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Alex Brandon / AP

Game on! It's war — with more ammunition for both sides after today's mesmerizing testimony by fired FBI Director Jim Comey.

In a morning-long Capitol Hill appearance marked by a theatrical precision that had workers around the country glued to their screens, Comey was happy to twist the knife: "I take the president at his word, that I was fired because of the Russia investigation."

Unspooling startling detail, Comey bluntly described how he engineered a dramatic leak to The New York Times, and ascribed his damaging in-the-moment memos to his "gut feel" that he needed to "protect" the FBI.

Trump's lawyer, litigator Marc Kasowitz, quickly responded with a combative statement accusing Comey of lying about Trump's demand for loyalty — "never said it in form, and he never said it in substance" — and of disclosing classified information in a way that "appears to be entirely retaliatory."

  • What's next: The back-to-back appearances set in motion months — perhaps years — of partisan back-and-forth that threatens to swamp Trump's legislative agenda.
  • To their corners: White House officials and top Hill Republicans say that based on the expectations that Comey was going to accuse the president of a felony, today's events left Trump in roughly the same place he was, with no one's minds changed. Democrats called the visual devastating, and claimed that Comey had made an under-oath case that Trump was trying to interfere with the investigation.
  • West Wing fears Mueller way more than Comey: They were fairly relaxed after this morning. This is a team that's acclimatized over many months to a highly abnormal working environment. Some staff have become so numb to negative news stories that they've taken to asking reporters how bad new stories are "on a scale of one to ten."
  • Be smart: The down side of today is more fog — and the fog spawns the ugliness that freezes Washington and infects the national debate.

Get up to speed: Highlights and quotes.

Go deeper: What we learned ... The questions Comey didn't answer

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Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
8 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).

54 mins ago - World

Scoop: Blinken protests Israel settlements approval in "tense" phone call

Benny Gantz (L) and Tony Blinken. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken protested the decision to approve 3,000 new housing units in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank during a tense phone call on Tuesday with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, three Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time new construction in the settlements has been approved since President Biden assumed office, and the Biden administration had been privately pressing the Israeli government not to proceed.

The startup that wants to disrupt big internet providers

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A new startup backed by funding from AOL founder Steve Case and Laurene Powell Jobs wants to break up broadband monopolies across the country.

Why it matters: Internet access has been crucial during the pandemic, but it's not ubiquitous, and it can be both slow and unaffordable in swaths of the country.