It was a Tuesday night massacre. The former FBI Director told lawmakers he asked the Justice Department for more resources for investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election in the days leading up to his firing, although the Department denies the allegation. In a shock move reportedly preceded by anger over the Russia probe, President Donald Trump said he fired Comey because he “wasn’t doing a good job.” Politicians from both parties have criticized the “Nixonian” move, and many are calling for a special prosecutor to take over the Russia investigation.
The Presidential Daily Brief
He shot for the moon. With 41.4 percent of the vote – nearly double the share of his nearest challenger – and following the concession of conservative and centrist candidates, Moon Jae-in announced his victory, saying he was looking forward to being “president for the people.” After a massive corruption scandal that ended with former President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment, Korea’s electorate was asked to choose one of 13 candidates to handle high youth unemployment and tension with their increasingly belligerent neighbor to the north — with whom Moon favors greater communication.
They were warned. Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general who was fired for refusing to defend President Donald Trump’s travel ban, spoke before Congress yesterday as part of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Yates said she told the administration in mid-January that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail — but Flynn, now under FBI investigation, kept his job for weeks. Meanwhile, former intelligence chief James Clapper testified that after disrupting the U.S. election, Russia is “emboldened to continue such activities.”
Watch your words. Christian Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, was sentenced to two years in jail for blasphemy against Islam, a harsher verdict than anyone expected — including prosecutors, who’d only sought probation. The case was widely seen as a religious tolerance test for the secular democracy, which has the world’s highest Muslim population. Ahok, who took over as governor when his predecessor became president, recently lost an election that would have made him the first directly elected Christian leader of Jakarta. He says he’ll appeal the ruling.
Will he put more boots on the ground? Senior military advisers in the Trump administration have reportedly proposed a plan to send thousands more American soldiers into battle against the Taliban. The move would be a bid to get top insurgent leaders to negotiate after declaring their “spring offensive.” While the Obama administration set rules to limit U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, it’s not clear what President Trump’s views on the conflict are. He’s expected to give the final word on the proposal before a NATO summit in Brussels on May 25.
Know This: The owners of giant rabbit Simon, who died aboard a United Airlines flight, are seeking damages and an independent investigation. French President-elect Emmanuel Macron has changed his party’s name to “Republic on the Move.” And a massive haul of ancient human remains has been found in a South African cave.
Be Careful: Tour de France winner Chris Froome, 31, posted a photo of his totaled bike — which he says was destroyed by a deliberate hit-and-run.
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Life’s a beach again. After 33 years, a sandy beach on Ireland’s Achill Island has returned, practically overnight. In 1984, the sands of Dooagh beach disappeared after harsh storms battered Ireland’s western coastline, leaving little but exposed rocks. With the beach went the hotels, cafes and guesthouses — the tourism surrounding the sandy enclave — until last month, when atypical tides deposited hundreds of thousands of tons of sand along the shore. Now locals report that visitors are returning, and they hope their beach is back for good.
Byrd is the word. As the Senate prepares for an overhaul of the House’s newly passed Trumpcare bill, many are looking to the “Byrd Rule” — first proposed by Sen. Robert Byrd in 1985 — for guidance on whether it will require 60 votes or if it can be “reconciled” with a simple majority. While Democrats hope the Byrd Rule can be a first line of defense as Republicans push hard for new policies, there’s no guarantee that nonpartisan parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough will interpret the rule in their favor.
Sometimes smoke may make things clearer. A new University of Bonn study showed that doses of THC, a component of marijuana, helped older mice with memory. The subjects were at first unable to recognize mice they’d previously met, whereas younger rodents had no problem. A dose of THC later, however, the older mice saw their capabilities restored. Meanwhile, younger mice who took THC saw a negative effect on memory. The German research team is now organizing a small study of human volunteers to see if they experience similar effects.
They say you should write what you know. So it’s no surprise that former President Clinton’s first novel, co-written with perennial bestseller James Patterson, is a thriller about a (purely fictional) commander in chief. Plot details of The President Is Missing, due for release in June 2018, are still sketchy, but it’ll be set in the White House and draw on Clinton’s own experience with “behind-the-scenes global drama.” Meanwhile, novelist Curtis Sittenfeld is writing a novel about Hillary Rodham’s life if she’d never married Bill.
There was no love lost here. Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard bested Maria Sharapova — who’s only just returned to the pro tour after a 15-month doping ban — 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in a three-hour thriller in Madrid. The two were matched up in the Round of 32 a week after the Canadian labeled Sharapova “a cheater” and said she should be banned from tennis. After the victory Bouchard kept up the trash talk, explaining that she felt motivated to end Sharapova’s “so-called comeback.”