9:16 PM 1/9/2018 – “FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people”, Simpson said” – FBI knew of possible Trump-Russia collusion, according to Glenn Simpson’s Senate testimony – Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks

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“Steele broke off contact with the FBI sometime between Oct. 31, 2016, and the election on Nov. 8, Simpson said, because Steele concluded that the information he had given to the FBI was not elevated to the highest levels of the bureau and was not being vigorously pursued.

front-page New York Times article on Oct. 31 about the Trump-Russia investigation said the FBI had found no conclusive link between Trump and Russia.

After the article was published, Simpson said, Steele severed his relationship with the FBI.

“There was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people and that we didn’t really understand what was going on,” Simpson said.

It has since emerged that there was an active FBI counterintelligence investigation, which began in July 2016 but which the bureau kept secret…

Simpson said a dossier, which contained unverified allegations that

Russia had been cultivating Trump for years

and had gathered compromising information on Trump, contained all the memos Steele had produced for Fusion GPS, and that neither Fusion nor Simpson selected the content or edited the memos. The dossier was published by Buzzfeed.”

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FBI knew of possible Trump-Russia collusion, according to Glenn Simpson’s Senate testimony

mikenova shared this story .

WASHINGTON — By the time the FBI sat down in September 2016 for a full interview with the ex-British spy who had been researching Donald Trump’s Russia connections, the bureau had already received information raising concerns about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to a transcript made public Tuesday.

Glenn Simpson, a former newspaper reporter and the founder of a research firm called Fusion GPS, spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee for more than 10 hours in August about his research into Trump, and on Tuesday more than 300 pages of his testimony were released by the committee’s ranking Democrat, Dianne Feinstein of California.

Feinstein releases Fusion GPS testimony on Trump dossier 3:14

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Simpson told the committee that his associate, the former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele, sat down for a “full debriefing” with an FBI contact in Rome in September 2016. During the debriefing, Steele shared information from his Russian sources, who said Trump had been coordinating with the Russian election-interference campaign of hacking and leaking.

For the FBI, it wasn’t entirely new information, Simpson testified.

“They believed Chris might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing,” Simpson said. “One of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization.” He added that the FBI had a “walk-in” whistleblower who was someone in Trump’s orbit.

‘People are entitled to know’: Sen. Feinstein responds to releasing transcripts on possible Trump-Russia collusion 1:14

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However, two sources close to Fusion GPS told NBC News that Simpson’s testimony inaccurately conflated what he had been told, and that the human source was actually George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign aide who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller.

By the time Steele sat down with the FBI in September, an Australian diplomat had passed to U.S. officials details of his conversation with Papadopoulos, who seemed to know that the Russians possessed hacked Democratic emails.

Steele first reached out to the FBI in early July 2016, because he was alarmed by the information he collected in June and felt obligated to step forward, Simpson said.

“He said he was professionally obligated to do it,” Simpson testified. “Like if you’re a lawyer and, you know, you find out about a crime, in a lot of countries you must report that.”

Steele was concerned that Trump could be blackmailed by the Russians over an alleged 2013 sexual escapade Steele believed had been recorded at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Moscow, Simpson testified.

The FBI responded to Steele “by September,” Simpson said, and Steele then met in mid- or late September with an FBI legal attaché in Rome.

Steele broke off contact with the FBI sometime between Oct. 31, 2016, and the election on Nov. 8, Simpson said, because Steele concluded that the information he had given to the FBI was not elevated to the highest levels of the bureau and was not being vigorously pursued.

front-page New York Times article on Oct. 31 about the Trump-Russia investigation said the FBI had found no conclusive link between Trump and Russia.

After the article was published, Simpson said, Steele severed his relationship with the FBI. “There was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people and that we didn’t really understand what was going on,” Simpson said.

It has since emerged that there was an active FBI counterintelligence investigation, which began in July 2016 but which the bureau kept secret.

Simpson said a dossier, which contained unverified allegations that Russia had been cultivating Trump for years and had gathered compromising information on Trump, contained all the memos Steele had produced for Fusion GPS, and that neither Fusion nor Simpson selected the content or edited the memos. The dossier was published by Buzzfeed.

Simpson said when he began his research into Trump, he was struck by Trump’s many connections to people linked to Russian organized crime, including Felix Sater, who pleaded guilty in 1998 to a mafia stock swindle and later helped Trump develop the Trump Soho hotel.

Simpson said he found Steele’s reports that the Russians were coordinating with the Trump campaign credible.

During the Senate hearing, he was asked to respond to a comment from a White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, that his was a “Democrat-linked firm” that “took money from the Russian government” and “created the phony dossier that’s been the basis for all of the Russia scandal fake news.”

“It’s a false allegation,” he said. “It’s political rhetoric to call the dossier phony. The memos are field reports of real interviews that Chris’s network conducted and there’s nothing phony about it. We can argue about what’s prudent and what’s not, but it’s not a fabrication.”

Simpson acknowledged that at the time he was working with Steele he was also working with a law firm that was defending a Russian oligarch in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Attorney in New York. But he testified that the two cases were entirely separate, and did not influence one another.

Two of the people working on the New York case with Simpson were Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin, both of whom attended a now-notorious June 2016 Trump Tower meeting that had been billed as an attempt by Russian officials to give negative information about Hillary Clinton to the Trump campaign. Simpson said he was unaware of that meeting at the time it occurred.

Simpson said he concluded from his research that Trump was not as rich as he has claimed, and that he had a lot of questionable business entanglements that bear further scrutiny.

“There were various allegations of fraudulent business practices or dishonest business practices or connections with organized crime figures,” Simpson said. “It was a long history of associations with people accused of involvement in criminal activity.”

Democratic Senator Releases Transcript of Interview with Dossier Firm – New York Times

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New York Times
Democratic Senator Releases Transcript of Interview with Dossier Firm
New York Times
In his testimony, Mr. Simpson sought to portray himself as an astute researcher well versed in the Russian government and that country’s organized crime. And he said Mr. Steele, the former British spy he hired to investigate the campaign’s ties to 
Senate Democrats just released full testimony on the Trump dossierCNBC
Top Dem releases testimony from Steele employerCBS News
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New York Daily News –USA TODAY –New York Times –New York Times
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Trump-Russia dossier transcripts expose Donald Trumps ties to organized crime

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

The worst kept secret in the entire Trump-Russia scandal is that Donald Trump has decades of business relationships with organized crime figures, and those deals are likely a big part of how the Russian government took control of Trump financially ahead of his entry into politics. Today’s release of Trump-Russia transcripts reveals that organized crime is indeed at the heart of the Trump-Russia scandal.

Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, the company behind the Trump-Russia dossier, testified privately before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the summer of 2017. Democratic ranking member Dianne Feinstein released the transcripts of that testimony today over the objections of Trump’s Republican apologists on the committee. The transcripts reveal what was behind the effort to assemble the dossier: “It was, broadly speaking, a kind of holistic examination of Donald Trump’s business record and his associations, his bankruptcies, his suppliers, you know, offshore or third-world suppliers of products that he was selling. You know, it evolved somewhat quickly into issues of his relationships to organized crime figures but, you know, really the gamut of Donald Trump.”

In fact the three hundred-plus page transcript references “organized crime” fourteen different times. While the testimony does not give away the specifics of how Trump is tied to organized crime, it’s a given that Fusion GPS has already provided these details to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Some of Trump’s ties to organized crime, and more specifically Russian organized crime, have already been publicly documented.

For instance, the Trump Organization has done several major real estate deals in New York City with a guy named Felix Sater, who has done prison time in relation to laundering money for the Russian mafia. In addition, the U.S. Treasury Department hit the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City with a hefty fine for years of facilitating money launderers, which included the period of time in which Donald Trump still owned a commanding stake in the property.

The post Trump-Russia dossier transcripts expose Donald Trump’s ties to organized crime appeared first on Palmer Report.

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Everything hits the fan

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Right now Donald Trump is missing the good old days of last week, when it was only Steve Bannon who had gone rogue against him. It’s difficult to figure out how much of this is a snowball effect and how much of it may be happenstance, but at this rate Trump’s entire world is caving in on him from within. Now everyone from Ivanka Trump to Brad Parscale to Sebastian Gorka on down is suddenly finding ways to play for the other team, whether because they’re trying to distance themselves or because they’re all simply very rapidly losing what they barely ever had to begin with.

It would have been devastating enough if the story was simply that Bannon was accusing Trump and his son of a “treasonous” plot with the Russians. That’s profoundly ugly, and unprecedented in the modern presidency. Since when does a former White House Chief Strategist fire back with accusations of literal treason? But then came Brad Parscale’s bizarre tweet in which he repeatedly insisted that nothing happened in the campaign without the approval of Jared Kushner and Eric Trump (wait, a minute, Eric?). Was Parscale trying to help these two by making them look powerful, or trying to throw them under the bus by assigning the Russia plot decision-making to them? It quickly got worse.

Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s former resident White House white supremacist and goatee model, seemed to try to defend Trump against Michael Wolff’s book, but instead ended up confirming that Trump was lying about Wolff being given insider access. Stephen Miller went on CNN and offered up such a demented defense of Trump complete with getting kicked off the air and kicked out of the building that he had to have known he was hurting Trump in the process. Then Lindsey Graham, Trump’s inexplicable new puppet, went on The View and wandered totally off script by defending Robert Mueller.

After everything else had hit the fan from within for Donald Trump, last night Ivanka Trump jumped on Twitter and appeared to endorse Oprah for President. Why on earth would she endorse her own father’s potential 2020 competitor? Then again, at this point we all know Donald Trump won’t still be in office by 2020 to run for reelection anyway.

The post Everything hits the fan appeared first on Palmer Report.

David Cameron thought Barack Obama was a narcissist, says ex … – Telegraph.co.uk

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Telegraph.co.uk
David Cameron thought Barack Obama was a narcissist, says ex …
Telegraph.co.uk
The man who served as David Cameron’s director of strategy said the former prime minister thought Barack Obama was one of the most narcissistic, self-absorbed people with whom he had ever dealt. Steve Hilton, who was once one of Mr Cameron’s most 
Cameron didn’t have ‘bromance’ with Obama and thought he was a …The Independent
David Cameron thought Barack Obama was a self-absorbed narcissist, former strategist claimsRT

all 7 news articles »

“Fire and Fury” sparks talk about Trump’s mental fitness

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January 8, 2018, 6:33 PM | “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff says members of the president’s inner circle are concerned about his unpredictablity and temper. But as CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett reports, this isn’t the first …

Trump likely to be interviewed over Russia probe – ANI News

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ANI News
Trump likely to be interviewed over Russia probe
ANI News
The intelligence community believes that the Russian government was engaged in electoral interference during the 2016 US presidential election. A January 2017 assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence stated that Russian 

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The Decline of Anti-Trumpism – The New York Times

mikenova shared this story .

I sometimes wonder if the Invisible White House has learned to use the Potemkin White House to deke us while it changes the country.

I mention these inconvenient observations because the anti-Trump movement, of which I’m a proud member, seems to be getting dumber. It seems to be settling into a smug, fairy tale version of reality that filters out discordant information. More anti-Trumpers seem to be telling themselves a “Madness of King George” narrative: Trump is a semiliterate madman surrounded by sycophants who are morally, intellectually and psychologically inferior to people like us.

I’d like to think it’s possible to be fervently anti-Trump while also not reducing everything to a fairy tale.

The anti-Trump movement suffers from insularity. Most of the people who detest Trump don’t know anybody who works with him or supports him. And if they do have friends and family members who admire Trump, they’ve learned not to talk about this subject. So they get most of their information about Trumpism from others who also detest Trumpism, which is always a recipe for epistemic closure.

The movement also suffers from lowbrowism. Fox News pioneered modern lowbrowism. The modern lowbrow (think Sean Hannity or Dinesh D’Souza) ignores normal journalistic or intellectual standards. He creates a style of communication that doesn’t make you think more; it makes you think and notice less. He offers a steady diet of affirmation, focuses on simple topics that require little background information, and gets viewers addicted to daily doses of righteous contempt and delicious vindication.

We anti-Trumpers have our lowbrowism, too, mostly on late-night TV. But anti-Trump lowbrowism burst into full bloom with the Wolff book.

Wolff doesn’t pretend to adhere to normal journalistic standards. He happily admits that he’s just tossing out rumors that are too good to check. As Charlie Warzel wrote on BuzzFeed, “For Wolff’s book, the truth seems almost a secondary concern to what really matters: engagement.”

The ultimate test of the lowbrow is not whether it challenges you, teaches you or captures the contours of reality; it’s whether you feel an urge to share it on social media.

In every war, nations come to resemble their enemies, so I suppose it’s normal that the anti-Trump movement would come to resemble the pro-Trump movement. But it’s not good. I’ve noticed a lot of young people look at the monotonous daily hysteria of we anti-Trumpers and they find it silly.

This isn’t just a struggle over a president. It’s a struggle over what rules we’re going to play by after Trump. Are we all going to descend permanently into the Trump standard of acceptable behavior?

Or, are we going to restore the distinction between excellence and mediocrity, truth and a lie? Are we going to insist on the difference between a genuine expert and an ill-informed blow hard? Are we going to restore the distinction between those institutions like the Congressional Budget Office that operate by professional standards and speak with legitimate authority, and the propaganda mills that don’t?

There’s a hierarchy of excellence in every sphere. There’s a huge difference between William F. Buckley and Sean Hannity, between the reporters at this newspaper and a rumor-spreader. Part of this struggle is to maintain those distinctions, not to contribute to their evisceration.

Continue reading the main story

Mueller Conveys Interest in Questioning Trump: Source

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Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of investigators has expressed interest in speaking with President Donald Trump as part of a probe into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, a person familiar with the matter said Monday.

The prospect of an interview with the president has come up in recent discussions between Mueller’s team and Trump lawyers, but no details have been worked out, including the scope of questions that the president would agree to answer if an interview were to actually take place, according to the person. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

When or even if an interview would occur was not immediately clear, nor were the terms for the interview or whether Trump’s lawyers would seek to narrow the range of questions or topics that prosecutors would cover. Trump’s lawyers have previously stated their determination to cooperate with Mueller’s requests.

It’s not surprising that investigators would ultimately seek to interview the president given his role in several episodes under scrutiny by Mueller. Any interview of Trump would be a likely indication that the investigation was in its final stages — investigators typically look to interview main subjects in their inquiries near the end of a probe.

Flynn Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements to FBI

[NATL] Flynn Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements to FBI

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to a count of making false statements to the FBI. He is the fourth person charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

(Published Friday, Dec. 1, 2017)

Mueller for months has led a team of prosecutors and agents investigating whether Russia and Trump’s Republican campaign coordinated to sway the 2016 election, and whether Trump has worked to obstruct an FBI investigation into his aides, including by firing the FBI director, James Comey.

Comey has said that several months before he was dismissed, Trump told him he hoped he would end an investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Mueller’s team recently concluded a series of interviews with many current and former White House aides, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus and the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Four people have been charged so far, including Flynn, who pleaded guilty in December to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was indicted on charges tied to foreign lobbying work.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment, as did Trump lawyers John Dowd and Jay Sekulow.

Trump did not rule out the possibility of being questioned by Mueller when asked about it at a news conference Saturday. He said there had been “no collusion” and “no crime.”

‘Late Night’: O’Donnell Says She’s Getting a Mueller Tattoo

[NATL] 'Late Night': Rosie O'Donnell Says She's Getting a Bob Mueller Tattoo

After the recent indictments in the Russia investigation, Rosie O’Donnell tells special counsel Robert Mueller to “keep doing what you’re doing” and jokes that she’ll be getting a Mueller tattoo right above her heart.

(Published Friday, Nov. 3, 2017)

“But we have been very open,” Trump said. “We could have done it two ways. We could have been very closed and it would have taken years. But you know, it’s sort of like, when you’ve done nothing wrong, let’s be open and get it over with.”

A White House spokesman pointed to a statement from White House lawyer Ty Cobb saying the White House doesn’t publicly discuss its conversations with Mueller but was continuing to cooperate “in order to facilitate the earliest possible resolution.”

Associated Press writer Chad Day contributed to this report.

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Story image for mueller from Chicago Tribune

Mueller indicates he will likely seek interview with Trump

Chicago Tribune2 hours ago
Special counsel Robert Mueller has raised the likelihood with President Donald Trump’s legal team that his office will seek an interview with the president, triggering a discussion among his attorneys about how to avoid a sit-down encounter or set limits on such a session, according to two people familiar …
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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

mikenova shared this story from Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices.

Over the past week, the White House aggressively responded to concerns about President Donald Trumps mental competency raised by the book Fire and Fury, prompting former chief strategist Stephen Bannon to walk back comments attributed to him in the book, the New York Times . Quotes in the controversial tell-all raised questions about Trumps ability to execute the functions of his office and the applicability of the 25th Amendment, which, among other things, allows for the transfer of the presidents power to the vice president if the vice president and a majority of the presidents cabinet or a congressionally created body determine he is unable to perform his duties. Officials such as CIA Director Mike Pompeo expressed full faith in the president over the weekend. Politico  on the 25th Amendment and its unlikely application.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller may seek to interview Trump, spurring discussions among Trumps lawyers about how a sit-down interview could be avoided or kept within strict limits, the Washington Post . Muellers team could conduct the interview quite soon, possibly within the next several weeks. Trumps legal team is said to be reluctant to allow their client to sit for such an interview and has explored alternatives, such as providing written replies to questions

For the first time in two years, North and South Korea are set to have an official face-to-face meeting and will discuss a potential North Korean delegation to the Winter Olympics, the Wall Street Journal . The Olympics are slated to begin in South Korea next month. At the talks, set for Tuesday morning KST, several issues including family reunification may be discussed. However, South Korean officials said that they cannot predict the conversations direction. North Korea has not given a statement about the talks. A spokesperson for the State Department said the U.S. does not expect the South Korean government to go off freelancing in the meeting. The Trump administration suspects that Pyongyang may try to use the talks to drive a wedge between the United States and South Korea.

Trump must decide this week if he will continue to extend sanctions relief to Iran or risk placing the United States in breach of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the Journal . Recent protests in Iran, in addition to Trumps noted position against the 2015 deal, have introduced further uncertainty to his next move. Some advisers have said it appears Trump will continue sanctions relief, but they also acknowledged his final decision remains unclear. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Trump will introduce more sanctions, unrelated to the nuclear deal, in the near future.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster claimed that the Russian government is pursuing a sophisticated influence campaign to meddle in the Mexican presidential election,  Reuters. The statement came from a previously unreported video clip of a speech at the Jamestown Foundation. Some analysts believe Russia supports the current frontrunner, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the left-wing former mayor of Mexico City, while some Mexican commentators noted that there has been no proof of Russian involvement.

Over 200,000 Salvadorans have been told they must leave the United States or face deportation, following a decision by the Trump administration to end the Temporary Protected Status that made it legal for them to live and work in the United States, the Times . The administration said that the improved conditions in El Salvador meant that the individuals no longer fit into the framework of the program.

The supreme allied commander of NATO and Russias top general plan to meet later this month in Azerbaijan as the United States pursues a variety of high-level Russian contact early in 2018, BuzzFeed News . Other planned conversations between top officials will cover the Ukraine crisis, the U.S.-Russia relationship, and the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The Obama administration forbade meetings between the top commanders of NATO and Russia in an effort to diplomatically isolate Moscow following the annexation of Crimea. Some officials now say more can be gained through increased engagement.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claims it has quelled the anti-government protests that recently spread throughout Iran, but some signs of resistance, such as the burning of government documents, have continued on social media, the Journal . These documents include bills from state-owned companies and identification cards for Basij, the IRGCs volunteer militia. Although some have continued to call for protests, the intensity has recently fallen and the level of unrest has been hard to measure. Iranian officials say that the leaders of the protests remain in custody.

China is rapidly expanding its facial recognition capability and integrating the technology to monitor the activitiesboth criminal and socialof its citizens, the Post . The Chinese government hopes to make the system, broad in its scope and goals, omnipresent, fully networked, always working and fully controllable by 2020.

The first pretrial hearing by a military commissions judge outside of Guantánamo is set to take place at the military commissions headquarters in Alexandria, VA, the Miami Herald . It will be a closed national security hearing in the case against alleged Al Qaeda commander Abd al Hadi al Iraqi. Neither the public nor the captive is permitted to attend or view the session. Hadi is in poor health and has recently undergone emergency spinal surgeries. It is unclear whether he will be able to attend the next public hearing in Guantánamo, scheduled to begin Jan. 29.

 

ICYMI: Last weekend on Lawfare

Benjamin Wittes  the Lawfare Podcast, the second of his conversation with Middle East policy expert and vocal Trump supporter Michael Doran.

Dan Geer  on what the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities force technologists and policy makers to evaluate what they choose to prioritize.

Charlie Winter and Jade Parker  how the Islamic States cyber and propaganda tactics have shifted as the group has lost control of territory.

Paul Rosenzweig  that elections are a cybersecurity issue.

 

 the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and  for additional commentary on these issues.  to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our  to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our .

 

The Biggest Question on the Trump/Russia Story – TPM (blog)

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TPM (blog)
The Biggest Question on the Trump/Russia Story
TPM (blog)
A week ago I said we were at the end of the beginning of the Trump/Russia story. The big question of whether there was collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign has been answered for anyone who has their eyes open. They did. The question is how 

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