5 things for Thursday, June 8: James Comey, Tehran, North Korea

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1. James Comey hearing

Pop the popcorn, put those drinks on ice, and get ready to settle down in front of the flat screen, computer screen or whatever screen you choose for a few hours of must-see TV. James Comey’s testimony today before the Senate intelligence committee — likened to the political equivalent of a Super Bowl — is one of the most anticipated congressional hearings in decades. And it has big-time implications for Donald Trump’s presidency.

At this pivotal moment in the probe into Russian meddling in last year’s election, the fired FBI director is expected to publicly contradict Trump’s recollections of their private conversations. Comey dropped his seven-page opening statement a day before his testimony, and in it he says the President demanded a loyalty pledge from him and wanted Comey to find a way to let the investigation into Michael Flynn “go.” Comey said Trump also wanted him to lift the Russia “cloud” from his presidency. Comey’s statement also verifies Trump’s claim that Comey told him he wasn’t under investigation, something Trump wanted Comey to say publicly.

So does all this amount to obstruction of justice? Senators are sure to grill Comey for an answer. (And unlike Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers, he may actually answer.)

Almost lost in all this hoopla: Trump made his choice for a new FBI director. It’s Christopher Wray, a top official in George W. Bush’s Justice Department.

Finally, will the President be live-tweeting along with the rest of us during Comey’s testimony? Republicans hope he doesn’t. Officially, the RNC will take the lead on rapid response to Comey.

2. Tehran attacks

The deadly twin attacks in Tehran have jacked up the already high tensions between Iran and its longtime foe, Saudi Arabia. Iran blames ISIS and the Saudis for the simultaneous assaults on the country’s Parliament building and the tomb of its revolutionary founder. At least 12 people were killed. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard vowed revenge for the attack, which it tied to President Trump’s visit last month to Saudi Arabia. The President expressed sympathy for Iranian civilians but said Iran’s government, long considered one of the world’s leading supporters of state-sponsored terrorism, has only itself to blame.

3. Missing plane

A military flight with 122 people on board that disappeared in Myanmar has been found. Wreckage and bodies were discovered in the Andaman Sea, just off the country’s west coast. The regularly scheduled military flight was headed to Myanmar’s capital of Yangon when contact with it was lost. Many of the passengers were military personnel, though there were also 58 civilian adults and 15 children on board. Why the plane went down is still being investigated.

4. North Korea

North Korea’s keeping up its busy missile-testing schedule. The North test-fired four anti-ship missiles into the sea. That’s 16 missiles launched in 10 tests so far this year, and the fourth one in a month. South Korea’s military said the test aimed to demonstrate the North’s precision in targeting missiles. Meanwhile, South Korea has suspended the deployment of THAAD, the missile defense system it got from the US. Two THAAD launchers are already up and running; the South’s not withdrawing those, but it will hold off on deploying four more launchers. South Korea says it’s doing this so an environmental assessment can be done, but let’s not forget that China was ticked off at both the US and South Korea over this defense system.

5. Fighting fake news

The world’s leading tech companies may join up to wage war against fake news on the internet. Google’s parent company, along with Facebook, Twitter and others, are thinking about putting their brainy heads together to find ways to stop all the disinformation. It’s all part of an effort to make a safer internet for everybody. Jigsaw, a Google offshoot, already has developed tools to tackle related issues like comment trolls and ISIS online recruitment.

Today’s number …


President Donald Trump’s approval rating — a new low — in the latest Quinnipiac poll

Happening now …

It’s a snap

UK voters head to the polls today for a “snap” general election that’ll go a long way to determining how the Brits leave the European Union. If you haven’t been paying close attention, let us help you catch up.

Breakfast Browse

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Fossil finds We’re older than we thought. Scientists have found remains of Homo sapiens in Morocco that are 100,000 years older than those previously found.

A little help

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The bros are back

Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau rekindled the world’s favorite bromance — and the internet rejoiced.

Nutty problem

Nuts and glass don’t mix. That’s why Southern Grove Cashews Halves and Pieces with Sea Salt are being recalled by the FDA.

Historic screwup

A San Diego middle school’s yearbook gets yanked after the N-word was inadvertently printed on the cover.

And finally …

Watered down

The Slow Mo Guys are back, and their idea of fun is getting flattened — slowly — by a six-foot water balloon.

By Doug Criss

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