Here’s what you need to know:
“How did we end up here?”
• That’s what a seemingly subdued President Trump was left wondering on Wednesday as White House advisers admitted they had no strategy to confront the legal setbacks involving two of his former aides.
Mr. Trump praised Paul Manafort, his former campaign manager, as a “brave man” who “refused to ‘break’ ” or “make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ ” But the president distanced himself from Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer, whom he cheekily suggested people not hire.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, repeatedly said that “the president has done nothing wrong” and that “there is no collusion.” But the mood at the White House was somber as aides wrestled with how to proceed.
• The news might not be good politically for Mr. Trump, but are the offenses impeachable? We looked to the founding fathers for answers.
“The Daily”: The man who wrote Mueller’s rules
• The regulations for investigating a president were devised with checks and balances. That’s why Congress may have the final say.
The anatomy of a crime
• Court documents in the Michael Cohen case described with new detail the winding path of a political scandal, beginning with a desire to cover up an alleged affair with the help of powerful friends in tabloid journalism.
Some Republican Party leaders are advising vulnerable incumbent candidates to speak out against Trump-related scandals, as Democrats are expected to hammer Republicans for “a culture of corruption.”
• “Where there’s smoke, and there’s a lot of smoke, there may well be fire,” warned Representative Tom Cole, a former House Republican campaign chairman.
A federal plan to arm teachers?
• Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, is considering a proposal that would allow states to use federal funds intended for academic enrichment to buy guns for teachers, despite the U.S. government’s longtime position that it should not pay for firearms in schools.
It appears that if the plan is enacted, it would be the first time a federal agency authorizes the purchase of weapons without a congressional mandate.
• Education Department research has determined that the gun purchases could be classified as improving school conditions. But the Trump administration’s call to arm educators has faced overwhelming criticism.
Fighting murky forces online
• Facebook is getting faster and more proactive in dealing with global influence campaigns, as seen when it shut down more than 600 accounts and pages this week. But solving the problem of misinformation online is another matter entirely, our tech columnist writes.
The company’s latest purge of disinformation highlighted the role that cybersecurity companies play in policing social platforms. Our reporters visited one such company, FireEye, to learn more about its work.
• Separately, the Democratic National Committee said on Wednesday that it had learned of an attempted hacking of its voter database this week. “This attempt is further proof that there are constant threats as we head into midterm elections,” its chief security officer said.
Hawaii hunkers down
• Quit avocados. Ride bikes instead of taking taxis. Drink beer instead of cocktails. These are some of the ways consumers in China are adapting to a slumping economy.
As its trade war with the U.S. intensifies, Beijing is pushing banks to lend more and local officials to spend again.
• More than a decade; 3,453 trading days, to be exact. That’s how long the U.S. bull market has lasted, making it arguably the longest on record. The gains from the rising stock market have mostly gone to the wealthy, however.
For many investors, the milestone raises the question of whether it’s time to unload stocks. The short answer: probably not.
• Verizon throttled the internet speeds of a group of firefighters in California because they had exceeded their monthly allotment of data, according to a lawsuit that seeks to restore so-called net neutrality.
Tips for a more fulfilling life.
• Women and men peak at different ages on dating sites.
• Here are five cheap(ish) things that could disproportionately improve your life.
• Recipe of the day: Make BLT tacos once, and you might want them every week.
• Iowa killing inflames immigration debate
An undocumented immigrant from Mexico has been charged in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, a college student in Iowa.
President Trump and other conservatives cited the arrest as proof of the flawed immigration system and lax border security.
• Ohio State suspends coach
Urban Meyer, the university’s famed football coach, will miss three games after an investigation found fault with the way he handled the case of an assistant coach accused of domestic violence.
• New ways to treat dementia
Doctors in the Netherlands are taking an original approach, using sensory aids, soothing music and other tools to calm and nurture patients.
• Queen of the astrologers
Susan Miller, who has been the dominant publishing astrologer for decades, predicted that Donald Trump wouldn’t make it to the 2016 presidential election, but she did forecast Britney Spears’s comeback. She tells us what’s next.
• Echoes of January
As they did with Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury,” President Trump’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to the publisher of Omarosa Manigault Newman’s “Unhinged.”
• No late-night TV this week
Most of the comedy hosts are taking a break, so our roundup is, too.
• Quotation of the day
“You might say nobody reads the tabloids, but actually most of us do — through inadvertent exposure.”
— Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, on the power that The National Enquirer wielded during the 2016 campaign.
• The Times, in other words
• What we’re reading
Melissa Loder, the briefings product manager, recommends this piece in National Geographic: “A poignant and deep look into the people (and emotions) involved in a face transplant for one of the youngest recipients of the experimental surgery. I came away in awe of the patient, donor, families and doctors involved — and may never again take for granted my reflection in the mirror.”
Forty-five years ago today, an escaped convict burst into a busy bank in Stockholm, fired at the ceiling and shouted in English, “The party has just begun!”
The man, Jan-Erik Olsson, took four employees hostage, and a tense, six-day standoff followed.
But the police were stumped by the terrorized hostages’ apparent sympathy for their captor, behavior that is now widely known as Stockholm syndrome.
In a phone call set up with Sweden’s prime minister, one hostage said she felt safe with Mr. Olsson but worried that “the police will attack and cause us to die.”
The authorities agreed to some of Mr. Olsson’s demands: a getaway vehicle, hundreds of thousands of dollars and the release of another convict, who joined Mr. Olsson at the bank.
After 130 hours, the police pumped tear gas into the vault and the captors surrendered. The hostages pleaded with the authorities: “Don’t hurt them — they didn’t harm us.”
Evaluating the hostages after their release, psychologists compared the experience to wartime shell shock, and they soon coined the term Stockholm syndrome. It wasn’t until the next year, with the abduction of the American heiress Patty Hearst, that the term went into wide use.
Joumana Khatib wrote today’s Back Story.
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