The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Memodrama

The House Intelligence Committee, which is chaired by Republican Representative Devin Nunes, released a controversial memo alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI.

Jim Bourg / Reuters

Today in 5 Lines

The House Intelligence Committee, which is chaired by Republican Representative Devin Nunes, released a controversial memo alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI. Read it in full here. In a statement, Democrats on the committee denounced the decision. The U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in January while the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent. And the Dow plunged by more than 650 points.

Today on The Atlantic

  • Meh-mo: David A. Graham argues that the memo released by the House Intelligence Committee on Friday “seems to undermine the political case it was released to bolster.”

  • A Hot Button Issue?: The current political rhetoric surrounding immigration makes it seem like one of the most divisive issues of our time. But immigration has never been more popular in the history of public polling. (Derek Thompson)

  • Lawmakers’ Small Revolt: Republicans are pushing back against several of President Trump’s nominees. Here’s what it means. (Michelle Cottle)

  • Write to Us!: Today, we’re introducing a new Letters section at The Atlantic: a home for your thoughtful dialogue, criticism, and observations. Read Editor in Chief Jeffrey Goldberg’s message to readers here. We’re looking forward to hearing from you, and to publishing your thoughts in the section!

  • Radio Atlantic: Before Paul Manafort led the campaign to position Donald Trump as the ultimate Washington outsider, Manafort had built a career on being the consummate D.C. insider. In today’s episode of Radio Atlantic, Franklin Foer joins Jeff and Matt to describe how Manafort's career is a window into the rise of corruption in America.

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


Co-handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil for the crowd gathered at Gobbler's Knob on the 132nd Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Alan Freed / Reuters

What We’re Reading

A Really Bad Cliche: Here are 46 times politicians have described their opponent’s actions as “worse than Watergate.” (Taylor Gee and Zack Stanton, Politico)

Why Are Conservatives Obsessed With Free Markets?: Kevin D. Williamson has one word: brainpower. (National Review)

Zero Hour: By letting funding for community health centers expire, Congress has created a health crisis for 23 million Americans. (Sarah Kliff, Vox)

‘The Abortion Memo’: David Brooks argues that Democrats’ fight to preserve the right to late-term abortions is getting in the way of their other progressive priorities. (The New York Times)

Trump’s Nuclear Poker: In order to prevent nuclear war, past presidents have reduced their nuclear arsenals and forged arms-control agreements. The Trump administration is taking a vastly different approach. (W.J. Hennigan, Time)

Too Early to Celebrate: During his State of the Union address, President Trump touted the historically low rate of black unemployment. But that unemployment rate is back up. (Philip Bump, The Washington Post)


A Long Way to Go: See how your state stacks up when it comes to equal representation of men and women in politics. (Darla Cameron and Kim Soffen, The Washington Post)

Question of the Week

This week, we asked you to assess the current state of the union, and share the areas you think Congress should focus on in 2018. In general, readers seemed disheartened by the current political conditions in the country. Many of you said that Congress should make both immigration and infrastructure a priority, but feared that political divisions would prevent bipartisan solutions.

From Martha Cohen: “How do you compromise with someone whose ideas you consider unamerican [sic] and evil, and whose worldview is based on ‘fake news’ and antipathy for all you hold to be important in American life?”

Jay described the current state of affairs in the United States as “more of a Potemkin Village,” writing that Republican lawmakers “have a blinders-on narrow focus favoring short term gain over long term human and environmental health, national competitiveness, and prosperity.”

Finally, reader Thomas Martinson writes that he believes America has “gained the whole world but lost its own soul”: “From a purely economic perspective, the state of the union is as good as it's ever been, and for many, that is all that matters,” Martinson writes. “We are seeing social and cultural and political turmoil, however, that has become a lava flow. We are a deeply divided nation with a congress [sic] and a President who seem to have neither the inclination nor the wherewithal to address these fissures.”

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for next week’s Question of the Week!

-Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey)