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November 3, 2016
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FBI Director James Comey's decision to send a letter to Congress about potentially new emails related to the Hillary Clinton email server investigation has been met with backlash by Republicans and Democrats alike. Concerns grew so rampant that White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest had to clarify that "the president doesn't believe that Director Comey is intentionally trying to influence the outcome of an election. The president doesn't believe that he's secretly strategizing to benefit one candidate or one political party."

In the midst of all of this, though, the FBI has begun an internal investigation into its own Twitter account, ThinkProgress has learned. The issue comes down to @FBIRecordsVault, "the official FBI Records Management Division Twitter." The account hadn't tweeted anything for over a year until Oct. 30 at 4 a.m., when it linked to a bunch of documents, including one about Donald Trump's father, labeling him a "philanthropist." Two days later, the Records Vault account "tweeted documents regarding President Clinton's controversial pardon of Marc Rich," ThinkProgress writes.

The account has not been active since that tweet.

ThinkProgress has learned that the FBI's Inspection Division will undertake an investigation of the account.

Candice Will, Assistant Director for the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility, said she was referring the matter to the FBI's Inspection Division for an "investigation." Upon completion of the investigation, the Office of Professional Responsibility will be referred back to the Office of Professional Responsibility for "adjudication."

Federal law and FBI policy prohibit employees from using the power of the department to attempt to influence elections. [ThinkProgress]

The FBI responded to the controversy with a statement: "Per the standard procedure for FOIA, these materials became available for release and were posted automatically and electronically to the FBI's public reading room in accordance with the law and established procedures."

The department has reportedly been plagued with infighting about how to handle the renewed Clinton email scandal. Jeva Lange

5:40 a.m. ET
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On Wednesday, Taiwan's Constitutional Court recognized a legal right to same-sex marriage, ruling that the parts of the civil code that prohibits such unions violate the country's constitution. The justices gave lawmakers two years to change the laws to permit same-sex marriage, or they will be come de facto legal. Both main political parties, President Tsai Ing-Wen, and a majority of the public support same-sex marriage, so amending the law shouldn't be too heavy a lift.

Still, "it's still unclear how far parliament will go," says BBC News Taipei correspondent Cindy Sui. There is also significant opposition from religious and traditionalist voters to making Taiwan the first Asian nation to permit same-sex marriage, and the legislature could give gay couples full rights, civil unions, limited marriage rights, or take no action at all. Peter Weber

5:04 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, the White House released President Trump's first budget, titled "A New Foundation for American Greatness." That's "slightly grandiose for a financial document," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "That's like calling a grocery list 'A Bold Vision for Yogurt and Dog Food.'" And the foundation? he said. Trump is apparently building it "out of the ground-up bones of poor people."

The budget calls for slashing funding for food stamps (SNAP) and a children's health insurance plan (CHIP), for example. "So he's cutting SNAP and CHIP, to which America's children replied, 'Stop' and 'Help,'" Colbert said. "I know this is an unpopular position these days, but I believe children should go to the doctor and eat. Where do I find the courage?" But the budget isn't just aimed at children and the poor, it's also "filled with brutal, senseless cuts to medical research," including 19 percent from the National Cancer Institute, Colbert said, as the crowed booed. "Listen, Trump said we'd be sick of winning, and he is ready to deliver on the first half of that sentence."

"Speaking of things that keep spreading, the Russia investigation is only getting worse for the president," Colbert said, mentioning Monday's revelations that Trump apparently also asked the NSA chief and director of national intelligence to quash the Russia investigation, and translating former CIA chief John Brennan's very boring testimony to a House committee on Tuesday: "Basically, he's saying he knows that Russia tried to recruit members of the Trump campaign, he's not sure if they did. That's like saying: 'We know the mob tried to cut your brake cables, we just don't know if they succeeded — here are the keys, have a great drive!'"

"While he's been overseas, the president has not been tweeting as much," Colbert noted. "I assume it's because he's too cheap to pay for data roaming." But it also might be because last week, Trump's aides reportedly staged a Twitter "intervention." Colbert was mock-horrified: "You can't take Twitter away from Trump! That's like taking the nudity away from Game of Thrones — it's the reason why we watch the show." Apparently, this particular Twittervention "included White House staff only, but there are plenty of us who have been deeply affected President Trump's tweets," Colbert said, "so I just want to take a second to speak to President Trump personally." You can hear his intervention below. Peter Weber

4:04 a.m. ET

President Trump arrived at the Vatican on Wednesday, and "he's so excited to finally meet Jude Law," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday night's Late Show. "Now, Rome is the third leg of Trump's tour of some of the world's major holy sites, and if I did not know any better, I would say that Donald Trump is really trying to get in touch with God here." "God" appeared on the Late Show ceiling. "You got that right, Stephen," he said.

"Lord, how do you feel about Trump going to all these holy sites around the world?" Colbert asked. "You pray with three major religions in one week?" the ceiling deity replied. "I don't know, it seems a little needy." Colbert asked if "God" could disclose what Trump prayed for at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and "God" demurred: "Sorry, Stephen. Unlike some people, I don't give away top secret information from Israel." Still, it must be flattering getting all this attention, Colbert said, and God said no, not at all: "This whole thing's just a distraction from the Russia scandal. I mean, Trump even asked me if I could get James Comey to stop the FBI investigation." Did he? Watch below. Peter Weber

3:42 a.m. ET
Alessandra Tarantino/AFP/Getty Images

On Wednesday morning at the Vatican, President Trump held a 30-minute private meeting with Pope Francis in his studio; both men brought translators. Before the meeting, a smiling Trump and pope shook hands for the cameras, and Trump said it was "a great honor" to be there. After their meeting, Pope Francis and Trump exchanged gifts — the pope gave Trump copies of his three main papal writings and a medallion by a Roman artist that he called a symbol of peace; Trump gave Francis a first-edition set of writings from Martin Luther King Jr. and a piece of granite from Washington's Martin Luther King. Jr. Memorial — and the pope left for his weekly audience with the public in St. Peter's Square.

"Those arriving for the regular papal audience were almost clueless to the fact that mere feet away from an encounter between the heads of the world's biggest temporal superpower and its biggest spiritual superpower," reports Inés San Martín at Crux. "Big groups dressed for the occasion with matching T-shirts and baseball caps, streaming into St. Peter's Square even as Trump's motorcade was entering the Vatican through a side door known as the 'Peruggino.' This was the pope's one request, and it was done solely so that it wouldn't disrupt those going into the square: instead of coming in through the famous Via della Conciliazione that leads to St. Peter's Square, the motorcade took a side route ... using an entrance next to the pope's residence, Santa Marta."

Trump and his entourage were also treated to a tour of the Vatican, including the Sistine Chapel. Peter Weber

3:03 a.m. ET

Not all popular music from the 1980s has withstood the scrutiny of time and tastes. But 30 years ago, U2 released Joshua Tree, the album that made them the No. 1 band in the world and a household name, and the were on Tuesday night's Jimmy Kimmel Live to talk about it. They discussed the album cover, and how they used the same photographer for the backdrop on their current tour, and then they literally pushed Jimmy Kimmel out of the way and played "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Watch and enjoy below. Peter Weber

2:41 a.m. ET

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived at the Vatican on Wednesday morning for their meeting with Pope Francis, and the first lady was wearing a mantilla, or lace head scarf covering her hair.

Fussing over the fashion choices of presidential wives is pretty silly, but it is worth noting — as Trump did with Michelle Obama — that women in Saudi Arabia are legally required to cover their heads, and neither Obama nor Melania and Ivanka Trump did so on their visits to the Muslim kingdom. Women are not required or generally encouraged to cover their head in the Catholic Church.

Ivanka Trump, a convert to Orthodox Judaism, wore a head-scarf at the Vatican, too. Peter Weber

2:24 a.m. ET

"President Trump made a lot of promises throughout his campaign, and in general he kept them very simple, as evidenced by their ability to be expressed in three-sylable chants," Seth Meyers said on Tuesday's Late Night. There was "build that wall" and "lock her up," but the one chant "that really summed up the mission statement of the Trump campaign" was "drain the swamp," Meyers said. So how's the swamp-draining going? Would you believe, not great?

In October, Trump explained that, like Frank Sinatra and "My Way," he hated the "drain the swamp" phrase but grew to love it when the crowd lapped it up. "The problem with the Trump analogy is that Sinatra was singing a song in hopes that people would like it, whereas Trump was making a promise that he would have to follow through on," Meyers said. "And so far, he has not." In fact, he has merely stocked it with different, arguably worse creatures, he said. "It seems a more accurate three-word campaign promise would have been 'Run! Swamp monsters!'"

Trump did create new rules to prohibit lobbyists from working in his administration, but several transition officials jumped through the gaping loopholes, other administration officials have reportedly been given secret waivers, and others are just calling themselves "consultants" instead of lobbyists. "So, as usual with Trump, his insistence on changing the way Washington works was overhyped, mainly just empty promises and all talk," Meyers said. Watch below. Peter Weber

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