‘Morally Unfit’

Monday, April 16, 2018Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 9.11.04 AM

Good Monday morning,
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director fired by President Trump, is mounting a remarkable public assault on a sitting president, portraying Mr. Trump as a danger to the nation. Mr. Comey said in an ABC News interview that Mr. Trump treated women like meat, calling him morally unfit to be president. Read annotated excerpts of the interview.

  • The Trump administration plans to impose new sanctions against Russia to punish it for enabling the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons in its civil war, the latest in a series of actions by both sides underscoring the deterioration in relations between Moscow and the West.

  • In addition to the special counsel’s inquiry, Mr. Trump must contend with an office of federal prosecutors in his hometown, New York, who are investigating his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen.

  • Barbara Bush has decided to stop seeking medical treatment to prolong her life as she faces a variety of ailments. Mrs. Bush, who is 92 and frail, has been in and out of the hospital but has now forsworn further interventions.
  • At the Summit of the Americas in Peru, Vice President Mike Pence took on the familiar task of carefully translating Mr. Trump’s words. Armed with a thick binder of briefing materials, Mr. Pence delivered meticulously scripted statements printed on cards.

  • Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign has ramped up its fund-raising this year, bringing in $20.2 million, while investing heavily in cultivating a wide base of small donors, according to reports filed Sunday afternoon with the Federal Election Commission.

— The First Draft Team
News Analysis

‘Mission Accomplished!’ But What Is the Mission in Syria?

By PETER BAKER
President Trump at the White House on Friday. He proclaimed “Mission Accomplished!” on Twitter after missile strikes on Syria.

President Trump at the White House on Friday. He proclaimed Mission Accomplished! on Twitter after missile strikes on Syria. Tom Brenner/The New York Times

On the morning after, President Trump declared success. The surgical strikes against chemical weapons facilities in Syria had been executed perfectly, he said on Saturday. “Mission Accomplished!” he wrote on Twitter.
That’s a phrase presidents and politicians have studiously avoided since President George W. Bush’s ill-fated aircraft carrier visit prematurely declaring success in the Iraq war. But aside from the curious choice of words, it raised the essential question regarding Syria, beyond the one-time strike: What exactly is the mission?
For most of Mr. Trump’s presidency, it has been to defeat the Islamic State and then get out. But what Mr. Trump outlined in his televised speech to the nation on Friday night was something more complicated. He promised a sustained campaign to stop Syria’s government from again using chemical weapons on its own people, while also emphasizing the limits of America’s ability or willingness to do more to stop the broader bloodletting that has devastated that country for seven years.
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Senator John McCain of Arizona last year. He praised any effort to send President Bashar al-Assad of Syria the message that chemical attacks would not be tolerated.

Divided on Syria Strikes, Democrats and Republicans Press for Clearer Strategy

By NICHOLAS FANDOS

Even advocates of more aggressive intervention in Syria said that the targeted strikes would mean little in the long run without a comprehensive strategy from the White House.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, in Washington last year. He said recently that drug makers must “end the shenanigans” that prevent competing products from reaching the market.

‘Shenanigans’ to Block Generic Drugs Come Under Federal Scrutiny

By ROBERT PEAR

Health officials complain that pharmaceutical companies refuse to share samples needed to develop affordable generic versions of brand-name medicines.

Who Are Diamond and Silk? A Look at 2 Pro-Trump Social Media Stars

By LIAM STACK

The polarizing African-American sisters and internet celebrities have accused Facebook of discrimination, a charge the company denies.

Seven Takeaways From the Airstrikes on Syria

By MICHAEL WOLGELENTER

The United States and its allies were trying to walk a fine line, sending a strong message to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on the use of chemical weapons without provoking a military response from Russia and Iran.

Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, who leads the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, said on Saturday that “I would say there’s still a residual element” of Syria’s chemical weapons program.

A Hard Lesson in Syria: Assad Can Still Gas His Own People

By DAVID E. SANGER AND BEN HUBBARD

The conflict in Syria has shown a larger truth: While it is easy to blow up chemical facilities, it is also relatively simple for the Assad government to reconstitute them elsewhere.

As Clinton Camp Denied a Criminal Inquiry, F.B.I. Was at Work, Comey SaysFor Hillary Clinton’s campaign, minimizing the significance of the inquiry was important to prevent it from becoming a bigger political liability as she headed into the Democratic primary season.

By PETER BAKER AND MICHAEL D. SHEAR

In his memoir, the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey said the campaign’s objections to a 2015 New York Times article, which resulted in two corrections, were misleading.