First They Came For Media & Now They’re Coming For You

If you’re a Republican in Kentucky and refuse to stand up to loudly condemn Donald Trump at this juncture? Know that I will work until the day I die to ruin your professional political life. When reporters began to ask about whether the alt-right was behind the Charlottesville bloodshed, though, Trump unleashed a torrent of both-sides whataboutism and crankery. “What about the alt-left that came charging at the—as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?” he asked. Trump added that there were “some very fine people on both sides” at the protest, and that there was a peaceful march the night before. [Slate]

Of course Matt Bevin, a father of brown children, is so painfully stupid and borderline racist that he wants to keep monuments to slave masters and Confederate traitors. [H-L]

Richard Spencer, the 39-year-old Nazi, said Monday that he did not take Donald Trump’s statement denouncing hate groups seriously, and two of Spencer’s associates shared a somewhat similar sentiment with HuffPost. [HuffPo]

Fed up with soaring legal bills at the University of Louisville, a legislative panel Monday rejected a request to double university spending for outside attorneys to $2.5 million for 2016-18. [C-J/AKN]

The Nazi-supporting loons within the Trump Administration don’t want you to have the freedom of assembly or right to protest. [The Hill]

Dr. Maurice J. Oakley has spent 38 years looking out for the well-being of patients as a physician in Ashland. This past week, Oakley received what is arguably the most prestigious recognition possible for Kentucky physicians when the ophthalmologist was named the new president of the Kentucky Medical Association. [Ashland Independent]

Undeterred by violence over the planned removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, municipal leaders in cities across the United States said this week they would step up efforts to pull such monuments from public spaces. [Reuters]

This is one of the best things Barren County Schools has done in decades. Over 700 students at Barren County High School and the Trojan Academy ate breakfast at school Thursday morning, said CheyAnne Fant, director of 21st Century Learning and Nutritional Services for Barren County Schools. [Glasgow Daily Times]

The white supremacist forces arrayed in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend — the largest gathering of its sort in at least a generation — represented a new incarnation of the white supremacy movement. Old-guard groups like the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nations and the Nazi skinheads, which had long stood at the center of racist politics in America, were largely absent. [ProPublica]

Reaction in Kentucky political circles to the disturbing racial violence in Charlottesville, Va., this weekend reflected the horror and disgust felt by most of the nation. [Ronnie Ellis]

Trump shared on Twitter a cartoon on Tuesday morning of a train running over a person with a CNN logo covering the person’s head, three days after a fatal collision in Charlottesville, Va. Mr. Trump deleted his retweet minutes later. [NY Times]

Bessie Madden is more than familiar with the need for helping seniors in the Greenup area. Madden works at Greenup Meals on Wheels with a coalition of volunteers, delivering meals to seniors at their homes when they cannot prepare food for themselves. [Ashland Independent]

Three days after Donald Trump named his campaign foreign policy team in March 2016, the youngest of the new advisers sent an email to seven campaign officials with the subject line: “Meeting with Russian Leadership – Including Putin.” [WaPo]

Where there’s Ray Jones smoke, there’s Ray Jones fire. A Pikeville private detective who worked for the top Democrat in the Kentucky Senate pleaded guilty Monday in Franklin Circuit Court to four counts of attempting to intimidate an election officer and one count of attempting to interfere with an election. [H-L]

Hours after denouncing far-right extremists on Monday, Donald Trump retweeted a far-right “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist known for disrupting a performance of “Julius Caesar” over the summer. [HuffPo]

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David James Shouldn’t Get A Free Pass For His Hypocritical, Dumb, Self-Hating Homophobia But Everyone’s Afraid To Call Him Out

The city of Lexington spent more than $21,000 to pay the legal bills of a horse farm owner, raising questions from some Lexington council members and the chairman of the board that oversees Fayette County’s farmland preservation program. [H-L]

White women have always played a role in propping up white supremacy and toxic masculinity. But we’re not allowed to talk about that with Louisville liberals because everyone immediately melts down into some rant about sexism. [HuffPo]

Wondering why Kentucky’s education system is so backward and things always go the wrong way – like in Montgomery County? Here’s a look. [C-J/AKN]

A group of Democrats implored the Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee to reverse course and authorize an investigation into whether any of the hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from Deutsche Bank to President Trump were connected to Russia. [WaPo]

Why is no one talking about how David James (essed any downlow dee lately, David, you Julian Carroll-style self-hating bigot? Or chased any “big gals” on AOL message boards?) is dumb enough to think this could help him in a bid for mayor? Poop rolls down hill and it starts with Greg Fischer, not the chief. [WFPL]

In a sign that the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election will remain a continuing distraction for the White House, the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is in talks with the West Wing about interviewing current and former senior administration officials, including the recently ousted White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, according to three people briefed on the discussions. [NY Times]

New information broke Friday in a three-year-old Richmond cold case — the murder of Karen Rollins Simpson and Avery “Boochie” Evans in their Valley Street home. Richmond Police are now asking for the public’s help in locating a young man who was seen the morning before the bodies were found. [Richmond Register]

Federal prosecutors have lots of ways to intensify pressure on the people they’re investigating, from early morning FBI raids to leaning on relatives of those under government scrutiny. But even by those measures, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in last year’s presidential election is moving with unusual speed and assertiveness, according to half a dozen legal experts following the probe. [NPR]

Infrastructure, customer service, capital and long-term strategic plans. Each of these topics are on the agenda for new City Manager Michael Graese, 51, who is now approaching his second full week on the job. The Daily Independent sat down with the former Army colonel this week and talked about his first impressions and what is already on the agenda. [Ashland Independent]

Did anyone really think this woman had the guts to stand up for anything? It’s all about money for her. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is unlikely to resign over President Trump’s public criticism of her husband Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Grandmother), say allies, GOP strategists and former Cabinet members. [The Hill]

People who live in Appalachia are dying sooner than two decades ago, and the region has a higher infant death rate compared to the rest of the nation. A new study blames both largely on the region’s high smoking rate, as well as its other bad health habits. [The Morehead News]

State police and National Guardsmen watched passively for hours as self-proclaimed Nazis engaged in street battles with counter-protesters. [ProPublica]

A doctor accused of improperly prescribing pain pills at an Eastern Kentucky clinic won’t have to serve additional time in jail. [H-L]

Months before Donald Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury,” before North Korea claimed to be planning a mid-August attack on Guam and well before Trump tweeted that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded” to strike, officials in Hawaii began organizing guidelines for civilians in case of a nuclear attack on the islands. [HuffPo]

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Shoo, Someone Lied To Colmon Elridge!

Well, we already know lawmakers don’t have any sense. And parents? That’s debatable. So it’s going to be pretty tough to resolve this kids with guns thing. [H-L]

A Frankfart doctor is making the national news rounds for a remarkable (good) reason. [HuffPo]

Good fucking grief! If you have guns in your home and plan to have children around? LOCK THOSE GUNS UP! It’s common sense. If a kid dies BECAUSE OF YOUR GUN? You should face criminal charges for negligence. Even if you’re the parent. I’m saying this as someone who has grown up around and has guns – I’m not anti-gun, as idiots like Jeff Hoover would love to claim. These people, suffering though they may be, deserve to face criminal prosecution. [C-J/AKN]

Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was murdered in Washington, DC on the eve of a planned meeting with the U.S. Justice Department, according to two FBI agents whose assertions cast new doubts on the US government’s official explanation of his death. [BuzzFeed]

Public transportation officials want Louisvillians to weigh in on the new fare collection system. [WFPL]

New Nazis/New Republicans are corrupt monsters. Because the Sixth and Seventh Amendments of the U.S. Constitution are apparently less important than making sure that banks, credit card companies, student loan companies, and other financial services be allowed to behave badly with impunity, the House of Representatives has voted to overturn a new federal regulation that would have helped American consumers hold these companies accountable through the legal system. [Consumerist]

Who on earth told Colmon Elridge he has a shot running for anything like Congress?! They lied to him hardcore. And Jim Gray? HAHAHA. No. Amy McGrath is also butthole deep with shitty people like Jonathan Miller, so she’s an obvious NO. There should be no exceptions in supporting people tied to shysters like Miller, who stood by criminals like Tim Conley and Tim Longmeyer until they crossed the threshold into prison. Reggie Thomas is the sanest, best pick for that district by a long shot. [Ronnie Ellis]

American democracy is in crisis. The election of Donald Trump feels like a state of emergency made normal. [Salon]

Traffic flow, parking and crosswalks around Glasgow’s public square were top issues discussed Monday by infrastructure committee members from the Barren Fiscal Court, the Glasgow City Council and the Glasgow-Barren County Chamber of Commerce, as well as representatives of the Glasgow Water Company and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, plus a few others. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office on Friday over undeclared assets, plunging the nuclear-armed South Asian nation into political turmoil after a period of relative stability. [Reuters]

Mark Cole goes to work every day with the goal of protecting children. [Ashland Independent]

Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell offered a pointed criticism Wednesday of the current administration’s views on public lands — particularly of its decision to review 27 national monuments, with an eye towards altering or removing them. Jewell gave the remarks in a keynote address at Outdoor Retailer, the Outdoor Industry Association’s annual trade show in Utah. [ThinkProgress]

Numbers pale in comparison to those illegally prescribed by doctors and “pain” clinics in Eastern Kentucky. A man who split time between Detroit and Hazard and had access to what a judge called “mind-boggling quantities of drugs” allegedly headed a conspiracy that imported millions of dollars worth of pain pills to sell in Eastern Kentucky. [H-L]

What happens when a former Marine general used to structure and discipline is brought in to run the office of an unstructured and undisciplined chief executive? [HuffPo]

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Avoid Anything Adam Edelen Supports

What? Adam Edelen’s PAC is a hot, corrupt mess? Surely not! When will you wake up to the reality that the good old boy Democrats are as shitty and corrupt as anyone can imagine? That doesn’t mean all Democrats are bad – just the current crop in Frankfort. Grace Wise, the director of a political action committee geared toward recruiting millennial Democrats to run for office, has been charged with theft by deception and forgery. [H-L]

This is what happens with dumb bigots like Scott Jennings back idiots like Donald Trump. You have them to personally thank for anti-LGBT rhetoric and hate. Here’s hoping their kids all grow up to be gay so they’re forced to deal with reality. Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that transgender people would not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. [HuffPo]

After a contentious debate that nearly torpedoed the deal, the University of Louisville board of trustees voted Thursday to approve a revised lease agreement for the financially troubled KFC Yum Center. [C-J/AKN]

A leading psychiatry group has told its members they should not feel bound by a longstanding rule against commenting publicly on the mental state of public figures – even the president. The statement, an email this month from the executive committee of the American Psychoanalytic Association to its 3,500 members, represents the first significant crack in the profession’s decades-old united front aimed at preventing experts from discussing the psychiatric aspects of politicians’ behavior. It will likely make many of its members feel more comfortable speaking openly about President Trump’s mental health. [Raw Story]

Kentucky Republicans are dumber than you thought and way worse for the economy than anyone could have imagined. Kentucky’s economic outlook took another hit this past week as Moody’s downgraded the state’s bond ratings to Aa2 from Aa3 following the announcement the state failed to make its revenue estimates for the fiscal year and in light of its growing public pension problems. [Richmond Register]

Hillary Clinton’s upcoming book will double down on Russia’s interference and James Comey’s involvement in her stunning election defeat, according to sources familiar with the memoir. [The Hill]

Thomas Massie deserves to be dragged politically for supporting treason. Thomas Massie, R-Pigfucker., was one of only three members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday to vote against a bill that empowers Congress to block any White House effort to weaken sanctions against Russia. [Ashland Independent]

After another challenging day in Washington, Donald Trump (R-Too Dumb To Be Left Alone) flew to West Virginia to a field full of 40,000 chanting and cheering Boy Scouts, telling them he was happy to leave Washington behind. [Reuters]

If you are illegally dumping in Rowan County you may want to watch your back. Or maybe just don’t be a damn idiot with no respect for your fellow man and environment. [The Morehead News]

Trump announced on Wednesday that the United States will not “accept or allow” transgender people in the United States military, saying American forces “must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory” and could not afford to accommodate them. [NY Times]

In response to recommendations from a customer advisory council’s recommendations, the four Glasgow Electric Plant Board members in place voted unanimously Tuesday to revise what is known as the Infotricity power rate. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Trump escaped the roiling turmoil of Washington on Tuesday evening — leaving behind the chaotic effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the intensifying Russia investigation and his latest staff shake-up — to rally with his supporters in this former steel town. [WaPo]

Billy Joe Miles of Owensboro, a former chairman of the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees, is competent to stand trial on charges of rape and sodomy, a judge has ruled. [H-L]

McCain returned to Washington from Arizona, where he had recently been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor, to cast the deciding vote on a move to allow debate to proceed on repeal of the Affordable Care Act. [HuffPo]

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Ken Ham Is Just A Modern Day Charlatan

***Care about the future of Kentucky? Help us cover FOIA and open records request fees relating to Matt Bevin and Jamie Comer.*** [CLICK HERE]

Christopher and Angelica San Martin were watching a basketball game in their Radcliff duplex one Sunday afternoon in 2012. During a commercial, Angelica went upstairs to use the bathroom. The San Martins’ 3-year-old son and 15-month-old daughter followed her to play in the master bedroom. [John Cheves]

Efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act ran into big trouble on Friday afternoon, when the Senate parliamentarian ruled that nearly a dozen key provisions of GOP repeal legislation violate special procedural rules that Republicans are using to pass their bill. [HuffPo]

Surprise! Bevin appointees just coincidentally say he did nothing wrong. So it’s time for appropriate parties to file lawsuits. Ethics are not a real thing in Kentucky. I’ve said it for a decade and it’s remained true. The Executive Branch Ethics Commission has dismissed two ethics complaints filed against Gov. Matt Bevin, the commission’s executive director confirmed Friday morning. [C-J/AKN]

So… things aren’t so hot for Donnie these days. This is scandalous as hell. [Bloomberg]

The company that is building a facility in Richmond to destroy the chemical weapons stockpile at the Blue Grass Army Depot has received approval from the Environmental Protection Agency to move and handle M55 rockets containing PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), a probable carcinogen. [Richmond Register]

The Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump Jr. after his father won the Republican nomination for the 2016 U.S. presidential election counted Russia’s FSB security service among her clients for years, Russian court documents seen by Reuters show. [Reuters]

The Kentucky Department of Education is seeking public comment on its request for a waiver on the number of students who can be tested using an alternate assessment on annual statewide Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress tests. [Ashland Independent]

Late one night in October 2015, North Dakota prisons chief Leann Bertsch met Karianne Jackson, one of her deputies, for a drink in a hotel bar in Oslo, Norway. They had just spent an exhausting day touring Halden, the maximum-security facility Time has dubbed “the world’s most humane prison,” yet neither of them could sleep. [Mother Jones]

The state of Kentucky is on the hook for nearly $225,000 in legal fees incurred by same-sex couples who challenged a Rowan County Clerk’s refusal to issue them marriage licenses following the landmark Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriages. [Ronnie Ellis]

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, resigned on Friday morning, telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of the New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director. [NY Times]

Barren County Fiscal Court is having a special-called meeting at 7 a.m. Tuesday, and one of the agenda items is a first reading of an ordinance setting the property tax rates for 2017. [Glasgow Daily Times]

Russia’s ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials. [WaPo]

The Kentucky Tourism Arts and Heritage Cabinet has suspended an incentive agreement worth up to $18 million with a Noah’s Ark-themed amusement in Grant County because the park transferred its main property to a non-profit affiliate. [H-L]

It became pretty clear this week that Donald Trump doesn’t seem to know much about how the Department of Justice operates, or much about some of the people he nominated to key positions at DOJ. [HuffPo]

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Eric Conn Is So Dumb It’s Almost Painful

Wondering how I know the Republican Party of Kentucky is in worse shape than the Kentucky Democratic Party? Tres Watson is dumb enough to make statements about conflicts of interest. Publicly. To mainstream media outlets. Probably a bit upset about people within the Office of the Attorney General allegedly probing the revelation that he and the Personnel Secretary were scheming to go through personnel files of Democratic holdovers from the Beshear Administration. [H-L]

This is why tiny racist, Rand Paul, is truly a monstrous little shit. It’s a real shame the Kentucky Democratic Party doesn’t have the guts to hit him deeply and personally – to really go after him in a nasty way. Because he deserves it. Really, his entire family and all of his enablers deserve it. From Jim Milliman to his DUI-getting spokesdrunk, Kelsey Cooper. He doesn’t believe Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act go far enough. That means he wants to harm Kentuckians more than the rest of the feckless New Republicans. [HuffPo]

Hold on to your wig, Jimbo, cause it’s coming! A decade too late. But it’s still coming and you’re going to hate it. The it of which I speak: Karma. Mismanagement and excessive spending may have cost the University of Louisville Foundation as much as $100 million — dwarfing the $20 million limit in insurance coverage on its officers and directors. The size of the loss may prompt the university to go after the personal assets of former President James Ramsey and others, according to legal and insurance experts. [C-J/AKN]

Under intensifying fire over its handling of the Russia investigations, the White House is shaking up its legal team, bringing on board a veteran Washington criminal defense lawyer just as another high-profile attorney bows out of representing a senior official who is in investigators’ cross hairs. [Yahoo]

Pointing to years of documented pollution from a Central Kentucky coal-fired power plant, environmental groups are suing Kentucky Utilities. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Lexington. [WFPL]

The Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. and others on the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist — a former Soviet counterintelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, NBC News has learned. [NBC News]

Boyd Circuit Judge David Hagerman on Tuesday ruled against a former Ashland police officer who had challenged the city’s decision to fire him. Larry J. Smith, Jr. was terminated by the city commission in February. The vote was 3-0, as Commissioner Marshall Steen was absent and Commissioner Amanda Clark, whose husband is an Ashland police sergeant, abstained. [Ashland Independent]

Almost two weeks before Donald Trump Jr. published screengrabs of purported emails indicating that he arranged to meet with a Russian lawyer, President Trump’s re-election campaign paid $50,000 in legal fees to the attorney now representing the president’s son amid ongoing Russia probes. [ABC News]

“There’s not enough Bourbon in Kentucky.” That’s how Kentucky’s Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes responded to a request from President Donald Trump’s election fraud commission to turn over personal information about Kentucky’s registered voters. [Ronnie Ellis]

From 2003 to 2012, the last year for which statistics are available, the number of babies born dependent on drugs grew nearly fivefold in the United States. Opioids are the main culprit, and states like Kentucky are particularly hard-hit: 15 of every 1,000 infants here are born dependent on opioids. [NY Times]

Way to go, New Republicans. Of 9,461 children under the age of 18 living in Whitley County along Kentucky’s southeastern border, 7,029 are enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program or CHIP. [More Ronnie Ellis]

Donald Trump Jr. is seeking to write off as a nonevent his meeting last year with a Russian lawyer who was said to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton. “It was such a nothing,” he told Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Tuesday. “There was nothing to tell.” But everything we know about the meeting — from whom it involved to how it was set up to how it unfolded — is in line with what intelligence analysts would expect an overture in a Russian influence operation to look like. [WaPo]

This dumb ass didn’t even have enough sense to change his hairline or pick up a lacefront wig. That is dumb. Just dumb. He’s apparently dumb enough to get killed before he can be arrested and thrown behind bars. Hopefully anyone who wants that con artist dead will allow the feds to get him so he can suffer in jail for the rest of his days. [H-L]

Republicans eager to justify the severe Medicaid cuts in their Obamacare repeal proposals have offered up a number of arguments. They say Medicaid doesn’t contribute to better health, or that it doesn’t offer value to its beneficiaries. They also say the proposed cuts would affect only able-bodied adults, sparing groups like low-income children that Medicaid has traditionally served. [HuffPo]

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The UofL Dam Has Finally Broken

Have you read about Matt Bevin’s latest education embarrassment? He’s appointed someone with quite the scandalous educational past. Because he has absolutely no sense at all. [Page One]

Where is the Kentucky Democratic Party? Dead, bloated, about to pop as it floats down the Kentucky River surrounded by a froth of turds and old milk jugs. Dr. Michael Winkler, a radiologist and associate professor at the University of Kentucky Medical School, took time off Wednesday afternoon from reading patients’ charts to join about 100 people protesting Vice President Mike Pence as he called for a new federal health care law. [H-L]

Bigots always run from reality. Mike Pence quickly moved to distance himself from Donald Trump Jr. this week after a series of bombshell reports found the president’s eldest son had met in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer in an effort to obtain damaging intel on presidential rival Hillary Clinton. Pence’s spokesman Marc Lotter sought Wednesday to increase that separation during an interview on Fox News but refused, repeatedly, to say if the vice president had met with any Russians himself during the presidential campaign. [HuffPo]

Hold on to your wig, Jim Ramsey, cause you’re about to feel the burn. Karma’s a real bitch. The Kentucky Attorney General’s office has informed the University of Louisville that it is investigating the disclosures in the forensic audit of the university’s foundation. [C-J/AKN]

Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday asking why the Department of Justice settled a major money-laundering case involving a real-estate company owned by the son of a powerful Russian government official whose lawyer met with Donald Trump Jr. last year. [Business Insider]

A $200,000 grant has been awarded for the environmental clean-up of the former Parker Seal plant in Berea. The Brownfields Program grant was secured from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by the Kentucky River Foothills Development Council Inc. (KRFDC) in partnership with Fahe in Berea. [Richmond Register]

Democrats say they have little reason to believe that Republicans are serious about doing tax reform on a bipartisan basis, saying they have yet to put meaningful action behind their words. [The Hill]

Mike Pence came here Wednesday “to turn up the heat on Congress” to pass a Republican-backed bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He was largely preaching to the choir, however. A group of about 150 invited guests, nearly all of whom are Republicans and Republican office holders, including Gov. Matt Bevin and Kentucky Congressmen Andy Barr of Lexington and Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green, were at the gathering. [Ronnie Ellis]

But we’ve got no funds for health care or keeping people alive? Jeff Sessions said on Wednesday the Justice Department plans to hire 300 additional assistant U.S. attorneys to help fight a recent national increase in crime, including a focus on transnational gangs such as MS-13. [Reuters]

An open house was held at the Morehead Public Defenders office last Friday at their new location on US 60 West. Remarks were made by several staff members as well as legislators and judges. [The Morehead News]

Following the revelation that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer connected with the Russian government, defenders of the president’s eldest son have offered a familiar argument: Hillary Clinton’s actions were more egregious. [NY Times]

Ron Bowman drives the Barren County Reads and Feeds bus. When he makes a stop and honks the horn, children run toward the vehicle from all directions. [Glasgow Daily Times]

It was June 7, 2016, and Donald Trump stood on the stage at his Westchester County, N.Y., golf club to launch his general-election race against Hillary Clinton with a big promise. [WaPo]

In a high-stakes bid for conservative support, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to demands from Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to allow insurers to sell low-cost, skimpier plans as part of a new but still-reeling health care bill being released Thursday, two GOP aides said. [H-L]

U.S. intelligence officials heard Russian officials discussing associates of Donald Trump in early 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. [HuffPo]

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