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April 17, 2018
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On Monday, the U.S. and British governments accused the Kremlin of conducting a huge cyberattack on routers and other internet hardware around the world, with the presumed aim being economic and political espionage and possibly sabotage. In a first-ever joint U.S.-British cybersecurity alert, the FBI, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Britain's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said the years-long campaign targeted millions of devices, primarily used by "government and private-sector organizations, critical infrastructure providers, and the internet service providers (ISPs) supporting these sectors."

"We have high confidence that Russia has carried out a coordinated campaign to compromise ... routers, residential and business — the things you and I have in our home," said Rob Joyce, the White House cybersecurity coordinator. Jeanette Manfra, the Homeland Security Department's chief cybersecurity official, added that the U.S. and Britain "condemn the actions and hold the Kremlin responsible for the malicious activities." The aim of the attack, which dates back at least to 2015, seems to be to "seize control" of internet infrastructure to intercept traffic moving through the routers of people and organizations, NCSC chief Ciaran Martin said. Australia also blamed the Kremlin on Monday for a cyberattack on hundreds of Australian companies in 2017.

The U.S. has become more aggressive in calling out Russia and other countries publicly for cyber-malfeasance, including a March 15 warning from the U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT) that Russian government "cyber actors" have tried to infiltrate U.S. agencies and companies that deal with power, water, aviation, and other critical sectors. But it isn't clear why the U.S. and Britain are issuing this new alert now, U.S. cybersecurity researcher Jake Williams tells The Associated Press. "Calling the Russians out on this hardly makes much sense unless there's some other agenda (most likely political)." Peter Weber

5:12 a.m. ET

President Trump's bromance with French President Emmanuel Macron may have hit a snag on Wednesday, but Trump didn't take long to rekindle an old flame. "I don't know if you've checked Twitter today, but right now my Twitter feed is just tweets from Donald Trump and Kanye West," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "I think Kanye's lobbying for a job as Trump's new communications director — he could just change his name to Kellyanne Kanye."

Colbert read the Kanye tweet where he identified Trump as his "brother" who shares his "dragon energy" and defended his "right to independent thought." "Yes, we have the right to independent thought, and I independently think that Kanye has lost his mind," he said. "But then things took an even stupider turn, because Trump actually responded to Kanye — I assume because an alarm went off in the White House that someone on Twitter was being crazier than him." Either way, this is "a total bro-fest," Colbert said. "Look for their new album, Yeezy & Sleazy."

"In a related story, Trump just made Kanye the new secretary of dragon energy," Jimmy Fallon said on The Tonight Show. "Which is amazing — I didn't even know that was a job."

"I don't even know what happened here — I think Kanye West just realized he's too rich to not be Republican," Trevor Noah said on The Daily Show. "And you know that this is also going to confuse people on Fox News, right? Because they're probably going to be like: 'Why don't these celebrity rap thugs stay out of politics and — sorry, this guy understands the American people!'" Noah reminded everyone that Kanye said George W. Bush hated black people: "When George Bush sees this on Twitter, he'll be, like, 'What the f--k? I know I was a bad president, but this guy's friends with Nazis!'" Watch below. Peter Weber

4:25 a.m. ET

On Tuesday night, President Trump and first lady Melania Trump hosted French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, for a state dinner at the White House, capping a publicly affectionate day between the two presidents, and Wednesday's Late Show began with a cheeky red carpet recap of the dinner guests.

If Tuesday was a Trump-Macron lovefest, "today, Trump's brand new best friend, his cher ami, addressed a joint session of Congress, and he reminded everyone assembled of the long history of friendship between our two nations," Stephen Colbert said. Then "the speech took a shockingly honest turn when he threw shade at Trump's America First policy" — and Trump's denial of climate change and rejection of the Iran nuclear deal, which, Macron pointed out, both the U.S. and France signed. "Oh honey, you think just because America signed something we won't leave it?" Colbert asked. "Why don't you talk that over with first lady Ivana Trump?"

Colbert jumped from "casual infidelity" to the flailing nomination of White House physician Ronny Jackson to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. He ran through some of the new detailed allegations. "These are pretty scandalous revelations, just in the last 24 hours, but honestly we shouldn't be surprised," Colbert said. "Would a sober man describe Trump's health this way?" After reminding people of Trump's physical, Colbert noted that at the White House, they reportedly called Jackson "the candy man," but "that's just a nickname. His official title was secretary of you good?" The "candy man" allegations inspired Colbert to sing a special new version of the Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory song. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:23 a.m. ET

Former FBI Director James Comey took questions from students at Virginia's College of William & Mary, his alma mater, Wednesday night in an hour-long town hall event broadcast on CNN. One student asked if President Trump has a credible argument that Comey broke the law when he gave his friend Daniel Richman one of his memos recording his encounters with Trump and asked him to disclose its substance to the media. Comey said no, "I think he's just making stuff up," and he explained why. "The bottom line is, I see no credible claim by any serious person that that violated the law," he said.

CNN's Chris Cuomo played that clip for White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, and it did not change her opinion of Comey's actions. "He gave memos to his friend Daniel Richman," she said, "with the intent that Richman would leak it to the media and hoping to trigger a special counsel." She had what she portrayed as a bombshell about Richman, but Cuomo did not see why it was relevant and told her so.

Comey also discussed the idea of a "deep state" with CNN's Anderson Cooper, arguing that "there's no deep state, but there is a deep culture and a commitment to the rule of law" in the military, law enforcement, and intelligence communities.

Comey also explained why he was a Republican in the 1980s but is now "embarrassed and ashamed" that the GOP has abandoned "the notion that character matters, and values matter most of all," and he also told a terrifying story of being held hostage as a high schooler by the "Ramsey rapist." Comey said he does not have a nickname for Trump. "I call him the president of the United States, because I respect the office," he explained, and "no matter my concerns about him, I want him to be successful." Watch below. Peter Weber

2:11 a.m. ET

Conservatives from Sean Hannity to Alex Jones' InfoWars are proudly annoyed that Hillary Clinton is still speaking in public, and Jordan Klepper heartily agreed with them on Wednesday's The Opposition — for the first few minutes. Then, once "the liberals" had stopped watching, he laid it out for his fellow "Opposers." "We need Hillary Clinton," Klepper said. "She's basically the whole GOP strategy for winning the midterms. Without her to crap on, our candidates have nothing to stand for. Republicans have already given up on legislating this year, and it's only April!"

And it doesn't even matter if Clinton is still making news, Klepper said. "What do we do when Hillary isn't relevant anymore? Same thing I do when my therapist tells me to stop bringing up my ex-wife: Talk about her anyway." He showed examples of how Republicans are running against Clinton this year — even though Clinton isn't running for anything — including an NRSC ad campaign in several states attacking the same Clinton footage. "Oh man, and libs say we can't recycle," he deadpanned. "Hillary is literally the only renewable resource we care about." Klepper ended with an emotional, cinematic plea for Clinton to stick around. You can watch below, or read Paul Waldman's longer, straighter version of the same argument at The Week. Peter Weber

1:35 a.m. ET
Sean Zanni/Getty Images for NARAS

When Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) abruptly resigned earlier this month, the chances he would ever repay taxpayers for the $84,000 sexual harassment settlement he reached with a staffer, as he'd promised to, shrank significantly. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has an idea for how he can fulfill his promise, kind of. On Tuesday, Abbott used emergency powers to call a special June 30 election for the House seat Farenthold vacated, citing Hurricane Harvey to skirt state and federal election laws, and on Wednesday, he asked Farenthold to pay for the election.

"While you have publicly offered to reimburse the $84,000 in taxpayer funds you wrongly used to settle a sexual harassment claim, there is no legal recourse requiring you to give that money back to Congress," Abbott wrote in a letter to Farenthold's office. "I am urging you to give those funds back to the counties in your district to cover the costs of the June 30, 2018, special election. This seat must be filled, and the counties and taxpayers in the 27th congressional district should not again pay the price for your actions."

Local election officials estimate that the special election will cost the 13 counties in the district more than $200,000, the Houston Chronicle reports. Farenthold, worth $2.4 million according to 2016 financial disclosure statements, is under no obligation to pay anything for the election or even respond to Abbott, and few analysts expect that he will. Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson called Abbott's request "strange" and "unprecedented," adding, "The governor does not expect that Farenthold is going to pay the cost."

Abbott sought and quickly received a waiver from state Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) to hold the emergency election for Farenthold's seat because his district was hit by Harvey and, Abbott argued, "hurricane relief efforts depend heavily on action at the federal level, which can only occur if Texans residing in disaster zones have full and effective representation in Congress." Peter Weber

12:57 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If you live in the United States or Canada and have been eyeing a new Ford Fusion, get one while you can.

The company announced Wednesday that by 2020, "almost 90 percent of the Ford portfolio in North America will be trucks, utilities, and commercial vehicles." Hatchbacks and sedans don't sell as well as those vehicles, and only two models will remain on the market: the Mustang and Focus Active, a new crossover-like hatchback that will debut next year.

While the Taurus and Fiesta will soon be gone, Ford said it's "exploring new 'white space' vehicle silhouettes that combine the best attributes of cars and utilities, such as higher ride height, space, and versatility." A "white space" vehicle is one that doesn't quite fit into already established categories. Catherine Garcia

12:12 a.m. ET

When Dr. Ronny Jackson proclaimed President Trump fit as a horse, we didn't know much about the White House physician "and we didn't need to," Trevor Noah pointed out on Wednesday's Daily Show. "But once Trump nominated Jackson for a Cabinet position, people started digging into his past like he was dating Taylor Swift." He ran through the new list of allegations, starting with Jackson's "candy man" nickname, due to his alleged passing out of prescription opioids and other drugs like they were candy. Noah could see some sense in passing out Ambien on Air Force One (though not to Ben Carson).

But the accusations that Jackson drank on the job, harassed female employees, and wrecked a government car after drinking heavily with the Secret Service? "This is just shocking," Noah said. "I can't believe that between Trump's two doctors, Ronny Jackson is the one who might have a drinking problem." Lawmakers from both parties are urging Trump to reconsider Jackson's nomination, "although it is funny," he said, that "they don't care if he stays on as the president's physician."

"Even if he didn't drink, even if he didn't drive drunk, and even if he didn't overprescribe drugs, Ronny Jackson would still be far from qualified to run the VA," Noah said. "And in a way, all those senators who oppose him are lucky that these drug and alcohol allegations are coming out, because if there's one thing we know, it's that on its own, being completely unqualified for a position doesn't keep you out of Donald Trump's Cabinet." Look, we all know where this is headed, he added. "The president will have to find a new VA nominee, and knowing Trump, he's not going to search for a qualified person. He's just gonna pick another guy who says nice things about him. So I guess what I'm saying is, congratulations VA Secretary Kanye West." Peter Weber

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