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July 8, 2014

The CIA launched its Twitter account in June with a humorous post ("We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet"), and that lighthearted spirit continued on Monday. To celebrate its first month on Twitter, the CIA was kind enough to answer a few burning questions, with some apparently coming from the elderly and conspiracy theorists stuck in 1996:

Not everyone found the stunt funny:

Never mind the naysayers! If you think you've got what it takes to make jokes about Tupac, you're in luck!

Catherine Garcia

10:22 a.m. ET

Among President Trump's most dramatic campaign promises was his pledge to "drain the swamp," to clear out unethical arrangements and backroom deals of all sorts in Washington, a feat made possible by Trump's outsider status.

Six months into the Trump presidency, Walter Shaub, who this month resigned as director of the United States Office of Government Ethics citing "the current situation," isn't quite sure Trump understands how "drain the swamp" works. He took to Twitter on Monday to offer an explanation:

Trump himself also had "drain the swamp" on his mind while tweeting Monday morning, suggesting that "drain the sewer" might be a more apt phrase:

To spare Shaub some time, let me go ahead and clarify that sewers already have drains — in fact, as this diagram helpfully shows, sewers are a systems of drains — while swamps are natural ecosystems known for their stagnant or slow-moving water. Bonnie Kristian

10:08 a.m. ET
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

While heaping praise on Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), White House counselor Kellyanne Conway unveiled the Trump administration's special name for those who stood by then-candidate Donald Trump in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape's release on Oct. 7. In the tape, Trump can be overheard bragging about grabbing women by their genitals. "We will always remember how tenacious and loyal Mark and Debbie Meadows were, especially after Oct. 7. They're definitely members of what we call the 'October 8th coalition,'" Conway said in an interview with the Washington Examiner published Monday.

After the tape was released, Debbie Meadows "boarded a 'Women for Trump' bus with 10 other wives of congressmen, and defended the candidate," the Washington Examiner recalled. That sort of loyalty — perhaps alongside the fact that Debbie sends Conway cookies — has given the head of House Freedom Caucus and his wife a certain power under the Trump administration. "In the final month, beginning with her boarding that bus ... in the face of a great deal of pressure to do otherwise — tells you something about their tenacity and loyalty," Conway added.

Read more on Meadows, an increasingly influential player in Trump's Washington, at The Washington Examiner. Becca Stanek

10:03 a.m. ET
Steffen Kugler /BPA via Getty Images

A New York Times story published Monday on the Russian sanctions deal made in Congress over the weekend — and President Trump's response to it — relays an anecdote from an unnamed White House aide which sees Trump accepting an argument from Russian President Vladimir Putin that Moscow could not be responsible for 2016 election meddling because Russian hackers are too competent to have their work discovered.

When "Mr. Trump met Mr. Putin in Hamburg, Germany, two weeks ago," the Times reports, Trump "emerged to tell his aides that the Russian president had offered a compelling rejoinder: Moscow's cyberoperators are so good at covert computer-network operations that if they had dipped into the Democratic National Committee's systems, they would not have been caught."

Trump seems to have believed this rationale, as new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci made the same case in his appearance on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday. Had the Kremlin hacked the DNC, "you would have never seen it," he said. "You would have never had any evidence of them, meaning that they're super-confident in their deception skills and hacking." When CNN's Jake Tapper asked Scaramucci for his source on that claim, Scaramucci cited Trump. Bonnie Kristian

9:37 a.m. ET

President Trump kicked off his week by tweeting about Russia. On Monday morning, Trump took a quote from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticizing Hillary Clinton for blaming her loss on outside factors as a suggestion that it's time to move on from the Russia investigation since "after one year of investigation" there's been "zero evidence" found.

Trump conveniently cropped out the portion of Schumer's quote about Clinton losing "to somebody with 40 percent popularity":

Trump then questioned why investigators and "beleaguered" Attorney General Jeff Sessions aren't "looking into Crooked Hillary's crimes":

Joshua Green, author of Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency, pointed out the reason Sessions is so "beleaguered" is because he "put his career on the line to endorse Trump — who has now turned on him."

Trump also took a swing at Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Trump's potential ties to Russia:

Before diving into his Russia tweetstorm, Trump tweeted out a proposed change to his signature campaign phrase: "Drain the Swamp should be changed to Drain the Sewer — it's actually much worse than anyone ever thought, and it begins with the Fake News!" Becca Stanek

8:34 a.m. ET

On Monday, a panel on Morning Joe raced to react to President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner's recently released 11-page statement denying Russian collusion. In his statement to the House and Senate intelligence committees, Kushner maintained that nothing "improper" happened during his four meetings with Russians during the presidential campaign.

NBC News' Kasie Hunt interpreted Kushner's lines as "the chaos and sloppiness defense." "Essentially Jared Kushner is explaining away, point by point, all of the concerning things and offering his version of events that essentially make things that may seem to be problematic, simply the result of somebody overlooking something, of the chaos of the campaign," Hunt said, referring to Kushner's claim that he did not fully read the email inviting him to a meeting at Trump Tower with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who claimed to have compromising information on Hillary Clinton. He also claimed he asked his assistant to call him about 10 minutes into the meeting as an "excuse to get out."

"This is to a certain extent, I think, the opening that Republicans who want find a reason to defend the president are looking to give them," Hunt said. "They're essentially saying, 'Look, there couldn't be any collusion here because nobody was in any position to collude. Everybody was drinking out of a fire hose.'"

Watch the panel's discussion below. Becca Stanek

8:01 a.m. ET

Gentlemen, if you're itching to voluntarily end your reproductive ability with a relatively painless snip, but also want to share the experience with some of your closest male friends, you're in luck: According to The Wall Street Journal, "'Brosectomies' are a thing now."

Hundreds of thousands of men get vasectomies in the U.S. each year, the American Urological Association says, noting that the procedure is faster and safer than the most analogous procedure for women, tubal ligation. Even so, there's obviously room for improvement — and for a few thousand dollars a head, men can get the $500 vasectomy, snacks or a steak dinner, maybe a stiff drink or two, and a club-like recovery lounge where they can watch sports with their similarly recovering pals.

Urologists who offer group vasectomies say they make the men more relaxed, willing to get snipped, and, anecdotally, quicker to recover. "We thought it was going to be painful," Jeb Lopez told the Journal, after a getting a vasectomy at a clubby clinic with friend Rob Ferretti, who videotaped the experience, but it was more like getting snapped with a rubber band. "After that, we were just laughing, I guess it's from the alcohol, but we had such a great time."

Megan Gerald joined her fiancé, David Dischley, at his appointment at the same clinic Lopez and Ferretti used, Obsidian Men's Health outside Washington, D.C., and she was impressed. "I gave birth to two children, and this is so easy," she told the Journal. "It's not fair!" You can watch Ferretti and Lopez laugh their way through their brosectomy, and read more about the trend at The Wall Street Journal. Peter Weber

7:31 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On Monday, House and Senate Democratic leaders will roll out the Democratic Party's newly developed economic agenda, "A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future." The agenda is a response to Democrats' disappointing performance in 2016; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has admitted "the number one thing that we did wrong is we didn't tell people what we stood for."

The middle class-focused agenda prioritizes fighting corporate overreach and proposes an extensive infrastructure plan, paid family leave, more federal funding for job training, and an independent agency to monitor prescription drug prices. "It's about reorienting government to work on behalf of people and families," Schumer wrote in an op-ed published in The New York Times.

Democratic leaders will unveil the agenda in Berryville, Virginia, the county seat of a district Democrats need to win back to gain control of the House. Becca Stanek

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