The Atlantic Politics Daily: The Not-So-Deep State

We look at the central figures in a very serious political scandal. Plus: What happens when normal people begin to meld their identities with those they idolize?

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Today in Politics

What a year this past week has been. If all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players, then who are the protagonists of this summer of discontent? We look at the central figures in a very serious political scandal.

(Erin Scott / Reuters)

The whistle-blower: The author of a nine-page document that triggered the latest crisis of the Donald Trump presidency is still central to the scandal, still anonymous, and still a singular “they” in public testimony. Call it the not-so-deep-state—or call it revenge of the intelligence nerds, Mike Giglio writes.

Presidents (Donald Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky): McKay Coppins anticipates the upcoming strategies of the aggrieved U.S. president. Ian Bateson explores Zelensky’s social-media-friendly, TV-star background.

Bidens (Hunter and Joe): The subjects of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president aren’t immune to criticism, Sarah Chayes argues: Sure, Trump may have committed an impeachable offense, but Americans still shouldn’t be peddling influence for payouts.

Nancy Pelosi: The Speaker of the House has given her stamp of approval to an impeachment inquiry, unifying the parallel investigations being conducted in six congressional committees.

Joseph Maguire: The Trump-appointed acting director of national intelligence faced a dramatic, three-hour hearing today in which he walked a tightrope, distancing himself from the White House’s actions while not condemning the president outright, Russell Berman writes.

Adam Schiff: Going quiet after the release of the Mueller report, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee made a brief return to the spotlight for Robert Mueller’s July testimony. The Ukraine scandal seems to have vindicated him.

Congressional Republicans: They stand by their man, Elaina Plott reports. Adam Serwer has a working theory on why.

Rudy Giuliani: The president’s personal lawyer is ensnared in the Ukraine scandal and, well, he’s very, very, very (one more time—very) angry.

Congressional Democrats: A dozen House Democrats still aren’t on board with impeachment, according to The New York Times, and several represent swing districts. “There’s not going to be a vote for a while. We’ll see what the Judiciary Committee comes up with,” one aide to a hesitant Democratic House member told Russell Berman and Elaine Godfrey on Wednesday.


(Brian Snyder / Reuters)

Senator Elizabeth Warren and her husband, Bruce, inspect apples at Lull Farm in Hollis, New Hampshire.

Weekend Read

(Solarseven / Shutterstock)

What happens when normal people begin to meld their identities with those they idolize? James Hamblin explores the theory of identity fusion, which some experts say could explain the cult of personality authoritarian leaders generate.

The idea of fusion might help some people explain how family members or colleagues whom they view as fundamentally good people might seem to suspend their typical sense of morality and do things like downplay Trump’s bragging about groping women; enriching himself at taxpayer expense; defending white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia; or failing to release his tax returns despite multiple promises to do so.

Our Reporters Are Also Reading

Why Cities Are Less Powerful in U.S. National Politics (Richard Florida, CityLab)

The Inscrutable Mike Pence (Peter Baker, The New York Times) (Paywall)

Did The New York Times Do the Right Thing in Its Whistle-Blower Coverage? (Tom Jones, Poynter)

Madness at Fox News as Trump Faces Impeachment (Gabriel Sherman, Vanity Fair) (Paywall)

About us: The Atlantic’s politics newsletter is a daily effort from our politics desk. It’s written by our associate politics editor, Saahil Desai, and our politics fellow, Christian Paz. It’s edited by Shan Wang.

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