A Lot Happened This Week

Friday, April 13, 2018Screen Shot 2018-04-13 at 6.45.24 PM

The Biggest Stories in American Politics This Week

By EMILY COCHRANE

Doug Mills/The New York Times

From Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony to Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s announcement that he will not seek re-election, here are six of the biggest stories driving American politics this week.

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The F.B.I. raided the office and hotel room of the president’s personal lawyer after a recommendation from the special counsel

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer, outside the Capitol in September.Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer, outside the Capitol in September.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Federal agents raided the office and hotel room of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, on Monday. They seized business records, emails and other documents, and were looking for details about Mr. Cohen’s efforts to suppress negative information about Mr. Trump during the campaign.
Prosecutors demanded information from a wide breadth of records, including documents related to the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Mr. Trump made vulgar comments about women, and materials related to secret agreements Mr. Cohen made with women who claimed to have had affairs with Mr. Trump.
The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, personally approved the warrant, which was obtained after a recommendation from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. On Friday, Mr. Cohen asked a federal judge in Manhattan to block the Justice Department from reading documents related to his decade-long legal representation of Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump reacted angrily to the raid, claiming that the F.B.I. “broke into” Mr. Cohen’s office and calling the investigation a “total witch hunt.” He also publicly mused about firing Mr. Mueller and continued to rail against Jeff Sessions, his attorney general, for recusing himself from the investigation.
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President Trump on Monday in Washington. He lashed out against his top law enforcement officials on Monday night.President Trump on Monday in Washington. He lashed out against his top law enforcement officials on Monday night.
Tom Brenner/The New York Times
ADDITIONAL READING
■ Before Learning of Raid, Trump’s Legal Team Convened to Discuss Mueller Interview
■ What Could Happen if Trump Fired Rosenstein
■ Investigators Focus on Another Trump Ally: The National Enquirer
■ Warrants and Privilege: Legal Questions About the Raids on Trump’s Lawyer
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Excerpts from James B. Comey’s memoir, which describes Mr. Trump as “untethered to truth,” were released. The president hit back

President Trump and James B. Comey at the White House days after the inauguration.President Trump and James B. Comey at the White House days after the inauguration.
Al Drago/The New York Times
Copies of a memoir by James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, were obtained by The New York Times and other news organizations on Thursday, less than a week before it was scheduled to be released. The 304-page book is the only firsthand, insider account of the administration published by a former Trump official so far. The president fired Mr. Comey in May.
“This president is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values,” Mr. Comey wrote in the book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,” lacing his recollections of Mr. Trump’s demands and conversations with brutal impressions of the president’s physical appearance and mannerisms.
Mr. Trump lashed out on Twitter on Friday morning, dismissing Mr. Comey as an “untruthful slime ball” and a “proven LEAKER & LIAR,” and saying it was “my great honor to fire” him. Republican allies of the president have also prepared a counteroffensive, creating a “Lyin’ Comey” website in anticipation of the book’s formal release.
But Mr. Trump’s outrage over Mr. Comey’s revelations conflicted with his pardoning on Friday of I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. Mr. Libby, who goes by Scooter, was convicted of perjury in connection with the leak of a C.I.A. officer’s identity.
ADDITIONAL READING
■ Read our book reviewJames Comey Has a Story to Tell. It’s Very Persuasive.
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A week after a deadly suspected chemical attack in Syria, the United States and its allies were still weighing responses

A picture said to show victims of the suspected chemical attack on the Damascus suburb of Douma.A picture said to show victims of the suspected chemical attack on the Damascus suburb of Douma.
Emad Aldin/EPA, via Shutterstock
Nearly a week after a suspected chemical attack in Syria, the United States and its allies continued to weigh potential responses, with the Pentagon pushing for more evidence about President Bashar al-Assad’s role.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has sought to slow an imminent attack on Syria, telling the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday that retaliation needed to be balanced against the threat of a wider war. Later that day, the administration’s top security officials left an afternoon meeting at the White House without a decision to attack, said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the press secretary.
Mr. Trump has made it clear that he is weighing a missile strike against Syria, promising that missiles “will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’” The president has also conferred with Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain and President Emmanuel Macron of France, two key allies also weighing military options.
Details of a potential strike — how many missiles, for how long, at what targets and to what end — remained unclear.
ADDITIONAL READING
■ Trump’s Tweets on Syria, Russia and China: The Triumph of Contradiction
■ How Syria’s Death Toll Is Lost in the Fog of War
■ Trump Weighs More Robust Military Strike Against Syria
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Speaker Paul D. Ryan announced he would not seek re-election, sending Republicans scrambling seven months before the midterm elections

Speaker Paul D. Ryan arrived for a meeting on Capitol Hill Wednesday.Speaker Paul D. Ryan arrived for a meeting on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
Tom Brenner/The New York Times
Speaker Paul D. Ryan announced that he would retire at the end of his term, paving the way for a new Republican leader and blindsiding many House Republican candidates, who were counting on his leadership ahead of the November elections.
Mr. Ryan, who was reluctant to take the position in 2015, spoke of his desire to spend more time with his family and will leave satisfied with the passage of the massive tax overhaul. But his departure signals that there is a lack of stable, steady leadership in the Republican Party.
As many as 50 House Republican seats are at risk in competitive races this year, and his departure makes it more difficult for the Republican Party to hold onto the House majority. Republicans also face a single-seat majority in the Senate.
ADDITIONAL READING
■ A House (and a Party) Upended as Paul Ryan Calmly Takes His Leave
■ Paul Ryan’s Hometown Takes Stock as Speaker (and Neighbor) Changes Course
■ Paul Ryan Is Leaving. Who’s Running for His Seat?
■ In Missouri, Governor’s Scandal Ensnares a Republican-Leaning Senate Race
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Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, testified before Congress for the first time. It took nearly 10 hours over the course of two days

Tom Brenner/The New York Times
Mark Zuckerberg answered nearly 600 questions from skeptical lawmakers over two days after revelations that Facebook, the company that he repeatedly mentioned he started in his Harvard University dorm room, failed to protect the data of more than 87 million users from being harvested by a political consulting firm.
There was widespread consensus among lawmakers that there is a need for some form of regulation, given that social media technology has rapidly outpaced Washington. Mr. Zuckerberg conceded that it was “inevitable that there will need to be some regulation.”
But it remains unclear how such regulation would unfold, given that lawmakers are hesitant to infringe upon First Amendment protections and the innovation of Silicon Valley while still monitoring companies that collect such wide amounts of private data from users.
Mr. Zuckerberg also revealed that his own personal data had been compromised by third-party actors. He spent part of his time in Washington mounting a sort of apology tour and outlining how Facebook would revise its practices.
ADDITIONAL READING
■ Senators Had a Lot to Say About Facebook. That Hasn’t Stopped Them From Using It.
■ Fact Check: What Mark Zuckerberg Said About Facebook, Privacy and Russia
■ Mark Zuckerberg’s Own Data Disclosed After Senate Hearing: His Notes
■ Read our tech column: Facebook Is Complicated. That Shouldn’t Stop Lawmakers.
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The Trump administration continued to seek trade deals — including one it left last year — but it remains unclear how those deals will unfold

President Trump made the comments about the Trans-Pacific Partnership during a meeting on Thursday with farm-state lawmakers and governors at the White House.President Trump made the comments about the Trans-Pacific Partnership during a meeting on Thursday with farm-state lawmakers and governors at the White House.
Doug Mills/The New York Times
In a sharp reversal, Mr. Trump said on Thursday that the United States was looking to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multinational trade agreement he pulled out of during the first few days of his administration.
Mr. Trump appeared to shift his approach to the trade agreement partially in response to concerns over the impact of his trade stance on farmers and a looming trade war with China.
The president’s announcement comes as the administration seeks a deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement by the beginning of May. It’s unclear how successful that time frame will be, given that the United States refuses to budge on contentious proposals designed to bring manufacturing back to the country.
ADDITIONAL READING
■ Trump Weighs Return to Trans-Pacific Partnership. Not So Fast, Say Members.
■ Kudlow Plays ‘Happy Warrior’ Role in Counseling Trump
■ Is Trump Serious About Trade War? China’s Leaders Hunt for Answers