What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Flynn Takes the Fifth; Could Trump Pardon Himself? Why Rob Quist Has a Real Shot

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Could Trump Pardon Himself? Quist Has a Shot

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn speaks in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday, Feb. 01, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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Despicable –> The BBC has the latest information about the terror attack that left 22 people dead — many of them kids — at a concert in Manchester, England last night. Our friends in the UK are in our thoughts this morning.

Whom didn’t he ask to intervene? –> Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima report for The Washington Post that Donald Trump approached both the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, “urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election,” but they “refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate.” As if that weren’t enough, the report adds that “senior White House officials sounded out top intelligence officials about the possibility of intervening directly with Comey to encourage the FBI to drop its probe of Michael Flynn…”

Yesterday, Flynn’s lawyers announced that he would invoke the Fifth Amendment, which protects against self-incrimination, and refuse to cooperate with congressional investigators. To game out what might happen next, Vice’s Allie Conti interviewed University of Baltimore legal scholar Charles Tiefer.

Meanwhile, Nixonland author Rick Perlstein writes about “the constitutionally sensitive question of how to pry possible recorded documentation from an extremely reluctant White House” for The New York Daily News. Perlstein thinks there are, at a minimum, recordings of every phone conversation Trump’s made from the Oval Office, and argues that Congress could and should subpeona those records. And at Foreign Policy, Brian Kalt ponders whether Trump could pardon himself for any crimes he may have committed. The short version: He could certainly try!

Clarence Thomas joins the Court’s liberals –> On Monday, the Supreme Court once again found that North Carolina officials were guilty of racially-motivated redistricting. Ari Berman, who has the details of the case over at The Nation, writes that “the decision could have far-reaching ramifications for striking down gerrymandering nationwide.”

The rise of Richard Spencer –> Slate’s Jamelle Bouie has an important piece about Richard Spencer, a leading white nationalist figure, whose once fringe racial analysis is now “the established view of the president of the United States, his advisers and many of his supporters.”

Hands off public lands” –> On Thursday, all eyes will turn to Montana, where banjo-playing bluegrass singer Rob Quist, a Bernie Sanders-endorsed Democrat, is vying with Republican businessman Greg Gianforte for the state’s sole House seat. Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy reports that the issue of access to public lands is shaking up the state’s usually deep red politics and giving Quist a shot at an upset.

Inequality kills –> Harold Myerson reports for The American Prospect that “just as economic inequality is increasing, so is lifespan inequality.” An American man born in the top 20 percent of American households in 1960 will live an average of almost 13 years longer than his counterpart born in the bottom 20 percent, and that gap is much larger than it was in earlier generations.

White protectionism” –> Young black and brown families are increasingly moving from big cities to suburban communities to raise their families, and many of them find themselves facing discriminatory policing by largely white police forces. At Buzzfeed, Albert Samaha writes that it’s “a nationwide trend driven by demographic shifts shaking the country.”

Doesn’t get easier –> At The Washington Post, Daniel Drezner says that Donald Trump’s nine-day world tour is going to get a lot harder as the jet-lag accumulates and Trump moves from friendly — and authoritarian — countries in the Middle East to Europe, where he won’t be given a king’s welcome.

Perhaps related, from Slate: “Official White House Document Promotes Goal of ‘Lasting Peach’ Between Israelis and Palestinians

Gray-green area –> In 2014, Washington, DC, residents voted by an overwhelming margin to legalize marijuana, but federal drug laws remain, and the city’s budget is controlled by the GOP-led Congress, which didn’t permit the city to spend a dime to implement the law. As a result, the city’s in strange space where it’s legal to possess marijuana but illegal to sell it. The Washington Post’s Steve Hendrix writes about some of the creative ways the capital’s marijuana network is navigating this confusing terrain.

Daily Reads was compiled by BillMoyers.com staff and edited by Kristin Miller.

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