The So-Called 'Secret Society' Was Likely a Joke but Trump Has Compared It to Watergate 


Just a quick observation: we’ve gone from Stormy Daniels to a secret society conspiracy in a week.

Here’s all the shit we couldn’t cover today:

  • For the last few day, Republican lawmakers—led by Senator Ron Johnson (Wisconsin)—have suggested that texts between FBI officials that reference a “secret society” are proof of a conspiratorial plot. It turns out that the single text was likely a joke. In full, the text at the center of this ridiculous story was sent by FBI lawyer Lisa Page to senior FBI agent Peter Strzok reads: “Are you even going to give out your calendars? Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society.” [ABC News]
  • The text was apparently about “Russian themed” calendars, meant as a gag gift, for those working on the probe of Russian interference in the election. They included photographs of Vladimir Putin “doing manly, tough-guy things like riding a horse” a la the now-famous photograph of the Russian leader. [HuffPost]
  • Johnson quickly backed away from the secret society conspiracy, admitting that it was “a real possibility” that it was a joke. [CNN]
  • If you thought that would kill conspiracy theory, then you’re wrong (and still sane, despite the news cycle!). Central to the “secret society” claims are five months of missing texts between Page and Strozk. The FBI says it’s the result of a technical glitch (the agency failed to capture thousands of message during that period, not just those between Page and Strozk). But Donald Trump claimed that it’s akin to Watergate. “When you look at five months, this is the late, great Rose Mary Woods, right?” Trump asked reporters, referencing Richard Nixon’s former secretary who took responsibility for the infamous 18 missing minutes of the Watergate tapes. “This is a large-scale version. That was 18 minutes, this was five months,” Trump added. It’s likely Trump got that idea from Sean Hannity. [New York Times/Washington Post]
  • In less colorful news, Mitt Romney is going to launch his candidacy for the Senate. [Axios]
  • Marco Rubio is still spineless. [Politico]
  • Since we’re talking about the Senate, note that Mitch McConnell has advanced the 20-week abortion ban otherwise known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The bill is unlikely to pass but may garner support from a couple of Democrats. [Rewire/Twitter]
  • A group has filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s rollback of Obama-era Title IX guidelines. [Washington Post]
  • Lynne Patton, a Housing and Urban Development official whose qualifications include planning Eric Trump’s wedding, apologized for calling reporter April Ryan “Miss Piggy.” “I hear #MissPiggys still on a rampage. Gee, I must’ve struck a nerve, @AprilDRyan! #BankruptBlogger,” Patton wrote in a now-deleted tweet. [CNN]
  • Taylor Weyeneth, the 24-year-old promoted to deputy chief of staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, resigned after it emerged that he had lied on his resume. Is there a spreadsheet of all of the Trump administration officials who’ve had to resign for either lying or being wildly racist? I can’t keep track anymore. [Buzzfeed]
  • After deciding to skip Davos, Melania went to Palm Beach. [The Hill]

Here are some tweets the president was allowed to publish:

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