May 16, 2017

Report: Trump asked Comey about imprisoning reporters

Susan Walsh / AP

The NYT broke the story earlier this evening about President Trump asking Comey to drop the FBI's probe into Michael Flynn.

Here's the buried part of that story that will spawn a slew of investigations:

  • The scene: "Mr. Comey had been in the Oval Office [the day after Flynn was fired] with other senior national security officials for a terrorism threat briefing. When the meeting ended, Mr. Trump told those present — including Mr. Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — to leave the room except for Mr. Comey."
  • The request: "Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey's associates."

Our thought bubble: Now would be a good time to learn if Trump really has tapes of his conversations or not.

On what legal grounds? Some have argued the Espionage Act can be used to punish media for publishing classified information. It has been used to prosecute 11 leakers (the majority of which occurred under Obama), none of whom have been journalists. Some argue the Supreme Court's 1971 decision that the government could not prevent the NYT from publishing classified documents (the Pentagon Papers) would protect journalists if prosecution questions surfaced today.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press weighed in: "The comments attributed to President Trump cross a dangerous line. But no president gets to jail journalists."

Put that in perspective: The countries that jail the most journalists, per the Committee to Protect Journalists: Turkey (81 imprisoned), China (38), Egypt (25), Eritrea (17), Ethiopia (16), Vietnam (8), Iran (8), Bahrain (7), Syria (7).

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,014,673 — Total deaths: 52,973 — Total recoveries: 210,335Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 244,678 — Total deaths: 5,911 — Total recoveries: 9,058Map.
  3. 2020 updates: The Democratic National Committee said its July convention will be postponed until August because of the coronavirus. A federal judge declined to delay Wisconsin's April 7 primary election.
  4. Jobs latest: Coronavirus unemployment numbers are like a natural disaster hitting every state.
  5. Public health latest: Anthony Fauci called for all states across the U.S. to issue stay-at-home orders. The FDA will allow blood donations from gay men after 3-month waiting period, citing "urgent need."
  6. Business latest: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said oil companies are eligible for aid from new lending programs the Federal Reserve is setting up, but not direct loans from his department.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Navy removes captain of aircraft carrier who sounded alarm about coronavirus.
  8. 1 future thing: In developing countries, consequences of COVID-19 could be deeper and far more difficult to recover from.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Mark Meadows considers new White House press secretary

Photos: Alyssa Farah, Defense Department; Stephanie Grisham, Alex Wong/Getty Images; Kayleigh McEnany, Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has privately discussed bringing on Pentagon spokesperson Alyssa Farah or Trump campaign spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany as a new White House press secretary, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: Meadows' start on Tuesday as Trump's new chief presents a chance to overhaul a press shop that's kept a low profile since President Trump ended the tradition of daily press secretary briefings.

CNN: Fauci advises all states issue stay-at-home orders

Dr. Anthony Fauci listens to President Trump speak during a briefing on April 1. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci recommended on Thursday that all states across the U.S. implement stay-at-home orders, at a CNN town hall.

Why it matters: The recommendation stands in contrast to President Trump's calls for "flexibility." Nearly 4o states have issued stay-at-home orders to promote social distancing as a way to combat the novel coronavirus — but the orders vary in strictness and duration.

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