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Watch This One Very Closely

TPM’s Cameron Joseph is spending the week in California (mostly in Orange County) where the state’s unusual jungle primary is severely complicating the strategies for both parties as they battle over a handful of seats that are prime Democratic pickup opportunities. Those dicey, cross-cutting strategic calculations are most glaring in Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s district, which has made strange bedfellows of the right-wing Russophile seeking his 16th term and national Democrats, as they both try to keep a second Republican out of the runoff. Great exploration of that race in Cam’s report this morning.

This Sounds Right

As you could probably tell if you read my morning item on Gene Freidman and Michael Cohen, I was struggling to figure out how the Michael Cohen raids were related to the much sweeter deal New York State prosecutors offered “Taxi King” Gene Freidman after April 9th. I think TPM Reader JO’s explanation makes perfect sense. In fact, it makes so much sense I’m really kicking myself for not figuring it out myself. But you can’t win ’em all.

From TPM Reader JO

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A Sea Change

This is a fascinating story from The Forward. Israeli has a new quasi-ministry called The Ministry for Strategic Affairs. It calls itself a “start-up” ministry and seems mainly focused on anti-BDS efforts, with at least some in Israel itself seeing it as a kind of rightist or pro-occupation political operation. But this story is about the fact that the ministry approached a number of top establishment Jewish groups in the US offering to fund anti-BDS efforts. Most or apparently all the groups turned down the money, though fundraising is of course a big deal for all these operations. The most immediate concern was that they would have to register as foreign agents under FARA – the law that’s gotten various Trumpers in hot water.

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Was Trump Alone Employing the Tools of Cyber Warfare?

Here’s a question I’d like your help with. Some questions are so sprawling and broad there’s no better way to get started than to canvass TPM Readers. So here goes. One of Trump supporters’ zanier pushbacks has been this argument: In 2008 when Barack Obama was way ahead of the curve using the Internet to run a political campaign, it was treated as an example of how smart he was. When Donald Trump did the same thing in 2016, it was treated as an example of him doing something wrong.

That’s silly on a few different levels, since in most cases the discussions are about things the Trump campaign did that were either illegal or unethical. But I wonder if there’s something to it in this particular way.

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New Weekly Primer on Trump's Cabinet Destroying America

Okay, brash headline. But in addition to our subscriber-only Weekly Primers on Voting Rights and Democracy, The Battle Over Obamacare and the Trump/Russia Probe, we decided that we needed one just to stay up to date on the constant flow of scandals emanating from the Trump Cabinet, top White House staffers and basically everyone else Trump gets to appoint whether it’s EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, the un-leadered VA, the latest White House staffer fired for attacking someone or even the President himself trying to raise prices on Amazon because he’s upset with The Washington Post. So last Thursday we rolled out our newest Weekly Primer Trump Swamp, your weekly distillation of every key development over the last week in Trump administration corruption that isn’t tied to Russia.

This Is An Amazing Story

Here’s is an absolutely fascinating piece that I recommend you read. It is one of those stories which is eye-popping in itself but also has a new dangling thread at every turn that just demands tugging. Let me try to summarize as concisely as I can a wild and detailed verging on tangled story.

Bruce Carter was a diehard Bernie supporter and a self-started adjunct of the Sanders campaign with a “Black Men for Bernie” campaign bus making the rounds and the case for Sanders. But the intensity and bitterness of the Democratic primary race followed by the revelations of the DNC/Wikileaks emails drove his enthusiasm for Bernie into a burning enmity toward Hillary Clinton. Enter Dustin Stockton, a Breitbart reporter who struck up a running conversation and courtship which eventually led to Carter rebranding as a pro-Trump advocate in August 2016. He hit key concentrations of African-American voters in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida telling African-Americans either to vote for Trump or not vote at all. How would Carter get the money? Stockton (and Bannon in the background) had well-heeled Trump supporters writing big checks.

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Autocracy and the Con

I’m not sure what makes this day any different. But I thought I’d begin by linking back to two posts I wrote at the beginning of the Trump Era – one the day after he was elected and the other the day he was inaugurated. I don’t know if you need it. But I think I must need it. In almost everything we do in life we face the constant peril of becoming overwhelmed and blinded by the flurry of contingent events and losing track of the larger story, our true goals, values, what is happening and our place in it.

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Join TPM Prime

I’ve told you many times Prime, our subscription program, is critical to the future of TPM. We’re coming up on an important milestone of 27,000 subscribers. We are now just 44 27 members short, down from 89 when I first posted this. I often meet people who tell me “I haven’t gotten around to signing up for Prime yet.” I get it. Good chance I’d be in that camp too if I were a reader. It’s a pain to get out your wallet, type in the numbers. But as we go into the weekend, make today the day. It’s super important to our future. You get lots of great features, dramatically fewer ads and a rapidly growing package of stories and analyses that are only available to subscribers. Make it today: click here. Thanks.

White House Gift Shop, TPM Investigation Continues!

Earlier today I told you about the curious story of “The White House Gift Shop”. It has a nice built in clientele: US embassies abroad, cabinet departments, other government agencies as well as political committees and campaigns and members of the public all of whom purchase mementos and souvenirs from it. But back to our original question: Is this part of the US government or somehow tied to the US Secret Service or what is it?

Thanks to a number of emailers but particularly TPM Reader JB, I think I now have the answer. There was once an actual ‘White House Gift Shop’ in the basement of the Old Executive Office Building. But the current ‘The White House Gift Shop’ is a private for profit company which has no connection to the White House or the Secret Service or any other government entity, despite that fact that it seems to go to some lengths to give the impression that it does.

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