He’ll swear to tell the truth. Responding to yesterday’s Senate hearing watched ’round the world, President Donald Trump said fired FBI Director James Comey’s comments didn’t show obstruction of justice. He also denied demanding Comey’s loyalty, or asking him to stop investigating former national security advisor Michael Flynn — points Trump says he’ll make in sworn testimony. Earlier, the president reportedly ordered his lawyer to file a complaint against Comey for leaking memos detailing presidential conversations, while House and Senate investigators are following up, asking for the memos and any recordings that might show whom to believe.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It’s June 9, but May’s not gone yet. Prime Minister Theresa May, refusing calls to resign, has announced she’ll strike a coalition deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party in order to form a government after the election she called, expected to increase her party’s majority and ease internal Brexit negotiations, instead ended in a hung parliament. A massive surge for the Labour Party left Conservatives short of the 326 seats necessary for a majority. Meanwhile, bruising losses for the Scottish National Party cast doubt on a second independence referendum for Scotland.
Is he their only hope? Qatari officials say President Trump’s aid can help repair their nation’s ties with its neighbors after several Gulf states cut diplomatic relations with Doha. They might’ve been reassured on Friday when U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on those countries to back off their blockade of Qatar. Then Trump stepped in to chide Qatar for being “a funder of terrorism at a very high level.” Mixed messages have come from Doha, too: while its foreign ministry said it won’t ”surrender,” its ambassador to the U.S. said Qatar would consider demands from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, which will be submitted within ten days.
That’s a turnaround. After confessing to the FBI that she’d printed top secret information about Russian attempts to disrupt the U.S. election and mailed documents to news outlet The Intercept, the 25-year-old federal contractor has now entered a not guilty plea. Winner is being held without bail while agents comb her possessions for clues, as well as her notoriously anti-Trump social media accounts. Prosecutors indicate she may have leaked other information previously. If convicted, Winner could see 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Know This: The U.S. debt ceiling has once again become a battleground as Congress tries to raise it before the August recess. Alphabet has arranged to sell robotics company Boston Dynamics to Softbank, in what many are taking as a sign that Google’s empire isn’t interested in developing robots. And Saudi Arabia’s soccer federation has apologized after the Saudi team refused to observe a moment of silence for the London Bridge attack victims before a World Cup qualifying match with Australia.
Try This: Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB quiz.
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.
They’re not perfect. On a 15-0 playoff streak, Golden State could have made history Friday night. Then the clock started. Host Cleveland was suddenly a team — that arguably includes history’s best player. LeBron James and his teammates smashed one finals record after another: 24 three-pointers, scoring 49 in the first quarter and 86 in that half. “They blitzed us,” lamented Warrior Klay Thompson. It’s said that a 1-3 deficit is insurmountable, but the Cavaliers showed that they’re not going quietly as they head for Monday’s Game 5 in Oakland.
They’re the knights who say “knee.” Manspreaders — passengers who extend their knees and legs past the boundaries of their seat — are no longer welcome on Madrid’s subway. The Spanish capital has followed New York City by posting signs warning against the practice, putting it on par with smoking and littering. Women’s groups have been campaigning for the change for months, hoping to battle what they call a toxic culture of machismo that makes women uncomfortable on public transit. It’s not clear if offenders will be fined for manspreading.
Unlike millennials, he’ll get to retire. Emperor Akihito, 83, has reigned over Japan for 28 years and he’s hinted for months that he’d like to abdicate — but had to wait for lawmakers to approve the first such resignation in 200 years. The new law only applies to Akihito, but it also includes a resolution asking parliament to consider allowing female royals to remain in the imperial family when they marry. The emperor’s expected to step down around December 2018, when his son Naruhito will assume the Chrysanthemum Throne.
Cold turkey isn’t the only way. Sweden’s rate of smoking is Europe’s lowest, and experts credit the reduction not to shame but to alternatives. Since the 1990s, “snus,” smokeless tobacco pouches, have been sold more widely than cigarettes. By 2014, Sweden posted the lowest lung cancer death rate among men in all of Europe, and today only 5 percent of Swedes smoke daily, while 15 percent use snus. But critics argue that quitting nicotine altogether is the safest option, and the U.S. and EU still have strict restrictions on smokeless tobacco.
It was hiding in plain sight. A report from Slovakian security firm ESET indicates that Russian hackers may have communicated through coded Instagram comments on the pop star’s posts — likely not a referendum on Britney’s contributions to music, but merely an easy place to leave instructions and be overlooked by authorities. One comment, which reads ”#2hot make loved to her, uupss #Hot #X” sent those in the know to a command and control server for malware. ESET’s report blames the comments on Turla, a group known for attacking governments.
Gold medals can’t get you out of everything. But two-time Olympic champion Steven Lopez was reportedly allowed to compete in the Rio Games despite an ongoing multiyear investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against him and his coach and brother Jean. Four women said they were sexually assaulted by the Lopez brothers, who have denied all charges. The investigation, which follows similar scandals in gymnastics and swimming, could spur more measures aimed at preventing sexual abuse. Steven Lopez will compete at the world championships in South Korea this month.