The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Doublespeak

Distorted videos of Pelosi cap off a week of tensions with Iran, partisan sparring in Congress, and rollbacks of LGBTQ protections. Welcome to “Infrastructure Week.”

Andrew Harnik / AP

What We’re Following Today

It’s Friday, May 24.

‣ The Republican Chip Roy delayed an already delayed $19.1 billion disaster-aid measure—which was about to pass with unanimous consent—by objecting on the House floor.

Here’s what else we’re watching:

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (James Lawler Duggan / Reuters)

Caught in the Middle (East): Trump, a president who has said time and time again that he wants to avoid war in the Middle East, announced today that he is sending 1,500 more troops to Iran. It’s the latest U.S. escalation against the country, reports Kathy Gilsinan.

Probing the Probe: President Donald Trump granted Attorney General William Barr “full and complete authority” to declassify government documents, and ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to comply with Barr’s probe into the Mueller investigation. Trump says Barr “requested” the expansive powers, but the president has been demanding such an investigation for a long time, argues David Frum.

Rolling Back Rights?: The Trump administration’s reversal of a Barack Obama–era rule that protected against health-care discrimination on the basis of gender identity has LGBTQ and women’s health-care advocates worried, reports Emma Green. “For years, across the legal system, people have been debating whether civil-rights prohibitions against sex discrimination should be interpreted expansively to include sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Déjà Vu: Last night, Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani tweeted out separate videos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that had been doctored to make her appear to be stammering and drunk. This isn’t the first time Pelosi has faced personal attacks from the GOP.

Mea Culpa: At the beginning of the month, Elaina Plott reported that finally, this time around, Infrastructure Week appeared not to be a joke. After the walkouts and political posturing this week, which involved very little infrastructure, she’s here to apologize: “Infrastructure Week is still, in fact, a joke.”

Impeachment’s Biggest Fan: The billionaire and activist Tom Steyer has spent $80 million on a Need to Impeach campaign. And he can smell victory. “We have won the argument. Period. It’s impossible to ignore,” he told Edward-Isaac Dovere. “What we’re saying is, if in fact we can come together and do a simple thing and recognize that a deeply corrupt president should be thrown out of office—and replaced with a Republican—then we’ve taken the first step toward the idea that we actually have a government that can function.” Read the rest of their conversation.


(Alastair Grant / AP)

British Prime Minister Theresa May reacts after making a speech outside 10 Downing Street announcing she’ll resign as prime minister on June 7.

Ideas From The Atlantic

War-Crime Pardons Dishonor Fallen Heroes (David Lapan)
“President Donald Trump is reportedly planning to mark Memorial Day by pardoning several American military members accused or convicted of war crimes. If he does so, it would undermine our military-justice system, weaken good order and discipline in the ranks, erode trust with our allies and partners, and sanction the worst inclinations of our adversaries.” → Read on

The ‘Enemy of the People’ Is the Real Target of the Assange Prosecution (Adam Serwer)
“If you value democracy, you simply do not want this administration, or any administration, deciding which people are journalists and which are criminals on the basis of whether what they publish makes government officials angry.” → Read on

A Single Scandal Sums Up All of Trump’s Failures (David A. Graham)
“But Trump also knows he needs to build the wall—really, any wall—or at least get a good start before the 2020 election … If that means the wall that goes up ends up not being all that effective at stopping border crossings, or if it’s over budget, or if it’s behind schedule, so be it—so long as those bills come due after November 3, 2020.” → Read on

What Else We’re Reading

My Best Friend and I Did Everything Together—Until He Was Killed in Afghanistan (Luke Ryan, The New York Times Magazine) (🔒 Paywall)
Bring Medically Proven Opioid Treatments Into Jails and Prisons (Jeremy Travis and Alan Leshner, Washington Examiner)
Water Democracy (Sammy Feldblum, Dissent)
Where Progressives Are Making Progress (Perry Grossman and Dahlia Lithwick, Slate)

About us: This newsletter is a daily effort from The Atlantic’s politics writers: Elaine Godfrey, Madeleine Carlisle, and Olivia Paschal. It’s edited by Shan Wang.

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