Senator Tim Kaine speaks with Mark Esper, then the nominee for defense secretary, before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Esper's nomination on July 16.Erin Scott / Reuters
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What We’re Following Today

It’s Tuesday, July 23.

‣ The Senate confirmed Mark Esper as the next defense secretary, replacing Jim Mattis, who resigned in December.

Here’s what else we’re watching:

Next Stop: Impeachment Proceedings?: Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller is finally set to testify before the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. Now it’s up to Democrats to secure a few good sound bites: They want Mueller, in his testimony, to highlight the most damning parts of his report, and in so doing, convince the American people that impeachment is the necessary next step.

+ That could be difficult. In New Hampshire at least, voters say they aren’t expecting Mueller’s appearance to change the current political dynamic, Russell Berman reports.

The Barr Was High: In the immediate aftermath of the Mueller report’s release, Attorney General William Barr was able to harness the power of television to set his own narrative of the report, knowing that most Americans would never read it. “It was a great piece of communications work on Barr’s part,” a former White House official told Elaina Plott.

The Dry Kindling of the U.S.-Iran Relationship: The international attention drawn to an explosion at an Iran-aligned obscure military base in Iraq demonstrates the fragile relationship between Iran and the United States: The next escalation between the two countries could be sparked by any number of small events.

— Elaine Godfrey


(Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

Young conservative activists wait for President Donald Trump’s arrival at a Turning Point USA student summit in Washington on Tuesday.

Ideas From The Atlantic

Americans Can Handle the Truth. Mueller Needs to Give It to Them. (Stuart Gerson)
“Elements of the report are already on the record, but the Mueller hearing presents Congress and the press alike with the chance to better inform the public of the details. But Congress has a second task in these hearings, too. It can provide answers about the biggest silence in the report.” → Read on

Why Does Trump Want a Second Term? (David A. Graham)
“The president has not so far laid out a real platform for a second four years, although he has signaled over the past 10 days or so that he intends to focus his campaign on racist remarks and sowing division among Americans.” → Read on

The Day I Learned I Was American (Juliet Lapidos)
“When my relatives said that we came to America because in America we could be American, the could was key. We could be American, but we also could be that and something else—newcomers, with a sense of how things were done in other places, including things that were done worse, and things that were done better.” → Read on

What Else We’re Reading

$12,075 on paella and 32 other wacky things the candidates bought (Maggie Severns, Elena Schneider, and James Arkin, Politico)

The obscene difficulty of depriving a troubled white man of a gun (Danielle Tcholakian, The New Republic)

Manhattan’s Republican Party chair is a self-described ‘billionaire heiress’ and ‘business bombshell.’ (Olivia Nuzzi, New York) (🔒 Paywall)

Fox News helped radicalize domestic terrorist Cesar Sayoc, say his lawyers (Erik Wemple, The Washington Post) (🔒 Paywall)

About us: This newsletter is a daily effort from The Atlantic’s politics writer Elaine Godfrey, with help from Christian Paz. It’s edited by Shan Wang.

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