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January 17, 2019

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

11:53 a.m.

The three beehives that inhabit Notre Dame remain abuzz after this week's devastating fire that sent much of the famous cathedral up in flames.

The hives were untouched by the blaze, CNN reports, since they are located nearly 30 meters below the roof where the fire spread. Each hive houses around 60,000 bees.

Had the beehives been closer to the fire and reached higher temperatures, the bees would likely have died due to melting wax, beekeeper Nicolas Geant told CNN. But because bees don't have human-like lungs, the smoke itself was not enough to cause them to perish, says Geant.

Geant told CNN he couldn't confirm with absolute certainty if all the bees had survived, but he's optimistic since the hives themselves did not burn and bees have been seen flying in and out.

"I was incredibly sad about Notre Dame because it's such a beautiful building, and as a Catholic it means a lot to me. But to hear there is life when it comes to the bees, that's just wonderful. I was overjoyed," Geant said. "Thank goodness the flames didn't touch them. It's a miracle!" Marianne Dodson

10:47 a.m.

Today in wild misinterpretations: Russia is somehow claiming that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report — specifically intended to outline the evidence regarding Russia's interference in the 2016 election — didn't uncover "a single piece of evidence" pointing to illegal meddling.

Mueller, of course, bolstered U.S. intelligence conclusions by stating Russia interfered in the 2016 election in a "sweeping and systematic fashion." Mueller determined that President Trump's campaign did not criminally coordinate to aid in the interference, but the report plainly lays out that interference occurred. Reuters reports that Russia’s foreign ministry dismissed the findings on Friday, breezing past the evidence that showed the Kremlin working to find Hillary Clinton's "missing" emails, the Russian troll farm that waged a social media disinformation campaign, and the contact between Russian operatives and Trump campaign officials that sought to push Russian influence in 2016.

"The report confirms the absence of any arguments to the effect Russia allegedly intervened in the U.S. election," claimed Georgy Borisenko, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s North America Department in Russia's news outlet TASS. "Not a single piece of evidence is there. The authors of the report have in fact confessed they have nothing to report." Mueller may have something (like a couple hundred pages) to say about that. Summer Meza

10:15 a.m.

House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) issued a subpoena on Friday to obtain the full, unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference and the Trump campaign's conduct surrounding the meddling, reports The New York Times.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the subpoena earlier this month, anticipating a desire for an unredacted report and Mueller's underlying documentation. The subpoena has now been fired off, demanding to see Mueller's evidence and summaries of key witness interviews by May 1.

If Attorney General William Barr ignores it, the Judiciary Committee could hold him in contempt, setting up a potentially lengthy court battle.

Nadler said the report was troubling and "it now falls to Congress to determine the full scope of that alleged misconduct." In addition to requesting "the full version of the report and the underlying evidence," House Democrats have called on Mueller to testify publicly to clarify some of his findings. Read more at The New York Times. Summer Meza

9:27 a.m.

President Trump was abnormally silent in the hours following the public release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, choosing mostly to tweet quotes from his favorite Fox News commentators, and only briefly crowing about the findings during a White House event. He didn't even stop to talk to reporters on the White House lawn on Thursday, despite bragging in recent weeks about the report's "total exoneration" of him and his campaign.

On Friday, Trump changed his tone, dismissing elements of the report as "total bulls--t" on Twitter. He didn't specify which statements he considered "fabricated & totally untrue," but did appear to possibly reference former White House counsel Don McGahn, who Mueller said refused to end the special counsel investigation at Trump's request. McGahn apparently felt Trump was asking him to do some "crazy sh-t," and was also somewhat alarmed when Trump criticized him for taking notes, something Trump seemed to reference in his angry tweets. Summer Meza

9:09 a.m.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged to Special Counsel Robert Mueller that a claim she once made about former FBI Director James Comey wasn't "founded on anything," but she's refusing to admit it was an intentional falsehood.

Mueller's report revealed Sanders admitted she baselessly told reporters that "countless members of the FBI" had complained about Comey, while Mueller said "the evidence does not support those claims." But Sanders explained herself by describing the remarks as a "slip of the tongue." On Friday, Sanders told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos grilled Sanders about the admission on Good Morning America.

But Sanders wouldn't even concede that her comments to Mueller were any kind of admission. Stephanopoulos pushed back on her assertion that the falsehood could simply be an accident. "That's not a slip of the tongue, Sarah, that's a deliberate false statement," he said. Sanders claimed her misstatement didn't actually misrepresent the situation.

"Actually, if you look at what I said," she argued, "I said the slip of the tongue was in using the word 'countless,' but there were a number of FBI, both former and current, that agreed with the president's decision [to fire Comey] and they've continued to speak out," she said.

Stephanopoulos pointed out that she had pushed the same talking point on multiple occasions, asking "Why can't you acknowledge that what you said then was not true?" Watch the clip below. Summer Meza

8:21 a.m.

Two ACLU lawyers wrote a letter to New Mexico authorities requesting an investigation of a right-wing militia group that has been detaining groups of migrant families at gunpoint before handing them over to Border Patrol agents near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Members of the group, the United Constitutional Patriots, this week posted video of about 200 migrants apparently stopped near the border. "We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum," the lawyers, María Martínez Sánchez and Kirsten Greer Love, said in the letter.

Hector Balderas, New Mexico's attorney general, said the group's members "should not attempt to exercise authority reserved for law enforcement." Jim Benvie, a spokesman for the group, said its actions were legal, like "a verbal citizen's arrest." Read more at The New York Times. Harold Maass

8:07 a.m.

The Kremlin announced Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a summit later this month.

The news marked the latest indication that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has pivoted toward Russia since the February collapse of his second summit with President Trump without a deal on denuclearization and the lifting of U.S. sanctions. A day earlier, North Korea test-fired a new tactical guided weapon, the isolated Communist regime's first public weapon test since Kim's first summit with Trump last year.

Russia said Putin invited Kim. Russian media said Putin would meet Kim in Vladivostok on Russia's Pacific coast as Putin heads to a summit in Beijing. Read more at The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Harold Maass

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