The Atlantic Daily: Why Did Trump Fire Comey?

An evolving explanation, the bears kept in Vietnam’s illegal bile farms, the only deaf college football team in the U.S., and more

Protesters gather to rally against Trump's firing of Comey, outside the White House in Washington, D.C. (Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

What We’re Following

The Comey Controversy: A day after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, the explanation for his dismissal is still evolving: Though a memo from the deputy attorney general cited Comey’s handling of the Clinton emails, Trump’s past statements cast doubt on that story, and the White House is now pointing to other recent missteps. As David Frum writes, the most worrying possibility is that Trump may have fired Comey to shut down the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference with the election. In response, Democrats are calling for an independent investigation, while top Republicans are so far standing behind the president. But meanwhile, White House sources fear losing control of the controversy. Find all our coverage of the Comey firing here.

Elsewhere in Government: A rule from the Obama administration that limits the release of methane gas from drilling projects will stay intact after three Senate Republicans joined Democrats in upholding it. It’s the first time this session that Congress has failed to repeal a regulation from the last administration. Lawmakers are still locked in a partisan fight over repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which throws the future of the bipartisan-supported Children’s Health Insurance Program into question. And the head of the U.S. Census Bureau is stepping down, leaving the bureau with a lack of both leadership and funding as it prepares for the 2020 population count.

Animal Rights: In Vietnam, conservationists are working to rescue thousands of bears from illegal bile farms, where they’re kept in poor conditions by people seeking to harvest their bile for traditional medicine. The farms might soon be stamped out—and when that happens, the bears will need new homes. Meanwhile, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is preparing for its final show this month after years of criticism over its treatment of animals. One tidbit its critics may not know: In the late 1800s, the circus’s founder played a surprising role in helping the animal-rights movement get off the ground.


The photographer Takashi captured this image of Mount Fuji for the National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest. See more images from the contest here.

Evening Read

Matthew Davis attends a homecoming game at Gallaudet University:

The crowd watches as the dozen cheerleaders stand in formation, an American flag high but limp in the windless air behind them. The cheerleaders start by extending their arms horizontally and then grabbing an imaginary bulb in their right hand—the sun—and raising it into the sky for “dawn’s early light”; midway through, their arms pull back to show “rockets’ red glare,” hands explode for “bombs bursting in air,” and their right hands wave that the “flag was still there.” It ends, of course, with “the home of the brave,” the cheerleaders stomping their feet on the FieldTurf, their flexed arms curled in signs of strength.

The crowd raises their hands and shakes them in the air, applause in American Sign Language, and the Gallaudet University Bison, the country’s only college football team for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, takes the field for the opening kickoff.

Keep reading here, as Davis examines what the Gallaudet team can teach about identity politics.

What Do You Know?

1. Over time, the underground storage tanks at the Hanford Site in Washington have leaked ____________ gallons of nuclear waste.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. As of 2016, ____________ U.S. states used voting machines that were at least 10 years old.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. Zuul crurivastator, a newly discovered ankylosaur, is named after a creature in the movie Ghostbusters and the Latin words for “destroyer of ____________.”

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Answers: 1 million, 43, shins

Look Back

On this day in 1872, Victoria Woodhull became the first woman nominated for president of the U.S. Last November, Adrienne LaFrance wrote about Woodhull and other women who followed in her footsteps:

Victoria Woodhull, an early suffrage leader, ran for president in 1872 on the Equal Rights Party’s ticket—decades before women had even secured the right to vote and despite the fact that, at 34, she was too young to be eligible. She’s remembered today as part-hustler, part-trailblazer, and her roster of experience included stints as a clairvoyant and a Wall Street broker. (If anyone actually voted for her, those votes were never counted.)

Read more here.

Reader Response

For our June issue, we asked readers this big question: What is the best exit of all time? Thomas J. Straka of Pendleton, South Carolina, wrote:

Richard Nixon exited twice. After he lost the gubernatorial election in California in 1962, he famously said, “You don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.” And then, after he resigned the presidency, he gave that iconic victory wave to the crowd from the White House South Lawn. Both exits are in the history books.

See more reader answers and vote for your favorite here—we’ll publish the results of the poll in the next print issue. And if Nixon’s on your mind today, the historian John Aloysius Farrell parses what the Watergate scandal can teach us about how to respond to Trump’s firing of Comey.

Time of Your Life

Happy 29th birthday to Rose, who was born around the time a NASA scientist told the Senate that global warming had started. And happy 49th birthday to Amy, who’s never lived in a world without the Super Bowl. From Curt, happy 52nd birthday to Harriet; the two of them got married about half her lifetime ago, the same year the World Wide Web was born. Philip, a numerologist, wishes a happy and especially auspicious birthday to Sally, who was born on 05/10/51 and is now turning 66 (a little younger than credit cards). And happy birthday to Ryan, who’s twice as old as the euro, one-fifth the age of The Atlantic, and is Rachel’s “witty, brilliant husband and dorky best friend.”

If you’d like us to feature your Life Timeline in an upcoming newsletter, take a moment to fill out this form. (Please leave us a week or so to process your request.) In the meantime, click here to explore the Timeline feature for yourself.


Eggs explained, Anne adapted, genomes dreamed of, supernova sparkles.

The Atlantic Daily is written by Rosa Inocencio Smith. To contact us, email