Thursday evening, we were stunned by news from the New York Times that Trump Had Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When The White House Counsel Threatened to Quit. That scoop is the work of Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman. On Twitter, Schmidt put it plainly: “Trump told McGahn to fire Mueller in June. McGahn threatened to resign and Trump backed down.”
Rosalind Helderman and Josh Dawsey followed up the Times scoop with their own piece in the Washington Post that Trump moved to fire Mueller in June, bringing White House counsel to the brink of leaving. Matt Zapotosky pointed out, “Post confirms.”
Marshall Cohen and Aileen Graef have a dose of perspective at CNN. They’ve put together this list of 8 times since June the White House denied Trump was considering firing Mueller. Manu Raju reiterated: “On eight occasions since June - when Trump ordered the firing of Mueller - Trump and his aides have told the press he was NOT considering firing Mueller.”
It’s Now Likely Mueller Thinks Trump Obstructed Justice, Renato Mariotti put it simply in his Politico piece.
‘This is f*cked up’
Dutch agencies are providing crucial intel about Russia's interference in US-elections, according to Huib Modderkolk at Volkskrant. Christiaan Triebert explains, “For years, Dutch intelligence had access to Russia's Cozy Bear hackers group. Crucial evidence for Russian interference in the U.S. elections was obtained, prompting an investigation by the FBI.” “Good on the Dutch! And bad on us for betraying it. Amazing intelligence coup,” Mark Stout chimed in.
Also from the Washington Post, a story about how Russians got tens of thousands of Americans to RSVP for their phony political events on Facebook, written by Craig Timberg. If you want specifics, it was close to 90,000 people. And yes, this was during the 2016 elections.
ICE has apparently struck a deal to track license plates across the US, Russell Brandom found out for The Verge. Nilay Patel didn’t mince words when he tweeted: “This is fucked up.”
Following Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III will deliver the Democratic response, Victoria McGrane and Annie Linskey write in the Boston Globe.
There’s a rumor out there that Nikki Haley had an affair with Trump, which she calls “disgusting.” Eliana Johnson got that story for Politico. But David Rutz takes the piece to task, tweeting: “The first seven paragraphs of a story about an interview with the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations is devoted to a completely unfounded rumor about an affair with the president.”
Lindsey Bever, Sarah Kaplan, Abby Ohlheiser at Washington Post check in on the Doomsday Clock in 2018, asking Is it still 2½ minutes to ‘midnight’ per the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists? Bever explained that the assignment came “After a missile scare and insult war with North Korea.” Laura Helmuth tweeted, “‘The question I have is: How much forward can they go?’ Tick tick tick tick....” While Juan Escalante brought it back to what’s truly important: “BUT WHAT ABOUT HER EMAILS?!”
At Talking Points Memo, Esme Cribb has all the deets about The Photo That Never Saw The Light of Day: Obama With Farrakhan In 2005. Bill Wasik pointed out: “This absolutely would have become an issue (a silly one, obvs) in the 2008 election.”
Speaking of past presidents, Philip Bump found out that Deep in Clinton country, voters stand by their candidate. And you can read his piece in the Washington Post. Bump added more insight on Twitter: “Talked to two dozen people or so in the Bronx, Baltimore, Bowie and D.C. Only one Clinton voter told me he wished he hadn’t voted for her — but he also hated Trump.”
And here’s a fun story for a change: The White House wanted a Van Gogh. The Guggenheim offered a used (gold) toilet. According to Paul Schwartzman at the Washington Post, the Trumps’ wanted the painting for their private living quarters. But they were denied in most brutal fashion.
Diversity, harassment, general misogyny
4 BBC male news presenters agree to pay cut, according to the network themselves. Rozie Breen pointed out that this news “follows Carrie Gracie's resignation from her post as BBC China editor in protest at unequal pay between male & female international editors.”
The Red Cross has its own sexual harassment scandal to deal with. Justin Elliott and Ariana Tobin at ProPublica report that the organization Helped an Executive Get a Job at Save the Children After Forcing Him Out For Sexual Harassment. Tobin highlighted that “what happened next is a glimpse into how employers have *really* dealt with the men accused of sexual misconduct.”
Nitasha Tiku at Wired takes us inside The Dirty War Over Diversity Inside Google. “Advocates of greater diversity at Google say they are being harassed and targeted on right-wing websites,” Jesse Torres explains.
According to Raw Story’s David Edwards, Republican U.S. Senate candidate for Missouri Courtland Sykes flipped out over the pesky matter of “women’s rights” in a Facebook post, the way we want all sane people who are leading our government to do. His rant reportedly included the phrase: “I want to come home to a cooked dinner every night.” Meanwhile, Meghan O'Dea delivered an epic fact check burn: “GOP Senate candidate calls feminists ‘career-obsessed banshees’ with ‘nasty snake-filled heads.’ Um. That's two different mythological creatures, man, from two different religions, in two different countries.”
Rep. Pat Meehan will not seek reelection after sexual harassment furor, according to Philly.com’s Jonathan Tamari. He added on Twitter: “Meehan wrote a letter to his campaign chair defending his conduct - saying he needs ‘to own’ the fallout & was never unfaithful to his wife.”
The Larry Nassar aftermath
Following Larry Nassar’s sentencing, USOC gave the USA Gymnastics board 6 days to resign or risk the federation being decertified. Nancy Armour and Rachel Axon covered that story for USA Today.
Daniel Victor at the New York Times highlighted the local newspaper that broke open the Nassar scandal with Belatedly, The Indianapolis Star Gets Its Due for Gynmastics Investigation. On Twitter, Victor shouted out the journalists responsible once more: “Larry Nassar wouldn’t be in prison if not for the @indystar. I talked to the three reporters (@IndyMarisaK, @markalesia, @starwatchtim) and their editor (@StevenBerta) about how their investigation came together.” “Bravo! So well-deserved. The brave women who spoke out would not have been heard had it not been for @indystar and @indymarisak,” Kristin Hussey added.
Cecile Richards is leaving Planned Parenthood and Amy Chozick at the New York Times interviewed her about Her Life After being head of the organization.
Jemele Hill leaving SportsCenter SC6 for the Undefeated, Richard Deitsch reports at Sports Illustrated.