What We’re Following
‘A Real Nut Job’: That’s how President Trump referred to James Comey during a meeting with Russia’s ambassador and foreign minister last week. In the meeting (the same one during which he revealed classified information), he told the officials that since he’d fired Comey the day before, the “great pressure” he’d faced “because of Russia” would be “taken off.” Press Secretary Sean Spicer acknowledged the exchange after The New York Times reported it—effectively confirming that the administration’s former explanations of Comey’s firing were false. Now, Congressional Democrats say the president committed obstruction of justice, and they’re calling again for an independent commission to investigate his ties to Russia.
Trump’s Trip Abroad: The president is headed to Saudi Arabia this weekend, where he’s slated to give a speech on the subject of Islam. As Shadi Hamid writes, the Islamophobic statements he made as a candidate make him an unlikely speaker on the religion, but whatever he says is likely to improve on what he’s said before. The visit demonstrates how Trump is reversing Obama’s policies with regard to the Arab Gulf—and as Andrew Exum notes, Trump may also find it a welcome break from his own scandals. If you’ve been busy keeping track of them too, here’s some of the global news you may have missed.
Health Issues: As the Senate considers the GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act, several Democratic doctors are planning to run for Congress. They’re motivated by concern for how the new bill may affect their patients. Children, for example, would be particularly affected by cuts to Medicaid—they constitute about half of the people who benefit from the program. Also in health news: The administration is moving ahead with Trump’s executive order to withhold funding from organizations that perform or promote abortion, which could hurt global efforts at HIV/AIDS relief.
As New Orleans dismantles its monument to Robert E. Lee, Kevin M. Levin describes how the Confederate general was cast as a national icon:
Lee’s image could be found on any number of products marketed throughout the country, including cigars, tobacco, pancakes, and whiskey. In 1920 an advertisement in the pages of the New York Tribune for a new “electric vacuum powered washing machine” featured an image of Lee and his “loyal body servant,” or camp slave.
Many Northerners shared in the white South’s reverence for Lee, who became a powerful symbol of national reunion and a model for the youth of the nation to emulate. Just five short years after his surrender at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, the New York Herald declared upon Lee’s death that “here…