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Morning Update: The President Is Trying To Make “Fetch” Happen

The NFL will penalize teams for anthem protests, the president is not allowed to block people on Twitter, and a new threat in Hawaii. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, May 24.

Posted on May 24, 2018, at 8:12 a.m. ET

Here’s what you need to know about Donald Trump’s new conspiracy theory

This is one of those stories that take a minute to explain. Let’s walk through it.

First, the background: President Trump has been publicly suggesting for over a year that Democrats, Barack Obama, the Clintons, or forces within the FBI and the Justice Department aligned with Obama spied on his presidential campaign.

Is any of that true? The claims were refuted by former FBI director James Comey, and then later by the Justice Department.

Okay, so what’s changed? Trump has renewed his claims after recent reporting on the early stages of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference.

What did that reporting say? The New York Times says the FBI sent an informant to talk to two Trump staffers. The Washington Post says that informant got a meeting with the Trump campaign’s co-chair. Several outlets have identified the informant as professor and longtime FBI source Stefan Halper.

And what did this informant find out? It is not clear what information the informant obtained during these meetings, what information was given to the FBI, or how any of that information was used.

So no one knows anything. Well, here’s an important bit: According to these reports, the informant was not a spy embedded within the campaign. Rather, he was a source who reportedly met a small handful of aides for brief meetings.

So…no one knows anything. Yeah, alright, there is very little that’s publicly known right now about what actually happened here.

And Trump says he knows? Trump is creatively combining these news reports with Fox News commentary and other unidentified “reports” to again try to manifest a scandal “bigger than Watergate.”

Is it working? Trump, ever the branding expert, told reporters outside the White House: “We now call it Spygate. You're calling it Spygate.” This is a bit like trying to make “fetch” happen. (BuzzFeed News is, in fact, not calling it “Spygate.”)

What should I take away from this? There is no public information right now indicating that there was a spy implanted in Trump's campaign or that any official investigation into the campaign was driven by “political purposes.”

Where we do go from here? Hopefully, Mars. But in reality, the reports about an informant, and the rampant speculation about this on Fox News, have given Trump even more ammunition to try to publicly discredit the investigation into Russian interference. This won’t disappear soon.

Quick brief:

  • A federal court ruled that the president can't block people on Twitter, deeming tweets from @realDonaldTrump to be a “public forum”.

  • A border patrol agent shot and killed a migrant woman in Texas. US Customs and Border Protection said the agent opened fire on the woman after being attacked by a group of migrants.

The NFL says it will penalize teams if players kneel on the field during the anthem

The league announced that teams will face fines if their players don’t stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” According to the new rules, players who want to kneel will have to do so “in the locker room.”

The decision drew strong reactions from many players. Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles said “the national conversation around race in America that NFL players forced over the last 2 years will persist.” Another player wrote that the NFL’s decision is a result of a “fear of a president turning his base against a corporation.”

Christopher Johnson, the acting owner and chair of the New York Jets, said he would pay if the NFL fined one of his players for kneeling during the anthem: “I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players.”

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence shared the news by tweeting “#Winning.”

Methane from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is producing blue flames and could cause major explosions

Hawaii officials said they are prepared to airlift up to 2,000 people living in communities near the erupting volcano if the area becomes cut off by lava flows.

Meanwhile, there is a new threat: Scientists with the US Geological Survey are warning people near active fissures to watch out for methane explosions.

The science behind it is this: The methane gas is caused by burning vegetation trapped in the many cracks. It flows through the cracks, looking for places to escape. But here’s the thing — that gas is highly flammable, and when it interacts with lava, it can explode.

As the gas seeps through the ground, this is what the blue flames look like:

USGS

Jessica Walter forgave Jeffrey Tambor for harassment in a very intimate interview

As the cast of Arrested Development sat down with the New York Times, Jessica Walter (who plays Lucille Bluth) revealed her experience of harassment by her costar Jeffrey Tambor. “Verbally, yes, he did harass me, but he did apologize. I have to let it go,” she said.

Tambor, who plays George Bluth Sr., acknowledged the incident in a different interview but Walter had previously refused to comment on it. In the audio of the Times interview, she can be heard crying as she forgives Tambor.

Walter said, “In like almost 60 years of working, I’ve never had anybody yell at me like that on a set. And it’s hard to deal with, but I’m over it now.” Meanwhile, fans are furious with Jason Bateman (Michael Bluth) for trying to normalize the harassment Walter experienced.

Tambor has admitted to being “difficult” and “mean” on the set of Transparent, but has denied allegations of sexual harassment that got him ousted from the show.

The army says it’s teaching kids karate. Others call it indoctrination.

Honduras is the US’s closest ally in Central America, and its military receives millions in aid every year. The US-funded military is running a program that some say is indoctrinating children — and using them to get information on gangs.

The children are as young as 7.

Almost 30,000 kids are taking part in the controversial program known as the Guardianes de la Patria — Guardians of the Homeland — sponsored and run by the country’s armed forces. Getting kids to join the program is easy for the same reasons thousands of people flee Honduras: The country’s so dangerous that there are few public places available for children.

Critics say the program instills a dangerous brand of nationalism in the country’s youth. They also say since kids are asked to share information on gangs in their neighborhoods, the program puts the children and their families at risk.

This guy discovered he spelled creatively in preschool, and the internet loves it

I just want you to know I am extremely here for your bad spelling days. There is no shame in it, and it brings me great joy.

Salvador Perez Jr. discovered over the weekend that when he was in preschool, his spelling was, uh, let’s say unconventional. His mom was cleaning out a drawer when she found an old worksheet of his.

He immediately shared it on Twitter, and now people can’t stop hilariously ragging on him. That’s because the lil’ genius was spelling like this:

Shine bright like a dimn,

Elamin

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