‘Lies, Plain and Simple’

Friday, June 9, 2017Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 10.05.58 AM

Good Friday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:

Comey’s Testimony

Remarkably, Other Things Also Happened on Capitol Hill

  • The House approved legislation to erase a number of core financial regulations put in place by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, as Republicans moved a step closer to delivering on their promises to eliminate rules that they claim have strangled small businesses and stagnated the economy.
  • As they have traveled through the various stages of grief over the unpredictability of their president and the realization that Mr. Trump is unlikely to change, congressional Republicans appear to have landed at acceptance, basically hoping that the president does not get in their way.
  • The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said Congress must fund health care subsidies to insurance companies that offset out-of-pocket spending by poorer customers.
— The First Draft Team

Comey’s Testimony: Video Highlights and Our Major Takeaways

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT

Doug Mills/The New York Times

During a dramatic two and a half hours of testimony on Thursday, the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, gave new insight into his tense relationship with President Trump.
Mr. Comey said he was distrustful of the president from their first meeting, in early January, and said he believed that Mr. Trump was trying to get him to end the F.B.I. investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Comey also described how Mr. Trump antagonized him on Twitter after firing him. Here are the biggest takeaways from the hearing:
1. Trump’s Words Cost Him
Mr. Trump’s Twitter account undermined him once again.
Days after Mr. Comey was ousted, The New York Times reported that the two men had dined one-on-one at the White House in January and that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey for his loyalty. On the morning the story was published in the newspaper, the president said on Twitter, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” A flurry of questions ensued, but the White House would not confirm whether Mr. Trump had recorded their discussions.
Nevertheless, the Twitter post set off a series of events, some engineered by Mr. Comey, that helped prompt the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russian election interference and possible ties to Mr. Trump’s associates, a blow to a White House that has tried to shake off the investigation.
Mr. Comey said that three days after Mr. Trump’s tweet, he woke up in the middle of the night and realized that any possible tapes could corroborate his conversations with Mr. Trump — particularly one in February in which the president asked him to end the investigation into Mr. Flynn.
Mr. Comey said he decided at that point that he “needed to get that out into the public square,” adding that he had asked a friend to share contents of a memo he had written about the meeting. The Times reported on that memo, and on Mr. Trump’s request that the Flynn investigation be ended, on May 16.
Mr. Comey said that he asked his friend to disclose the memo’s contents in the hope that a special counsel would be appointed. The next day, the Justice Department announced one: Robert S. Mueller III, the former F.B.I. director.
“Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Mr. Comey said on Thursday.
Read more »
Yo-Yo Ma, the third cellist from right, and other members of the Silk Road Ensemble, at Carnegie Hall in 2013.

Watch 5 Moments When Classical Music Met Politics

By CORINNA DA FONSECA-WOLLHEIM

The New York Philharmonic’s “Concert for Unity” programs this week are the latest in a long line of examples of musical diplomacy.

“Never let anyone silence your voices,” Hillary Clinton said on Thursday in a speech to the graduating class from Medgar Evers College at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. She called on graduates to uphold the legacy of civil rights leaders.

Stand Up for Your Identity, Hillary Clinton Tells Graduates in Brooklyn

By ANNIE CORREAL

Speaking at a ceremony for Medgar Evers College graduates in Brooklyn, Mrs. Clinton was pointedly political but avoided explicit mention of the president.

Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel met on Thursday for their second debate for the vacant seat in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District.

Takeaways From the Georgia Special Election Debate: A Sharper Clash

By ALEXANDER BURNS

In the second debate in the race for Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel leveled attacks in sharper and more personal terms.

Jon Ossoff Raises $23 Million in Most Expensive House Race in History

By JONATHAN MARTIN AND RACHEL SHOREY

The Democratic candidate has raised millions more than his opponent in a suburban Atlanta contest that has become a key battleground for the national parties.

Cecilia Wooley opening the dining room at the Harbor View Inn on Mackinac Island, Mich. She now does some housekeeping, a job previously done by foreign workers under the H-2B visa program.

Visa Shortage Spurs Vacancies, for Jobs, at a Tourist Getaway

By MIRIAM JORDAN

The tourism industry on Mackinac Island, Mich., and other regional industries that define the American summer are stuck in the middle of a struggle over jobs and who should be doing them.

Reality Leigh Winner, 25, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges she leaked a classified National Security Agency report to an online news outlet.

N.S.A. Contractor May Have Mishandled Secrets Before, Prosecutor Says

By ALAN BLINDER

Some evidence against Reality Leigh Winner, who pleaded not guilty to charges that she leaked classified information, was portrayed by a prosecutor as “frightening.”

F.D.A. Asks Drug Maker to Stop Selling a Dangerous Opioid

By DENISE GRADY

The agency’s request about the drug, Opana ER, may signal a more aggressive approach against prescription opioids that are found to be widely abused.

The drone, which was still armed, was shot down by an F-15E fighter similar to the one shown here.

U.S. Says It Shot Down Drone That Attacked Fighters in Syria

By MICHAEL R. GORDON

The drone had dropped a munition near Syrian fighters who were accompanied by advisers from the American-led coalition, the United States military said.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies.
From the Right
• David French in National Review:
“The narrative that the Trump team colluded with Russia took a hit, but the claim that Trump abused his power in firing Comey got a boost.”
Lots of questions remained unanswered after James B. Comey, the former director of the F.B.I., testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, but two things became clearer to Mr. French: The likelihood of collusion was lessened, while the impropriety of the firing by President Trump was put into relief. And as for anonymously sourced reporting, Mr. French writes, “nothing that’s leak-based is ‘old news’ until its confirmed through on-the-record testimony or proper investigative process.” Read more »
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From the Left
• Stassa Edwards in Jezebel:
“The president, they seem to argue, acted without knowledge of the law because he simply doesn’t know how to do his job. Trump’s actions may be criminal, but they are excusable because he’s a well-meaning idiot.”
The line of questioning from several Republican senators at the Comey hearing, Ms. Edwards contends, hint at an “open secret”: Mr. Trump is devastatingly bad at his job. The “incompetence defense,” she writes, is nothing new. After all, similar explanations were proffered for President George W. Bush’s handling of the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina. Read more »
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