The 10 best days in journalism

A play-by-play of what some call “the last great newspaper war”

Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty Images

For 10 days in May, nobody’s commute was safe. News out of Washington, which seemed to break just when people on the East Coast were heading for their cars or descending into the subway, brought one monster scoop after another. Much of the cloud that continues to hang over the Trump presidency formed during the period between Sally Yates’s testimony before Congress and Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. In between, reporters from The New York Times and The Washington Post engaged in a back-and-forth battle for scoops that launched what Vanity Fair called “the last great newspaper war.” Some key moments follow.

 

Sally Yates (US Department of Labor)

May 8

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testifies 

She warns the Trump administration that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may have been compromised by Russian agents, and says she can’t explain why it took 18 days for him to be fired.

 

May 9

Trump fires FBI Director James Comey 

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He cites Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation as his reason for dismissing the man leading a probe into whether Trump’s associates colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.

 

Creative Commons

ICYMI: Trump might be in serious trouble for his NBC tweets

May 10

Trump meets in Oval Office with Russian diplomats

No American press is allowed, but a photographer from Russian state media is.

The New York Times

Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo report that days before he was fired, Comey asked for “more prosecutors and other personnel to accelerate the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election.”

 

May 11

NBC News

Trump sits down with NBC News’s Lester Holt, telling the anchor that Comey is “a showboat, he’s [a] grandstander.” Trump also contradicts his vice president and spokeswoman by admitting that he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he decided to fire the FBI director.

 

May 12

Trump tweets

Trump tries to quiet things

He releases a letter saying he had no business interests with Russia “with a few exceptions.”

 

May 13-14

Quiet Mother’s Day weekend

 

May 15

The Washington Post

Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe report “President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week.”

 

James Comey (Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP)

RELATED: A hidden message in memo justifying Comey’s firing

May 16

The New York Times

Adam Goldman, Eric Schmitt, and Peter Baker report that the classified information that Trump shared with Russian officials was provided by Israel.

Michael S. Schmidt reports that James Comey wrote memos after his meetings with Trump, and that the president asked him to end the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

 

May 17

The Washington Post

Adam Entous reports that in the summer of 2016, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told colleagues he thought Trump was paid by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The New York Times

Matthew Rosenberg and Mark Mazzetti report that the Trump administration knew Michael Flynn was under investigation when he was hired.

Robert Mueller (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Robert Mueller is appointed Special Counsel
He is still leading the investigation into the Trump campaign and administration’s ties to Russia.

ICYMI: Two dozen freelance journalists told CJR the best outlets to pitch

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Pete Vernon is a CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.