News from the note…
A round up of the day’s news that might be of interest to you.
This is 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.
Facebook on Thursday said it has removed hundreds of U.S.-based pages and accounts for using some of the same disinformation-spreading tactics that Russians used during the 2016 presidential election.
The social media giant purged 559 pages and 251 accounts found to be breaking its rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior aimed at exploiting Facebook algorithms to boost the reach of content, Facebook officials wrote in a blog post. Much of the content the pages and accounts shared amounted to “clickbait” that used misleading headlines to drive users to ad-filled outside sites, they said.Politico
Among the pages were a number that billed themselves as sources of news, typically with a partisan bent, a Facebook spokesman told POLITICO. They included one called Right Wing News, as well as Reverb Press, a left-leaning page, the spokesman said, adding that political leanings had no bearing on takedown decisions.
Robert Mueller continues to merit more positive than negative reviews for his handling of the Russia investigation, while President Donald Trump’s marks on handling it remain majority negative, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.CNN
The public does agree with one recent Trump decision on Russia: 53% say he should not fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Just 18% of Americans think Trump should fire the senior Justice Department official who oversees the Russia investigation.
That threat seems to have passed, for now, but in late September, the two appeared to be on a collision course after The New York Times reported Rosenstein had secretly discussed the possibility of recording conversations with Trump and of using the 25th Amendment as a way to remove Trump from office.
Rosenstein had offered his resignation and had at one point expected to be fired. But the climax of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was a distraction and Rosenstein has remained in his post.
The federal district court judge who presided over Paul Manafort’s criminal trial in Virginia called the plea deal President Trump’s former campaign chairman reached with federal prosecutors “highly unusual.”
Just T. S. Ellis III, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, criticized federal prosecutors’ plan in a court order Wednesday to delay Manafort’s sentencing and their request to dismiss the outstanding charges against him only after he’s fully cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“In this district, the government’s decision to re-try a defendant on deadlocked counts is always made in a timely manner and sentencing occurs within two to no more than four months from entry of a guilty plea or receipt of a jury verdict,” Ellis wrote.
He ordered the parties in the case to return to court on Oct. 19 so a sentencing date can be set, a pre-sentence investigation report can be ordered and the parties can address their plan to dismiss the outstanding counts.The Hill
Special counsel Robert Mueller is on board with a request from former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates to secure several new freedoms as he continues cooperating with the lead Russia investigator and awaits sentencing as part of his guilty plea.
Gates’ attorney Tom Green filed the unopposed motion Thursday asking a federal judge to let the longtime Republican operative remove his electronic GPS monitoring device, eliminate his 11 p.m.-7 a.m. curfew and allow him to more freely travel to Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.Politico
The additional freedoms should be granted in exchange for Gates’ ongoing cooperation with both Mueller and other federal investigators “by attending current meetings at which he provides additional information,” Green wrote.
Melania Trump says she is one of the most bullied people in the world; distrusts some in the West Wing
ABC News’ wide-ranging interview with the first lady took place in Africa, where she traveled to promote her “Be Best” campaign, which raises awareness about online bullying.
The first lady explained how her experience being bullied led in part to her “Be Best” initiative.
“I could say that I’m the most bullied person in the world,” Melania Trump said.
Pressed by Llamas on that assertion, she responded, “One of them — if you really see what people are saying about me.”ABC
Around 12:20 p.m. on Tuesday, I was on my way out of the White House after a series of meetings in the West Wing. I was reporting on a question that has hung over this administration for months: How has Chief of Staff John Kelly managed to keep his job in spite of convincing and persistent rumors and reports that the president is unhappy with him, and he is unhappy in his job? I stopped to talk to another reporter, and then I began to walk toward the North Gate. As I walked, I noticed I had a missed call from a Washington number I didn’t recognize. It was Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She sounded very serious. She asked me if I had left yet. When I said no, she asked me to come back inside, and when she greeted me, she looked very serious. She implied she wanted me to go with her behind a door. I didn’t understand, maybe didn’t quite hear her. Then, she told me Trump wanted to speak to me.
I walked to the Oval Office. I guessed that the president wanted to disabuse me of any notion that Kelly was about to be fired, or had almost been fired many times before. I was right, but my imagination was too limited. What ensued amounted to a private press conference — featuring a series of special guest stars from the highest echelon of the Trump administration — to try to get me to change my mind.Intelligencer
Christopher Steele, the former MI6 officer behind the Russia dossier on Donald Trump, has broken 18 months of silence with a veiled swipe at the US president.
He has written about the importance of speaking “truths to power”, a possible reference to the allegations he made about collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin in the run-up to the US presidential election two years ago.
Sky News has seen the text of an email written by Mr Steele to the editor of Vanity Fair after he was chosen to feature on its list of the 100 most influential people in the media, politics, entertainment and finance.
The 54-year-old wrote: “In these strange and troubling times, it is hard to speak unpalatable truths to power, but I believe we all still have a duty to do so.
“I salute those on your list, and otherwise, who have had the courage to speak out over the last year, often at great personal cost.
“At a time when governance is so distorted and one-sided, as I believe it currently is in the United States, the media has a key role to play in holding it accountable.”Sky News
President Donald Trump’s legal team is preparing answers to written questions provided by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The move represents a major development after months of negotiations and signals that the Mueller investigation could be entering a final phase with regard to the President.
The questions are focused on matters related to the investigation of possible collusion between Trump associates and Russians seeking to meddle in the 2016 election, the sources said. Trump’s lawyers are preparing written responses, in part relying on documents previously provided to the special counsel, the sources said.
“We are in continuing discussions with the special counsel and we do not comment on those discussions,” said Trump attorney Jay Sekulow.
There may be more rounds of questions after the first answers are returned. The special counsel had insisted that there be a chance for follow-up questions as well. But after a prolonged back-and-forth over months, the two sides agreed to start with a first round of questions.
MOST OF DONALD TRUMP’S TWITTER FOLLOWERS AREN’T REAL OR ACTIVE, FAR MORE THAN OBAMA, CLINTON AND OTHERS, ACCORDING TO NEW ANALYSIS
A strong majority of President Donald Trump’s millions of Twitter followers were spam, bots, propaganda or simply inactive accounts, far more than many other prominent politicians like Vice President Mike Pence and even Trump’s foes like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, according to a new analysis released by an online marketing company Tuesday.
SparkToro, created by Moz co-founder Rand Fishkin, conducted an analysis of all of Trump’s 54.7 million followers on Twitter and said 61 percent of the president’s followers are likely not real.
The figure is staggering, especially from an account that Trump has credited with helping him reach his supporters and win the presidency.Newsweek
Out of Obama’s 103 million followers, 40.9 percent were not real, while 43.8 percent of Clinton’s 23.5 million followers were also deemed bots, spam, propaganda or inactive. The analysis also showed 41.5 percent of Pence’s 6.65 million followers were likely fake, as were 41 percent of former Vice President Al Gore’s, 33.7 percent of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s and 50 percent of California Governor Jerry Brown’s.