“Lordy, I hope there are tapes.” That’s what former FBI Director James Comey told a Senate Intelligence Committee panel yesterday in regard to his conversations with President Donald Trump. During the highly anticipated hearing, Comey accused the president of defaming him and the FBI by describing an organization allegedly wracked with distrust in the president. Comey also told the bipartisan committee he felt compelled to document his interactions with Trump because he felt the president might lie about their conversations. That’s in addition to a statement released Wednesday in which Comey claimed Trump demanded his loyalty and pressured him to drop an investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn. Somewhat unusually, Trump appeared to steer clear of Twitter during the hearing.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Lawmakers and journalists inside the Iranian parliament were told to shelter in place Wednesday morning when gunmen and suicide bombers stormed the building. Minutes later, several attackers opened fire and a suicide bomber detonated himself at the mausoleum of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, just outside the capital. With at least 12 dead, the coordinated attacks are the first in Iran claimed by ISIS. The country’s Revolutionary Guards, a powerful military force, blamed regional rival Saudi Arabia for the attack, which took place amid heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf over the Qatari diplomatic crisis.
The president’s trumpeting his “impeccable credentials.” Wray, who has ties to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, previously served as assistant attorney general under George W Bush. Now he’ll be stepping into a controversial spotlight, as President Donald Trump indicated in interviews that he fired former FBI director James Comey in part over the latter’s role in investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, a mantle Wray would be expected to take up. Wray still has to be confirmed by the Senate before he can take the post.
Was it fake news? The FBI’s reportedly confirmed that a Qatari news site was hacked last month to plant a story falsely attributing inflammatory remarks to Qatar’s leader, prompting several other Gulf nations to sever diplomatic relations. Officials say Russian sources were behind the hack, attempting to destabilize the region. President Donald Trump tweeted support for actions against Qatar yesterday, but a few hours later told Saudi King Salman that regional unity is key to fighting terrorism — as is, analysts note, an American military base in Qatar.
He’s probably not going anywhere. But the U.S. attorney general, one of President Trump’s earliest supporters, reportedly offered his resignation recently. Tensions between the White House and Justice Department have been high since Sessions recused himself from investigations into Russian hacking and ties to Trump’s campaign. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials say former FBI Director James Comey asked Sessions to ensure he wasn’t left alone with the president after Trump allegedly pressured Comey to drop the Russia investigation. Those conversations will likely be front and center at Comey’s Senate testimony tomorrow.
One day to go. With the general election tomorrow and under fire for cutting police budgets — which some allege made it harder to stop recent attacks in London and Manchester — Prime Minister Theresa May promised to be tougher on terror. “If our human rights laws get in the way,” she said, “we will change the law so we can do it.” Though May’s lead has shrunk, Conservatives are still expected to defeat the leftist Labour party tomorrow, even as analysts say a hung Parliament could tank the pound.
Know This: Brazil’s high court is deliberating this week over a corruption case that could render the 2014 election — and thus the term of President Michel Temer — invalid. A man who attacked police officers outside Notre Dame cathedral in Paris yesterday while shouting “This is for Syria!” has been identified as a doctoral student. And shareholders of a Chinese zoo disappointed in its performance have pushed a live donkey into the tiger enclosure.
Remember This Number: 15 years. That’s how long a jail term could await those in the UAE who express sympathy for Qatar, currently being shunned by its Middle Eastern neighbors. The country’s also barring entry to anyone with a Qatari passport or visa.
Answer This: Tell us how you really feel. OZY’s next TV show, Third Rail With OZY, is launching on PBS this fall! To kick things off, we’re shelving the PC and launching debates. Each Wednesday, we’ll post a provocative question, with a focus on topics that might make it onto the show. Our Third Rail With OZY question this week delves into identity: Is it more acceptable to be transgender than transracial? Why or why not? Go deep. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts or a personal story, and we might feature your answer next week.
It’s not over yet. America’s federal government may be withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, but California Gov. Jerry Brown hasn’t given up on it. He’s begun striking his own deals with Chinese officials to fight climate change together, meeting with President Xi Jinping in Beijing and proposing that California — the world’s sixth largest economy — will soon get 50 percent of its energy from renewables. California is part of a growing alliance, now including 12 states and Puerto Rico, promising to uphold the Paris accord despite President Trump’s withdrawal.
The party’s over. Traditional Brazilian business culture is more casual than New York’s corporate life, with free-flowing cachaça on Fridays and email sign-offs like “hugs” preferred to “sincerely.” But all that’s changing. Anti-corruption pushes have seen businesses become more regulated, which also helps ameliorate workplace harassment and discriminatory practices that have kept its corporate world overwhelmingly white and male. As Brazil prepares 15 São Paulo IPOs this year, plus more for New York markets, some worry that the changes are cosmetic and haven’t yet overcome longstanding corporate corruption.
Maybe some other country will boldly go ahead. A new report from American nonprofit The Planetary Society warns that NASA, facing five years of flat budgets, doesn’t have any Mars missions planned after a 2020 rover that will collect samples — not even one to retrieve the samples and return them to Earth. Since missions and vehicles take years to plan, the organization says, that could lead to a drought of Mars missions in the 2020s and 2030s, which in turn could threaten U.S. dominance of space exploration.
He maintains it was consensual. But Andrea Constand, whose case is the only one of more than 50 sexual assault accusations against Bill Cosby that’s actually come to trial, took the stand yesterday to publicly describe her chilling memories of their encounter for the first time. At the time of the alleged assault, during which Constand says she was drugged, she was 30 years old and Cosby was 65. The comedian’s lawyers allege that Constand’s story is wholly invented — and Cosby himself has refused to testify.
That was over the line. England’s Football Association has doled out its first ever lifetime bans to two supporters who, at an away game in Dortmund, Germany, gave a Nazi salute and made a gesture mimicking Hitler’s mustache. The game, which the German team won 1-0, also saw 27 England fans temporarily banned for taunting their opponents’ national anthem and singing insulting songs about World War II. Officials say they’ve already warned England fans to be on their best behavior at Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland.