On Tuesday, Steve Bannon spent hours behind closed doors with the House Intelligence Committee. It was rough. The former White House chief strategist stonewalled lawmakers, they said, even after members from both parties issued a subpoena. Then, on Wednesday, CNN reported that Bannon has struck a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team for an interview.
The disparate results obtained from Bannon neatly symbolize the difference between Mueller’s probe and the various congressional panels, all of which are in their own ways investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and what role the Trump campaign played in it. The congressional panels are high drama, but low results, riven by procedural hurdles, partisan foodfights, and what appears to be interference from the White House. Mueller, meanwhile, has kept his head down and his lips sealed, with most news about his probe emerging from outside sources or from court documents, but all appearances suggest a team moving slowly but inexorably and effectively forward.
Bannon’s testimony to the House Intelligence Committee had been scheduled since at least last week, but Tuesday morning, as Bannon testified, The New York Times reported that Mueller had subpoenaed him. The House interview was voluntary, but Bannon apparently wouldn’t say much, answering questions about his time on the Trump campaign but refusing to discuss the presidential transition team or his time in the White House. He also reportedly wouldn’t talk about his conversations with Trump after leaving the White House in August.
Editor’s Note: This is part of The Atlantic’s ongoing series looking back at 1968. All past articles and reader correspondence are collected here. New material will be added to that page through the end of 2018.
In January 1968, Colonel Robert B. Rigg, a retired Army intelligence officer, published an article in ARMY magazine that captured the attention of an establishment reeling from recent riots in Watts, Detroit, and other American cities. He argued that those disturbances might be relatively mild precursors to a coming rebellion in the streets––that during the next few years, “organized urban insurrection could explode to the extent that large American cities could become scenes of destruction approaching those of Stalingrad in World War II.”
As he envisioned it, those disaffected by the Vietnam War or poverty or racial injustice might at any time attempt a guerrilla uprising in their cities, where man has invariably built “a finer jungle for insurrection” than any in nature.
“Rooftops, windows, rooms high up, streets low down, and back alleys nearby could become a virtual jungle for patrolling police or military forces at night when hidden snipers could abound, as they often do against U.S. and allied forces in Vietnam in daylight,” he wrote. “Could local police or National Guard units carry out such search-and-destroy campaigns in the cement-blockjungles of high-rise buildings?”
He didn’t think so.
“Urban guerrillas could shoot down the streets, drop fire bombs, and not even need mortars,” he wrote. Hostages could be taken. The Communists might even...
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, announced that he will retire at the end of his term this year. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Trump “is very sad to see Senator Hatch leave.” Republican Representative Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania also announced he will not run for reelection. On Twitter, Trump took credit for 2017 being the safest year in airline travel. In a show of support for protesters, the Trump administration called on the Iran government to stop blocking Instagram and other social media sites.
The Future of Trumpism: The civil war within the Republican Party is being waged on college campuses across the country, and pro-Trump students are demanding that College Republicans fall in line. (Elaine Godfrey)
A Tax Incentive That Works: New research provides even more evidence that the Earned Income Tax Credit is effective in both the long and short term. (Annie Lowrey)
Is He Running?: Utah Senator Orrin Hatch’s retirement opens the door for a possible Senate bid by Mitt Romney. Here’s what a Senator Romney might look like. (McKay Coppins)
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The Right Man for the...
Updated on January 2 at 3:24 p.m. ET
If you want to see a political wave forming a year before an election, watch the retirements.
They’re often a leading indicator for which direction a party is headed, and so far, 2018 is shaping up ominously for Republicans. On Tuesday, Representative Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah became the latest members of Congress to announce they won’t seek reelection, joining a list of other Republican senators and House committee chairmen who have done the same. Several other veterans in competitive districts are also calling it quits, depriving the GOP of the advantage of incumbency in races that could determine control of the House in 2019. And more retirements may be on the way, as lawmakers make their final decisions about running ahead of their respective primaries.
At the same time, a wave of allegations of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior has scrambled the retirement picture in both parties, and it’s forced several lawmakers to leave Congress early. Last month, Representative Ruben Kihuen of Nevada announced he would not run for reelection in 2018 even as he denied allegations of sexual harassment made against him by a former campaign staffer and a lobbyist in his home state. He has rejected calls by Democratic leaders for him to resign, and his decision merely not to seek another term came a few days after Republican Representative Blake Farenthold of Texas made a similar decision in response to harassment allegations.
Scandals have already...
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch announced Tuesday in a video released by his office that he would not seek reelection next year, clearing the way for a possible Senate bid by Mitt Romney.
“After much prayer and discussion with family and friends, I’ve decided to retire at the end of this term,” Hatch said, adding, “I may be leaving the Senate, but the next chapter in my public service is just beginning.”
The announcement comes after months of speculation about Hatch’s plans, and intense backstage political jockeying around his Senate seat.
The 83-year-old incumbent, who is the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, had promised Utah voters in 2012 that this would be his final term. But after his party took control of the Senate and then the White House, he began publicly walking back that pledge. Hatch’s defenders argued that his experience and savvy were needed now more than ever—but not everyone was sold.
Behind the scenes, high-powered Republicans in Utah—worried about Hatch’s abysmal poll numbers and eager to usher in an establishment-friendly successor—began waging a concerted campaign to convince the incumbent to retire. Wealthy donors raised money for a library or institute dedicated to his legacy, and efforts were made to assure him that his seat would remain in good hands. The question of who would take the baton from him was especially important for Hatch—and he had an ideal candidate in mind.
“If I could get a really outstanding person to run for my position, I might very well consider [retiring],” he told...
For the past couple of months, Congress has been caught up in an unsettling guessing game: Who will be the next lawmaker dethroned by allegations of sexual misconduct? A half-dozen members have either stepped down already or announced they won’t seek reelection. More are expected to follow in the new year.
Whatever the broader cultural import of this reckoning, it is already having a concrete political impact: special elections. Two are currently on the books for early 2018, to fill seats vacated by Representatives Trent Franks and Tim Murphy. (A third, to replace ex-Representative John Conyers, has been scheduled to coincide with the regular midterms.)
In normal times, such off-season races would prompt violent yawning even among the voters directly affected, much less the national electorate. But in the Age of Trump, even low-stakes special elections have the potential to morph into three-ring spectacles, as a fired-up Democratic “resistance” scrambles to regain its mojo.
While the circumstances prompting special elections are often colorful, the races themselves rarely capture the public imagination. Most folks can tell you why Anthony Weiner left the House in 2011; far fewer recall anything about those who vied to succeed him. Remember the thrilling 2015 race to replace Representative Michael Grimm, who spent several months in prison for tax fraud? Don’t worry: No one else does either. What about the 2013 special to fill the seat of Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., who served a somewhat longer prison term for financial improprieties involving...
1968 began fifty years ago today.
Before it ended, Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy would be assassinated; U.S. troops would suffer their deadliest year yet in Vietnam––and massacre scores of civilians at Man Lai; Richard Nixon would be elected president; the Khmer Rouge would form in Cambodia; humans would orbit the moon; Olympic medal winners in Mexico City would raise their fists in a black power salute; President Johnson would sign the Civil Rights Act of 1968; Yale University would announce that it intended to admit women; 2001: A Space Odyssey would premier; and Led Zeppelin would give their first live performance.
All year, along with colleagues at The Atlantic, I’ll be looking back at the events of 1968, marking major touchstones as well as forgotten political and cultural events. One aspiration is to mark a particularly momentous year in American history. Another is to combat the presentist bias that harms our ability to see clearly today.
Toward that end, I’ll be drawing on archival material, especially from The Atlantic and other publications; interviewing experts; looking back at popular movies, music, and television shows; tapping the varied curiosities of colleagues; and asking readers to participate in this backward looking project. For those of you old enough to have memories of 1968, are you willing to share recollections of public or private events, illustrative cultural moments, reflections about family life, anecdotes about technology, photos, or anything else that could help younger people understand what that year was like? Emails to email@example.com...
Once upon a time—of all the good days of the year, on Christmas Eve—President Donald Trump sat at Mar-a-Lago, counting his grievances.
The president began this morning, like most mornings, by watching Fox News, and sharing his thoughts on Twitter. He redoubled his attacks on the FBI’s deputy director, Andrew McCabe, insinuating that he had behaved unethically—in the process, again mangling the details of the case.
He proceeded to retweet an image from a follower, showing Trump in the backseat of a limo talking on the phone, a figure labeled “CNN” reduced to a bloody splotch on the sole of his upturned shoe. WINNING, read the caption. And then, to drive the point home, he tweeted:
The Fake News refuses to talk about how Big and how Strong our BASE is. They show Fake Polls just like they report Fake News. Despite only negative reporting, we are doing well - nobody is going to beat us. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2017
The FBI is conspiring to smear him; negative news reports are fake; the polls lie. In the face of all of this, the president finds a consoling thought: His base supports him.
There’s no question that many of Trump’s most loyal voters have stuck by him. They agree that his treatment at the hands of the news media has been unfair, share his suspicions that the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has devolved into...
SALT LAKE CITY—On a clear, cold morning this fall, Police Sergeant Scott Stuck stood at the front of a long, high-ceilinged room, visible to a reporter outside, his brow furrowed as he faced more than a dozen officers.
Quietly and methodically, Stuck was trying to convince them of an idea that goes against much of what they’ve been taught it means to be a cop—one that at first blush seems to validate the deepest criticisms activists level against police, and even call into question whether the fundamental equation of policing itself might be flawed.
On that cold morning, Stuck was trying to convince the officers that they are biased.
And although nearly everyone I spoke with about the training seemed to take pains to avoid one word—“racism”—that’s the kind of bias that was on everyone’s mind.
“It’s just something that you don’t admit. It’s the elephant in the room that you just don’t talk about,” said Sergeant Sam Wolf, another trainer in the department. “You don’t talk about discrimination and bias, because then … people might think cops are discriminatory, they’re biased. If we admit that, then what does it mean about how we serve the public?”
The morning’s class was only the third to be offered in Salt Lake, but it puts the department among a growing number adopting similar courses, generally referred to as implicit-bias training. In at least four states, state police and their training academies offer the classes, as do local departments in more than a dozen.
The notion that drug addiction is a health condition is not, in the main, controversial in 2017—not politically and not medically. For decades, doctors and researchers have categorized it as a disease, and in recent years the majority of the American public has caught up with them, with widespread support for increased access to treatment and reduced reliance on incarceration. But this consensus hasn’t entirely translated to the courts.
There’s perhaps no case that illustrates this disconnect more clearly than one that’s playing out in Massachusetts. There, the state Supreme Court is considering whether 29-year-old Julie Eldred should have been sent to jail for violating her probation. She’d been under court supervision for theft for 12 days in 2016 when she took a mandatory drug test that came up positive for fentanyl, a powerful opiate. She’s suing over the 10 days she spent in jail following the test, before she was sent to an inpatient treatment facility.
Eldred says that she shouldn’t be punished for her inability to abstain from drugs, and that the jail time violated her constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment. Relapse is a symptom of her illness, she’s argued, and doesn’t amount to a purposeful violation of court orders. On the one hand, the top law-enforcement officer in Massachusetts would seem to agree: Attorney General Maura Healey told the Associated Press last year that “for far too long” addiction hasn’t been treated like a medical condition: “I think about addiction as a...
President Trump told reporters that he would rebuild the FBI, after he criticized the agency’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. The president also left the door open to pardoning former National-Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Republicans finalized their tax plan, and secured support from Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Corker, keeping them on track for a floor vote next week. Lawmakers are expected to release details of the plan this evening. And the House Ethics Committee said it’s investigating Democratic Representative Ruben Kihuen of Nevada amid allegations of sexual harassment.
The Big Difference: In America’s current moment of cultural and political upheaval, it isn’t gender that divides Democrats and Republicans, argues Peter Beinart. It’s feminism.
18 Days: Take a look at this timeline of events leading up to former National-Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s exit from the White House. (Matt Ford)
Where’s the Beef?: A tax on meat has been suggested in a handful of countries—and a new report predicts it could be coming soon to the United States. (James Hamblin)
Radio Atlantic: What do Russians see that Americans don't? How does the U.S. look right now from their vantage point? And what does Vladimir Putin ultimately want? In this week’s episode, Julia Ioffe joins our hosts, along with Atlantic global editor Kathy Gilsinan, to discuss.
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Updated on December 15 at 6:14 p.m. ET
It’s all over except the voting.
Republican negotiators representing the House and Senate on Friday morning signed off on a final version of legislation that will, at a cost of up to $1.5 trillion, deliver a steep permanent tax cut to corporations and more modest, temporary reductions for individuals and families. In the last hours of tweaks, the GOP boosted a benefit for working families at the behest of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, likely securing his vote and the support the party needs to pass the bill next week. And they flipped the one Republican senator who had voted no on the chamber’s original bill earlier this month, Bob Corker of Tennessee.
The House and Senate must each hold final votes on the tax plan next week, and given the GOP’s fractious and shaky majority, there’s always the potential for last-minute drama. But the conference-committee report signed on Friday won’t be subject to amendments, and negotiators evinced little worry that the landmark deal—which represents the largest changes to the tax code in more than 30 years—would fall through. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced the House would vote on Tuesday, with the Senate expected to send the plan to President Trump’s desk soon after.
In a testament to the fast-moving, partisan process, however, Republicans withheld the last details of their bill until 5:30 p.m. on Friday—a time usually reserved in Washington for announcing unceremonious departures and delivering other dreary news. Among...
“Trumpism,” writes Adam Serwer, “is a profoundly American phenomenon.” In his Atlantic feature story “The Nationalist’s Delusion,” Serwer plumbs the depths of that phenomenon. He explains, “Supporters and opponents alike understand that the president’s policies and rhetoric target religious and ethnic minorities, and behave accordingly. But both supporters and opponents usually stop short of calling these policies racist. It is as if there were a pothole in the middle of the street that every driver studiously avoided, but that most insisted did not exist even as they swerved around it.” Here, Serwer walks us through his thought process. —Matt Peterson, editor, The MastheadThe Genesis of the Piece
During the final few weeks of the campaign, I asked dozens of Trump supporters about their candidate’s remarks regarding Muslims and people of color. I wanted to understand how these average Republicans—those who would never read the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer or go to a Klan rally at a Confederate statue—had nevertheless embraced someone who demonized religious and ethnic minorities. What I found was that Trump embodied his supporters’ most profound beliefs—combining an insistence that discriminatory policies were necessary with vehement denials that his policies would discriminate and absolute outrage that the question would even be asked.
It was not just Trump’s supporters who were in denial about what they...
For a presidency beset by problems of policy and politics at home and abroad, judicial appointments have been a rare bright spot for the Donald Trump administration. Any list of the White House’s biggest achievements begins (and arguably ends) with his successful appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, a placement that will likely reshape jurisprudence for decades, and below that come a huge number of appointments to lifetime seats on lower courts.
This week, even that began to look a little shaky. Two picks for district courts withdrew their nominations after Senator Chuck Grassley, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, publicly told the White House to reconsider their nominations, while a third was humiliated by a Republican senator during committee hearings.
On Tuesday, Grassley said he felt the administration should rethink the appointments of Brett Talley and Jeff Mateer. Talley had received the greater share of the attention: He had never tried a case (the fundamental task of district-court judges), received a rare “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association, and has a passion for ghost-hunting. In 2011, he’d defended the KKK in a comment online. He also failed to disclose as required that his wife works for the White House counsel, who is deeply involved in choosing judicial nominees. Grassley’s call for reconsideration was all the more curious because when he made it, the Judiciary Committee had already sent Talley’s nomination to the full Senate, on a party-line vote. On Wednesday,...
After losing the White House in 2016, the Democratic Party finally has a string of victories to celebrate. In November, Democrats won high-profile races in Virginia, New Jersey, and other states. And on Tuesday, Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore in a stunning upset in Alabama in the U.S. Senate special election.
But the unique circumstances of the Alabama race, where Moore faced allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls, aren’t likely to be replicated. The party also hasn’t yet proved that it can win national races in states that flipped from blue to red during the 2016 presidential election.
Party officials are still cheering the wins as a sign of good things to come. Tom Perez, the Democratic National Committee chairman, predicted on Wednesday that the party can win the House and the Senate in 2018. “Last night was not a fluke, it was a message: The days of Donald Trump are numbered,” Perez said.
Democrats have real advantages heading into 2018. The president’s party typically loses seats in midterm elections, and Trump is a historically unpopular president. Democrats have also consistently outperformed expectations in special elections, a sign that voters are energized. And progressive groups and the DNC have, to some extent, found common cause in a strategy that emphasizes grassroots organizing.
“Republican candidates in 2018 might not be as flawed as Roy Moore, but the battleground districts and states won’t be as Republican as Alabama,” says the Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson. “This race had...
Doug Jones’s victory in the U.S. Senate race in Alabama on Tuesday poses a quandary to Republicans at all levels—but to none more than President Trump. The results of the race demonstrate the limitations of both his political power and of his self-appointed role as pundit-in-chief. He is more interested in being right than in winning—but on Tuesday, he did neither.
The president offered a series of somewhat contradictory responses to the race between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Late Tuesday, he tweeted:
Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2017
Wednesday morning, he added:
The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2017
If last night’s election proved anything, it proved that we need to put up GREAT Republican candidates to increase the razor thin margins in both the House and Senate.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2017
Like all pundits,...
The election of Democrat Doug Jones to a Senate seat in Alabama could significantly curtail the Republican legislative agenda in 2018, dashing the party’s hopes for scaling back spending on safety-net programs and fully repealing the Affordable Care Act.
But Jones likely won’t get to Washington in time to slow or stop the GOP’s most pressing priority: enacting a far-reaching tax bill before Christmas.
Democrats immediately called on Republicans to “hit pause” on the $1.4 trillion measure after Jones defeated scandal-tarred Roy Moore in deeply red Alabama on Tuesday. “Doug Jones will be the duly elected senator from the state of Alabama. The governor didn’t appoint him; he won an election,” Minority Leader Charles Schumer said at a Capitol press conference. He pointed to the example Democrats set in early 2010, when they held off a final vote on Obamacare until after Republican Scott Brown took office following his upset special-election win in Massachusetts.
But senior Republicans on Wednesday were quick to tamp down any thought that Jones’s win would scuttle their aggressive timeline for passing tax cuts that they set months ago. “I don’t think so,” Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said on Fox News.
GOP leaders had anticipated the possibility of a Jones victory when they pledged to enact their tax bill before Congress left for its holiday recess. Under Alabama law, the secretary of state cannot certify the winner of the Senate special election until December...
Roy Moore was a uniquely flawed and vulnerable candidate. But what should worry Republicans most about his loss to Democrat Doug Jones in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate race in Alabama was how closely the result tracked with the GOP’s big defeats last month in New Jersey and Virginia—not to mention how it followed the pattern of public reaction to Donald Trump’s perpetually tumultuous presidency.
Jones beat Moore with a strong turnout and a crushing lead among African Americans, a decisive advantage among younger voters, and major gains among college-educated and suburban whites, especially women. That allowed Jones to overcome big margins for Moore among the key elements of Trump’s coalition: older, blue-collar, evangelical, and nonurban white voters.
This was the same equation that powered the Democratic victories in the Virginia and New Jersey governors’ races. The consistency of these results suggests that Democrats are coalescing a powerful coalition of the very voters that polls have shown are the most disenchanted, even disgusted, by Trump’s performance and behavior as president.
That points to a clear near-term threat in 2018 for Republicans. It also crystallizes the risky long-term trade Trump is imposing on his party: He is improving the GOP’s standing among groups that are almost all shrinking in the electorate, at the price of alienating groups that are growing.
It’s true that Jones won only very narrowly over Moore, a candidate so polarizing that he struggled in Alabama even before he was battered by extensive allegations of sexual misconduct...
President Trump broke his long silence on the allegations against Roy Moore Tuesday, casting doubt on the various claims against the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama and saying that despite Moore’s past, including allegations of assault and generally creepy behavior around teenage girls, he prefers to see Moore elected to the seat than to lose it to a Democrat.
“I can tell you this one thing for sure,” Trump said as he prepared to leave the White House for Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday. “We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat. Jones, I’ve looked at his record. It’s terrible on crime. It’s terrible on the border. It’s terrible on the military. I can tell you for a fact we do not need somebody that’s going to be bad on crime, bad on borders, bad with the military, bad for the Second Amendment.”
Asked whether an accused child molester was preferable to a Democrat, the president replied, “Well, he denies it.”
Trump’s stance is remarkable on several levels. First, it contradicts the position the White House has espoused since the first allegations emerged two weeks ago. The administration has avoided assessing the claims, saying instead that if they are true, Moore should step aside. But in his remarks on Tuesday, Trump both seemed to accept Moore’s denials as fact—he also noted that the claims were about events that were many years old—and took the view that even if true, the weight of a Republican vote...
President Trump pardoned a pair of turkeys as part of the annual Thanksgiving tradition. Asked about whether he supports Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, Trump told reporters voters shouldn’t support Moore’s “liberal” rival, adding that Moore denies the sexual-misconduct allegations against him. The Federal Communications Commission announced plans to dismantle net-neutrality regulations, which would allow companies to charge more for some websites. The House Ethics Committee said it has begun an investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct against Michigan Representative John Conyers. The White House said Trump spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin about promoting peace in Syria and Ukraine, as well as the looming nuclear threat from North Korea.
This Moment in Time: NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly writes that the emerging sexual-harassment allegations against powerful men is a decisive moment for the media, which has taken too long to cover these stories.
Have Faith: If the Democratic Party wants to win votes in the Trump era, they first have to regain the trust of religious Americans. (Michael Wear)
‘The Nationalist’s Delusion’: In voting for Donald Trump, argues Adam Serwer, his supporters indulged in a contradiction as old as the country itself.
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