Comey testifies. A new FBI Director nominated. Iran terror attack. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.
James Comey above all this week, in testimony on Capitol Hill, and the question: Did the President of the United States attempt to obstruct justice in conversation with the former director of the FBI? The whole country seemed to be listening. In the UK this week, a stunning election result puts Britain and its Brexit in trouble. In the Mideast, a row over Qatar, and terror in Tehran. We’ve got Trump on infrastructure. Reality Winner. Bill Cosby on trial. This hour On Point: Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines. -- Tom Ashbrook
From Tom's Reading List
POLITICO: Comey blasts White House for ‘lies, plain and simple’ -- "Fired FBI Director James Comey used a blockbuster appearance before the Senate on Thursday to accuse the Trump administration of slandering him with its explanations of his abrupt dismissal, but also said he did not believe President Donald Trump or his aides asked him to stop the broad probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election."
New York Times: Who is Christopher Wray? Trump’s F.B.I. Pick Is Said to Be Low-Key and Principled — "Mr. Wray is a safe, mainstream pick from a president who at one point was considering politicians for a job that has historically been kept outside partisanship. A former assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush, Mr. Wray is likely to assuage the fears of F.B.I. agents who worried that Mr. Trump would try to weaken or politicize the agency."
Tehran Times: Twin terror attacks hit Iran’s parliament, Imam Khomeini shrine -- "Iran's parliament and the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Revolution, were targeted on Wednesday morning by two simultaneous gun and suicide bomb assaults. The attacks unfolded as a number of gunmen stormed the main gate of the parliament building in central Tehran and opened fire. At the same time, a shooting spree targeted Imam Khomeini’s shrine about 25 kilometers away in south Tehran."
Week In The News Highlights
Lisa Desjardins: "It was quite a hearing, and it had a lot of billing to live up to. I think it did that. I counted 259 questions in just over two and half hours yesterday, so that was more than one a minute. It was essentially a marathon at a sprinter's pace, if that makes sense. And I think what came across from that was more of an overall impression of the direction of the clouds, if you will, over President Trump ... There were some very large red flags that rose higher yesterday, but overall Republicans prosecuted their case against Mr. Comey, trying to bring up the point that, well obstruction of justice may not be something when a president says he 'hopes' you can see to do something. It has to be more clear than that. And Mr. Comey, while he said he felt he was being directed to do something, stressed that it was a feeling he had. This hasn't cleared the bar for obstruction of justice yet, Democrats are still making that case, but Republicans were happy that it seemed to fall short, at least so far.
Michael Crowley: "The Trump team and the Republican party have been hitting back on Comey pretty hard, and I would say given the terrible hand they've been dealt here, relatively effectively. Overall, Comey comes across as a sincere, credible, devoted now-former public servant. And I think that in a vacuum, if you didn't have partisan allegiances, I think most Americans, it's hard to imagine, would not find him incredibly compelling and credible. But there has been this organized counter-attack against his testimony that I think is probably scoring some points, certainly giving something for Republicans and Trump's core supporters to hang on to.
It has to worry them that this crack is going to widen and perhaps engulf them.
Jack Beatty: "This president has shown throughout the campaign, and certainly since his inauguration, that he has a almost wanton disregard for the truth, whether it's lying or dissembling or deceit — whatever you want to call it, there's numerical markers for this. And Mr. Comey went right at that — that is the character flaw in the president that makes defending him a very difficult proposition. And that has to, at some level, worry Republicans. Yes, I think Michael is right, they're rallying around as far as they can, but it has to worry them that this crack is going to widen and perhaps engulf them.
Britain Election Upset
Michael Crowley: "It really is a surreal turn of events in British politics, which has been chaotic for several years now, and what we're left with is kind of a scrambled egg. And I think people are still sorting through it and trying to figure out what emerges ... This backfired spectacularly on Theresa May, and what we can't be sure of is what role Donald Trump might have played here. Donald Trump, who is very unpopular in the UK and across Europe. May, of course, very early in Trump's presidency, went to the White House. They had a very chummy meeting, they rather famously held hands as they walked along the back of the White House outside the rose garden ... There are just all kinds of tides and currents happening in European politics right now, that I think we don't fully understand, and which are just causing chaos across the Western world.
There are just all kinds of tides and currents happening in European politics right now, that I think we don't fully understand, and which are just causing chaos across the Western world.
Trump's 'Infrastructure Week'
Lisa Desjardins: "We don't what kind of impact this would have on, say, taxes. Is he planning to use tax incentives to try and encourage businesses? That would have a major effect, potentially, on the deficit. There is no actual formal plan yet, there are just sort of bullet points that we've heard from the White House about what they would like to do. I think more than anything — I don't want to rain on the infrastructure parade, because it is something that everyone recognizes as a need, and Democrats and Republicans both would like to work on — but the truth is that congress is so backed up and so unable, right now, to find the votes for major issues, including health care and then tax reform, that it's not clear at all when a major infrastructure plan could get on the agenda.
Listen to our recent show on Trump's infrastructure plan.
This program aired on June 9, 2017.