Jim Comey's cinematic opening statement, describing his awkward encounters with President Trump in vivid detail that you almost never get from inside government, foretells gripping testimony when the fired FBI director goes before Capitol Hill cameras at 10 a.m. ET today.
MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell pointed out that any actor would want to act it, and any director would want to direct it.
Comey's pre-released testimony, about a Jan 27 dinner in the White House Green Room: "[T]he President said, 'I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.' I didn't move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence."
For all the cable-news talk of smoking guns, top Republicans were authentically relieved by what they read in the afternoon bombshell.
Their reaction puzzled me at first, but here's a truth bomb: Comey's seven-page, 3,100-word statement describes unusual, unprecedented and, to most, disturbing behavior by the president. But it presents no new information that proves a crime:
Be smart: The road ahead is long. Comey's statement is captivating, but not grounds for impeachment. The threshold for any action is much higher than many think, because Republicans alone will set it.
One more passage from Comey that helps explain Trump's mindset in a way that has not been clear before:
"I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, 'We need to get that fact out.'"
Then Comey uses a word that I suspect will become famous as the investigation unfolds:
"The President went on to say that if there were some 'satellite' associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn't done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren't investigating him."
The big question: Who does the Trump think of as "satellites"?
From Axios' Chris Canipe and Andrew Witherspoon, a side-side-look at events that led to Nixon's resignation, and to today's testimony by fired FBI Director James Comey.
The morning before Comey's testimony, President Trump tweeted his selection as his new FBI director: Chris Wray, 50, a litigation partner at King & Spalding in D.C. and Atlanta, who was President George W. Bush's assistant attorney general overseeing the Criminal Division.
Apologies for the link trouble yesterday. But worth the wait ...
Axios-style "smart brevity" comes to video, with a new series "Almost Now," as part of our Future of Work Launch.
This quick, fun history of robots (by Rob Groulx and Eli Sinkus, with the help of Bubba Atkinson, Steve LeVine and the design squad) has cameos by the Jetsons and Larry Summers. One forecast: Every robot created can cost three to five jobs.
TIME cover story ... "Why Donald Trump's Washington hotel is the capital's new swamp," by Alex Altman:
Last-minute polls put Prime Minister Theresa May's Tories (Conservatives) ahead of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour in today's snap election Her huge cushion shrank in recent polls, and the pre-election terrorist attacks injected uncertainty.
N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Rachel Johnson, a writer who is the sister of the foreign secretary Boris Johnson, describing the looming snap elections in Britain, the country's fourth major vote in four years: "The country is exhausted. This has been just a depressing exercise in democracy."
The quick facts, from Axios' Shane Savitsky.
Facebook is rolling out a product that will let lawmakers (or, more likely, their staffers) see what articles are popular with people who live in their districts, Axios' David McCabe writes.
The company says it will help lawmakers better respond to the issues their constituents are focused on.
Late-night hosts feast on what Stephen Colbert calls "the most magical night of the year," Comey testimony eve: "I hung my socks over CNN."
Top lines from N.Y. Times "Best of Late Night," by Giovanni Russonello: