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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).

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It's triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

U.S. threatens to cut aid to Sudan after military takeover

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok during a 2020 news conference in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sudan's civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was put under house arrest and several other ministers were detained Monday in what appears to be a military coup in the country, per local reports.

The latest: The head of the military faction of the Sudanese government, Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, said in a statement that he is announcing a state of emergency, suspending several parts of the interim constitution and dissolving the civilian government and interim sovereignty council — the highest governing body in the country.

Facebook's pivotal week

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

They're battening down the hatches at Facebook headquarters this week as the company faces a trifecta of tumult: a continuing wave of negative press coverage fueled by document leaks, a critical earnings report Monday and a reported name change looming.

The big picture: All this is unfolding as Mark Zuckerberg tries to transform Facebook from a social network into the prime mover behind a new "metaverse" of VR- and AR-driven remote work and play.