The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Justin and the Giant Impeach

Justin Amash leaves the Freedom Caucus. Plus: Trump weighs in on reports about Kim Jong Nam's 2017 assassination.

Justin Amash speaking
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

What We’re Following Today

It’s Tuesday, June 11.

Brothers K: North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother Kim Jong Nam, killed in a chemical-weapons attack two years ago in a Malaysia airport, was a CIA informant, according to two new accounts. In comments at the White House, President Donald Trump said, “I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices.” “The context of his remarks makes clear that what Trump ‘wouldn’t let … happen’ is not Kim Jong Nam’s killing, but his cultivation as an American asset,” argues David A. Graham.

I’m Out!: Republican Representative Justin Amash, who faced ire from his party after calling for President Trump’s impeachment, announced that he has quit the House Freedom Caucus. The group’s choice to not defend Amash—one of its founding members, who joined Congress in the 2010 Tea Party wave—shows how far the caucus has drifted from its original tenets of “slashing spending [and] standing up for those who break with the status quo,” Elaina Plott noted last month.

Gesturing Vaguely: The House Democrats’ first hearing on the Mueller report featured John Dean (Richard Nixon’s White House counsel during Watergate, in case you forgot) and unearthed little information of interest. The performance was ... not exactly a strong sign that the Democrats are marching toward impeaching Trump, writes Russell Berman.

A Breach in the Border (Protection): Yesterday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that hackers stole an undisclosed number of travelers’ ID photos and license plates from a subcontractor’s database. And according to some experts, they could have accessed  much more personal information, Sidney Fussell reports.

The Last Frontier: NASA recently announced that it would allow private citizens to fly to the International Space Station for the very first time, at $35,000 a night per passenger, starting as soon as next year. “That makes space tourism unsustainable, and to a certain mind, depressingly out of reach,” writes Rebecca Boyle. “Once, astronauts chosen for their courage, verve, intelligence, and vigor embodied the mystique of space. Now the right stuff will come with a price tag.


The Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg delivers remarks on foreign policy and national security, in Bloomington, Indiana. (John Sommers II / Reuters)

Ideas From The Atlantic

When I Was Secretary of Defense, I Didn’t Tolerate Hairsplitting in War (Ash Carter)
“War has to be spoken about bluntly, especially when leaders are talking with the troops or their families. Accordingly, I used honest language—words like war and combat—whenever it was appropriate, and ignored the ‘suggested edits’ from the White House staff substituting other, less forthright words.” → Read on.

Buttigieg’s New Foreign-Policy Tune (George Packer)
“Buttigieg wants to set a generous narrative of national identity against Trump’s cramped and cruel vision, and against the progressive hostility to any national identity at all. It won’t be easy… [The] strongest political emotions of the moment are fear, disillusionment, and hatred. As impressive as he is personally, Buttigieg hasn’t yet found the words, the music, and the policies to make his appeal convincing.” → Read on.

What Nancy Pelosi Wants to Do Before Impeachment (Steve Israel)
“For Pelosi, public sentiment doesn’t mean following public opinion, but strategically shaping it so that it’s more receptive to a strategic goal ... That takes message discipline, unity, and patience—all of which will be necessary as pressure to impeach President Donald Trump continues to build.” → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

Anti-abortion Leaders Have Supported Rape and Incest Exceptions for Decades. Here’s Why That Is Suddenly Changing. (Caroline Kitchener, The Lily)
When Joe Biden Was the Candidate of the Young (Jim Newell, Slate)
With Most States Under One Party’s Control, America Grows More Divided (Timothy Williams, The New York Times)   (🔒 Paywall)
The Biggest Carrier to a Leftist Foreign Policy: Democrats (Tyler Bellstrom, The New Republic)

And One More Thing …

Just Doing My Job: In The Atlantic’s July issue, Rene Chun explores the “twisted logic” of hiring a hit man. “Criminologists have a name for a person who hires a hit man: instigator,” Chun  writes. “They also confirm what news stories suggest: Lots of instigators get caught because they don’t know what they’re doing.”

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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