The Atlantic Daily: A Popular Will

The legal questions raised by the Cohen-Trump tape. Plus signs of a lake on Mars, Sean Spicer’s book, and more.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen at a campaign stop in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, on September 21, 2016. (Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

What We’re Following

Trouble With Tapes: On a newly released recording of a conversation between Donald Trump and his longtime attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, the two men can be heard discussing a payment that would keep the story of an affair between Trump, then a presidential candidate, and the model Karen McDougal from surfacing. Here are the legal questions it raises. Reports that the FBI seized this tape, as well as others, from Cohen’s office in April have drawn comparisons to the Oval Office recordings that were revealed during the Watergate scandal—but the story of those tapes provides limited lessons for today.

Integrating Immigrants: The soccer star Mesut Özil, a descendant of Turkish immigrants, has withdrawn from Germany’s national team over what he described as “racism and disrespect,” sparking a debate over assimilation and national identity. In the U.S., amid the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown, the number of arrivals under the special-immigrant-visa program—which was created for Afghan and Iraqi citizens who served the U.S. in roles such as battlefield interpreters—has sharply declined, Priscilla Alvarez reports. An Afghanistan veteran and immigration advocate asks: “How much more merit do you need than saving American lives?

Space News: Scientists have found evidence of a subterranean lake on Mars that could stretch a meter deep and 12 kilometers across—the largest body of liquid water detected on the planet yet. Another team of astronomers has found a new way to observe exoplanets—planets outside our solar system, which are usually obscured by the light of the stars they orbit. Here’s how it works.


The musicians Sheila E., Prince, and Cat Glover pose together in Rotterdam in 1988. See more photos from 30 years ago. (FG / Bauer-Griffin / Getty)

Evening Read

McKay Coppins on Sean Spicer, the erstwhile White House press secretary:

There was a time, not too long ago, when people were forecasting a gloomy outlook for Spicer’s post–White House career … It’s true that Spicer struggled to land the kind of cable-news contract typically offered to high-profile White House departees. (Network insiders worried, apparently without irony, that he lacked “credibility.”) But then came the offers on the high-dollar speaking circuit (where he reportedly sought north of $30,000 a speech), and the prestigious fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the book deal, and the talk-show pilot, and the gig at the cash-flush America First super PAC, and—well, it’s safe to say now that Spicer has landed on his feet.

Keep reading, as McKay catches up with Spicer at his Washington book-launch party.

What Do You Know … About Science, Technology, and Health?

1. Polyester-based microfilm is expected to last up to ____________ years without degrading.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

2. In the 1970s, the average American drank ____________ gallons of milk per year.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

3. Since last year’s hurricanes struck the Caribbean islands of Turks and Caicos, the average size of the ____________ of lizards who live there has increased by up to 9 percent.

Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.

Answers: 500 / 30 / toe pads

Look Back

On this day in 1861, Congress passed the Crittenden–Johnson Resolution, which stated that the Civil War was being fought in order to preserve the Union rather than to interfere with the established institutions of the seceding states—implying that the defeat of the South would not necessarily mean the end of slavery. In our April 1862 issue, The Atlantic’s co-founder Ralph Waldo Emerson argued that the war would be meaningless if it didn’t abolish slavery:

There does exist, perhaps, a popular will that the Union shall not be broken,—that our trade, and therefore our laws, must have the whole breadth of the continent, and from Canada to the Gulf. But, since this is the rooted belief and will of the people, so much the more are they in danger, when impatient of defeats, or impatient of taxes, to go with a rush for some peace, and what kind of peace shall at that moment be easiest attained: they will make concessions for it,—will give up the slaves; and the whole torment of the past half century will come back to be endured anew …

Slavery … cannot live but by injustice, and it will be unjust and violent to the end of the world.

Read more.


Surnames surrendered, donations disrupted, brand abandoned, virus misplaced.

Time of Your Life

Happy birthday to Jeannine (a year younger than The Lord of the Rings), and to Heidi (13 years older than The Breakfast Club) from Mom.

Meet The Atlantic Daily’s team, and contact us.

Did you get this newsletter from a friend? Sign yourself up.