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May 17, 2018

In 9 out of 10 cases, brands using memes is a bad and not-funny idea. Incredibly, it turns out there is something that ruins a good meme even faster than a lame branded tweet, though: the U.S. military joking about killing people.

On Thursday, the United States Air Force dropped this rather alarming reference to the viral debate over whether this audio recording sounds like the word "yanny" or "laurel":

The alarm and backlash were immediate:

Some 300 members of the Taliban were reportedly killed fighting in Farah. Jeva Lange

Update 1:48 p.m. ET: The Air Force has deleted its tweet, writing: "We apologize for the earlier tweet regarding the A-10. It was made in poor taste and we are addressing it internally. It has since been removed."

11:47 a.m.

A Democratic member of Congress is doubling down on her claim that her Republican colleague has been "compromised."

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) was questioned on CNN Thursday morning about her tweet from the previous day, in which she said that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), once a critic of President Trump but now a supporter, "is compromised!" On Thursday, she repeated that statement and said that Graham has made "not only a 180 [degree] turnaround but a 360 [degree] turnaround" in terms of his Trump support, and so "I am pretty sure there is something happening with him."

As far as what that something is, she wasn't sure but speculated it could be "something that has to do with his funding when it comes to running for office," or "the polling that they might have in his district," or perhaps "some sort of leadership within the Senate." Regardless, he is "somehow compromised to no longer stand up for the truth," she said, also suggesting Graham is no longer fulfilling the oath he took.

CNN's Jim Sciutto responded that this is "quite a charge to make," asking her for evidence. She responded that the "evidence really is present to us" based on Graham's behavior, but when Poppy Harlow pointed out that "that's not evidence," she conceded that it's "just an opinion." She added, "I am pretty sure there are lots of Americans who agree on this." Watch the exchange on CNN below. Brendan Morrow

11:19 a.m.

President Trump and his lawyer have claimed "no collusion" at least 55 times altogether — and that's just on Twitter.

On Wednesday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared on CNN's Cuomo Prime Time, telling host Chris Cuomo he "never said there was no collusion between the [Trump] campaign or between people in the campaign." Giuliani only said "the president" did not collude, he claimed, prompting suggestions that Giuliani just admitted to Trump campaign collusion.

A quick look back through Giuliani's TV appearances and tweets shows that's not exactly true. Giuliani has tweeted no fewer than 10 times broadly claiming "no collusion." Some of those tweets do, as Giuliani claimed, refer only to the the president. But others say members of the campaign team, in "all [cases] so far," have shown no signs of "collusion" or "obstruction."

Trump, meanwhile, has been a little less careful with his words. He's denied collusion at least 45 times in tweets, explicitly saying the Trump campaign committed "no collusion" 18 times and calling suggestions otherwise a "TOTAL HOAX."

That's not to mention Trump's official White House statement saying "there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity," or his many on-camera statements relaying the same. But those are some 145 claims to check out on another day. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:05 a.m.

Rudy Giuliani's Wednesday night bombshell left the world with a lot to take in.

On CNN's Cuomo Prime Time, the former New York City mayor and current member of Trump's legal team falsely declared he "never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign." He only "said the president" himself never colluded, Giuliani claimed to host Chris Cuomo.

The next morning on CNN's New Day, Joe Lockhart, who was former President Bill Clinton's press secretary, declared this just another example of Giuliani's "number one job:" "to confuse people." This could mean he is "condition[ing] the ground" because "something bad is coming," Lockhart said.

But on MSNBC, Morning Joe's Joe Scarborough took it a step further. Wednesday night's revelation all adds up to one thing: "Rudy Giuliani just told America and the world that Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russia, full stop," Scarborough said.

Meanwhile on Fox & Friends First, the ordeal just got a few seconds of attention, during which Giuliani's retort was characterized as him "firing back at CNN over claims he said the Trump campaign never colluded with Russians." What Fox & Friends First calls "claims" are easily viewable in a slew of video clips and tweets. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:56 a.m.

Facebook has taken down hundreds of accounts and pages after tracing them back to Russia's news agency.

The social media website said Thursday that it had removed 364 pages that were being run by a network originating in Russia and whose creators were engaging in "coordinated inauthentic behavior." Facebook says the pages, some of which were meant to look like independent news sources, were linked to employees of Sputnik, the news agency owned by the Russian government, who used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves.

"Some of the Pages frequently posted about topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption," Facebook says. Nearly 800,000 people followed these removed pages, which also spent more than $100,000 in advertising.

Additionally, Facebook says it uncovered a separate network of Ukrainian pages and accounts that also originated in Russia, with 26 pages being removed that were bolstered by fake accounts. "We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don't want our services to be used to manipulate people," Facebook said. Brendan Morrow

9:18 a.m.

As the longest government shutdown in history nears its one-month anniversary, a new poll shows President Trump taking a significant hit among his base.

A survey from NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist published Thursday found that Trump's approval rating is down among suburban men, white evangelicals, Republicans, and white men without a college degree. The most drastic change was among suburban men, 42 percent of whom approve of Trump while 48 percent disapprove, compared to 51 percent approval and 39 percent disapproval last month.

Additionally, among white evangelicals, Trump is down to 66-to-23 approval from 73-to-17 approval last month. Among Republicans, he's down to 83-to-10 percent approval from 90-to-7 percent last month. Finally, among white men without a college degree, he's down to 50-to-35 percent approval from 56-to-34 last month.

These are all demographics that brought Trump to victory in 2016. A CNN exit poll at the time, for example, suggested 71 percent of white men without a college degree voted for Trump. "For the first time, we saw a fairly consistent pattern of having his base showing evidence of a cracking," Lee Miringoff, the director of Marist Institute for Public Opinion, told NPR about this new poll.

A previous poll by Morning Consult found that Trump's net approval rating is below zero in key states that he carried in 2016, including Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist's poll was conducted by speaking to 1,023 adults from Jan. 10-13. The margin of error is 3.8 percentage points. See more results at NPR. Brendan Morrow

8:45 a.m.

With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) floating the idea of disinviting President Trump from delivering the State of the Union, the president is apparently looking for another way in.

Officials in the White House are "discussing" whether it's possible for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to invite Trump to deliver the address, CBS reports. Pelosi on Wednesday wrote a letter to Trump suggesting they delay the State of the Union, which had previously been scheduled for Jan. 29. She said there are "security concerns" because of the ongoing partial government shutdown, although Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen subsequently said the department is actually "fully prepared" for the event.

It's the House speaker's role to invite the president to the State of the Union, and Pelosi did not actually say Wednesday the event was off or that she wouldn't bring a Jan. 29 resolution up for approval. But either way, White House officials reportedly see Pelosi's move as "a sign of weakness" in the shutdown fight, believing she's afraid Trump will use the address to rally the nation to his side.

Trump himself has not yet officially responded to Pelosi's State of the Union suggestion. Brendan Morrow

7:36 a.m.

When Michael Cohen infamously questioned the legitimacy of presidential polls in 2016, it seems he knew a thing or two about trying to rig them.

President Trump's former attorney hired an IT firm to manipulate online polls for Trump before he entered the 2016 race, The Wall Street Journal reports. John Gauger, owner of RedFinch Solutions LLC, says Cohen promised him $50,000 for work that included trying to manipulate a Drudge Report poll of possible Republican presidential candidates in 2015. Cohen also reportedly asked Gauger to tinker with a CNBC poll of America's top business leaders in 2014.

Gauger says Cohen paid him around $12,500 in a Walmart bag full of cash (and "a boxing glove that Mr. Cohen said had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter") but never gave him the rest of the money, even though Trump reimbursed Cohen for $50,000 in "tech services." Cohen denied paying with a bag of cash, telling the Journal he used a check.

Gauger says Cohen did end up paying him more money later for additional services, though. This apparently included having Gauger make a Cohen fan account during the 2016 election called @WomenForCohen, which labeled Cohen a "sex symbol."

Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to violating campaign finance laws, saying he paid off women who alleged they had affairs with Trump before he ran for president, which Trump denies. Cohen will testify before Congress next month and reportedly plans to detail his personal experience working for the president, with one source saying he's "going to say things that will give you chills."

As for the poll-rigging efforts, Journal notes Gauger was unsuccessful. In the Drudge poll, Trump ended up in fifth place with five percent of the vote, and in the CNBC poll, he didn't even make it into the top 100. Brendan Morrow

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