Some cool things you can do with Python: pyThOn – fastEst Growing LaNgUage

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Python is an easy to learn, powerful programming language. It has efficient high-level data structures and a simple but effective approach to object-oriented programming. Python’s elegant syntax and dynamic typing, together with its interpreted nature, make it an ideal language for scripting and rapid application development in many areas on most platforms.

Python interpreters are available for many operating systems, allowing Python code to run on a wide variety of systems.
So what are some of the cool things you can do with Python?

1. Python Web Development

python web development


Web development is the umbrella term for conceptualizing, creating, deploying and operating web applications and application programming interfaces for the Web.
Python is object oriented programming language. It can be used to build server-side web applications. Python is not used in a web browser. The language executed in browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer is JavaScript.
However, most web applications build using a combination of Python and JavaScript. Python is executed on the server side while JavaScript is downloaded to the client and run by the web browser.

So you can build a cool website from scratch without feeling overwhelmed. You can also take advantage of micro-frameworks like Flask and Bottle.

Advanced content management is also possible with systems like Django CMS and Plone. Further, Python’s standard library supports several internet protocols like HTML, XML, and JSON.

2. Scientific and Numeric Computing
Python is an increasingly popular tool for Data Analysis. Data analytics falls under scientific and numeric computing. So we can take advantage of many libraries which python provides for scientific and Numeric computing. Such as SciPy library which includes modules for linear algebra, optimization, integration, special functions, signal and image processing, statistics, genetic algorithms, ODE solvers, and others. Numba which is specifically suited for scientific codes and Pandas is a data analysis and modeling library, so there’s a lot going on with Python within data science.

3. Function Decorators Allow Enhanced Functionality
Function decorators allow you to enhance the functionality of existing functions. In context of design patterns, decorators dynamically alter the functionality of a function, method or class without having to directly use subclasses. You can implement the decorator pattern anywhere, but Python facilitates the implementation by providing much more expressive features and syntax for that.

4.Machine Learning

machine-learning-python


Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can change when exposed to new data. 
Python has a great library called scikit-learn that is specialized in machine learning. The availability of scikit-learn makes it easy to implement machine learning algorithms in python.

5.Browser Automation

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You can also use Python to do cool things like automating your browser to do social media posts,download files and web pages. This can be done by using Selenium with Python. Selenium is able to fill in forms and simulate mouse clicks in this browser.

6.Robotics

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Python is a core language of ROS (Robot Operating System), meaning the full power of a distributed robotics system and all its libraries/tools are available to you via Python. Python can be used to code a Raspberry Pi to function as the brain of a robot. By doing this you can get the robot to react to its environment and perform multiple actions.

These six cool things made possible by this programming language is just a fraction of what you can do with it. Python’s recent 3.6 release has new features in the asyncio module (which is no longer provisional with a surprisingly stable API), formatted string literals, and the addition of a file system path protocol.
The language is also evolving fast within the data science space. The Python ecosystem is now full of data science tools, so a lot of the data science work that’s currently taking place is being done with open-source tools like Python.

Learn Python with Django

A question of consent and confusion

I would like to ask my American readers to leave now, as I am going to discuss some thoughts about sex which might offend the puritan.

I am very happy that I am over 50 and married, because if I was a young man I would be very much confused by now. According to polls a lot of young people in America these days believe that complimenting a woman or asking her for a date is sexual harassment. And you can’t read the news these days without reading some report on there being a “rape culture”, with an implied or even outspoken presumption that all men are rapists.

Fact is that the overwhelming majority of men are not rapists, by any reasonable definition of the term including all forms of non-consensual sex. While it is certainly true that rape is under-reported as a crime, even if you consider a 90% rate of under-reporting, that would raise the rape rate in the USA from 30 per 100,000 population to 300 per 100,000 population. Which still leaves over 99% of men being not rapists. In Germany some time ago there were some cases of sexual harassment committed by immigrants, which led to the far right claiming things like “all Muslim men are rapists”. The liberal left loudly protested against such a sweeping and obviously untrue statement. I’m still waiting for the same reasoning to be applied to the defense of white, non-immigrant men.

I totally applaud the movement of outing pigs like Harvey Weinstein up to and including the point where they should go to prison for any rapes they committed. However I do think there are important values enshrined in our justice system, like people being considered innocent until proven guilty, which I see somewhat in danger in some of the cases. There have been cases where the falsehood of a rape accusation could be proved in court, although of course that takes years and by the time the media career of the accused is long dead. Thus a presumption that all men are rapists is not only unfair, but actually a danger to the rule of law.

What must be confusing for young people is that at the same time harmless flirting is being criminalized, the access to sexual images and even sex has never been easier. Doubly confusing if you hear that the changes to laws about prostitution in many European countries are called “liberalization”, while the puritans in the media complaining about men’s sexual advances are also called “liberals”. You end up with a view of the world where there are “good girls” which you better even don’t look at, better not talk to other than professionally, and certainly never touch, and there are “bad girls” on porn sites, webcam broadcasts, Tinder, in strip clubs or brothels (NSFW). I’m sure some people concluded that the crime of the Presidents Club was to have invited the wrong kind of girl to their party.

There is a strong correlation of that with economic inequality. The “good girls” are generally richer than the “bad girls”. In other words, they are the same girls, they are just on different levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and so they differ in the relative importance they place on money and on being treated like a lady. Instead of blaming all men and starting a gender war, maybe we could come a lot closer to universal respectful interactions between men and women by introducing universal basic income.

Paul Krugman: The GOP Is Completely, Hopelessly Corrupt

It’s not just Republican donors that stand to rake in millions from the party’s latest tax bill.

It’s a common misconception in liberal media circles that Republicans govern solely to satisfy their wealthy donors. They do that too, but as the recent #CorkerKickback controversy reveals, they’re as motivated by financial self-interest as the president of the United States.

In his Tuesday column, the New York Times’ Paul Krugman argues that the GOP grift is even broader and deeper than the public realizes. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which is expected to be signed into law as early as this week, has a 26 percent approval rating, according to the latest Monmouth University poll. While they may not grasp its particulars, most Americans understand they will ultimately be paying more to finance tax cuts for multinational corporations and the 1 percent. What they may not know is that Republican officials themselves stand to profit handsomely from this legislation. 

“Raw bribery probably isn’t the issue, although insider trading based on close relationships with companies affected by legislation may be a much bigger deal than most realize,” Krugman writes. “But the revolving door is an even bigger deal. When members of Congress leave their positions, voluntarily or not, their next jobs often involve lobbying of some kind. This gives them an incentive to keep the big-money guys happy, never mind what voters think.”

The malfeasance of Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) is even more transparent. After initially voting against the GOP tax bill, citing concerns about the trillion dollars that would be added to the deficit over the next decade, Corker abruptly reversed course last week. The Congressional Budget Office hasn’t issued a new report, so what changed?

Well, Republicans inserted a new provision into the legislation adding real estate companies to the list of “pass-through” businesses entitled to a huge tax break. The language directly benefits Donald Trump and—wait for it—Bob Corker, who owns a significant amount of income-producing property. Hence, the #CorkerKickback.

“We may never know exactly what happened with Corker,” Krugman concludes. “But there’s every reason to believe that Republicans in Congress are taking their cues from a president who openly uses his office to enrich himself. Goodbye, ideology; hello, corruption.”

Read Paul Krugman’s column at the New York Times.

 

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O’Reilly Accuser: Time Bomb of Info on Sex Harasser Executives in ‘Highest Positions’ at Fox News Is Counting Down

Fox News has paid out tens of millions of dollars in settlements related to O’Reilly alone.

“Tick tock, tick tock,” wrote conservative commentator and Bill O’Reilly sexual harassment accuser Juliet Huddy on Saturday. “Executives who not only covered up for sexual harassers/predators (statements by 21st Century Fox co-chairman Rupert Murdoch, who said on Friday that the sexual harassment and abuse scandal at his network is merely “nonsense,” and that it’s a “political” attack on the network “because we’re conservative.”

LawAndCrime.com said that in a post that she deleted from Facebook, but then posted on Twitter, Huddy wrote, “Rupert Murdoch is not just a media mogul. He’s a perpetrator, complicit in wrecking careers of hardworking, talented people while protecting their tormentors.”

She continued, “The more we shame disgraceful executives like Murdoch, the faster we send the message that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.”

In a statement to Law and Crime, Huddy said, “It’s ironic that O’Reilly, Murdoch and others have suggested that I, along with the other accusers, are part of some left wing conspiracy. [One], I’m fiscally conservative and socially liberal so let’s just get that out of the way. [And two], based on everything I have seen and has been reported, the participants in this, The Grand Conspiracy, are the executives at Fox.”

She said that Murdoch himself is not accused of harassing women, but that he was instrumental in covering up and burying stories about O’Reilly, former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and others.

Huddy is one of multiple women to whom Fox News has paid out tens of millions of dollars in settlements related to O’Reilly alone. A parade of other women have come forward with accusations of harassment, sexualized bullying and a “locker room” culture at the network.

 

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Unbelievable Censorship: Trump Bans CDC from Using These 7 Words

The forbidden words include “vulnerable,” “diversity,” and “science-based.”

Donald Trump’s administration has reportedly banned the Center for Disease Control from using seven words and phrases, including “science-based” and “transgender,” in documents it is working on for next year’s budget.

 

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Is Kratom Safe Enough for the Fight Against Opioids?

A new study says “yes,” and finds it relieves anxiety and reduces negative moods, too.

A review of 57 years of international scientific evidence may help change the perception of kratom and restore its potential as a public health tool that deserves more research.

As the nation grapples for solutions to the opioid epidemic—now claiming more than 33,000 American lives each year—the potential of the psychoactive plant kratom to become a useful tool in the battle has been the subject of hot debate.

While some in the medical field and many in the general public attest to kratom’s ability to help curb opioid addiction and relieve pain, governmental agencies continue to warn against its dangers to mental health, citing links to psychosis and addiction. In 2016, the DEA briefly recommended criminalizing kratom possession and distribution, before withdrawing the proposal.

The study not only points to the potential benefits of kratom as a safer substitute for opioids, but also suggests the plant’s potential to reduce negative mood and relieve anxiety. Published online this week in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, it represents the largest systematic review of the scientific literature on kratom use and mental health.

“There is a lot of confusing information about kratom in the media that makes it difficult for clinicians and the public to make informed choices,” says lead author Marc T. Swogger, associate professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center’s psychiatry department. “This study clarifies that there is no good scientific basis for claims that kratom causes psychosis, suicide, or violence, and the available data do not indicate that kratom is a significant public health problem.”

Coauthor Zach Walsh, associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia notes that current approaches to addressing the opioid epidemic are leaving large numbers of high-need individuals without effective treatment.

“We need to explore all options, and our findings suggest it’s time to carefully examine the potential of this ancient plant,” says Walsh.

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Swogger and Walsh reviewed the combined results of 13 studies conducted between January 1960 and July 2017, using data from 28,745 individuals.

“There is a clear need for more rigorous, well-controlled, prospective studies to support a sophisticated, nuanced understanding of the plant,” says Swogger. “But data across cultures indicated that kratom has a legitimate role to play in mitigating harms associated with opioid dependence. The bulk of the available research supports kratom’s benefits as a milder, less addictive, and less-dangerous substance than opioids, and one that appears far less likely to cause fatal overdose.”

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa; also known as krathom or ketum) is part of the coffee family and has been used medicinally for centuries in Southeast Asia to relieve symptoms of opioid withdrawal, to relieve pain, diarrhea, and cough, and increase stamina and energy. People chew raw leaves of the kratom plant, boil them to serve as tea, smoke, or vaporize them.

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In recent years, kratom’s use has expanded beyond Asia, and its leaves, powders, gums, capsules, and extracts are widely accessed through retail outlets and the internet in North America and Europe.

“We need more and better research to be able to outline the risks and benefits of kratom in greater detail,” Swogger says. “Only through well-controlled studies can we elucidate kratom’s potential for good and harm, and give the public, policy makers, and health care professionals the information needed to make informed decisions.”

Source: University of Rochester

Original Study DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.10.012

 

 

 

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Corporate Media Allowed Net Neutrality to Die in Silence

The flagship morning news shows on broadcast and cable news covered net neutrality for less than four minutes combined.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today voted to repeal net neutrality rules, which will allow internet service providers to block or slow down service and access to websites, or charge fees for faster service.

If you weren’t aware of this potentially monumental change that will significantly impact your internet access, that’s because the major news networks mostly haven’t been doing their jobs.

Hours before today’s FCC repeal vote, the flagship morning news shows on the six major broadcast and cable news networks devoted an embarrassingly small amount of time to covering net neutrality. Relative silence from the major news networks on net neutrality is unfortunately nothing new, as Media Matters has previously documented.

This morning, most of the morning news programs either completely ignored the impending move or cursorily mentioned it for a few seconds at a time. Among the cable news networks, Fox News’ Fox & Friends spent just 52 seconds on net neutrality. MSNBC’s Morning Joe and CNN’s New Day did not cover the story at all. (It was covered for about half a minute on MSNBC’s early morning show, First Look, and roughly one minute on CNN’s early morning show, Early Start. After the conclusion of Morning Joe, MSNBC has been covering net neutrality in detail on MSNBC Live.)

The broadcast networks also spent scant time on the issue: ABC’s Good Morning America devoted just 14 seconds to net neutrality and NBC’s Today didn’t mention it at all. CBS This Morning led the pack with two and a half minutes of coverage this morning, and was the only one of the flagship morning programs to run a full segment on the topic.

Since November 28, cable news networks have mostly given net neutrality minimal coverage: approximately five minutes each on CNN and Fox News and almost 17 minutes on MSNBC, which has consistently devoted the most coverage to net neutrality in recent weeks. Broadcast networks have been mostly crickets, too. Since November 28, NBC has devoted about eight minutes to covering net neutrality while CBS has spent close to five minutes, and ABC has devoted just 14 seconds to the topic — the brief mention on Good Morning America this morning.

Since November 20, when news first broke about the planned repeal, the six networks have devoted a combined nearly one hour and 53 minutes to the story; although, MSNBC alone has accounted for more than one hour and three minutes of that total coverage time. The vast majority of the coverage occurred before November 28.

Under Trump, the Republican-led FCC has already done significant damage to the local news landscape and paved the way for major corporate consolidation in media — but repealing net neutrality seems to be its most unpopular action yet. A new survey found that 83 percent of Americans don’t approve of the FCC’s repeal proposal — including 3 out of 4 Republicans. Even the FCC’s own chief technology officer warned against the move. And 18 attorneys general had called for a delay in the vote due to widespread fraudulent comments during the public comment period.

That’s probably why chairman Ajit Pai’s media tour in the days before the net neutrality repeal has largely targeted conservative and far-right media that may provide a (marginally) more friendly audience. Since November 21, Pai has given four cable news interviews: two with Fox & Friends, one with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, and a fourth with conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt at MSNBC. He did not give an interview to any of the three major broadcast networks. (Pai also seemingly promoted the repeal by appearing in an embarrassing video at The Daily Caller along with renowned plagiarist Benny Johnson and a Pizzagate conspiracy theorist.)

It’s also why major news networks’ relative silence on such a deeply unpopular and hugely consequential action like the FCC’s repeal vote is a net benefit to the commission and to major corporations — and keeps an informed public from fighting back.

Methodology

Media Matters searched the Snapstream database of television video transcripts for any mentions of “net neutrality,” “Federal Communications Commission,” or “FCC” from November 20 through December 14, 2017 on ABC’s Good Morning AmericaWorld News Tonight with David Muir, and This Week with George Stephanopoulos; CBS’s This Morning, Evening News, and Face the Nation with John Dickerson; NBC’s Today, Nightly News with Lester Holt, and Meet the Press with Chuck Todd; and all-day programming (through 9am on December 14) on the three major cable news networks — CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC. We also searched the Nexis transcript database and the iQ Media transcript database for the same terms. Since November 23 was Thanksgiving, some networks altered their regularly scheduled programming on that day.

We included any segment about FCC chair Ajit Pai’s proposal or the FCC vote scheduled for December 14 following Politico’s November 20 report on the proposal. We timed all such segments from start to finish, and excluded any breaks to other news or to commercials. We also included portions of multi-topic segments when two or more speakers discussed the FCC chair’s proposal or the scheduled vote on the proposal with one another. In those instances, we only timed the relevant discussion and not the entire segment. We excluded passing mentions of the proposal or its vote, and we excluded teasers of upcoming segments about the proposal or its vote.

Note: This post has been updated to reflect that the FCC officially moved to repeal net neutrality rules in a 3-2 vote on December 14. 

Rob Savillo contributed research to this report. Charts by Sarah Wasko.

 

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Understanding Out of the Abyss

*Spoiler Warning*: This post contains spoilers about the Dungeons & Dragons adventure “Out of the Abyss” (OotA).

My first contact with Out of the Abyss wasn’t great. I was a player in a campaign based on that book, but the DM was a) inexperienced and b) had removed the starting chapter and removed it by a series of other adventures before leading us down into the Underdark. Now I can see the motivation for that: OotA starts the players as slaves of the Drow, in shackles, without gear; a start that is both somewhat cliche for the genre, and not the most pleasant one for the players. However after preparing the adventure now for another group I see how this start is absolutely essential to the adventure. Removing it leads to exactly the problem we had, that is wandering through the Underdark with no motivation, being unclear of the goal and purpose of the adventure.

The whole first half of Out of the Abyss is motivated by that start: The players escape and are pursued by the Drow. They are looking for a way back to the surface, while having to survive a harsh and strange environment, and having to find means to equip themselves. It is dark fantasy, it is a game of survival. And it doesn’t work without that start in slavery. If you ever want to play this, ask your players first if they are okay with a dark survival campaign instead of the more generic heroic fantasy.

To understand Out of the Abyss one needs to see how it inverses the sandbox approach of certain other D&D adventures, for example Princes of the Apocalypse. In Princes of the Apocalypse the dungeons and encounters are described in much detail, but it is left to the DM and players to figure out how to get from one dungeon to the next. That doesn’t work very well, because the dungeons have different levels, and playing them through in an order other than by level results in problems. Out of the Abyss takes a very different approach: The main story from the start to at least the mid-point, escaping from the Underdark, is linear. You best play chapter 1 first, then chapter 2, then chapter 3, etc., because it makes sense geographically and story-wise. But what exactly happens in each of the chapters is left open and is to be created by the interactive storytelling between DM and player. Chapter 1 is very clear about this being about a prisoner escape, but how exactly the players escape from prison is left to them. If they don’t do anything the DM has some events that will push them in the right direction, but ideally the DM first lets the players try their own ideas, and allows any half reasonable plan to succeed. The goal is for the DM and the players to both drive the story forward. D&D should never be adversarial, and for OotA it wouldn’t work at all if the DM didn’t “help” the players to escape.

One of the early highlights of that approach is chapter 4, Gracklstugh. There you get a complete description of a Duergar city in the Underdark, complete with who the different power factions are and what their interaction is. But you are left to play that city as a sandbox, the adventure doesn’t tell you where to start or which faction to support. Played right this might be a great short city adventure on its own. The obvious disadvantage of the approach, and thus of all of Out of the Abyss, is that it requires a great amount of preparation and/or improvisation from the Dungeon Master. This is very much a campaign for expert DMs. And I’ll find out in how far it works with newbie players, because that is who I am going to play it with.

What is Ethereum? — a short guide

What is Ethereum EthereumPrice

You may be asking yourself, “What is Ethereum?” Well, Vitalik Buterin, a Canadian programmer born in Russia, invented Ethereum in 2015 by. It’s a cryptocurrency much like Bitcoin that allows you to make payments online. It’s decentralized, offers low transaction fees, and runs on a publicly disclosed blockchain that records each transaction.

Read: What is a blockchain? – Gary Explains

Ethereum’s currency is called Ether and is currently the second largest in the world in market cap, behind Bitcoin. There are reportedly around two million wallets that hold it, up from 1.6 million in May — showing the growing popularity of Ether.

How is it different from Bitcoin? Bitcoin aims to become a globally adopted currency that could improve or even replace conventional money. Ethereum, on the other hand, is more than a cryptocurrency. It’s also a ledger technology used to build decentralized applications (dapps) with smart contracts.

What are smart contracts?

Wikimedia

Smart contracts are programs that automatically execute exactly as they are set up by their creators. Their purpose is to offer more security by removing the middlemen that we would otherwise have to use. Confused? Let’s take a look at a simple example.

Let’s say you want to ship a large gift to your friend and hire a trucker to do the job. For the trucker to know you’ll pay him, and for you to be sure the delivery will be made, you both sign an agreement for shared peace of mind. This takes time and can be expensive, as you need someone who will draw up the paperwork for you, and so forth.

This process can be simplified with a smart contract. You make the payment the day the package is picked up, and the smart contract will automatically transfer the money to the trucker as soon as your friend confirms the delivery has been made.

How is Ether created and where can I get it?

CoinSpectator

Like Bitcoins, Ethers are created through a process called mining. This requires expensive and specialized computers that have to perform complicated calculations. Mining is mainly done by large companies that are compensated for their work with newly minted Ethers.

Editor’s Pick

Unfortunately, you won’t make any money by mining with your personal PC, even if it’s a high-end model. So how can you get your hands on Ethers? You can earn them by providing goods and services to people who can pay you with the digital currency. The second option is to buy them from a marketplace like Coinbase with your credit card.

The Ethers you own are stored in a wallet secured with a private key. You can keep it in the cloud or offline, with the latter being a much safer option. The important thing is that you don’t lose the private key. If that happens, you won’t be able to access your money.

How much does it cost and what determines the price?

Crypto-News

Now that we have figured out the answer to the “What is Ethereum?” question, how much do Ethers really cost? Ethers were cheap when introduced back in 2015 — you could get one for less than a dollar. Their price has risen over the years and currently stands at around $430 each (exact value can be found in widget below). The sharp increase means Ethers can be a great investment, same as Bitcoins and many other cryptocurrencies. For example, if you bought $1,000 worth of Ethers in 2015 when they were worth $0.50 a piece, you would have $860,000 today.

Before you get too excited, keep in mind that investing in cryptocurrencies can be risky.

Before you get too excited, sell your house, and buy as many Ethers as you can get, let me remind you that investing in cryptocurrencies can be risky. Sure, a lot of them have increased in value in recent years, but that doesn’t mean this trend will continue. Cryptocurrencies are volatile, meaning their price can go up and down significantly in a single day. This makes them less stable than standard currencies like the dollar and euro.

How exactly do we determine their value? Like Bitcoins, gold, oranges, and every other item available on the market, supply and demand determine the price of Ethers.

The Merkle


Ethereum can be hard to understand at times. The same goes for Bitcoins and the rest of the cryptocurrencies available. But the fact is that they’re here to stay and might become a more important part of our daily lives in the future.

Many experts believe Ethereum has a lot of potential and could overtake Bitcoin as the largest cryptocurrency somewhere down the line. This is all speculation, though well within the realm of possibility. But like with stocks, gold, and other investments, no one can be 100 percent sure in which direction the price will move.

Hopefully we have given you an answer to the “What is Ethereum?” question. What are your thoughts on Ethereum and cryptocurrencies in general? Let us know in the comments.

The One Scenario in Which Trump Would Risk Impeachment and Fire Robert Mueller

The president reportedly expects to be exonerated soon.

President Donald Trump believes that special counsel Robert Mueller will soon send him a letter that completely exonerates him of any wrongdoing — but the president’s allies fear that such a letter will never come.

CNN reports that Trump has recently been boasting to allies that the Russia probe will be over very shortly, and that Mueller will personally exonerate him. The president believes this, CNN’s sources say, because his attorneys have tried to manage him by telling him that he faces no real danger from the probe.

However, some of the president’s allies believe this is delusional, wishful thinking — and they fear what Trump will do if that exoneration letter never comes.

One Trump ally tells CNN that the president will likely have a “meltdown” after months go by without an exoneration letter, after which “he’ll try and fire Mueller and then be impeached.”

Another Trump ally similarly warns that Trump’s lawyers are playing a dangerous game by buttering him up with happy talk about the Mueller probe ending shortly.

“I’ve known him long enough to know that disappointing him is a problem and they’ve built up a level of expectations for him that are unrealistic,” the source said. “[They’ve] lulled him into a false sense of security.”

 

 

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