White House officials convey a sense of gloomy doom when they talk about fired FBI Director Jim Comey's public testimony on Thursday. They know his aw-shucks rectitude, combined with real-time written recollections, guarantee riveting testimony. Their hope is that it'll be more atmospherics than substance — how he felt, as opposed to any new facts about what President Trump said or did.
Here's the problem with that hope: Even if Comey didn't have a single new thing to say (unlikely, given his habit of writing memos about his conversations with the president and perhaps his aides), the rat-tat-tat of already-reported, tough-to-explain facts is astounding:
Be smart: Comey's testimony may add logs, but the fire is blazing.
Key concession ... Sen. Mark Warner (Va.) — top Dem on the Senate Intelligence Committee, where Comey will testify — to CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union": "We have no smoking gun at this point."
Go deeper ... with Jonathan Swan's "What we know, What we don't know" on Trump associates' Russian exposure.
"What we have learned," by BBC's Dominic Casciani:
The conversation ... WashPost A1, above fold, "Presidential response? Stoking fear and a feud," by Phil Rucker: On Twitter, Trump criticized London's "mayor — Sadiq Khan, a liberal Muslim and an old Trump foil — for not being tough enough protecting his citizens."
"With Trump spending another day at his private golf club in Sterling, Va., the White House's social media director, Dan Scavino, revived an old Trump-Khan feud on Twitter and scolded the mayor to "WAKE UP!!!!"
N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Scooter Braun, manager of pop star Ariana Grande, praising the bravery of fans who showed up at yesterday's One Love Manchester benefit concert: "You looked fear right in the face and you said, No, we are Manchester, and the world is watching."
A Twitter feed inspired by Obama alumnus Pat Cunnane, Real Trump Press Sec (@TrumpTweetsWH), repurposes Trump tweets "into official White House statements... because that's what they are."
Breaking ... Trump is tweeting this a.m.: "we are EXTREME VETTING people coming into the U.S. in order to help keep our country safe. The courts are slow and political! ... The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C."
In the East Room at 11:30 a.m., President Trump will joined by executives from major airlines as he kicks off "infrastructure week" by unveiling his plan to reform the nation's air-traffic control system.
The most consequential provision: privatizing air-traffic control by transferring that power from the FAA to a non-profit entity, funded by user fees, over three years.
From Trump's plan:
"America's growing aviation system demands a new, independent, non-government organization to operate our Nation's airspace. The new entity should have access to capital markets in order to spur capital investment, technology adoption, and innovation faster, more effectively, and securely. Over the last 20 years, more than 50 countries have already successfully transitioned their ATC operations."
A truth bomb in Axios' Amy Harder's weekly "Harder Line" column on energy:
"The chances of reversing climate change are slim regardless of U.S. involvement in the Paris agreement. Countries, companies, U.S. states and cities and non-governmental organizations pursuing policies to address climate change should refocus their high-level political efforts on ways to prepare for the impacts that are already here and those still to come."
Dan Primack nails it: "Peter & Palmer vs. Silicon Valley is gonna be a great graphic novel."
He was distilling this huge talker on the N.Y. Times Business front, "Oculus Founder Plots a Comeback With a Virtual Border Wall," by Nick Wingfield:
Barron's, in its annual survey of investors, finds tech upstarts lead the list of The Most Respected American Companies:
Robots could hobble developing countries ... The traditional exit from poverty for poor countries is to be the cheap labor for rich nations. But the robotics revolution could be foreclosing that route to the middle class, MIT economist Daron Acemoglu told Axios' Chris Matthews.
ESPN's World Fame 100 "combines endorsements with social media following and internet search popularity" to rank the most famous athletes in the world. The results: