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First Read's Morning Clips: You're Fired

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day
Image: James Comey
FBI Director James Comey pauses while testifying during a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing concerning Russian meddling in the 2016 United States election, on Capitol Hill, March 20, 2017 in Washington.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

TRUMP AGENDA: You’re fired

How yesterday’s big news played:


The Washington Post: “President Trump fires FBI Director Comey”

The Wall Street Journal: “Comey Firing Upends Russia Probes”

The Associated Press: “Trump firing Comey shrouds Russia probe in doubt, turmoil”

Benjy Sarlin breaks down all the Comey storylines and how his ouster affects the various ongoing investigations.

Here’s what you need to know about FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe.

NBC’s Ali Vitali and Leigh Ann Caldwell sum up the Democratic reaction to Comey’s dismissal.

The Washington Post: “President Trump’s sudden removal of James B. Comey as director of the FBI sparked immediate fears among legislators and others that the bureau’s probe into possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign might be upended now that Trump himself can handpick its new supervisor… The matter is now overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein — the man who authored the three-page rationale for removing Comey from the bureau because of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation… Unless Congress intervened with some type of legislation — which U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) on Tuesday suggested is possible — the decision to appoint a special counsel would fall to Rosenstein.”

The Wall Street Journal: “The more James Comey showed up on television discussing the FBI’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, the more the White House bristled, according to aides to President Donald Trump. Frustration was growing among top associates of the president that Mr. Comey, in a series of appearances before a Senate panel, wouldn’t publicly tamp down questions about possible collusion with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race. A person with knowledge of recent conversations said they wanted Mr. Comey to “say those three little words: ‘There’s no ties.’”

And from POLITICO: “President Donald Trump weighed firing his FBI director for more than a week. When he finally pulled the trigger Tuesday afternoon, he didn't call James Comey. He sent his longtime private security guard to deliver the termination letter in a manila folder to FBI headquarters. He had grown enraged by the Russia investigation, two advisers said, frustrated by his inability to control the mushrooming narrative around Russia. He repeatedly asked aides why the Russia investigation wouldn’t disappear and demanded they speak out for him. He would sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said.”

The AP: “With his shocking dismissal of FBI Director James Comey, Donald Trump is propelling the presidency into rarely traversed territory. His surprise announcement Tuesday flouts decades of presidential deference to the nation’s top law enforcement agency and its independence. It earns Trump the dubious distinction of being the first president since Richard Nixon to fire the official overseeing an investigation involving the commander in chief. And it cements a clear pattern of a man willing to challenge — in dramatic fashion — the institutions created to hold the president accountable.”

The New York Times: “Not since Watergate has a president dismissed the person leading an investigation bearing on him, and Mr. Trump’s decision late Tuesday afternoon drew instant comparisons to the “Saturday Night Massacre” in October 1973, when President Richard M. Nixon ordered the firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor looking into the so-called third-rate burglary that would eventually bring Nixon down.”

POLITICO asks if we’re facing a constitutional crisis.

Amid all the turmoil, Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov today.

Don’t miss this big story: “The director of the U.S. Census Bureau is resigning, leaving the agency leaderless at a time when it faces a crisis over funding for the 2020 decennial count of the U.S. population and beyond. John H. Thompson, who has served as director since 2013 and worked for the bureau for 27 years before that, will leave June 30, the Commerce Department announced Tuesday. The news, which surprised census experts, follows an April congressional budget allocation for the census that critics say is woefully inadequate. And it comes less than a week after a prickly hearing at which Thompson told lawmakers that cost estimates for a new electronic data collection system had ballooned by nearly 50 percent.”

OFF TO THE RACES: Ossoff seizes on Comey’s ouster

GA-06: Democrat Jon Ossoff says he wants a special prosecutor to probe Russian interference in the wake of Comey’s firing.

Ossoff backers are circulating a petition demanding that Karen Handel agree to a debate with Ossoff.

Omaha mayor: From the AP: “Democrat Heath Mello lost his race for Omaha mayor Tuesday in a setback for supporters who argued that the Democratic National Committee and abortion rights groups were wrong to attack the anti-abortion former state senator. Mello, a 37-year-old Catholic from Omaha's working-class south side, had become a flashpoint for the internal Democratic battle over whether a candidate's position on reproductive rights should disqualify him from support by the national party after its crushing losses around the country last year.”

MT-AL: More personal financial woes for Rob Quist: “Montana’s Democratic U.S. House candidate, Rob Quist has ties to a rental property not listed on state tax rolls, public records show. Quist acknowledged the apartments Tuesday in an interview with The Gazette, but denied renting out the units. Advertising records and leasing contracts suggest otherwise.”

Donald Trump Jr. is heading back to Montana to campaign for Greg Gianforte.

VA-GOV: From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “The two Democrats running for governor in Virginia launched their sharpest onstage attacks of each other yet Tuesday as Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam and former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello accused each other of having shaky loyalty to the party. Perriello confronted Northam directly over his past support for former President George W. Bush, and Northam accused Perriello of being a libertarian in Democrat’s clothing who frequently voted with Republicans during his single term in Congress.”