What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Trump Allies Mount ‘Incompetence Defense’; UK Election Stunner

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

Daily Reads: Trump Allies Mount 'Incompetence Defense'

Ousted FBI director James Comey listens during a hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill June 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

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Shock poll –> British PM Theresa May’s gamble to hold snap elections blew up in her face last night, as her Conservative Party lost around a dozen seats while Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party picked up almost 30. Having lost their majority, May’s Tories are going to try to form a government today in coalition with DUP, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. At the link, you’ll find plenty of details from the BBC.

At The Guardian, Dan Roberts looks at five possible scenarios for Brexit following the vote.

ICYMI –> In case you spent yesterday spelunking or just flew in from Antarctica, The New York Times has some highlights from former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. And here’s a complete transcript via Politico.

At Vox, Matt Yglesias writes that “the most important takeaway” from the hearing is that “congressional Republicans don’t care.” He adds: “The question before Congress is whether or not it’s appropriate for a president to fire law enforcement officials in order to protect his friends and associates from legal scrutiny. And the answer congressional Republicans have given is that it’s fine.”

The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer takes on Trump supporters’ incompetence defense — the notion that the president accidentally acted inappropriately with Comey because he just didn’t know better.

Observers are also talking about Sen. John McCain, who appeared to be confused during his turn questioning the witness. McCain struggled to figure out how Comey could have wrapped up his investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server while the investigation into Russian interference in the election remained ongoing. Kevin Drum has the video, along with some brief comments, at Mother Jones.

And The Washington Post’s Kevin Schaul and Samuel Granados look at the chyrons the three cable networks ran under Comey’s testimony, and note that Fox News was emphasizing very different points than were CNN and MSNBC.

One moment that stood out came after Sen. James E. Risch (R-ID) tried to get Comey to say that Trump had never asked him directly to kill the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Comey responded that in context, he had taken Trump’s request as a directive, and later cited a line from Shakespeare’s Henry II: “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” CNN’s Eric Bradner offers the history behind this famous line — and a plot twist that Comey almost certainly was aware of.

It’s Mueller time –> One might argue that the biggest news to emerge from the Comey hearings was that it’s very likely that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Donald Trump himself for potentially obstructing justice. At The Nation, George Zornick writes that “Mueller has extraordinary powers to investigate, subpoena and prosecute wrongdoing — but there are still several ways Trump can shut Mueller down.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch –> The Senate’s version of the AHCA is suddenly on a fast track. Amanda Michelle Gomez writes for ThinkProgress that Senate Republicans “have been sorting out major qualms they have with the House GOP health bill like how Medicaid should be structured and funded, should states be able to avoid Obamacare regulations, and how to craft tax credits to replace existing insurance subsidies.”

This is a revealing bit of video in which Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) highlights the fact that the GOP plans to pass a bill that will impact 1/6th of the economy without holding any hearings on it.

Filling the swamp –> Justin Miller reports for The American Prospect that while all eyes were on James Comey, House Republicans passed “a radical Wall Street deregulation bill that would undo many of the provisions passed in the wake of the Great Recession that increased scrutiny and placed modest limits on big banks to keep them from taking down the economy again.”

A moral crime of incomparable consequence” –> At the Los Angeles Times, Bill McKibben writes about a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleging that Exxon lied to its investors and the public about climate change for several decades.

John Reilly, co-director of the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, writes at The Washington Post that Donald Trump’s speechwriters distorted the research Reilly and his colleagues produced in order to justify his decision to pull out of the Paris deal. Reilly says that he and his colleagues think that “the Paris agreement’s unprecedented global framework is necessary to address climate change.”

And “Hawaii has passed a law to document sea level rise and set strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” according to the Associated Press. The bill is the first of its kind in that it “aligns the state’s goals with the Paris climate accord.”

Bad for business –> Miriam Jordan reports for The New York Times that business owners at one tourist destination in Michigan are worried that they may not be able to get the seasonal immigrant labor they depend on this summer, and say their businesses could be devastated by the loss.

What fresh outrage will greet us tomorrow? –> Deep cuts to the Bureau of Land Management’s budget are putting tens of thousands of wild horses at risk. But fear not, for Trump “has proposed lifting restrictions preventing the sale of American mustangs to horse meat dealers who supply Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses,” according to Susanna Forrest at The Atlantic. Forrest takes us through a problematic history with horse meat in the United States.

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

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