Shifting Rationales

Friday, May 12, 2017Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 11.30.35 AM

Good Friday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
— The First Draft Team

Critics Say Trump Broke the Law in Firing Comey. Proving It Isn’t So Easy.

The J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington, where the F.B.I. is headquartered.

The J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington, where the F.B.I. is headquartered. Jim Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency

Some critics of President Trump have accused him of obstruction of justice in his firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, amid the bureau’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. Here is a look at the complex legal concept.
What is obstruction of justice?
Several federal statutes criminalize actions that impede official investigations. While some examples of illegal ways to thwart the justice system are specific — like killing a witness or destroying evidence — the law also includes broad, catchall prohibitions. For example, Section 1512 of Title 18 makes it a crime if someone corruptly “obstructs, influences or impedes any official proceeding,” even if the proceeding was not yet pending at the time of the act. A conviction under that provision can be punished by up to 20 years in prison.
Read more »
A former F.B.I. supervisor said Andrew G. McCabe, center, had a “capacity to understand an issue at great depth” and provided unvarnished information.

Andrew McCabe Is Known at F.B.I. for His Precision and Intellect


A backhanded compliment often used for Andrew G. McCabe, the F.B.I.’s acting leader — he’s a great briefer — is actually a highly valued skill at the bureau.

Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, left, and Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, spoke on Thursday during a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Intelligence Officials Warn of Continued Russia Cyberthreats


Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, and Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, offer a dire view of Russian meddling, one that differs starkly from the president.

After she was convicted on Thursday, Corrine Brown, a former United States representative from Florida, said she disagreed with the jury’s decision and would seek a new trial.

Ex-Florida Congresswoman Convicted of Taking Money Meant for Charity


Prosecutors said Corrine Brown and others solicited more than $800,000 in donations to fund student scholarships, but used the money on personal events and luxury skyboxes.

Rosie O’Donnell, at an event in New York City last Saturday, and President Trump have traded personal attacks since 2006.

Trump Resumes Feud With Rosie O’Donnell on Twitter


Thursday for the president: An intelligence briefing. A couple of executive orders. Then a tweet aimed at an old foe.

Adm. Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

How Trump’s N.S.A. Came to End a Disputed Type of Surveillance


The move increased the risk of missing something important, but removed a privacy issue at a time when the law on which the program is based will expire unless Congress extends it.

A poultry farm in Shandong Province, China, in February. The United States is set to allow the Chinese to export cooked poultry products.

U.S. Strikes China Trade Deals but Leaves Major Issues Untouched


Agreements covering beef, poultry and financial services sidestep touchier issues such as steel, despite the president’s anti-China campaign rhetoric.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, center, met on Thursday with foreign ministers from other nations with Arctic territory.

Tillerson, in Alaska, Gives No Hint on Paris Climate Accord


At a meeting of the Arctic Council, the secretary of state was noncommittal when asked about the administration’s view on the landmark climate agreement.

Trump Throws Tomatoes at Some of TV’s Stars


The president ridiculed Don Lemon as “perhaps the dumbest person in broadcasting,” called Chris Cuomo “a chained lunatic” and claimed Stephen Colbert said “nothing funny.”

John Maynard Keynes, right, speaking to Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. at an international monetary conference at Bretton Woods, N.H., in 1944.

Priming the Pump: The Economic Metaphor Trump ‘Came Up With’


Explaining an expression that the president seemed to take as his own during an interview with The Economist magazine.

Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime political adviser to Donald J. Trump and the subject of the documentary “Get Me Roger Stone,” has a tattoo of Richard M. Nixon.

Review: ‘Get Me Roger Stone’ Profiles a President Whisperer in Peacock Mode


The operative Roger J. Stone Jr. has a scandalous history, a Nixon tattoo and boldfaced acquaintances, including the president, all explored in this documentary.

John F. Kennedy in his junior year at Harvard in 1939. This week, Harvard released what is believed to be the earliest known recording of Kennedy, from a 1937 speech for an English class.

Harvard Releases Earliest Recording of John F. Kennedy, a Politician in the Making


The university released the earliest known recording of Kennedy this week, from an English class he was taking when he was 20.

A voter in Wellesley, Mass., in November. A White House official said President Trump would sign an executive order for the purpose of “reviewing alleged voter fraud and suppression.”

Trump Picks Voter ID Advocate for Election Fraud Panel


The president named Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who has focused on strict voting laws, as vice chairman of a commission.

The federal agency that oversees presidential libraries said this Twitter post, made by the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, was inappropriate.

Nixon Library Tweet That Trolled Trump Was Inappropriate, Officials Say


The National Archives and Records Administration, which administers the presidential libraries system, said the post was “not representative” of its policies.

Representative Steve Stivers of Ohio in 2015. Mr. Stivers, the head of the House Republican campaign arm, has sparred with the White House over this year’s special elections.

Special Election Fights Expose House G.O.P.’s Squabbles With White House


Two surprisingly close races resulting from the president’s appointments are generating friction between the Trump administration and the party campaign committee.

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
• Jonathan S. Tobin in National Review:
“The last thing the country needs is another out-of-control probe that won’t give us the answers we need about Russia and Trump.”
Jonathan Tobin explains why, historically, the appointment of a special prosecutor is a bad choice. Noting that special prosecutors tend to become “attached to the extraordinary power they’ve been given,” Mr. Tobin argues that “their investigation becomes not a means to the end for which they were purposed, but an end in itself.” If we really want to get to the bottom of any ties between the president, his orbit and Russia, a “bipartisan special commission or joint congressional committee” would be much more effective. Read more »
From the Left
• Jeet Heer in The New Republic:
“Social movements like the Resistance are the performance-enhancing drugs of politics: They can help a party win, but they also fuel its rage and hamper its ability to think clearly.”
Jeet Heer charts the inchoate history of the Resistance, the movement that sprang up in opposition to both the president and, as Mr. Heer argues, the Democratic Party itself. Looking forward, he urges Democratic leaders to embrace the movement, lest it go the way of Occupy Wall Street. Read more »
More selections »