Comey’s Request

Monday, March 6, 2017

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Good Monday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • The director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department to publicly reject President Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that former President Barack Obama ordered his phones to be tapped. But the department has not issued a public rebuttal, which would be a major rebuke of a sitting president.
  • How did an unfounded assertion on a radio show come to consume the president, the F.B.I., the Justice Department and the worldwide news media? Mr. Trump’s allegation that the Obama administration wiretapped his phones began as a rant on conservative talk radio and then spread to Breitbart News.
  • A revised travel ban, expected to be issued Monday by Mr. Trump, won’t include Iraq among the restricted nations, but it will retain temporary restrictions on six other predominantly Muslim countries and on all refugees.
  • The Trump administration has pushed a flurry of deregulation, giving more freedoms to gun sellers, bankers and miners, and corporate lobbyists are clamoring for more.
The First Draft Team

What Can Be Gleaned From Trump’s Allegations of Wiretapping

By CHARLIE SAVAGE
President Trump claimed on Twitter on Saturday that President Barack Obama “was tapping my phones in October.”

President Trump claimed on Twitter on Saturday that President Barack Obama was tapping my phones in October. Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump’s claim on Twitter early Saturday that he had just found out that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, an accusation for which he offered no evidence, has set off another spasm surrounding his young administration. On Sunday, Mr. Trump’s spokesman said the administration was asking Congress to investigate the president’s allegation.
There is ample reason for caution because Mr. Trump has a history of making attention-grabbing and politically explosive claims that have no basis in fact. As things stand, a plausible explanation is that Mr. Trump was merely riffing off a March 3 article on the alt-right website Breitbart. It laid out a theory circulating in some conservative circles that President Barack Obama sought to sabotage Mr. Trump through surveillance.
The episode has heightened interest in several related surveillance issues.
Can a president order the wiretapping of an American?
Not legally. There are two lawful ways that allow government officials to target people in the United States for surveillance and to collect the contents of their phone calls and emails: criminal wiretaps, called Title III warrants, and national security wiretaps, called Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, orders. Both types of wiretapping are ordered by federal judges, after applications from the Justice Department.
Read more »

Comey Asks Justice Dept. to Reject Trump’s Wiretapping Claim

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT AND MICHAEL D. SHEAR

The F.B.I. director wants the Justice Department to refute Mr. Trump’s contention that Barack Obama ordered the tapping of his phones, a claim that Mr. Comey says is false, officials said.

A Conspiracy Theory’s Journey From Talk Radio to Trump’s Twitter

By PETER BAKER AND MAGGIE HABERMAN

President Trump’s allegation that the Obama administration wiretapped his phones began as a rant on conservative talk radio and then spread to Breitbart News.

President Set to Issue New Travel Ban Excluding Iraq on Monday

By RON NIXON AND MAGGIE HABERMAN

The new order, reworked to try to withstand legal scrutiny, would retain temporary travel restrictions on six other predominantly Muslim countries and on all refugees.

Leashes Come Off Wall Street, Gun Sellers, Polluters and More

By ERIC LIPTON AND BINYAMIN APPELBAUM

In a flurry of deregulation, the Trump administration has already suspended or reversed more than 90 rules. And industry is clamoring for more.

Automakers Near a Victory on Rollback of Fuel Standards

By BILL VLASIC

The Trump administration’s expected move on emissions and mileage targets would remove a costly mandate, though some efficiency efforts would proceed.

Stocks Are Up 5% Under Trump. So How Long Will the Rally Last?

By KATE KELLY

Looking closely at what is required for the president’s promised big initiatives, some hedge fund managers are bracing for a sell-off.

Patience Gone, Koch-Backed Groups to Pressure G.O.P. on Health Repeal

By JEREMY W. PETERS

The effort to reawaken the grass-roots network reflects concern that lawmakers may buckle to pressure from constituents fearful of losing coverage.

In Israel, Lauding and Lamenting the Era of Trump

By IAN FISHER

Israelis are used to rising nationalism in Europe that has fed anti-Semitism. But many have looked to the United States as a refuge from anti-Semitism, not another front for it.

Sexist Political Criticism Finds a New Target: Kellyanne Conway

By SUSAN CHIRA

Attacks of powerful women, on both sides of the aisle, often take the same form — angry, sexist language. Misogyny, it seems, is bipartisan.

Kim Jong-un at a missile site in an image from North Korean state media. /

Kim Jong-un at a missile site in an image from North Korean state media. / Korean Central News Agency, via Reuters
By DAVID E. SANGER AND WILLIAM J. BROAD
The United States has been trying to sabotage North Korea’s missile program. President Trump must decide what to do next.
Repeal of Health Law Faces a New Hurdle: Older Americans

By ROBERT PEAR

AARP and its allies are objecting as House committees plan to vote on a Republican bill that could leave people in their 50s and 60s with large premium increases.

Democrats Bet G.O.P. Will Regret Opposing Scrutiny of Trump

By EMMARIE HUETTEMAN

Congressional Democrats have been offering up long-shot measures related to the president’s taxes and his Russia ties, hoping that voters will punish Republicans later.

Trump and the Battle Over Sanctuary in America

By CLYDE HABERMAN

As deportations start to rise, churches and cities are declaring themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. It’s the latest chapter of a movement with a long history.

Trump Under Pressure to Get Answers From Iran on Missing Ex-F.B.I. Agent

By BARRY MEIER AND ADAM GOLDMAN

A decade after Robert Levinson vanished, the Trump administration faces a decision about what steps to take, if any, to bring a resolution of his case.