Today in 5 Lines
President Trump is expected to announce his Supreme Court nominee at 8 p.m. The Senate confirmed Elaine Chao to be transportation secretary, and three other Cabinet nominees, Betsy DeVos, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Representative Ryan Zinke, advanced toward a full Senate vote. Senate Democrats boycotted committee votes on two of Trump’s Cabinet nominees: Tom Price, Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, and Steve Mnuchin, the nominee for secretary of the treasury. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended the president’s choice to fire acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Monday night, saying she was “rightfully removed” for refusing to defend Trump’s executive order on immigration. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in a press conference that Trump’s executive order on immigration was “not a ban on Muslims.”
Today on The Atlantic
‘How to Build an Autocracy’: In the March cover story, David Frum offers a warning: “We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered,” Frum writes, adding, “This moment of danger can also be your finest hour as a citizen and an American.”
Not Adding Up: A number of immigration experts say that Trump’s defense of his executive order on immigration “lacks credibility.” As one lawyer said: “The notion that dangerous individuals could rush into the country in the timeframe of a week flies in the face of reality.” (Clare Foran)
Mounting a Defense: Most congressional Republicans “are unwilling or unable to mount any serious opposition to Trump’s policies.” But John Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, and James Mattis, the secretary of defense, may prove to be the most effective checks on the president. (David A. Graham)
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What We’re Reading
‘You’re Fired’: On Monday night, President Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she instructed the Justice Department not to defend Trump’s executive order on immigration, sending a “deep shudder” through the agency. (Michael D. Shear, Mark Landler, Matt Apuzzo, and Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times)
A Family Affair: “Less than a fortnight into his new post, Kushner appears unable to control both his father-in-law and those around him,” writes Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox. And Ivanka Trump doesn’t seem to be a “moderating figure” on her father. Does the pair still wield influence over the president?
Taking on Trump: Former President Obama and his aides expected to publicly weigh in on Donald Trump’s presidency at some point, but “now they’re trying to find the right balance on issues that demand a response, and how to use Obama to deliver the selective pushback.” (Edward-Isaac Dovere, Politico)
A ‘Desperate Battle’: Luke Mogelson tells the story of a SWAT team of Iraqis who have been fighting to retake Mosul from the Islamic State since 2008. The two requirements for the team’s recruits: They had to have been wounded by Islamic extremists—either physically or psychically—“and they had to crave revenge.” (The New Yorker)
Crisis Management: All administrations experience challenges in their early days, but the executive order on immigration is “raising basic questions about how Trump’s White House will function” during a time when it “needs to be at the top of its game.” (Stephen Collinson, Phil Mattingly, and Rene Marsh, CNN)
Separation of Nations: A number of countries around the world—including Turkey, India, and Morocco—either have barriers or have plans to construct them along their borders. View these graphics to see what they look like. (Lorena Iniguez Elebee, The Los Angeles Times)
Question of the Week
On Sunday, the New England Patriots will take on the Atlanta Falcons at Super Bowl 51 in Houston, Texas. If Capitol Hill had its own football team, what would it be named?
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