FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
March 20, 2017

President Trump's official @POTUS Twitter account was active Monday while FBI Director James Comey was testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. Though the account did not highlight Comey's announcement of an FBI investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia or note Comey's admission that neither the FBI nor the Department of Justice had "information to support" Trump's wiretapping claims, it did seek to note Comey's refusal to comment when asked whether he'd briefed former President Barack Obama on any calls involving ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn:

In his introductory statement, Comey made clear that he may not be able to discuss certain topics because of ongoing investigations and other restrictions. "Please don't draw any conclusions from the fact that I may not be able to comment on certain topics," Comey said.

Less than 10 minutes later, @POTUS tweeted again:

Though neither Comey nor NSA chief Adm. Mike Rogers had evidence to back up that "any votes were changed" in particular states, the intelligence community has concluded Russia launched an "influence campaign" to interfere in last year's election. "They'll be back," Comey warned of Russia. "They'll be back in 2020 and they may be back in 2018."

So what was the point of these tweets highlighting very specific moments from the wide-ranging hearing? Senior New Republic editor Brian Beutler has a theory. Becca Stanek

6:47 p.m. ET
Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

Confederate statues aren't just in the south, and a monument to Confederate veterans in the heart of Hollywood was quietly removed Wednesday morning.

At 3 a.m., workers at Hollywood Forever cemetery took out a 6-foot granite memorial, erected more than 90 years ago, which stood near about 30 graves of Confederate veterans and their families. Following the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, the cemetery received hundreds of calls and letters from activists calling for the monument's removal, as well as threats from others who said they would vandalize it, the cemetery's chief financial officer told the Los Angeles Times. "We felt we could no longer keep it safe here," Yogu Kanthiah said.

The monument is owned by the Long Beach chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which decided to take it down after being contacted by Hollywood Forever, and the memorial will sit in storage for now. Most people didn't know about the Confederate section of the cemetery before the Times published an op-ed by history professor Kevin Waite on August 4, which went into detail about the history of Confederate sympathizers and veterans that lived in California; they felt so comfortable in the state that the only Confederate veterans rest home outside of the south was in San Gabriel, and when the residents died, they were buried at Hollywood Forever. Catherine Garcia

5:42 p.m. ET

Fox News anchor Shep Smith admitted Wednesday that the network "reached out to Republicans of all stripes across the country" to find someone willing to come on air to defend President Trump's remarks about the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, but they came up empty-handed.

"Let's be honest, Republicans don't often really mind coming on Fox News Channel. We couldn't get anyone to come and defend him here because we thought, in balance, someone should do that," Smith said. "We worked very hard at it throughout the day, and we were unsuccessful."

In this way, Smith pointed out in his show-opening monologue, Trump has "brought together some Americans." "Many Republicans and Democrats are now uniting in criticism of the president of the United States, after his reprehensible comments about Charlottesville," Smith said, referring to Trump's remarks Tuesday blaming "both sides" for the violence at the white nationalist rally and suggesting that there were "some fine people" marching alongside neo-Nazis and white supremacists. "Now some of the president's own party are lining up to pin blame where they say it actually belongs: on the white supremacists and on the neo-Nazis." Becca Stanek

5:13 p.m. ET
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

MoviePass, an app that lets subscribers see up to a movie a day in theaters for a flat monthly fee, has angered the largest theater chain in the U.S. AMC Theaters is considering legal action against the app after it dropped its monthly subscription rate Tuesday from $50 per month to just $9.95 per month.

In 2016, movie tickets across the U.S. cost $8.86 on average, meaning that with MoviePass' new discount deal, avid moviegoers could potentially see 30 movies for the price of one. Theaters themselves would not see a direct loss in revenue if the app fails, because MoviePass buys its tickets from theaters at full price. Even so, AMC Theaters issued a statement Tuesday calling the price drop "unsustainable" and warned that it "sets up consumers for ultimate disappointment down the road, if or when the product can no longer be fulfilled."

MoviePass will likely rely on advertising to sustain its low subscription cost. The app's website was unprepared for the flood of new subscribers it received after announcing the price drop, and had trouble loading or failed to load altogether after its traffic jumped from 10,000 unique views per day to over 500,000 unique views. Elianna Spitzer

5:02 p.m. ET

Media Matters' quick compare-and-contrast of President Trump's combative press conference Tuesday alongside previous Fox News segments revealed the president borrowed heavily from the conservative news network for his talking points.

That line Trump used about waiting to get all "the facts" before he made a statement condemning the violence of white nationalists at the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia? Fox said it first. Trump's claim that there was violence on "both sides"? Fox said that too. His mentions of the alt-left? Fox News' Sean Hannity loves to talk about that. His insistence that there were some "very fine people" marching alongside white supremacists and neo-Nazis? Yep, that's a Fox favorite. Even Trump's hypothetical question about whether monuments to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson should also be taken down because, as he pointed out, they were slave owners, was first asked on Fox.

It seems Trump's claim that he has "very little time for watching TV" may be a bit outdated. Watch the president parrot Fox News below, in a video spliced together by Media Matters. Becca Stanek

3:48 p.m. ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Citizens of U.S. allies — including Japan, South Korea, Germany, Greece, Turkey, Hungary, France, Spain, Italy, and Sweden — trust Russian President Vladimir Putin more than President Trump, a Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday revealed. Although citizens of these countries are leery of Putin, they have greater trust in him than in Trump to "do the right thing regarding world affairs," Pew found.

Of 36 countries surveyed, 22 reported trusting Putin more. In Greece and Lebanon, for instance, citizens trust Putin more than Trump by a margin of 31 percentage points. Putin is more trusted by a margin of 21 points in Vietnam; 14 points in Germany, Tunisia, and Mexico; and 10 points in South Korea.

In numerous countries, Trump does beat out Putin in trustworthiness — which is comforting considering a global average of just 26 percent of people say they have confidence in the Russian president. Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and South Africa were all among the countries that said they trusted Trump more than Putin. However, Trump just narrowly edges out Putin in several of those countries, with Australia trusting Trump more by a margin of only 2 points; Canada and the U.K. by 3 points; and the Netherlands by 5 points.

The results, which are part of Pew's Spring 2017 Global Attitudes Survey, have a margin of error ranging from plus or minus 3 percentage points to plus or minus 5.7 percentage points. Between 852 to 2,464 people were surveyed in each country from Feb. 16 to May 8. Becca Stanek

3:38 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Atlanta's brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium will have a Chick-fil-A, but football fans looking to scoop up a tasty sandwich at a game are going to be out of luck: The fast-food chain is closed on Sundays, and all but one of the Atlanta Falcons' regular season games is on a Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Chick-fil-A won't make an exception for the NFL. The company's founder "saw the importance of closing on Sundays so that he and his employees could set aside one day to rest and worship if they choose — a practice we uphold today," Chick-fil-A's website explains. "Sundays are meant for getting out and spending time with family and friends." Or, you know, watching football.

The Mercedes-Benz Chick-fil-A will be open the other six days of the week for other events at the stadium, including some college football games and a Garth Brooks/Trisha Yearwood concert. On Sundays, the Chick-fil-A space will transform into a "custom concept called 'Fries Up,'" a media relations spokesperson for the AMB Group told SB Nation. "The menu items take a southern spin on classic poutine fries and are intended to be shareable items with unique packaging designed for portability."

The hot ticket for chicken sandwich lovers will be Dec. 7, when the Falcons play the New Orleans Saints. It will be NFL fans' one and only chance to pick up a Chick-fil-A sandwich at a game all season. Jeva Lange

2:38 p.m. ET
Facebook/Congressman Dave Trott

After President Trump's unscripted press conference Wednesday, at least one Republican lawmaker is hoping the commander in chief will just stick to golf from now on:

Michigan Rep. Dave Trott's suggestion would not represent an insignificant increase in golf practice: According to Trump Golf Count (yes, it's a thing), Trump has visited his golf clubs at least 50 times since his inauguration and was confirmed golfing 23 of those days. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads