The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Planet of the Tapes

President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen reportedly recorded Trump before the 2016 election discussing payments to an ex-Playboy model.

RW / MediaPunch / IPX / AP

Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey)

Today in 5 Lines

  • President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen reportedly recorded Trump before the 2016 election discussing payments to an ex-Playboy model who claimed they’d had an affair.

  • The White House said Trump “is not considering supporting” a referendum on independence for eastern Ukraine that was suggested by Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Helsinki.

  • Ohio State University announced that more than 100 former students have made sexual-misconduct allegations against Richard Strauss, a former wrestling-team doctor.

  • Police said at least 17 people were killed after a duck boat capsized during a storm in Branson, Missouri.

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly told Republicans that if Democrats continue demanding records about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, McConnell will wait to hold a confirmation vote until right before the midterms.

Today on The Atlantic

  • Changing Their Tune: A new talking point has bubbled up among some supporters of President Trump, writes McKay Coppins: “It was a positive thing that the Russians hacked the 2016 election.”

  • African or French?: A spat between Daily Show host Trevor Noah and French Ambassador Gérard Araud reveals a divide between the French and American conceptions of identity politics. (Rachel Donadio)

  • Everything Is Fine: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has emerged as a warrior in President Trump’s culture war, operating under a shocking assumption: “There are things that are more important than truth.” (Megan Garber)

  • Obama Doesn’t Have the Answer: The former president continues to offer hopeful solutions to America’s problems. But he still doesn’t understand President Trump or the forces that put him in office. (Vann R. Newkirk II)


An asylum seeker from Honduras reunites with her five-year-old son in Brownsville South Padre International Airport in Brownsville, Texas, after five weeks of separation. Loren Elliot / Reuters

What We’re Reading

Facts Are Piling Up: Politico editor Blake Hounshell used to be skeptical that the special counsel would ever find Donald Trump guilty of colluding with Russia. Not anymore.

Small-Scale Power: The past several years of American politics have been about liberalism, conservatism, and now, populism. “Maybe the next era of public life will be defined by a resurgence of localism,” writes David Brooks. (The New York Times)

Finding a Third Way: Centrist Democrats really want a 2020 candidate who can offer a moderate alternative to Trump’s and Bernie Sanders’s economic visions. The problem is, they can’t find one. (Molly Hensley-Clancy, BuzzFeed)

The Stage Is Set: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this week affirmed an injunction blocking California’s ban on large-capacity magazines. If the case makes it to the Supreme Court, it could reset the gun-control debate, writes David French. (National Review)


California vs. Mississippi: Here’s what it takes to get an abortion in one of the most restrictive states in America—compared with one of the least. (Audrey Carlsen, Ash Ngu, and Sara Simon, The New York Times)