On Tuesday, President Donald Trump fired James Comey, director of the FBI. Although Comey had been widely criticized for his handling of investigations related to the 2016 election, his dismissal was a shock to many observers, because he was overseeing an investigation into Russian interference in the election and whether any members of the Trump administration were involved. We're liveblogging the aftermath of the dismissal below; here are some highlights from our ongoing coverage:
The Senate Intelligence Committee Subpoenas Michael Flynn
The Senate Intelligence Committee formally issued a subpoena Wednesday to Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national-security adviser, for “documents relevant to the Committee’s investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election.” In a press release announcing the subpoena, Richard Burr, the committee’s Republican chairman, and Mark Warner, its Democratic ranking member, said they had originally requested the documents in an April 28 letter but Flynn declined to offer them voluntarily.
The subpoena is among the most advanced steps yet in either congressional investigation into Russian electoral interference. While the committee indicated it was the natural outcome of Flynn’s refusal to cooperate, it also sends a signal that the committee’s work will go forward despite FBI Director James Comey’s controversial ouster on Tuesday. NBC News reported that it’s the first of its kind from the Senate Intelligence Committee since the 9/11 attacks investigation and the first subpoena for documents from the committee since the Church Committee in the 1970s, which investigated U.S. intelligence-community abuses.
Was Comey Fired After Asking for More Resources in the Russian Meddling Investigation?
The Department of Justice is denying reports that former FBI Director James Comey was fired just days after he asked for more resources to investigate alleged connections between the Trump administration and Russian election meddling.
The New York Timesfirst reported the news Wednesday morning, saying Comey met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last week, according to three anonymous sources. Rosenstein is the top official in charge of the investigation, because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself after it was learned he failed to disclose meetings with the Russian ambassador. Rosenstein also wrote the memo recommending Comey’s dismissal.
Whether or not Comey asked for more resources and then found himself without a job a few days later is important because it bolsters the narrative that the Trump administration is seeking to undermine the investigation into Russia’s alleged election meddling. In a terse response to The Atlantic, when asked if the reports were true, DOJ spokesman Ian Prior said, “totally false.”
The Times reported that Comey briefed members of Congress after his meeting with Rosenstein, and told them he was frustrated by the lack of personnel and money provided to his agency for the investigation. He said he hoped to speed up the investigation, but in order to do so he needed more resources.
At a press briefing Wednesday afternoon, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Comey’s dismissal had nothing to do with the investigation into Russia. She said Rosenstein and Sessions both told Trump they had concerns about Comey, and that Trump asked them to “put those concerns in writing.” Not long after, Trump fired Comey.
In Full Hockey Gear, Putin Responds to Comey's Firing
While President Donald Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Wednesday morning at the White House, President Vladimir Putin was back in Russia preparing for a hockey game. As he was about to take the ice, CBS News stopped Putin at the rink’s entryway. Putin greeted reporter Elizabeth Palmer with a smirk. Dressed in hockey pads and a jersey, through a translator, Putin played off Comey’s dismissal as a purely domestic issue. Here’s a transcription of the quick conversation, and below it the video.
“Sir,” Palmer said, “how will the firing of James Comey affect U.S.-Russia relations?
“There will be no effect,” Putin replied. “Your question looks very funny for me. Don't be angry with me. We have nothing to do with that. President Trump is acting in accordance with his competence, in accordance with his law and constitution. What about us? Why we?”
“You see,” Putin told Palmer, “I am going to play hockey with the hockey fans. And I invite you to do the same.”
According to Russian media, Putin only learned to ice skate six years ago. He finished the game with seven points.
The Republicans Who Find Trump's Timing Suspicious
Democrats say James Comey’s firing comes conveniently as the investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the presidential election ramps up. And while there are plenty of conservatives who’ve rushed to support Trump’s decision, as my colleague Russell Berman notes, some Republicans have also called the timing suspicious. Arizona Senator John McCain, who has long been a critic of Trump, said he was “disappointed” in the decision. McCain acknowledged that the “president does have that constitutional authority. But I can’t help but think that this is not a good thing for America.”
Tennessee Senator Bob Corker said it was important the investigation be free of political interference, and that Comey’s “removal at this particular time will raise questions.” Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, who is also chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee, said the “timing of this firing is very troubling.” And North Carolina Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr also said he was “troubled by the timing and reasoning” of Comey’s dismissal.
Dir. Comey has been more forthcoming w/ information than any FBI Director I can recall in my tenure on the congressional intel committees.
Other Congressional Republicans who are skeptical of Trump’s decision include Michigan Representative Justin Amash, who called part of Trump’s dismissal letter to Comey “bizarre,” because the president thanked the FBI director for assuring him on three occasions that he was not being investigated. Arizona Senator Jeff Flake tweeted Tuesday night that he’d “spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey's firing. I just can't do it.”
He was so damaged, and yet he showed us so much of the world.
“Travel isn’t always pretty,” Anthony Bourdain once said, wrapping up an episode of one of his shows in his distinct staccato voice-over. “It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts; it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you.” Over his 15 or so years on television, Bourdain took Americans to places they were unlikely to go and introduced them to people they were unlikely to meet. At his best, he stripped away the filters that a superpower imposes on the world—good and evil, victor and victim—and found an essential humanity that we all share. In a time when social media elevates bombastic voices certain of their righteousness, Bourdain offered ambiguity that was somehow reassuring: It’s possible, his shows suggested, to look honestly at the world’s diversity, complexity, and occasional depravity, and be better for it.
In just a few days, on December 7, the Supreme Court will consider a case that could have dire implications for American democracy, Moore v. Harper.
Moore concerns the “independent state legislature” theory: the idea that the Constitution grants state legislatures some level of special authority in administering federal elections that may not be constrained by state courts or perhaps even state constitutions. The idea is, to put it mildly, contested. The conservative jurist J. Michael Luttig, who recently signed on as co-counsel for litigants opposing the independent state legislature theory in Moore, has argued in The Atlantic that Moore represents “the most important case for American democracy in the almost two and a half centuries since America’s founding” and cautioned that the theory is a key part of “the Republican blueprint to steal the 2024 election.” Former Attorney General Eric Holder warned that, depending on how the Court rules, Moore could pose “an existential threat to our democracy.”
The captain of the U.S. soccer team is the latest in a long line of sports stars who have had to wrestle with a complex legacy on the world stage.
In a press conference yesterday, Tyler Adams, the 23-year-old captain of the U.S. men’s national soccer team, was chastised by an Iranian journalist for mispronouncing the name of his country (Adams pronounced it eye-ran as opposed to ee-rahn) before following up to ask whether, as a Black American, Adams felt uneasy representing a country that has a history of discrimination against Black people. Adams was characteristically thoughtful and measured in his response. “My apologies on the mispronunciation of your country,” he began. He continued:
That being said, there’s discrimination everywhere you go. One thing that I’ve learned—especially from living abroad in the past years and having to fit into different cultures and kind of assimilate into different cultures—is that in the U.S., we’re continuing to make progress every single day.
Growing up for me, I grew up in a white family with obviously an African American heritage and background, as well. So I had a little bit of different cultures, and I was very, very easily able to assimilate in different cultures. Not everyone has that, that ease and the ability to do that, and obviously it takes longer for some to understand. Through education, I think it’s super important—like you just educated me now on the pronunciation of your country. It’s a process. I think, as long as you see progress, that’s the most important thing.
These titles do more than answer questions: They explain how the world moves and what moves it.
The cover of a nonfiction book is like the hood of an automobile: Nudge it open, and you’ll find sentences like cylinders and pistons folded and coiled together, an engine ready to propel us toward answers to daunting questions. How did life begin? What is art for? What transpires inside our cells? How do our nation’s values hold up in an era of accelerating change? The best nonfiction does more than just assemble information. It takes a reader through curious landscapes, offering a deeper grasp of how the world moves and, most important, what moves it.
The seven nonfiction titles below are not textbooks; they’re accessible to lay readers, give an overview of crucial topics, and can serve as a jumping-off point for further research. They investigate what our society values and what it’s built on, driving us to the monumental, the sublime, the quintessentially human.
The wildlife biologist Jeff Sikich talks about the famous cat, its habitat, and how to keep yourself—and your pets—safe.
America’s most famous mountain lion lives—as so many celebrities do—in the hills above Los Angeles. For more than a decade, P-22 (P for puma, 22 because he’s the 22nd tagged in a local study) has prowled the mountains bordering the city, occasionally dipping into more populated areas. Like any bona fide star, his movements are meticulously monitored, by both the park and the public. He wears a radio collar and is sometimes captured on local home-security cameras.
Solitude can help children grow, but some might not be getting enough of it.
This article was featured in One Story to Read Today, a newsletter in which our editors recommend a single must-read from The Atlantic, Monday through Friday. Sign up for it here.
What if my kid doesn’t have friends? That thought probably occurs to most parents at some point. People tend to worry about toddlers developing social skills, tweens getting included at school, and teens finding a supportive friend group; they wonder about the boy playing by himself in the sandbox, and fear a poorly attended birthday party. But although they dwell on whether kids have too much alone time, adults don’t tend to consider whether kids have enough of it. In fact, researchers told me, people seem entirely uncomfortable with the idea of a solitary child.
Neglected by the traditional financial system, they got into cryptocurrency with gusto—but late.
Two years ago, a Maryland-based information-technology specialist—who asked to remain anonymous for reasons that will become apparent in a minute—started researching bitcoin in earnest. He’d seen the ubiquitous advertisements for it, he told me. He had a background in computer science and was interested in cryptography. He saw the promise of the blockchain, bitcoin’s distributed-transactions ledger. And he had watched the astonishing rally in the value of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. “I wanted to see how far it would go,” he told me.
He put in $1,000. Shortly after, the crypto markets began to falter. He started to lose money and decided to pull out rather than risk losing any more. “I got a good sense of what it was all about,” he told me.
Republican criticism of the Mar-a-Lago dinner with a Holocaust denier will be disavowed if Trump looks to be winning the party’s 2024 nomination.
For once, Donald Trump has a point.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, Trump had dinner with the artist and aspiring presidential candidate Kanye West. Among West’s entourage was a 24-year-old livestreamer named Nick Fuentes. Fuentes, as all the world now knows, traffics in Holocaust denial, among other provocations. West is an outspoken anti-Semite in his own right.
Some former Trump supporters have raised their voices against the meeting—This time, he’s gone too far! A few even criticized Trump by name.
Now, here’s Trump’s point, implicitly at least: Have these critics been in a coma since 2015? He’s been keeping company with extremists, bigots, and charlatans for a long time—since before he entered politics, in fact.
A modern generation of animated sitcoms shows a rarity in the genre: well-adjusted fathers.
The latest season of Netflix’s animated comedy Big Mouth explores the mysterious world of father figures, and emerges with a revelation. The middle schooler Nick’s dad, Elliot Birch, has been harboring a secret: He used to be a fearsome competitor in the macho martial art of “Scottish nipple twisting.” Elliot is a sweetie pie, a family man who takes the concept of being a lover-not-a-fighter to the extreme. He’s a vocal feminist who kisses his male friends on the mouth and moisturizes as liberally as he praises his wife. So what gives? Elliot explains to Nick that he only ever engaged in the martial art to earn his own hypermasculine father’s approval. Eventually, Elliot left that life behind. “I vowed to myself that I’d be the exact opposite kind of father,” he explains to Nick. “You mean like a soft daddy?” Nick asks. “The softest, and the daddiest,” Elliot says.
Juliet Tuttle may have been the most prolific murderer of pets in American history. How did she get away with it?
In a ritzy Park Avenue apartment, Juliet Tuttle posed in front of a birdcage, staring into the eyes of a parrot. She wore an elegant silk robe and a cloche hat. A photographer snapped a picture, and soon Tuttle appeared in newspapers around the country under the headline “Not Afraid of Parrot Disease.”
The year was 1930 and a panic had erupted over an illness spread by birds. Though only a few hundred Americans had caught the flu-like “parrot fever,” people were so afraid of being infected that they wrung the necks of their own pets. Tiny carcasses piled up in trash cans, the brilliant blue-and-green wings lying limp among the coal ash.
Tuttle insisted that the fears of contagion were overblown, saying that she often kissed her birds on their little beak. She seemed like the kind of daffy, kind-hearted widow who would one day leave her fortune to her menagerie. And yet seven years later, a tabloid dubbed her the “Eastchester Dog Poisoner” after she was caught in a New York suburb doling out suspicious tablets in doggie treats.