What a s$c$o$o$p
We have quite a few scoops to serve up for you on this Wednesday. First, from CNN’s Oliver Darcy comes the scoop that Fox News shelved Stormy Daniels-Trump story before election. Or as Mark Harper poetically puts it, “Stormy clouds won't go away for @realDonaldTrump or @FoxNews.”
From Dan Diamond and Jennifer Haberkorn of POLITICO, we learn that Trump plans to shield doctors who claim moral objections. In other words, “If, like me, you've wondered what Roger Severino's been working on the last year, @ddiamond & @jenhab have your answer,” says Adam Cancryn. Emma Green verifies, “Rumor is that HHS will create new conscience protections for health-care workers who object to certain procedures, e.g. abortion. In my profile of OCR head Roger Severino last year, he emphasized this.”
In an exclusive for the San Francisco Chronicle, Hamed Aleaziz breaks the news that the feds are “Fed up with sanctuary laws,” as Trapper Byrne tweets, and ICE is planning massive Northern California immigration sweep to strike against sanctuary laws.
Another big story: Ex-C.I.A. Officer Suspected of Compromising Chinese Informants Is Arrested. That scoop is from Adam Goldman of The New York Times. Mark Mazzetti explains: “Last May, the NYT reported on how the CIA’s network in China had been systematically dismantled. Man at center of mole hunt has been arrested.” “Did the FBI just arrest one of the most damaging CIA moles in the history of US intelligence?” asks Garrett Graff.
Then there’s this: Investigators Are Scrutinizing Newly Uncovered Payments By The Russian Embassy, report Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier of BuzzFeed. Heidi Blake elaborates, “Bombshell documents obtained by dream duo @jasonleopold & @a_cormier_ reveal a slew of suspicious transactions involving the Russian embassy and diplomats that are a new focus of the Trump-Russia inquiry.” Scott Gilmore thinks “This story is puzzling for several reasons. Who was getting all this Russian Embassy cash? If these were covert payment, why US Ambo's account? If they were trying to hide it, why use American banks?” Anyway, “What a s$c$o$o$p,” tweets Mark Di Stefano.
More breaking news as Choe Sang-Hun of The New York Times reports, North and South Korean Teams to March as One at Olympics. Context, from Patrick deHahn, “The last time #ROK and #DPRK marched together was ten years ago, at the Asian Winter Games; and the last time they played in a joint team was in 1991.” Tom Krattenmaker’s reaction: “I am pleasantly shocked.” And Tom Peters wants you to know, “My 1st published article, in Organizational Dynamics/1978, was titled ‘Symbols, Patterns, & Settings: An Optimistic Case for Getting Things Done.’ It featured the power of symbols!”
Andrew Jeong and Jonathan Cheng cover the story for The Wall Street Journal, Two Koreas Strike Sweeping Deal Over Winter Olympics. Tweets Cheng, “Hot off the press, our first take on the two Koreas’ Olympics deal. ‘The South’s most dramatic embrace of its northern rival in a decade.’”
Will he spill the beans?
So back to the Russia investigation, Lawmakers vow to force answers from Bannon in Russia probe after he defies subpoena, POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney reports. We’ve also learned from the scoop by Michael Schmidt of The New York Times, Bannon Has Been Subpoenaed in Mueller’s Russia Investigation, which is “different from other witnesses who have gone in for more informal interviews with the special counsel team,” notes Zoe Tillman. “Will ‘Sloppy Steve’ spill the beans? Tune in for the next episode of ‘As The World Burns,” as Keith Boykin tweets. We’re on the edge of our seats.
Meanwhile, BuzzFeed has their dream duo, and here’s “Scoop from this talented trio of NBC women: FBI went to Bannon’s DC home last week to deliver that grand jury subpoena,” as Carol Lee tweets.The latest, from Kristen Welker, Hallie Jackson and Julia Edwards Ainsley of NBC News, is that Bannon plans to cooperate with special counsel in Russia probe, source says.
As for Trump, Mueller team would hardly be first lawyers to question Trump, writes AP’s Eric Tucker. He tweets, “I read through hundreds of pages of depositions of Trump taken over the years. They reveal a witness who is voluble, boastful, unapologetic, sometimes combative -- but, importantly, unmistakably deft. Here's my story on the subject.”
So have you wondered How Author Wolff Got Into Trump’s White House for Tell-All Book? Well, Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs gives us the backstory, and Peter Hoskins says “This is as astonishing as many of #FireAndFury's explosive revelations.” James Herron explains: “Michael Wolff, the Littlefinger of the Trump White House, used chaos as a ladder.” As Jacobs herself tweets, “Michael Wolff’s entree into the WH began with Trump himself, who phoned the author in February to compliment him for blasting the media during a CNN appearance. Aides Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks met with Wolff the next day.” By contrast, “The Obama comms team kept strict tabs on authors’ work — micromanaging access to the WH, asking for summaries after interviews, tracking lines of questioning and making sure writers were escorted off the grounds. None of that happened with Michael Wolff,” notes Travis Lyles. For Daniel Drezner, “The interesting thing about this story is that it’s the first time I’ve seen the knives out for Hope Hicks.”
A laundry list of embarrassing municipal incompetence
How to describe To Woo Amazon, Cities Tackle Everything From Traffic to Housing, by the staff of The Wall Street Journal? Well, Christopher Mims puts it this way: “This piece is amazing. Just a laundry list of embarrassing municipal incompetence that politicians swear they'll fix if only Bezos would bless them with his new HQ.”
“I love this, and I love Lacey (who wrote it), and it's worth reading for many millions of reasons.” Linda Holmes’s enthusiasm is for Ellen Pompeo, TV's $20 Million Woman, Reveals Her Behind-the-Scenes Fight for “What I Deserve,” Lacey Rose’s interview with Ellen Pompeo in The Hollywood Reporter. Kai Ryssdal says, “This is totally fascinating,” and Shaun Kitchener agrees: “I've only seen early-years Grey's Anatomy but for a perspective on being the figurehead of a long-running TV show this is frank and funny and FASCINATING.”
Also, “This. I have a lot of thoughts on how that article was reported, and this piece covers it,” says Lisa Lagace: At Jezebel, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd asks, Babe, What Are You Doing? For what it’s worth, “This is the first take I've read on this that doesn't make my insides feel like slugs,” says Priya Krishnakumar. “The only aspect of the Aziz Ansari story that I’m not conflicted about is how irresponsibly it was handled. @jawnita nails it,” tweets Hilary George-Parkin.
RIP The Awl and thank you
As Greg Rosalsky puts it, “The Internet is littered with the carcasses of great journalistic outfits killed by the impossible economics of pay-per-click business models.” And now this: The Awl has announced that it’s ending this month. Audrey Watters captures the general sentiment: “Damn :(“ Tweets Chris Packham, “I refuse to blame ‘the year’ for this, but GODDAMMIT GODDAMN.” Matthew Kassel is “Flying my inner flag at half mast.” ‘RIP, The Awl. and Thank You. A sad day for the internet indeed,” tweets Robin Kwong.
Sorry to disappoint you, but Trump's fake news awards are shaping up to be a total flop, writes Callum Borchers in The Washington Post.
From Linda Qiu of The New York Times, Trump Falsely Claims His Approval Among Black Americans Has Doubled.
Doctor says Donald Trump is 6-3, 239 pounds, and the Internet has so many athlete comparisons. Des Bieler of the Chicago Tribune helpfully compiles a bunch of them for you.
Nearly all members of National Park Service advisory panel resign in frustration, as Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post reports.
DHS secretary faces Democrats’ grilling at hearing. Tal Kopan and Veronica Stracqualursi of CNN have the details.
Eric Lam, Mathieu Benhamou and Adrian Leung of Bloomberg Markets ask, Did Bitcoin Just Burst? How It Compares to History’s Big Bubbles.
Matina Stevis-Gridneff of The Wall Street Journal reports on Troubled Waters: Egypt and Ethiopia Wrangle Over Nile Dam.