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January 12, 2017

Several Western intelligence sources say that Russia has gathered comprising personal and/or financial information on President-elect Donald Trump, according to the BBC and CNN, but BuzzFeed News' publication on Tuesday night of an unsubstantiated Trump dossier compiled by a former British MI6 agent has gotten most of the attention. And one claim in particular has captured the public imagination. On Wednesday night, Late Night's Seth Meyers and Samantha Bee at Full Frontal dove right in to this salacious claim — and yes, it's mildly NSFW, especially the Full Frontal segment.

Meyers was rightly skeptical. "Look, nobody wants to believe that Trump paid Russian hookers to pee all over a bed more than I do, but there is zero proof that happened," he said. "Plus, I find it hard to believe that Trump actually paid somebody for services rendered." He wagged his finger at BuzzFeed: "In all seriousness, I haven't been this shocked by BuzzFeed since their quiz told me I was a Carrie when I'm so obviously a Miranda." And then he made a pretty good point: "Even if Russian operatives did claim to have compromising information on Trump, you know who else does? All of us." Meyers brought up Trump boasting at his press conference Wednesday that he turned down a $2 billion deal in Dubai just this past weekend, concluding: "He wants credit for not committing an impeachable offense!"

Bee also made a joke about Trump not paying his bills, and she was similarly skeptical of the "golden shower" claim. "The only verifiable part of this report is how much joy it gave me," she said. "It also claims the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin, which would be a capital offense," she added, if anybody could stop talking about that other thing. "There's a high probability this story is bullsh-t," she said, "but the fact that it's plausible bullsh-t is a terrifying statement about what our nation has come to." The only good thing about BuzzFeed's journalistic malpractice, she said, is that maybe the juicy allegation "draws attention to the less delicious details about Russia manipulating our president." Watch below — if you don't mind crude humor. Peter Weber

10:18 a.m. ET

President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are more unpopular with voters than ever, new poll results released by Fox News reveal. A majority of voters — 53 percent — do not approve of the job Trump is doing, and 43 percent say the same of Pence.

Trump's approval rate is at 40 percent and Pence's at 42 percent, suggesting the veep's milder disapproval numbers are more about voter ignorance or uncertainty than comparative enthusiasm for his performance. Last month, an earlier Fox poll put Trump and Pence's approval ratings at 45 and 50 percent respectively.

Thursday's poll also found issues of federal spending, infrastructure, North Korea, and the fight against the Islamic State topped voters' list of concerns. On the subject of Trump's fabled border wall, 64 percent of Trump voters believe the president will follow through with his promise, while only 36 percent of all voters say the same. Bonnie Kristian

9:31 a.m. ET

Just hours after Montana GOP House candidate Greg Gianforte allegedly body-slammed a reporter Wednesday evening, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already released an ad using audio of the incident.

"What happens when you ask Greg Gianforte a question?" the ad opens. What follows is the sound of Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs being allegedly assaulted by the GOP candidate while Gianforte roars, "I'm sick and tired of you guys!"

"Greg Gianforte, charged with a crime. No business being in Congress," the ad concludes.

There is not much time for the disturbing ad to circulate, though: The Montana special election is today, and 37 percent of registered voters have already voted absentee. Jeva Lange

9:11 a.m. ET

Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough was quick to draw a line between the rhetoric of President Trump and Montana GOP candidate Greg Gianforte's apparent assault on a reporter Wednesday, on the eve of a special House election. "The fish rots, again, from the head," Scarborough said.

Scarborough added that while he is a Republican "for now," the current iteration of the party is not the one "I grew up in."

"I'm not just talking about now. I'm talking about the brutish behavior from the top. I want to hear Republicans speak out against it, starting with [House Speaker] Paul Ryan and [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell, and say this is not acceptable and, no, we do not want [Gianforte's] vote here. We want no part of this guy," Scarborough said.

But Trump was not off the hook either. "I guess the [Gianforte incident] should not be too surprising in an age of Trump, where he calls the press the 'enemy of the people,'" Scarborough said. "These reckless words have consequences." Jeva Lange

8:24 a.m. ET

Police overseeing the investigation into Monday night's suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester have stopped sharing information with American counterparts, BBC News reports, after U.S. officials allegedly leaked information about the attacker and his explosive to the press before British police wanted the information released. The Greater Manchester Police are "furious" at the leaks, BBC News says, and there is "disbelief and astonishment" across the British government at photos of the exploded bomb published in The New York Times.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she is "irritated" by the U.S. leaks, Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said late Wednesday the information leaking "troubles him" and he's "made known my concerns about it to the U.S. ambassador," and in a statement on Wednesday, Britain's National Police Chiefs' Council said such "unauthorized" disclosures undermined this "major counter-terrorism investigation" and breached bonds of trust. Prime Minister Theresa May said, when she arrives in Brussels Thursday, "I will make clear to President Trump that intelligence shared between our security agencies must remain secure."

Britain has arrested nine people in connection with the attack, with eight still in custody, and Libyan authorities detained attacker Salman Abedi's father and younger brother. Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said Wednesday that "it's very clear that this is a network that we are investigating."

"The police decision to stop sharing information specifically about the Manchester attack with their security counterparts in the U.S. is a hugely significant move and shows how angry British authorities are," says BBC home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani. "The information from the crime scene wasn't shared on a whim: The British and Americans have a lot of shared world-leading expertise in improvised explosive devices and scientists would be discussing whether the Manchester device tells them something new that could, ultimately, track down a bombmaker." Other British officials said Americans also leaked key information too early after the last major terrorist attack in Britain, back in July 2005. Peter Weber

8:10 a.m. ET
STEPHANIE LECOCQ/AFP/Getty Images

If you've been following President Trump's obsession with his election win, it should come as no surprise that he is boasting about it to world leaders while abroad, too.

Trump reportedly "brought up [the] size of his election victory" at the European Union headquarters with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday morning, an EU official said.

Ahead of Trump's trip, world leaders were reportedly advised to "praise" Trump's Electoral College win. Trump had compliments for more than just himself, though: Upon meeting French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump admired the new president's "incredible campaign" and "tremendous victory." Jeva Lange

7:37 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Montana goes to the polls Thursday to vote in a special election for the House seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. On the ballot is Democrat Rob Quist, a folk singer, and Republican multimillionaire Greg Gianforte, who has consistently led the polls despite Quist's recent gains.

The race, described by Gianforte as "closer than it should be," is an uncomfortable repeat for Republicans of a close, but ultimately Republican-won, special election in Kansas. Elections like Montana's could indicate how a deeply unpopular president in the White House could influence Republican victories nationwide in 2018.

Complicating matters, Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault for attacking a reporter on Wednesday; 37 percent of registered voters have already voted absentee, the Billings Gazette reports. Read more about Quist's chance to win the deep-red state here at The Week. Jeva Lange

6:59 a.m. ET

On Thursday in Brussels, President Trump will meet for the first time with leaders of the European Union and NATO, the 27-member alliance he once dismissed as "obsolete." Trump arrived in Brussels on Wednesday, after a stop in Italy, and after meeting at the European Union headquarters with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday morning, Trump will have a private lunch with new French President Emmanuel Macron then gather with fellow NATO leaders.

Trump says he wants to get a NATO commitment to join the fight against the Islamic State, and NATO will almost certainly agree, though some members won't commit military support to the ISIS fight. Trump will also likely ask NATO members to commit to higher military spending, while other nations will be looking for a firm commitment from Trump to support NATO's Article 5 collective-defense pledge. Some 9,000 protesters greeted Trump when he landed in Brussels, and more protests are planned for Thursday, though tight security means the president won't have to confront them. Late Thursday, Trump departs for Sicily and a G-7 summit, the final leg of his overseas trip. You can watch Trump arrive at EU headquarters below. Peter Weber

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