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February 2, 2018

The Democratic National Committee had a rough 2017, plagued by leadership troubles, internal squabbling, and unflattering reports. To top it off, the party ended the year "dead broke," says The Intercept's Ryan Grim.

The Democratic Party is carrying more than $6 million in debt, according to year-end filings — and has just $6.5 million in the bank. Do the math, and the party is working with just over $400,000 overall. Meanwhile, the Republicans are swimming in pools of money. The Republican National Committee had raised $132 million by the end of 2017 — about twice as much as the DNC — and entered 2018 with almost $40 million to spare, with not a penny of debt.

The DNC's rebuttal, The Washington Post reports, is that they raised more money in 2017 than they have in previous non-election years and were operating at something of a disadvantage given the "rebuilding job" undertaken by first-year chairman Tom Perez. While the DNC claims it is not borrowing money to pay the bills, Grim notes that the party would be operating at a financial loss if not for its borrowing.

If there is any cause for Democratic optimism, it's that individual Democratic candidates seem to be doing well for themselves even as the national party apparatus struggles. NBC News reported Thursday that nearly 50 non-incumbent Democrats running for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections outraised their Republican opponents in the last quarter of 2017. Kelly O'Meara Morales

4:41 p.m.

Harsher words have never been tweeted.

On Tuesday, a very confusing thread popped up on the account of U.K. Independent MP Jared O'Hara. It was seemingly written in the third person, calling "Jared" the "most disgustingly morally bankrupt person I have ever had the displeasure of working with." And that was far from the most incendiary comment in the thread.

The thread goes on to accuse O'Mara of having a "vile, inexcusable contempt for the people who voted you in" and relays the authors' fears that O'Mara will close down his whole office "once again" after this thread. The tweet's author then finally reveals himself as Gareth Arnold, whose Twitter bio says he "use to work for an MP."

O'Mara has had a troubled two years in Parliament, quickly coming under fire for misogynist and homophobic comments he made online long before his election. He soon resigned from the Labour party and became an independent. In April, he temporarily shut down his office after most of his staffers quit or were fired — something Arnald referenced in his tweets.

The thread stayed up for more than an hour, likely because of this reason Arnold tweeted from his own account. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:47 p.m.

In addition to the risks of nasty sunburns or shark attacks that we all think of when summer comes, new research suggests we might want to add another risk onto our radar: that of drug addiction.

A new study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine on Tuesday, shed light on a disturbing trend, revealing that people are more likely to try a drug for the first time during summer. In some cases, that's just a teenager trying marijuana for the first time; but other instances aren't so harmless. The study found that a third of LSD use, 30 percent of ecstasy use, and 28 percent of cocaine use began during the summer months.

So why summer? Some of it might have to do with the fact that school isn't in session. Having a sudden influx of free time can lead to "a slight but consistent increase" in young people's willingness to try new drugs, CNN reported. But the change isn't restricted just to teenagers: Adults, too, may have more exposure to situations where they might be offered drugs. "If you're going out, maybe just because of the warmer weather, you might be hanging out with people more," explained Joseph Palamar, the study's lead author. Simply being around other people, at places like the beach or a music festival, can increase your risk of being offered drugs.

Unfortunately, summer weather can make it unsafe to try drugs for the first time: "If you try ecstasy on a whim, and you're drunk, and you're dancing in 90-degree weather, that is dangerous," Palamar said. Because drugs can have unexpected effects on the body, taking them without planning ahead can be especially risky.

Read more about this strange seasonal trend at CNN. Shivani Ishwar

3:39 p.m.

Article II of the United States Constitution bestows executive power on the office of the presidency. For example, the article establishes the president as the commander-in-chief of the military and grants the office the power of pardons. But it's also sandwiched between Articles I and III, which are the foundations for the powers of the legislative and judiciary branches. You know, the whole checks and balances thing. It's unclear, however, if President Trump understands this.

During a speech at Turning Point USA's Teen Action Summit, Trump played his usual hits. But while railing against the Democrats for their "witch hunt" into 2016 Russian election interference and alleged obstruction of justice, Trump mentioned that he has "an Article II," which would allow him to do whatever he pleases.

But rest assured, he said he doesn't "even talk about that."

Trump has, in fact, talked about it on more than one occasion, often in the context of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

It appears that Trump usually brings up Article II when he's arguing that he could have fired Mueller and didn't. As The Washington Post's Aaron Blake pointed out, Trump might not actually think he has wide-reaching, unchecked powers as president — just that he could have put an end to the investigation. Whatever he believes, he's managed to get everyone talking about it. Tim O'Donnell

3:37 p.m.

Six months after airing the hit documentary series Surviving R. Kelly, Lifetime is tackling the Jeffrey Epstein case.

The network on Tuesday announced its new documentary Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, which comes after the financier earlier this month was arrested and hit with sex trafficking charges as prosecutors say he sexually abused dozens of underage girls. The series will examine how Epstein "used his money and connections to wealthy and powerful people to allegedly shield predatory behavior with girls," reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Lifetime's Surviving R. Kelly, which delved into the years of sexual abuse allegations against the R&B singer and interviewed some of his alleged victims, brought renewed outrage to the case and was a ratings hit for the network. The month after it aired, Kelly was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and he was recently arrested on additional federal sex crime charges. Page Six recently reported that these federal charges came "after a Homeland Security Investigations agent watched the Lifetime series Surviving R. Kelly." Kelly has denied the allegations.

Prior to his recent arrest, Epstein previously pleaded guilty to prostitution charges in Florida but ultimately only served 13 months, during which time he was allowed to leave for hours a day. New criticism over the controversial plea deal offered to Epstein led to the recent resignation of President Trump's former Labor Secretary, Alex Acosta, a former Florida prosecutor.

The announcement of Surviving Jeffrey Epstein came during the Television Critics Association press tour, during which Lifetime also announced a film based on the college admissions scandal as well as a follow-up to Surviving R. Kelly itself called The Aftermath. A+E Networks President Rob Sharenow, Deadline reports, touted the network on Tuesday as providing a "platform for women to have their voices heard." Brendan Morrow

3:02 p.m.

The NAACP just gave a huge boost to the impeachment train.

On Tuesday at its annual convention, the NAACP announced its delegates had unanimously voted to call for the impeachment of President Trump. The vote comes a day after the convention heard from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and it clearly decided to follow Tlaib's point of view.

The NAACP is America's oldest and largest civil rights organization, and has 10 presidential candidates slated to speak at its annual convention tomorrow. But it has already heard from Tlaib, who insisted Monday that she's "not going nowhere, not until I impeach this president." Tlaib has long advocated for Trump's impeachment, including with some NSFW terms. Pelosi also spoke on Monday, but didn't touch the topic she's so far declined to endorse. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:16 p.m.

Lawyers for Cesar Sayoc, who pleaded guilty to mailing pipe bombs to critics of President Trump last year, characterized him in a new sentencing memo as a religious Fox News viewer whose views were influenced by the network.

Sayoc is described in the defense filing as someone with "severe learning disabilities" who was "abandoned by his father and sexually abused by a teacher" and "lost everything in the Great Recession," ABC News reports. "In this darkness, Mr. Sayoc found light in Donald J. Trump," Sayoc's lawyers said.

The filing goes on to detail Sayoc becoming obsessed with Trump on a personal level and beginning to watch Fox News — especially Fox & Friends and Hannity — "religiously," in addition to following pro-Trump Facebook groups, The Washington Post reports. These groups pushed "the idea that Trump's critics were dangerous, unpatriotic, and evil" and that Democrats are "murderous, terroristic, and violent," and "Fox News furthered these arguments," the lawyers say.

The lawyers go on to cite a specific segment from Hannity in which the Fox News host described prominent Democrats as "encouraging mob violence against their political opponents," which came in response to former Attorney General Eric Holder saying, "When they go low, we kick them."

Because Sayoc lived in isolation, the filing also says, he had no one to "puncture his alternative reality" and "truly believed wild conspiracy theories" that he heard not only online, but from Fox News and Trump himself. "He began to consider Democrats as not just dangerous in theory, but immediately and seriously dangerous to his personal safety," the filing says, per HuffPost. "President Trump did nothing to dissuade this message."

Sayoc's defense is asking for the minimum sentence of 121 months in prison. The Week Staff

2:06 p.m.

The Trump administration struck a deal with House Democrats on Monday that has drawn the ire of conservatives analysts.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), outlets like The National Review and The Washington Examiner, and think tanks like the Heritage Foundation have all lambasted the agreement because it would increase spending levels by $320 billion. Yet there is a sense that it represents the fall of a deficit-slashing Republican party.

The deal is a far cry from when the Tea Party dominated Republican budget rhetoric, writes Philip Klein of the Examiner. Klein argues that while Trump once vowed to drain the swamp, "he has merely drained it of the Tea Party," and, in the process, has "restored Washington to a much more conventional place in which both parties agree to ignore warnings of fiscal disaster."

National Review's Brian Riedl agrees, writing that the deal would essentially repeal the final two years of the 2011 Budget Control Act, the "crown jewel" of the "tea-party Congress." He argues the move "mirrors the shredding of the Republican credibility on fiscal responsibility." Klein echoed that sentiment, writing that Republicans, who have voted several times to "blow past" spending limits, decided "to stop pretending to care about the debt" and that the Freedom Caucus has "devolved into a PR shop for Trump."

It's worth noting that several members of the caucus have announced their opposition to the spending package. Of course, in this day and age, things can always change. Tim O'Donnell

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