although the measure ultimately failed for technical reasons, more nations voted for holding Hamas accountable with the US amendment than against it.

For the first time in the United Nations, more nations than not acknowledged that peace between Israel and the Palestinian people must be built on a foundation of truth regarding Hamas.

Haley goes on to say that this kind of realism will be part of any U.S. sponsored peace proposal. If you haven’t been keeping up with what is going on in Gaza, Israel unleashed a string of attacks on Hamas outposts after an Israeli soldier was killed by a sniper:

On Friday, a Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli soldier along the border — the first casualty it has sustained in four years — and Israel unleashed an offensive it says destroyed more than 60 Hamas targets, including three battalion headquarters. Four Palestinians were killed, of which three were Hamas militants.

“The attack delivered a severe blow to the Hamas’s training array, command and control abilities, weaponry, aerial defense and logistic capabilities along with additional military infrastructure,” the Israeli military said in a statement, adding that the strikes “will intensify as necessary.”…

In a brief statement early Saturday, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the movement accepted the cease-fire brokered by Egyptian and United Nations officials and that calm had been restored. Later, the Israeli military announced a return to civilian routine along the volatile border.

So, further escalation of the conflict has been avoided for now but there’s no telling how long it will last. While Hamas lacks the military strength to make significant strikes on Israel, its leaders continue to talk in terms of ethnic cleansing. It’s difficult to imagine making peace so long as these people are in control:

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