Hugging a Russian hand grenade
“Is this real life?” Good question, Peter Johnson. As we learned yesterday, and as reported in The New York Times by Matt Apuzzo, Matthew Rosenberg and Emmarie Huetteman, FBI Director James Comey confirms that the FBI is investigating Trump’s Russia ties, including, as Huetteman tweets, “whether anyone on Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to influence election.” We also learned that Comey has “no information to support these tweets," referring to the wiretap claims by Trump. David Plazas refers you to the Washington Post’s clip, “In 1-min video here FBI's Comey refutes POTUS' wire tapping claim.” And Carl Sullivan tweets this alarming revelation from the testimony, “Comey: Russians will ‘be back in 2020 ... One of the lessons they may draw from this is that they were successful.’” The good news, says, Ron Klain: “FBI takes extraordinary step, confirms Trump-Russia probe. Thank goodness this info given to the voters in time!” Oh wait.
Benjy Sarlin of NBC News writes that the Comey disclosures leave Trump alone on an island of conspiracy theories. Tweets Sarlin, “The top tiers of government are fighting to convince one man an imaginary scandal isn't real.” And then Mark Harris asks, “Remember the brutal Saving Pvt Ryan scene where the soldier pushes the knife in SLOWLY?” He directs you to Trump’s Weary Defenders Face Fresh Worries, Glenn Thrush’s piece in The New York Times, in which Thrush highlights, “Even Spicer has had it with Trump's tweets.” Liam Stack summarizes: “A close ally said ‘a gray cloud’ of suspicion hangs over Trump. His approval rating 37%. And he won't stop tweeting.”
As Trump “seems determined to hug his Russian hand grenade,” writes Thrush, “All the president's tweets are starting to pile up,” says Patrick LaForge. Many were retweeting Eric Geller, “This is a hell of a paragraph about the president of the United States,” which referred to this excerpt: “People close to the president say Mr. Trump’s Twitter torrent had less to do with fact, strategy or tactic than a sense of persecution bordering on faith: He simply believes that he was bugged in some way, by someone, and that evidence will soon appear to back him up.”
Truth squad on Trump tweets
For more presidential Twitter analysis, Deborah Amos is referring you to Glenn Kessler’s piece for the Washington Post, President Trump’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Twitter day, which Daniel Dale says is an “Excellent @GlennKesslerWP rundown of all of Trump's Twitter falseness today.”
Meanwhile, “There’s a smell of treason in the air,” says presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. In their new piece for the Washington Post, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker write that President Trump faces his hardest truth: He was wrong (24,000+ shares). In it, the burns keep coming from Brinkley, who has published biographies of Gerald Ford, Franklin Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt. He tells Parker and Rucker, “This is the most failed 100 days of any president.”
“Some fire amidst the smoke,” tweets Patrick Wintour. Andrew Roth reports in the Washington Post, New documents say Trump aide hid payments from pro-Moscow Ukraine party. Khatya Chhor explains, “Kiev lawmaker says former Trump adviser Paul Manafort laundered Ukraine payments offshore.” “No wonder Spicer was all ‘Paul Manawho?’ yesterday,” tweets J. A. Adande.
And Maggie Haberman reveals in her new piece for The New York Times that Roger Stone, the ‘Trickster’ on Trump’s Side, Is Under F.B.I. Scrutiny. His explanation? Tweets Haberman, “‘Don't confuse Roger Stone with the character I play,’ says Stone, the dirty-trickster who may have done 1 too many.” She adds, “Stone was political internet proficient before most strategists did. That is now biting him with investigators.”
Deflect, deflect, deflect
So, how do you react to all of this if you’re a Trump supporter? Emil Guillermo notes, “As FBI confirms invtg Russian interference in election, pro-Trump strategy is to go after leaker instead.” In What Investigation? G.O.P. Responds to F.B.I. Inquiry by Changing Subject, The New York Times’ Michael Shear reveals that Republicans in Congress are following the “Time-honored tactic of politicians in trouble: Try to deflect from scandal by focusing on leaks,” tweets Peter Baker.
Here’s some more news that got a lot of attention last night. As reported by Arshad Mohammed and John Walcott of Reuters, according to sources, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to skip NATO meeting, visit Russia in April (17,000+ shares). “Sources telling Reuters that Tillerson is skipping a NATO meeting for Xi,” says Katherine Miller. And Nahal Toosi clarifies, “He *may* skip NATO meeting to attend Chinese president visit, then later go to Russia. And NATO may reschedule.” Says Hayes Brown, “Okay, Tillerson is reportedly not skipping NATO summit TO visit Russia. He'd visit later in the month. But still.” Observes Glenn Thrush, “Well oiled…” (Get it?)
“Ronald Grump's various plots to ruin Sesame Street sowed division and chaos among the muppets.” Sound familiar? As Avi Selk’s piece notes, Trump wants to defund PBS. ‘Sesame Street’ brutally parodied him for decades. Adam Janofsky highlights this: “In 1994, Sesame Street aired a special where ‘Donald Grump’ planned to demolish it to build Grump Tower.” Tweets Alissa Wilkinson, “Applause to @aviselk for this deep dive on Sesame Street's startlingly pointed Trump satire.” And Karen Schwartz reminds us: “No puppet.”
This story is mega-nuclear-level bananas
With political news taking over your feed, you may be wondering if you’re missing out on anything in the world of startups. Here’s something: “This story is mega-nuclear-level bananas,” says Chris Weller, referring to the the latest controversy surrounding Thinx, which “just keeps getting crazier,” says Gabriella Paiella. As Noreen Malone tweets about her piece in New York Magazine, Thinx Employee Accuses Miki Agrawal of Sexual Harassment, the Thinx co-founder “wanted to break taboos about female bodies, but employees say she took it too far. One filed a claim.” What’s so crazy? Well, as Jessica Goodman tweets, “Among many !!! stories in this article: ‘At least once, she supposedly FaceTimed into a meeting from the toilet.’” As Lauren Kelley explains, “There are bad bosses, and then there are bad bosses who facetime you from the john.” But really, “There's not a single bit of this story that isn't jaw-droppingly insane,” says Matthew Hughes. Paula Span calls it “A disturbing account of a hostile work environment, led by a woman CEO.” And Ellen Huet speaks for all of us when she says, “holy what the oh my god.”
Megan Specia tells us, “I have a fever this morning so I honestly thought I read this wrong for about 10 mins. Also.... what!?” You’re not alone, Megan. Says Josh Barro, “I don't know what to make of this some-airports-only, foreign-carriers-only, some-electronic-devices-only ban.” In The New York Times, Ron Nixon reports that as of 3:00 this morning, U.S. Limits Devices for Passengers on Foreign Airlines From Eight Countries. Vivienne Walt tweets: “Passengers can no longer bring laptops into the U.S. from Persian Gulf countries, Morocco, Jordan!” And linking to Lori Aratani’s piece in the Washington Post, U.S. unveils new restrictions on travelers from eight Muslim-majority countries, Jon Williams tweets, “Wow! US bans carry-ons bigger than cellphone on flights from #Egypt, #Jordan, #Turkey, #UAE, #Qatar, #Saudi, #Kuwait.” Doug Stallings clarifies: “10 airports in 8 countries, including IST and DXB, are affected by the device limits, but only non-US airlines.” Notes Paul Krugman, “Not the most important thing, but applying this ban only to foreign-owned airlines clear violation of trade rules.” Gerry Doyle says, “making travel arbitrarily hard for people flying from airports in friendly mideast countries? sure, fantastic idea.” “Not good for anyone who travels for business!” says Barbara Fraze.
Making the rounds:
Stephen Battaglio of the Los Angeles Times reports that Fox News has pulled Judge Andrew Napolitano from the air after disavowing his on-air claim that British intelligence officials had helped former President Barack Obama spy on Donald Trump (20,000+ shares).
Jeff Passan says, “This @DanWetzel column on testimony of a guy Aaron Hernandez shot between the eyes is even crazier than it sounds.” He’s referring to Dan Wetzel’s piece for Yahoo Sports, Fractured friendship of Aaron Hernandez and a gangster played out in bone-chilling court scene. “A terrific read,” says Rusty Miller. Adds Jemele Hill, “OK, this piece by @DanWetzel on a key witness in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial is jaw DROPPING.”
BBC News reports that Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister, has died.
First daughter Ivanka Trump gets West Wing office and access to classified information, reports AP’s Catherine Lucey.
“Whoops. More great digging into Richard Spencer's organization from @mattdpearce,” tweets Jaweed Kaleem of Matt Pearce’s piece in the Los Angeles Times, Georgia nonprofit says it unwittingly gave $25,000 to white nationalist Richard Spencer. Tweets Pearce, “I have Richard Spencer's missing tax returns. His biggest donor didn't know it was supporting a white nationalist.”
- Robert Silver, founding editor of The New York Review of Books has died. Read Laura Marsh’s piece in the New Republic, More than Magic: the Legacy of Robert Silvers, in which she writes about working with the editor who “championed the life of the mind.”