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December 24, 2017

President Trump went after FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe in a series of tweets Saturday and Sunday, accusing him of corruption in the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email server:

In subsequent tweets he referenced reports of McCabe's forthcoming retirement and quoted Fox News as saying McCabe promoted the Clinton campaign with his government email account:

McCabe is expected to retire after he becomes eligible for his pension in 2018. This is not the first time Trump has targeted him for criticism, but, as a career civil servant, he cannot be fired by the president.

McCabe's wife, Dr. Jill McCabe, did receive $450,000 for a 2015 state legislature campaign from a PAC run by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who was co-chair of Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign and chair of Hillary Clinton's run in 2008. However, Andrew McCabe did not have oversight of the Clinton emails investigation until after his wife lost her race, and while she was running the FBI said he "implemented a system of recusal from all FBI investigative matters involving Virginia politics" to avoid conflicts of interest.

Read more about what money Jill McCabe took from whom here at The Week. Bonnie Kristian

8:57 a.m.

The world of Hawkins, Indiana is about to turn upside down — again.

Netflix on Wednesday debuted the first trailer for the third season of Stranger Things, which teases a summer theme, trouble for one particular character, and a downright horrifying new creature.

After an extended opening sequence in which the gang uses Eleven's powers to play a prank on Dustin, we see footage of the kids living it up over the summer after two seasons set during the fall. But they're getting older, as the trailer makes abundantly clear when Mike defensively declares, "we're not kids anymore." It seems something will threaten to tear the group apart during the season, with Will looking wistfully at a photo of a more innocent time — that time being season 2.

The trailer also teases the introduction of a new mall in Hawkins, which promises to be a central location, as well as a new character in Mayor Kline, played by Cary Elwes. But what's the season's central conflict? Well, the trailer features a brief shot of Billy Hargrove in the shower with some sort of infection on his arm, and it concludes with Steve being confronted by a horrifying new creature, which looks like the Demogorgon mixed with the Blob. Could that infection have actually transformed Billy into this monster? Or might Billy become possessed much like Will was last season?

We'll find out when the third season of Stranger Things premieres on July 4. Watch the trailer below. Brendan Morrow

8:18 a.m.

President Trump has angrily tweeted about the husband of one of his advisers for two days in a row.

Trump on Wednesday tweeted that George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, is "very jealous of his wife's success" and "angry" he wasn't given a job "he so desperately wanted." Trump also called Conway a "stone cold loser" and a "husband from hell!"

George Conway is a vocal Trump critic and has recently been suggesting the president's mental state is a serious cause for concern and likely indicative of a personality disorder. Trump had been advised to ignore Conway's tweeting, reports AP's Jonathan Lemire, but the president ignored that advice on Tuesday, lashing out at Conway by calling him a "total loser!"

This prompted Conway to speak with The Washington Post later in the day, detailing a number of interactions he's had with the president and saying Trump offered him a job at the Justice Department which he turned down. The Post also reported that Kellyanne Conway "went on a lengthy rant about her husband" at an event last month, saying "she and the president think her husband is jealous of her."

Conway responded to Trump's latest tweet on Wednesday morning by writing, "You seem determined to prove my point. Good for you! #NarcissisticPersonalityDisorder." Brendan Morrow

7:48 a.m.

After President Trump went after late Senator John McCain once again, some Republicans in the Senate are speaking out.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) is the latest to do so, telling The Bulwark that Trump's comments about McCain "drive me crazy" and that "America deserves better." This comes after Trump in the Oval Office on Tuesday criticized McCain, who died of brain cancer in 2018, saying his vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act was "disgraceful" and that "I was never a fan of John McCain, and I never will be." Trump's also went after McCain three different times on Twitter over the weekend, including retweeting a follower who wrote, "We hated McCain."

In response, Isakson said "nobody — regardless of their position — is above common decency and respect for people that risk their life for your life." He argued that when Trump makes comments like these, "all these kids are out there listening to the president of the United States talk that way about the most decorated senator in history who is dead, [and it] just sets the worst tone possible."

This isn't Isakson's last word on the subject, as he told The Bulwark he will speak against these attacks on McCain on Wednesday and will "lay it on the line."

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) previously pushed back on Trump's attacks on McCain on Tuesday, tweeting that he "can't understand" why Trump would "disparage a man as exemplary as my friend John McCain." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also praised McCain amid the president's criticism, saying "nothing about his service will ever be changed or diminished," although unlike Romney's post, Graham's tweets didn't mention Trump. Brendan Morrow

7:27 a.m.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was sworn in Wednesday as Kazakhstan's interim president after longtime ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev's surprise resignation on Tuesday. Nazarbayev, 78, has led Kazakhstan since 1989, two years before it became an independent nation after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Tokayev, a 65-year-old former diplomat who was previously the speaker of the Kazakh Senate, will serve out the rest of Nazarbayev's term until 2020.

After being sworn in, Tokayev immediately proposed changing the name of the capital, Astana, to Nursultan in honor of Nazarbayev, and he appointed Nazarbayev's oldest daughter, Dariga, as Senate speaker, putting her first in line for the presidency. It is unclear if either Tokayev or Dariga Nazarbayeva will run for president in the next election, but there has been speculation for years that Nazarbayev was grooming his daughter to take his place.

The younger "Nazarbayeva, a 55-year-old mother of three, has in the past led Kazakhstan's main television station and served as a deputy prime minister, while also devoting time to her passion for opera — which she has performed publicly," Reuters notes.

Her father, meanwhile, isn't giving up power. Last year, with assent from Parliament and the constitutional court, Nazarbayev became leader-for-life of the powerful Security Council, and he will also remain head of the ruling party. "Nazarbayev is not stepping down; he is stepping up," said Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Center in Moscow.

Nazarbayev "has been widely praised for maintaining stability and ethnic peace in Kazakhstan, a large, oil-rich nation south of Russia and west of China," The Associated Press reports. "Even though he has faced criticism for marginalizing the political opposition and creating what is effectively a one-party state, the political regime that Nazarbayev has built is more liberal than those in the de-facto dictatorships in the neighboring Central Asian countries." Peter Weber

6:12 a.m.

Mozambique began three days of mourning on Wednesday for the hundreds killed by Cyclone Idai, which caused what emergency workers are calling the most destructive flooding in southern Africa in 20 years. The death toll stands at more than 200 in Mozambique, 98 in Zimbabwe, and 56 in Malawi, but the final number of dead is expected to top 1,000. "The full horror, the full impact is only going to emerge over coming days," Red Cross spokesman Matthew Cochrane said in Geneva.

The Red Cross says at least 400,000 people have likely lost their homes in central Mozambique, where flooding has covered an area of more than 150 square miles. The cyclone destroyed up to 90 percent of Mozambique's second-largest port, Beira, a city of 500,000 that also provides access to landlocked countries in the region.

The European Union and Britain have pledged financial and other aid, and the U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe said America was "mobilizing to provide support" to partners in the three affected nations, but provided no details. You can learn more and see images of the flooding in the CBS News report below. Peter Weber

5:07 a.m.

President Trump and George Conway are now in open warfare on Twitter, and Stephen Colbert not unhappily listed some of Conway's critiques of Trump that led to this point, including that Trump "administration is like a like a s--tshow in a dumpster fire." That's especially "awkward," Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show, because Conway's wife, Kellyanne Conway, "is one of the flaming trash pile's star turd jugglers."

"But not everyone loves Twitter as much as the president," Colbert said, pointing at the $250 million lawsuit Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) filed against Twitter for allowing accounts to insult him. Nunes specifically complained about two parody accounts, @DevinNunesMom and @DevinCow, and he included some of the offending tweets. "The only time you can see jokes that crushing is every time you finish a popsicle," Colbert said. And trying to get in on that sweet parody-account action — @ColbertCow went from 1,200 followers to 154,000 and counting after the lawsuit — Colbert unveiled his own, @DevinNunesSkin. "Still thin," he said. "Devin, we look forward to your lawsuit."

Jimmy Kimmel called Nunes "captain of the Donald Trump Fan Club" and "that one zit on the end of your nose that keeps coming back," and he was similarly baffled at the lawsuit. "He is literally suing an imaginary cow," he said on Jimmy Kimmel Live. "And maybe the craziest part of all ... last Congress, Devin Nunes cosponsored a bill called the 'Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act.' And now he's suing a cow. It's almost like he's a hypocrite." Kimmel insincerely begged people not to follow @DevinCow on Twitter.

The Daily Show's Trevor Noah made a show of following @NunesCow. "What a snowflake," he said. "Look, man, I think it's terrible when kids are bullied online, but as a grown man, this should not be a problem for you." He helpfully explained to Nunes how to block trolls and avoid clicking on his mentions. Watch that, and some jokes about Patriots owner Robert Kraft and pigeons, below. Peter Weber

3:41 a.m.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a Monday afternoon phone briefing on his trip to the Middle East and "international religious freedom." But the one member of the State Department press corps invited to participate in the call was "un-invited after RSVPing," told the call was for "faith-based media only," CNN reports. The State Department said it won't release a transcript of the call or a list of participating outlets, and "officials would not answer questions about whether a range of faiths was included."

On Tuesday, Religion News Service listed some of the participants in the call: Jewish Telegraphic Agency (Jewish), Algemeiner (Jewish), World Magazine (evangelical Christian), America Magazine (Catholic), The Leaven (Catholic — Kansas City archdiocese), and Religion News Service ("a secular news service that covers religion, spirituality, and ethics").

A participant in the call shared a transcript with reporters on Tuesday evening, showing that "Pompeo faced questions about the Israeli election, terrorism, and the omission of the word 'occupied' when describing the Golan Heights and the West Bank," CNN reports. In a subsequent briefing with the traveling press corps, CNN says, Pompeo "was asked similar questions and provided similar responses."

Former State Department spokesman Jack Kirby told CNN it's "inappropriate and irresponsible" not to release the transcript of "any on-the-record interview in which a Cabinet official participates," and excluding "beat reporters from something as universally relevant as religious freedom in the Middle East strikes me as not only self-defeating but incredibly small-minded."

The Trump administration is expected to unveil its long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan after Israel's election, and earlier this month the White House hosted a group of evangelical Christian leaders "to reassure them about the plan," Axios reported. Pompeo declined to comment on the White House's outreach in Monday's call, RNS reports, but he said a "broad base of people" will be briefed, and "as an evangelical Christian myself, I've always understood the centrality of that place." Peter Weber

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