News from the note…
A round up of the day’s news that might be of interest to you.
Consider this an OPEN THREAD, folks. Chat about any of the stories listed, share links to stories that caught your eye today, and generally have a good time discussing whatever you want.
From The Hill
A 33-foot tall inflatable blimp depicting President Trump as a chicken will set sail on Sunday off the coast of San Francisco.
The chicken is dressed in black-and-white prison strips and labeled “Prisoner 45,” the Bay Area KRON 4 News reported Saturday.
The Trump Chicken reportedly first made its debut last year during the San Francisco Tax March and even came to the White House in February.
Most recently the Trump Chicken was spotted on an “Alcatraz Prison Transport” boat floating around the infamous prison island complex.
A GoFundMe page was established to help raise money for the chicken’s adventures and cover the coast of rental boats.
Accused Russian agent Maria Butina had wider high-level contacts in Washington than previously known, taking part in 2015 meetings between a visiting Russian official and two senior officials at the U.S. Federal Reserve and Treasury Department.
The meetings, revealed by several people familiar with the sessions and a report from a Washington think tank that arranged them, involved Stanley Fischer, Fed vice chairman at the time, and Nathan Sheets, then Treasury undersecretary for international affairs.
Butina traveled to the United States in April 2015 with Alexander Torshin, then the Russian Central Bank deputy governor, and they took part in separate meetings with Fischer and Sheets to discuss U.S.-Russian economic relations during Democratic former President Barack Obama’s administration.
The two meetings, which have not been previously reported, reveal a wider circle of high-powered connections that Butina sought to cultivate with American political leaders and special interest groups.
Donald Trump’s former chief of staff is planning to set up a foundation in Brussels to support right-wing, anti-establishment groups in the run-up to the European Parliament election.
Steve Bannon said in a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Beast that he wants to unite powers on the right end of the political spectrum.
“Everybody agrees that next [European Parliament election in] May is hugely important, that this is the real first Continent-wide face-off between populism and the party of Davos,” Bannon said in the interview. “This will be an enormously important moment for Europe.”
From The Hill
A U.S. Air Force fighter jet reportedly intercepted a small plane flying near President Trump’s golf club in New Jersey, where the president is spending the weekend.
The Associated Press reported that the plane was spotted flying Saturday around 12:30 p.m. “without proper clearances or communications.” The area surrounding Trump’s Bedminster, N.J., golf club was under a temporary restricted fly zone.
The plane landed, and the pilot was met by law enforcement, the AP reported.
A GOP Congressman and former FBI agent says he thinks President Trump was manipulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Brian Fitzpatrick told NPR’s Michel Martin on All Things Considered that he drew that conclusion after the two leaders appeared in Helsinki.
“The president was manipulated by Vladimir Putin,” Fitzpatrick said. “Vladimir Putin is a master manipulator.”
The Helsinki summit came days after Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued an indictment for 12 Russian intelligence agents accused of hacking Democratic emails and sowing confusion around the 2016 elections.
Fitzpatrick sits on the House committees on Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security. In his previous role as an FBI special agent, he said he was assigned to Ukraine and worked on counterintelligence, collecting Russian propaganda reports.
Rev. Robert Jeffress Defends Trump Amid Tape Chaos: We Also Supported ‘Known Womanizer’ Ronald Reagan
“This is not an unusual thing. We’ve been here before,” Jeffress told Fox News’ Ed Henry. “Back in 1980, evangelicals chose to support a twice-married Hollywood actor who was a known womanizer in Hollywood. His name was Ronald Reagan. They chose to support him over Jimmy Carter, with a born-again Baptist Sunday school teacher who had been faithfully married to one woman. The reason we supported President Reagan was not because we supporting womanizing or divorce. We supported his policies. And that’s true here, Ed. We are choosing to support his policies. We’re not under any illusion that we were voting for an altar boy when we voted for President Trump. We knew about his past. And by the way, none of us has a perfect past. We voted for him because of his policies.”
A Sunday Bonus Note From The “A Hedgehog in a World of Foxes” File