CNN's Chris Cuomo grills GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz on how missing FBI texts are the 'greatest coincidence since the Immaculate Conception'
Why are Republicans dragging the Holy Family into their political fights? In November, Alabama's state auditor used the relationship between Mary and Joseph to justify failed Senate candidate Roy Moore's alleged sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old girl, and on Fox News Wednesday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) called the five-month gap in FBI agent Peter Strzok's text messages "the greatest coincidence since the Immaculate Conception."
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) says he believes the Justice Department's explanation that the texts were lost due to a "technical glitch" when the FBI upgraded agents' phones, but Gaetz isn't buying it. On CNN Wednesday night, Chris Cuomo was interested in Gaetz's "Immaculate Conception" metaphor. "I mean that's one hell of a coincidence, because it's precisely the time someone would be hatching a conspiracy, meeting with their secret society," Gaetz explained. When Cuomo laughed at his "secret society" line, Gaetz pointed to Strzok's texting partner. "That was Lisa Page's text!" he said. "She said that we need to be able to get together and have our 'secret society' meeting." (She didn't.)
Cuomo got back to the important question: The Immaculate Conception? "Look, I was making a point that this is an absurd coincidence," Gaetz said, and when Cuomo pressed him again, he asked, "Look, did you really bring me on to discuss my religious views, Chris? I'm a Christian. I believe that the Immaculate Conception was how Jesus was born." Cuomo could have pointed to Gaetz's obvious, heretical implication that Mary conceived Jesus the non-immaculate way, but instead he decided to Sunday-school him. "It was Mary's conception," Cuomo said. "It was the mother's conception without original sin. It was not the conception of Jesus."
Well, someone paid attention in catechism class. "Facts matter, congressman," Cuomo said, in a dubious reference to St. Anne's sexual relationship with her husband. "If you're going to make an analogy, at least know what you're talking about." Peter Weber
Facebook has removed 652 pages, groups, and accounts that originated in Iran and Russia and meant to covertly spread political content to users in the United States, United Kingdom, Latin America, and the Middle East, the company announced Tuesday.
They were in violation of Facebook's terms of service due to "coordinated inauthentic behavior." These campaigns were separate and Facebook has not been able to find any connection between them, but they used "similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing," Facebook said in a blog post.
Cybersecurity experts were able to determine that some of the pages were linked to Iranian state media, and others to Russian military intelligence services. The Iranian accounts were able to spend more than $12,000 on ads and hosted more than 20 events, Facebook said, and also attempted to spread malware. Catherine Garcia
Hours after Manafort conviction and Cohen's guilty plea, supporters chant 'lock her up' at Trump rally
It was not a good day for President Trump — his former campaign chairman was found guilty of eight counts of financial fraud and his former personal lawyer and fixer pleaded guilty to eight counts of financial crimes — but he was able to take solace in a familiar cry emanating from a crowd of supporters Tuesday night in West Virginia.
Trump came to West Virginia to drum up support for Republican candidates like Patrick Morrisey for Senate. Morrisey, West Virginia's state attorney general, joined him onstage, and mentioned that his opponent Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) once said nice things about Hillary Clinton. As soon as her name escaped his lips, the crowd began chanting, "Lock her up! Lock her up!"
But before you think this was the night's only moment of irony, the crowd later started in on another common refrain, shouting, "Drain the swamp! Drain the swamp!" Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia
On same day Trump's campaign chairman was convicted of crimes and his former lawyer pleaded guilty of crimes while implicating the president in them, Trump supporters break out in "lock her up!" chants. pic.twitter.com/2a3HgleQal
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 21, 2018
Apparently a guilty plea is not enough to get a reaction out of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey asked Ryan's office for their reaction to President Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleading guilty on Tuesday to eight counts of financial crimes. Their response was...this: "We are aware of Mr. Cohen's guilty plea to these serious charges. We will need more information than is currently available at this point."
The information that is currently available includes Cohen admitting he made hush payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, two women who said they had affairs with Trump, "in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office" with the "purpose of influencing the election." Catherine Garcia
On Tuesday, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and his wife and former campaign manager, Margaret, were indicted on charges of wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations, and conspiracy.
The Department of Justice has spent more than a year investigating the Hunters. It's alleged that they misused $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and filed false campaign finance records. Several charges on a campaign credit card have come under scrutiny, including dental work and airline fare for his family's pet rabbit. He has maintained his innocence, and said any charges were accidental.
Federal Election Commission records show that after Hunter was questioned about money spent on video games in 2016, he reimbursed his campaign account $65,000, CNN reports. The Hunters are set to be arraigned Thursday morning in San Diego. Catherine Garcia
President Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to eight counts of financial crimes, something his own lawyer said he needed to do "so that his family can move on to the next chapter."
On Twitter, Lanny Davis said that Cohen is "fulfilling his promise made on July 2nd to put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump." In a follow-up tweet, Davis said Cohen "stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?"
Two of the charges are in connection with payments Cohen made before the 2016 presidential election to two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who said they had affairs with Trump. In his plea agreement, Cohen said he made those payments "in coordination with an at the direction of a candidate for federal office" with the "purpose of influencing the election." Catherine Garcia
What do you get when you mix two ex-Trumpers with 16 "guilties?" A whole bunch of Democrats saying, "I told you so."
On Tuesday afternoon, President Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts of financial crimes. Minutes later, a jury delivered eight guilty verdicts to ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. And all the while, Democratic lawmakers seemed to be stockpiling tweets — and bills — to fire back.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) kicked things off after Cohen's guilty pleas were reported, tweeting that this "MOST SUCCESSFUL WITCH HUNT EVER." Correction: "MOST TREMENDOUSLY SUCCESSFUL WITCH HUNT EVER," Lieu tweeted again after Manafort was found guilty.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tweeted that the corruption surrounding President Trump's ex-allies is "getting really, really serious," while Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) delivered this scathing blow:
Today's verdict puts a decisive end to @realDonaldTrump's fiction that the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt. I call on @SenateMajLdr to bring the Senate Judiciary Committee's bipartisan bill to protect the Special Counsel and his investigation to the Senate floor for a vote.
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) August 21, 2018
And in the true definition of proactivity, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had earlier Tuesday introduced an anti-corruption bill that would ban Americans from working as lobbyists for foreign governments — the exact issue that got Manafort in trouble in the first place. Warren touted her impeccable timing in a tweet, urging Congress to pass her law "so we never see another snake like Paul Manafort again."
Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is getting some much-needed style advice. Kathryn Krawczyk
Well, I'm going to go ahead and mark this down as a sentence I never thought I'd read. https://t.co/1aELPooXJD
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) August 21, 2018
President Trump on Tuesday had little to say about his former colleagues' legal issues.
Speaking to reporters on the tarmac after landing in West Virginia for a rally, Trump said he felt "very badly for Paul Manafort," his former campaign chairman who was found guilty of eight counts of financial fraud.
He called the situation "very sad," reports CNN, though he did distance himself from Manafort. "It doesn't involve me," he said of the conviction, "but it's a very sad thing that happened." He added that the conviction has "nothing to do with Russian collusion." Trump referred to the fact that Manafort was prosecuted by attorneys on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, tasked with investigating the Trump campaign's possible involvement with Russian election interference. "This started as Russian collusion, this has absolutely nothing to do [with it]," said Trump. "It was not the original mission, believe me." The president condemned the ongoing "witch hunt," his nickname for the federal probe that has turned up charges for four of his former campaign officials.
On Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, the president had even fewer words. Trump reportedly ignored reporters' questions about Cohen's guilty plea on eight counts of financial crimes such as campaign finance violations and tax fraud.