Plus: Anne Frank and Classified Information |

May 18, 2017

By Lily Rothman

With the news this week that former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been appointed to a special counsel position, to investigate whether there were any ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, I thought it was worth revisiting this article from a few months ago about the history of that independent prosecutorial position.

The idea of bringing in somebody who works outside the Justice Department goes all the way back to the Ulysses Grant administration and has changed many times in the roughly century and a half since then — but Watergate remains the best-known example of its use. “A lot of people say that Watergate shows that the system works, and I would argue that that’s a plausible interpretation," Katy Harriger, an expert in the subject, told me. "It’s not that the checks and balances keep things from happening, it’s that when they happen, are they investigated?”

Here’s more of the history that made news this week:

Before Fox News, Roger Ailes Helped Get Richard Nixon Elected

Before Roger Ailes worked at Fox News, he used his television instincts to help Richard Nixon be elected President

President Trump Can Share Classified Information If He Wants

He President can share pretty much any information he wants, with whoever he wants. Here's the history behind that power

A Survivor Remembers the Warsaw Ghetto

Sonia Klein was a teenager in hiding during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943

The Real TIME Cover Behind That Fake ‘Ice Age’ Report

It's a doctored version of a cover from 2007. Here's the real story

How Anne Frank’s Family Found a Place to Hide

In this excerpt from LIFE’s new special edition about Anne Frank's life and legacy, the Frank family finds a place to hide from Nazi forces.


May 18, 1959

Today in 1959: “Boat Fever”

“In Florida and Kentucky, in Illinois and Texas, in Oregon and Nevada and Georgia—wherever land stops and water begins, and even where the water's edge is a day's journey—U.S. families were caught with boat fever. The sport that 20 years ago was confined largely to fishermen and the rich has become a pastime enjoyed by some 40 million U.S. citizens. In just twelve years the number of boats that churn the U.S.'s waterways has more than tripled, from 2,500,000 to nearly 8,000,000. And the boom is still growing. The estimated $2.5 billion that boat lovers will spend this year will be just twice the amount they shelled out three years ago in pursuit of the nation's biggest, splashiest new pastime.” (May 18, 1959)

Read the full story

May 17, 1982

35 Years Ago: The Falklands War

“Alfred Hitchcock mastered this effect: a fool acts huffy in a dangerous situation (a battle, an ambush). He protests the noise and inconvenience while the bullets pop around him, and the audience chuckles at his posturing. Then suddenly this character is shot; in The Lady Vanishes (1938) he examines the blood from his own wound. All at once the audience is not laughing any more. It realizes that what seemed hilarious a moment ago was never really funny in the first place because the context was not funny, because nothing can ever be funny when death is possible. To bring the matter to the Falklands: there is no such thing as a comic war.” (May 17, 1982)

Read the full story

May 19, 1967

50 Years Ago This Week: Johnny Carson

"’We're more effective than birth control pills,’ says Carson, improvising a bit on his own slightly leering line that people watch him ‘through their toes’—that is, lying down in bed. On good nights in midwinter, there might be as many as 10 million viewers, according to Nielsen. But if there are fewer on other nights, Carson at least gets a crack at his audience five nights a week on NBC stations from 11:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. (an hour earlier in the Central Time zone). Whether they are in bed or chairs, the viewers' reward is the most consistently entertaining 90 minutes to be seen anywhere on television.” (May 19, 1967)

Read the full story


Inventing Impeachment It’s always worth reading Jill Lepore’s historical insights at The New Yorker, and just this morning she’s got a predictably fascinating look at the original debate over the inclusion of impeachment in the constitution.

Class Pass Surveys show that history class gets a bad rap among K-12 students, and Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post presents an excerpt from a book that aims to solve that problem.

A Different World Slate’s Rebecca Onion got her hands on scans of pretty incredible maps drawn for a 1930s anti-fascist magazine that was created in part by the publisher of Esquire.

Not an Easy Job Responding to President Trump’s statement that he’s the most unfairly treated politician in history, HuffPost UK’s Chris York does the work of compiling tweets about politicians from history who got the short end of the stick.

How It Crumbles At Atlas Obscura, Ernie Smith gives the Hydrox cookie its due, with a look at how the cookie was overshadowed by the very similar Oreo.

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