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First Read's Morning Clips: Another Day, Another Bombshell

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: FBI Director James Comey
FBI Director James Comey prepares to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 3.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images file

TRUMP AGENDA: Another day, another bombshell report

The Tuesday bombshell, first reported by the New York Times: “President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting. “I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo… Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. It was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.”

From Alex Moe and Alex Johnson: “The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee demanded Tuesday that the FBI turn over all documents it has about communications between President Donald Trump and former FBI Director James Comey. Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah sent the letter (PDF) a few hours after The New York Times first reported that Trump allegedly asked Comey to end the FBI's investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned in February following reports that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the United States.”

Leigh Ann Caldwell sums up congressional reaction to the revelation.

The Washington Post: “It seems as though the flood of information over the past 10 days has been pushing us to a point that we haven’t yet reached, forcing an explicit choice between the word of the White House and the word of an outside party.”

The New York Times offers an explainer on obstruction of justice.

The Wall Street Journal sums up Republican concerns that the furor over Trump’s controversies will completely derail their agenda.

The Associated Press: “The White House has grown suspicious about the volume and timing of the seemingly never-ending stream of leaks about the president, said one senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to reflect on the feeling inside the West Wing. The official questioned why — if Comey had concerns about his conversations with the president — the FBI director hadn’t shared them with the deputy director, the Department of Justice and Congress at the time.”

Sarah Posner at the Washington Post argues that Trump’s overseas trip must be cancelled.

And Ross Douthat floats this: “Ultimately I do not believe that our president sufficiently understands the nature of the office that he holds, the nature of the legal constraints that are supposed to bind him, perhaps even the nature of normal human interactions, to be guilty of obstruction of justice in the Nixonian or even Clintonian sense of the phrase… Which is not an argument for allowing him to occupy that office. It is an argument, instead, for using a constitutional mechanism more appropriate to this strange situation than impeachment: the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which allows for the removal of the president if a majority of the cabinet informs the Congress that he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” and (should the president contest his own removal) a two-thirds vote by Congress confirms the cabinet’s judgment.”

Via NBC’s Tom Winter: “Federal investigators have subpoenaed records related to a $3.5 million mortgage that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort took out on his Hamptons home just after leaving the campaign, according to a source familiar with the matter.”

OFF TO THE RACES: The 2018 gubernatorial races to watch

NBC’s Renjini Antony looks at the most important 2018 governors’ races to watch, reporting that Democrats have “nowhere to go but up.”

GA-6: The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel asks what Democrats will do if they can’t win a high-profile special election: “If they can’t win in the aftermath of the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey, or the revelation this week that Trump shared classified information with Russians, Democrats will stoke doubts about whether they can regain majorities in Congress next year. And Republicans will have proved the power of a cash-rich campaign network that started early and aggressively to pummel insurgent Democrats with ads.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “If the Senate special election to replace Judson Hill really is an indicator for how next month’s 6th District runoff will turn out, then Republicans are feeling a bit more confident. Republican Kay Kirkpatrick easily defeated Democrat Christine Triebsch in Tuesday night’s vote, calming some conservatives who worried that the “Jon Ossoff effect” could cost them Hill’s deep-red seat.”

MT-AL: Rob Quist says he won’t talk about his use of marijuana or his health record. From the Billings Gazette: “Congressional candidate Rob Quist declined Tuesday to discuss his support for decriminalizing marijuana usage after a revelation in court records that, at least at one point, he had smoked it “two or three times a month.” … An hour before the event’s start at Great Burn Brewing, a national conservative media site posted and wrote about public court records from a 20-year old malpractice lawsuit Quist had filed against a doctor who cut the wrong duct during a gallbladder surgery.”

SC-5: Ralph Norman is the apparent winner of last night’s very close GOP primary race. The State: “Former S.C. Rep. Ralph Norman appeared to win a narrow victory Tuesday over fellow York County lawmaker Tommy Pope in the 5th District’s GOP runoff for Congress. Only 200 votes separated the two candidates out of some 35,000 votes cast, but the reported results would make Norman the Republican standard-bearer in a June special election to fill South Carolina's vacant congressional seat. However, the closeness of the vote – with Norman winning 17,772 votes to Pope’s 17,572, according to unofficial returns – would trigger an automatic recount to confirm the winner after initial results are certified Friday.”

VA-GOV: The Washington Post sums up Tuesday night’s debate between Tom Perriello and Ralph Northam: “The Democratic candidates for governor seemed to be running against different opponents in their fourth debate Tuesday night, as former congressman Tom Perriello repeatedly attacked President Trump and Republican frontrunner Ed Gillespie instead of his primary opponent, Lt.Gov. Ralph Northam. Northam, by contrast, kept his focus on state issues and invoked his Democratic allies in Virginia politics, from Gov. Terry McAuliffe to Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. For two candidates who differ very little on issues, the approaches were telling. Perriello has enjoyed national attention lately as he has drawn endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, while launching a viral media campaign that taps into the enthusiasm of young progressives frustrated by Hillary Clinton’s defeat last fall.”