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May 19, 2017
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In a closed-door meeting Friday with House and Senate members, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stood by the memo he wrote to President Trump outlining his concerns with FBI Director James Comey. After opening with a candid statement about his "personal affection" for Comey, he detailed the series of missteps he felt Comey had made that led him to believe "it was appropriate to seek a new leader" for the FBI.

Rosenstein confirmed he had learned on May 8 that Trump intended to dismiss Comey and wanted his advice; the memo is dated May 9, the day that Trump fired Comey. "I wrote it. I believe it. I stand by it," Rosenstein said. He insisted there has not been "any political interference."

House members described Rosenstein's statement as "very guarded" and "frustratingly cautious." "It's clear he just wanted to defer to Mueller on everything tough," one Democratic lawmaker told CNN, referring to former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to probe Trump's ties to Russia.

Rosenstein also claimed Friday that neither he nor his staff were "aware of any such request" by the FBI for "additional resources" for the FBI's investigation into Russia's election interference. Reports have indicated Comey asked for more resources to expedite the investigation just days before Trump fired him. Becca Stanek

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 Charlottesville rally, but it 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
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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
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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
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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

1:43 p.m. ET
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Greg Pence might be gearing up to run for Indiana's newly vacated 6th district seat, which was once occupied by his younger brother, Vice President Mike Pence, Roll Call reports. The eldest Pence is currently serving as the finance chairman of Indiana Rep. Luke Messer's (R) Senate campaign, and his unusual visibility in the role is leading some to suspect he might be eyeing Messer's empty seat.

"If you're looking for people to go run for office, I'd put [Greg Pence] at the top of the list," said Bob Grand, a fellow member of Messer's finance team.

Another Republican familiar with Indiana told Roll Call that the 6th district might be especially receptive to Greg Pence's name, as the Trump administration remains popular in the region. "There's just no real frustration that you read about. That's not on the ground in the 6th District," the Republican said.

While Greg and Mike Pence are close, "Greg doesn't have any electoral experience himself," Roll Call notes. His counsel to Mike Pence is "best described as the kind of candid advice only a brother could give." Jeva Lange

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