The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Rand Paul and the Chamber of Secrets

The senator prowled the Capitol building, looking for copies of the draft Obamacare repeal bill.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Today in 5 Lines

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he will recuse himself from any investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign after a Washington Post report revealed that he had met with the Russian ambassador to the United States last year. The revelation prompted calls from Democratic and Republican lawmakers for Sessions to step aside, and in some cases, resign. President Trump, for his part, said earlier in the day that he didn’t think Sessions should recuse himself. Senator Rand Paul spent the day hunting for draft legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare only to be denied entry into the room where it was reportedly being kept. The Senate confirmed Ben Carson as head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and approved former Texas Governor Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy.

Today on The Atlantic

  • ‘Sessions’s Unforced Error’: Adam Serwer unpacks an exchange between Senator Al Franken and Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing that has since landed the attorney general in “hot water.”

  • The Trump Card: Scott Pruitt, the new Environmental Protection Agency administrator, is expected to roll back the Obama administration’s efforts to improve fuel efficiency, prompting concerns among environmentalists. But a “unique authority that Congress granted to California under the Clean Air Act decades ago” might help them protect the former president’s legacy. (Ronald Brownstein)

  • The Whole Truth: During his address to Congress, President Trump invoked fallen Navy SEAL Ryan Owens in a controversial moment. While each side of the debate has its merits, Conor Friedersdorf argues that the administration should not take credit for the successes of the raid that killed Owens without acknowledging its failures.

Follow stories throughout the day with our Politics & Policy portal.


U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions pauses at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington. Yuri Gripas / Reuters

What We’re Reading

Leaving a Trail: The New York Times reports that in the final days of the Obama administration, White House officials attempted to disseminate information about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible contact between Trump associates and Russian officials, partly “to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators." (Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman, and Michael S. Schmidt)

Much Ado About Russia: What, exactly, are the allegations connecting the Trump administration with Russia? When did the controversy start—and who’s investigating it? Madeline Conway offers a “definitive guide to Trump’s Russia ties.” (Politico)

Is the Wall Ever Going to Happen?: Donald Trump might have trouble executing his plan to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Why? So far, the Department of Homeland Security has identified only $20 million in “existing funds and resources” for the $21.6 billion project. (Julia Edwards Ainsley, Reuters)

An Objection: More than 60 law enforcement heads issued a joint letter expressing concern over the administration's immigration-enforcement plans. “We believe we can best serve our communities by leaving the enforcement of immigration laws to the federal government,” they wrote. (Ed Pilkington and Oliver Laughland, Guardian US)

Spending Habits: The Trump administration plans to propose a “historic” $54 billion increase in the defense budget, but the plan “isn’t as impressive as it sounds,” argues Adam Rawnsley. He spoke with defense experts to learn how they think the administration should allocate the money. (Wired)


The ‘Blue Lives Matter’ Fight: Lawmakers have introduced 32 bills throughout the country that seek to classify violent attacks against police as hate crimes. View this chart to see where the measures currently stand in each state. (Julia Craven, The Huffington Post)

Question of the Week

President Trump is expected to introduce a federal-budget proposal next month that significantly increases defense spending, while slashing funds on most other programs, including cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency and for foreign aid. If you were in charge of the country’s budget, and you had extra funds to allocate wherever you wished, what agency or program would you prioritize—and why?

Send your answers to, and our favorites will be featured in Friday’s Politics & Policy Daily.

-Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey) and Candice Norwood (@cjnorwoodwrites)