The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Better Call Cohen

Mary Altaffer / AP

-Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey)

Today in 5 Lines

  • Shortly after Trump was inaugurated as president, Novartis, one of the world’s largest drug companies, signed a $1.2 million contract with Michael Cohen for consulting work, the company disclosed Wednesday. Cohen’s banking transactions have come under increased scrutiny after Stormy Daniels’s personal lawyer alleged that Cohen had financial connections to a Russian oligarch. News outlets, including The New York Times, have since confirmed the connection.

  • During her testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead the CIA, conceded that the agency learned “tough lessons” from the use of harsh detention and interrogation techniques, and said she wouldn’t resume those methods if confirmed.

  • North Korea released three American prisoners ahead of Kim Jong-Un’s meeting with Trump. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to arrive to the U.S. with the three men early Thursday morning.

  • The White House Correspondents’ Association criticized the president after he tweeted about taking away credentials from members of the media. “Some may excuse the president's inflammatory rhetoric about the media, but just because the president does not like news coverage does not make it fake,” said the group’s president, Margaret Talev.

  • New volcano vents have opened up on Hawaii’s big island, bringing the total number of evacuees to an estimated 1,800.

Today on The Atlantic

  • The Common Denominator: All of the establishment Republicans who won in Tuesday’s primaries fully embraced the president’s plans to build a border wall and crackdown on sanctuary cities. (Ronald Brownstein)

  • Highlight Reel: Here are 10 tense moments from Gina Haspel’s confirmation hearing to be the next CIA director. (Lena Felton)

  • A Spotify Scandal: Two baristas at a Duke University coffee shop were fired after playing rap music that offended a school administrator. Conor Friedersdorf argues that punishing people “helplessly embedded in profane U.S. culture” is not the right move.

  • In Conversation With Seth Meyers: The comedian is often blamed for inspiring Donald Trump’s run for office with his jokes at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Meyers said he doesn’t regret making them. (Julia Ioffe)

Recommended Reading


Gina Haspel, President Trump's pick to lead the CIA, is sworn in to testify at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Alex Brandon / AP

What We’re Reading

Want a Quick Debrief?: Here are seven key takeaways from Tuesday’s primaries in West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, and North Carolina. (Steven Shepard, Elena Schneider, and Scott Bland, Politico)

Rigging a Referendum?: Tech companies like Facebook and Google have gotten involved in the debate over abortion rights in Ireland. Michael Brendan Dougherty writes that they’re preemptively silencing pro-life voices. (National Review)

Good Riddance: Matthew Continetti argues that President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal shows how much of former President Obama’s legacy was just a mirage. (The Washington Free Beacon)

On the Other Hand: The decision comes at great cost to America’s reputation, argues Roger Cohen. By withdrawing, “America has made a mockery of the value of its signature on an international agreement.” (The New York Times)


‘Precipitation Whiplash’: Most of California’s freshwater originates in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Climate change is threatening that source. (Lauren Tierney and Monica Ulmanu, The Washington Post)