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Alex Brandon / AP

Behind the scenes in the West Wing, President Trump continues to rant and brood about former FBI Director Jim Comey and the Russia investigation that got him fired.

Trump tells aides and visitors that the probe now being run by special counsel Bob Mueller is a witch hunt, and that Comey was a leaker.

So White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was reflecting her boss's moods when she attacked Comey at length from the podium yesterday, after being asked about Steve Bannon's assertion to "60 Minutes" that the firing was one of the worst mistakes in modern political history:

  • "I think there is no secret Comey, by his own self-admission, leaked privileged government information. ... Comey leaked memos to the New York Times ... He politicized an investigation by signaling he would exonerate Hillary Clinton before he ever interviewed her or other key witnesses."
  • Sanders even suggested that Comey himself should be investigated: "His actions were improper and likely could have been illegal."

Why it matters: The Mueller investigation is hitting ever closer to home for Trump, and he's using the tools of his office to try to undermine the special counsel's future findings.

Be smart: Trump allies plan to vilify Mueller the way the Clinton White House treated Ken Starr.

  • Watch for a common Trump theme to solidify: partisan overreach.
  • The president's friends are most worried about Mueller digging into past business deals, which is why his team keeps raising concerns in public and private about the "scope" of the investigation.
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Go deeper

In photos: Life slowly returning to normal as restrictions lift across U.S.

Fireworks near the Statue of Liberty in New York City marking the end of New York State's pandemic restrictions in New York State and honoring frontline workers. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

New Yorkers and Californians celebrated most COVID-19 restrictions lifting on Tuesday, as the two states became the latest to move toward fully reopening their economies.

The big picture: The pandemic has now claimed over 600,000 lives in the U.S., but vaccines have helped drive down the seven-day average to roughly 14,000 new cases and fewer than 400 deaths per day, helping most states to ease restrictions.

2 hours ago - World

China's government issues warning after sending 28 planes over Taiwan

A J-11B fighter aircraft from China's air force flying over the Dafangshen airport in Changchun, China. Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

China's government issued a warning to "foreign forces" after Taiwan reported a record 28 Chinese military planes flew over the self-governed island's airspace Tuesday, per Reuters.

Why it matters: The warning and deployment of aircraft including fighter jets and bombers comes after G7 leaders issued a statement Sunday urging the Chinese government to respect human rights and calling on peace and "stability across the Taiwan Strait."

Southern Baptists reject push from right to elect Ed Litton as president

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) rejected a push from the right in a divisive vote on Tuesday, electing a president who has prioritized racial reconciliation and approving a measure that rejects any view of racism as "anything other than sin," AP reports.

Why it matters: Ed Litton, as the new SBC president, will have the power to determine committee appointments, which can set the tone for the country's largest Protestant denomination. The SBC is comprised of 14 million members.