Mike Allen
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The state of Trump: fake news, Russia and winning

Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) appears with Trump last night. Photo: Brynn Anderson / AP

Trump last night referred to "Crooked Hillary" while talking about gun control, prompting the signature chant of his 2016 rallies: "Lock her up."

Trump: "You've got to speak to Jeff Sessions [former Alabama senator, now attorney general] about that."

Other keepers:

  • "I feel like I'm from Alabama, frankly."
  • "We're going to be like your football teams. We're going to win all the time."
  • Trump said he wants "a see-through wall" at the border, so citizens on the U.S. side can avoid falling sacks of drugs lobbed over by dealers' catapults.
  • "Russia did not help me ... I didn't see too many Russians in Pennsylvania."
  • He said "fake news" wouldn't show the crowd, as CNN and CNN International put him and the crowd in split screen.
  • Pointing to his brain, Trump said he's "very good up here — always."

P.S. "Staff chafes at Kelly's style," by Ashley Parker and Phil Rucker on WashPost A1: "[S]ome staffers complain that [the White House chief of staff] may be growing his mandate too far and that his [militaristic style] stifles the creativity and spontaneity that have been hallmarks of Trump's enterprises."

  • "As one of Kelly's subordinates put it, the chief of staff sometimes becomes 'a one-man choke point.'"
  • "Kelly has required that Ivanka Trump, the president's oldest daughter, go through him first when she wants to speak with her father about anything involving the administration, a requirement she has so far followed."
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Trump taunts NFL protesters: "those people"

Trump rallied for Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama on Sept. 22. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

Commentators predicted a new wave of protests by athletes during the national anthem after President Trump used coarse language to tell a rally audience in Huntsville, Ala., last night that NFL players who take a knee should be fired.

  • "You know what's hurting the game? .... When people like yourselves turn on television, and you see those people taking the knee when they are playing our great national anthem." [Boos.]
  • "The only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it's one player, leave the stadium, I guarantee things will stop. [Applause.] Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave. Not the same game anymore, anyway."
  • "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired!'"

Watch his comments.

The out-of-nowhere riff, which trigged an instant online backlash in support of athletes like Colin Kaepernick, was part of a 1 hour, 20 minute ramble by Trump. He was speaking in support of Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), who's threatened by Breitbart-backed candidate, Roy Moore, in Tuesday's primary.

Why it matters: In appealing to a Deep South audience, Trump waded into culturally sensitive territory that could freshen opposition elsewhere, and ignite a debate wholly unrelated to anything he's trying to accomplish.

  • To address a largely white crowd as "people like yourselves," and refer to protesting athletes, often African American, as "those people," does nothing to heal the wounds of Charlottesville.

The reaction ... USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, on CNN: "I think we're going to see, potentially more NFL players taking a knee this weekend than we ever would have thought ... maybe even college players, too."

  • "My sense is that ... players are angry."
  • "There's a more important issue about the health of young, American athletes. And obviously the president wasn't too concerned about that tonight."

Trump also repeated a theme from a past rally in the South, about an NFL that's more aware of the danger of concussions:

  • "15 yards, throw him out of the game! They had that last week — I watched for a couple of minutes. And two guys — just really beautiful tackle. Boom: 15 yards! The referee gets on television, his wife is sitting at home, she's so proud of him — they're ruining the game." [Applause.]
  • "Right? They're ruining the game. Hey look, that's what they want to do. They want to hit, OK? They want to hit. But it is hurting the game."

Be smart: Trump's NFL comments were generationally based, with the president inviting portrayals as a 71-year-old unfamiliar with the latest medical research, rather than a leader in touch with the concerns of rising generations of doctors, athletes and fans.

Flashback ... Trump at a campaign rally in Lakeland, Fla., in October: "See, we don't go by these new and very much softer NFL rules. Concussion? Oh! Oh! Got a little ding on the head — no, no, you can't play for the rest of the season. Our people are tough!"

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Axios AM

BULLETIN ... A Trump tweet this morning slaps one of the NBA's most popular players, after the Golden State Warriors' superstar said he doesn't want to go to the White House to celebrate the Oakland team's latest championship: "Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!"

1 big thing: Trump dig at NFL triggers backlash

AP's Evan Vucci

Commentators predicted a new wave of protests by athletes during the national anthem after President Trump used coarse language to tell a rally audience in Huntsville, Ala., last night that NFL players who take a knee should be fired.

  • "You know what's hurting the game? .... When people like yourselves turn on television, and you see those people taking the knee when they are playing our great national anthem." [Boos.]
  • "The only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it's one player, leave the stadium, I guarantee things will stop. [Applause.] Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave. Not the same game anymore, anyway."
  • "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired!'"

The out-of-nowhere riff, which trigged an instant online backlash in support of athletes like Colin Kaepernick, was part of a 1 hour, 20 minute ramble by Trump. He was speaking in support of Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), who's threatened by Breitbart-backed candidate, Roy Moore, in Tuesday's primary.

Why it matters: In appealing to a Deep South audience, Trump waded into culturally sensitive territory that could freshen opposition elsewhere, and ignite a debate wholly unrelated to anything he's trying to accomplish.

  • To address a largely white crowd as "people like yourselves," and refer to protesting athletes, often African American, as "those people," does nothing to heal the wounds of Charlottesville.

The reaction ... USA Today columnist Christine Brennan, on CNN: "I think we're going to see, potentially more NFL players taking a knee this weekend than we ever would have thought ... maybe even college players, too."

  • "My sense is that ... players are angry."
  • "There's a more important issue about the health of young, American athletes. And obviously the president wasn't too concerned about that tonight."

Trump also repeated a theme from a past rally in the South, about an NFL that's more aware of the danger of concussions:

  • "15 yards, throw him out of the game! They had that last week — I watched for a couple of minutes. And two guys — just really beautiful tackle. Boom: 15 yards! The referee gets on television, his wife is sitting at home, she's so proud of him — they're ruining the game." [Applause.]
  • "Right? They're ruining the game. Hey look, that's what they want to do. They want to hit, OK? They want to hit. But it is hurting the game."

Be smart: Trump's NFL comments were generationally based, with the president inviting portrayals as a 71-year-old unfamiliar with the latest medical research, rather than a leader in touch with the concerns of rising generations of doctors, athletes and fans.

Flashback ... Trump at a campaign rally in Lakeland, Fla., in October: "See, we don't go by these new and very much softer NFL rules. Concussion? Oh! Oh! Got a little ding on the head — no, no, you can't play for the rest of the season. Our people are tough!"

2. State of the Trump

Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) appears with Trump last night. (AP's Brynn Anderson)

Trump last night referred to "Crooked Hillary" while talking about gun control, prompting the signature chant of his 2016 rallies: "Lock her up."

  • Trump: "You've got to speak to Jeff Sessions [former Alabama senator, now attorney general] about that."

Other keepers:

  • "I feel like I'm from Alabama, frankly."
  • "We're going to be like your football teams. We're going to win all the time."
  • Trump said he wants "a see-through wall" at the border, so citizens on the U.S. side can avoid falling sacks of drugs lobbed over by dealers' catapults.
  • "Russia did not help me ... I didn't see too many Russians in Pennsylvania."
  • He said "fake news" wouldn't show the crowd, as CNN and CNN International put him and the crowd in split screen.
  • Pointing to his brain, Trump said he's "very good up here — always."

P.S. "Staff chafes at Kelly's style," by Ashley Parker and Phil Rucker on WashPost A1: "[S]ome staffers complain that [the White House chief of staff] may be growing his mandate too far and that his [militaristic style] stifles the creativity and spontaneity that have been hallmarks of Trump's enterprises."

  • "As one of Kelly's subordinates put it, the chief of staff sometimes becomes 'a one-man choke point.'"
  • "Kelly has required that Ivanka Trump, the president's oldest daughter, go through him first when she wants to speak with her father about anything involving the administration, a requirement she has so far followed."

3. "A new and dangerous phase"

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Trump last night referred to the North Korean leader as "Little Rocket Man" — adding a modifier to his earlier nickname, and further personalizing the verbal combat.

It's a sign of how much the conversation between the leaders has degenerated. The most interesting story in the papers today is the lead of the L.A. Times, "Aides urged Trump not to ridicule Kim," by Brian Bennett:

  • "Senior aides to President Trump repeatedly warned him not to deliver a personal attack on North Korea's leader at the United Nations this week, saying insulting the young despot in such a prominent venue could irreparably escalate tensions."
  • "Some of Trump's top aides, including national security advisor H.R. McMaster, had argued for months against making the attacks on North Korea's leader personal, warning it could backfire."
  • "But Trump, who relishes belittling his rivals and enemies with crude nicknames, felt compelled to make a dramatic splash in the global forum.
  • "A detailed CIA psychological profile of Kim, who is in his early 30s and took power in late 2011, assesses that Kim has a massive ego and reacts harshly and sometimes lethally to insults and perceived slights."

Why it matters, from Brian's story: "Some advisors now worry that the escalating war of words has pushed the impasse with North Korea into a new and dangerous phase that threatens to derail the months-long effort to squeeze Pyongyang's economy through sanctions to force Kim to the negotiating table."

N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Paik Hak-soon, longtime North Korea analyst at the Sejong Institute, a think tank outside Seoul: "The way North Korea's supreme leadership works, Kim Jong-un has to respond more assertively as its enemy gets more confrontational, like Trump has. There is no backing down in the North Korean rule book."

Bonus: To show your kids

AP's Dar Yasin

Rohingya Muslims, who travelled from Myanmar into Bangladesh, grasp for food being distributed by aid agencies near the Balukhali refugee camp in Bangladesh this week.

  • Bangladesh has been overwhelmed with more than 400,000 Rohingya who fled their homes in the last three weeks amid a crisis the U.N. describes as ethnic cleansing.
  • Refugee camps were already beyond capacity, and new arrivals were staying in schools or huddling in makeshift settlements.
  • Go deeper: "Rohingya Muslims are being wiped off Myanmar's map."

4. "Ridiculously slapdash"

Although the opposition from Sen. John McCain likely killed Republicans' latest health-overhaul plan, President Trump tweeted this morning that there's still hope: "I know Rand Paul and I think he may find a way to get there for the good of the Party!"

  • Paul is counted as a solid "no," so flipping him could bring Graham-Cassidy back to life. That's unlikely, though, so Republicans expect the bill to be defeated Wednesday, if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell goes ahead with the vote.
  • Trump also tweeted this morning: "John McCain never had any intention of voting for this Bill, which his Governor loves. He campaigned on Repeal & Replace. Let Arizona down!"

The most important sentence in McCain's statement is: "I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried."

  • A close McConnell ally told me the process was "ridiculously slapdash," with little input or transparency.
  • Axios Caitlin Owens tweeted: "If the past month taught us anything, it's that not many Republicans took McCain's message to heart last time around."

Why did Senate Republicans decide to die on this hill again? The best explanation may come from the N.Y. Times' Carl Hulse:

  • "As more than 40 subdued Republican senators lunched on Chick-fil-A at a closed-door session last week, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado painted a dire picture for his colleagues. Campaign fund-raising was drying up, he said, because of widespread disappointment among donors over the inability of the Republican Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act or do much of anything else."
  • "Republicans say the fund-raising drop-off has been steep and across the board, from big donations to the small ones the party solicits online from the grass roots. They say the hostile views of both large and small donors are in unusual alignment."

Be smart: The vote that counted most may have been Jimmy Kimmel's. The ABC late-night host's passionate, detailed opposition — with fact checkers calling him correct about potentially unaffordable premiums for people in poor health — put Republicans in a hole they were ill-equipped to dig out of.

5. One of the most exciting areas in biotechnology

"Gene Therapy Is Nearing a Major Breakthrough: Therapies that replace faulty genes with healthy ones to cure deadly diseases are generating exciting lab results. How to invest in a hot sector," by Barron's Andrew Barry:

  • "The goal of replacement gene therapy is to replace faulty genes with normal ones, in the hope of producing significant benefits or even cures. The process involves packaging healthy genes into neutered viruses, ... which then act as vectors delivered in a single dose either into the bloodstream or .. where the disease is."
  • Why it matters: "The first regulatory approval for this technology could come [from the FDA] as soon as January ... Other approvals could follow, igniting even greater interest in the field — and in the shares of several biotech companies making impressive headway in clinical trials."
  • Free link for Axios readers. With graphic, "How replacement gene therapy works."

P.S. "Dow 1,000,000: Warren Buffett predicts that the benchmark will hit that number by 2117." (It closed yesterday at 22,000.) Free link for Axios readers.

6. 1 TV thing

"CBS' bold digital push: Pilot of 'Star Trek: Discovery' will air on TV. After that, it will be seen only on All Access," by L.A. Times' Meg James, on A1:

  • "When CBS Corp. launched a stand-alone streaming service three years ago, some analysts wondered why consumers would spend nearly $6 a month to watch a TV channel that they could get over the air for free."
  • "CBS soon will answer that question by making its big-budget bet, 'Star Trek: Discovery,' available exclusively on its CBS All Access streaming service."
  • "The pilot episode will air on the CBS broadcast network [tomorrow] night but after that, fans must sign up for the streaming service to see subsequent episodes."
  • CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves: "Streaming is going to be a big part of our future — and the future of television."
  • Why it matters: "The gambit illustrates just how quickly the rules of television are shifting. If the experiment works, CBS could be at the forefront of a new trend, ... as Walt Disney Co. and others create their own streaming services to capture viewers who have been turning away from linear television in favor of Netflix and Amazon."

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Axios PM

1 big thing

Sen. John McCain won't support Graham-Cassidy, he announced this afternoon. Sen. Rand Paul is already a "no," with Sen. Susan Collins almost assuredly in the same camp, per Axios' Caitlin Owens.

Be smart: The vote's not officially off yet, but if Mitch McConnell cancels it, the biggest Senate winners will be the moderate Republicans who don't have to take one more uncomfortable vote: Rob Portman, Shelley Moore Capito, and Cory Gardner.
  • Key McCain quote from a press release: "We should not be content to pass health care legislation on a party line basis ... I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal."
  • Lindsey Graham's response: "My friendship with John McCain is not based on how he votes but respect for how he's lived his life and the person he is. I respectfully disagree with his position ... We press on."
  • Read McCain's full statement.

The bottom line: As Axios health care editor Sam Baker wrote in Vitals on Monday:

"My Axios colleague Caitlin Owens and I are both deeply — like, Mariana Trench deeply — skeptical that the latest Affordable Care Act repeal bill can pass. One of our many reasons: A lot of Republican senators' states — particularly those that expanded Medicaid — would lose a lot of money."

One more thing: The big question was whether McCain would stop calling for "regular order" — hearings and markups — on health care because his friend Graham was the sponsor. He didn't.

What you missed

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

  1. Trump's war of words with North Korea: Trump is known for his fiery, distinctive voice on Twitter, but he might have met his match. The exchanges.
  2. Travel ban update: Homeland Security is set to issue new, temporary restrictions on travel for foreign nationals coming to the U.S., which are tailored on a country-by-country basis. Details.
  3. Finance pros want in: Bitcoin and Ethereum are no longer just for libertarian geeks and their Reddit pals. The story.
  4. Trump vs Tillerson: Comparing how the president and his secretary of state talked about "the Russia hoax." Quotes.
  5. This just in: Facebook will no longer issue a new class of non-voting stock that had become the source of a legal battle. Quick hits.
  6. BONUS: How Gen Z shops in the age of Amazon. Inside the numbers.

1 fun thing

SHOWTIME announced today that it has acquired the rights to adapt Bill Clinton and James Patterson's thriller, "THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING," into a series.

The book, set to hit shelves in June 2018, tells the story of a sitting U.S. president's disappearance, with a unique perspective on the pressures and stakes faced by a sitting president.

Featured

Mark Zuckerberg's real campaign

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Noah Berger / AP

When Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday that he would turn over to Congress some 3,000 ads bought by Russian operatives during the 2016 election, and impose new rules for political ads, it was part of a campaign. But it's not some future "Zuck for president" campaign, a notion stoked by moves like the hiring of former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe as president of policy and advocacy at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Facebook founder and CEO's philanthropy.

Zuckerberg's candidate is Facebook, and its political base is in serious jeopardy:

  • 2017 is its election cycle, and Facebook is on the defensive as it tries to navigate a backlash against its unregulated platform, the most powerful web of connectivity and personal data the world has known.
  • Zuckerberg's national tour of real America started just after the Russians used Facebook to try to tip our presidential election.
  • The company launched micro-targeted campaigns to win over the media, with greater promises of monetization and collaboration.
  • Now, both parties are talking about greater scrutiny and regulation of Facebook. At the same time, lawmakers are demanding more transparency about what it knew and how much it made of Russia's fake news factories.
  • In the most specific Hill move so far, Democrats Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Mark Warner (Va.) yesterday circulated a "Dear Colleague letter," obtained by Axios, seeking co-sponsors for legislation that "would formalize, and expand, the transparency commitments Facebook has made."

Be smart: Although yesterday's concessions reflect the seriousness with which Facebook takes its D.C. problems (Zuckerberg made the announcement on his first day back from a month of paternity leave), Republicans tell me the company doesn't yet fully realize now "rabidly upset" many conservatives are.

  • Conservatives in Washington and around the country, famous for pushing back on government, plan to be increasingly vocal in arguing that self-regulation isn't working with the tech giants.

Go deeper: Axios CEO Jim VandeHei, in his leadership principles, "The Axios Way": "Think of your brand as a political candidate. You need to be hyper-aware of how you're seen by your core constituencies (employees and customers) and by the broader public."

Featured

Axios AM

1 big thing: Zuck's real campaign

Treating tech like a utility (Rebecca Zisser / Axios)

When Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday that he would turn over to Congress some 3,000 ads bought by Russian operatives during the 2016 election, and impose new rules for political ads, it was part of a campaign.

But it's not some future "Zuck for president" campaign, a notion stoked by moves like the hiring of former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe as president of policy and advocacy at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Facebook founder and CEO's philanthropy.

Zuckerberg's candidate is Facebook, and its political base is in serious jeopardy:

  • 2017 is its election cycle, and Facebook is on the defensive as it tries to navigate a backlash against its unregulated platform, the most powerful web of connectivity and personal data the world has known.
  • Zuckerberg's national tour of real America started just after the Russians used Facebook to try to tip our presidential election.
  • The company launched micro-targeted campaigns to win over the media, with greater promises of monetization and collaboration.
  • Now, both parties are talking about greater scrutiny and regulation of Facebook. At the same time, lawmakers are demanding more transparency about what it knew and how much it made of Russia's fake news factories.
  • In the most specific Hill move so far, Democrats Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Mark Warner (Va.) yesterday circulated a "Dear Colleague letter," obtained by Axios, seeking co-sponsors for legislation that "would formalize, and expand, the transparency commitments Facebook has made."

Be smart: Although yesterday's concessions reflect the seriousness with which Facebook takes its D.C. problems (Zuckerberg made the announcement on his first day back from a month of paternity leave), Republicans tell me the company doesn't yet fully realize now "rabidly upset" many conservatives are.

  • Conservatives in Washington and around the country, famous for pushing back on government, plan to be increasingly vocal in arguing that self-regulation isn't working with the tech giants.

Go deeper ... Axios CEO Jim VandeHei, in his leadership principles, "The Axios Way": "Think of your brand as a political candidate. You need to be hyper-aware of how you're seen by your core constituencies (employees and customers) and by the broader public."

2. "A defining issue in American politics"

One of the most trusted voices in Washington journalism is going all-in on a theme we've been telling you about since early August ... David Brooks' N.Y. Times column, "The Coming War on Business":

  • "Trump is not a one-time phenomenon; the populist tide has been rising for years. His base sticks with him through scandal because it's not just about him; it's a movement defined against the so-called ruling class.
  • "Congressional Republicans get all tangled on health care and other issues because they don't understand their voters. ... Trump may not be the culmination, but merely a way station toward an even purer populism."
  • "Trump is nominally pro-business. The next populism will probably take his ethnic nationalism and add an anti-corporate, anti-tech layer."
  • "As the tech behemoths intrude more deeply into daily life and our very minds, they will become a defining issue in American politics."

3. New momentum for tax reform

The WashPost's lead story is "Trump tax cut picks up steam," by Damian Paletta and Mike Debonis:

  • "Two developments are accelerating the effort: Key Senate Republicans reached a tentative deal this week to allow for as much as $1.5 trillion in tax reductions over 10 years; and there is a growing willingness within the GOP to embrace controversial, optimistic estimates of how much economic growth their tax plan would create."
  • "Republican leaders hope they can pass the tax cut plan along party lines, using a Senate procedure called 'reconciliation' that requires only 51 votes. To do this, the House and Senate must pass matching budget resolutions that specify the size and impact of any tax cut measure."

The bottom line: Our GOP sources agree that chances are improved, with the most likely outcome being a significant tax cut for corporations, small businesses, and individuals making less than $150,000 a year.

Be smart: White House hopes for Democratic votes are overblown: This will likely pass with only Republican votes.

  • And there's a long way to go: The Senate Finance Committee will want, for political reasons, to preserve many tax breaks. That would drive up the deficit, and could trigger a revolt by the House Freedom Caucus.

4. The insane news cycle of Trump's presidency

Data: Google News Lab; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

The Google News Lab looked at search trends for stories about 40 of the biggest events of Trump's presidency, showing how we've jumped from one four-alarm news fire to another.

Bonus: Life lessons

Sean Spicer apologized (by text) for losing his cool when I invited his comment for a story about him, and I accepted.

A reminder for all of us of one of the great old-timey quotes: "Keep your words sweet, in case you have to eat them."

5. "A frightened dog barks louder"

Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

Kim Jong-un responded to Trump's U.N. threat to "totally destroy" North Korea, calling it "mentally deranged behavior." The N.Y. Times says the remarks are "believed to be the first time a North Korean leader directly issued a statement to the world under his name":

  • "He made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors."
  • "A frightened dog barks louder."
  • "Action is the best option in treating the dotard ["an old person, especially one who has become weak or senile'"] who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say. ... I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire."

P.S. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said from New York that the country "might consider a historic aboveground test of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean" in response to Trump's speech.

  • Why it matters: The last aboveground nuclear detonation in the world was China's atmospheric test of a hydrogen bomb on Oct. 16, 1980.

Go deeper ... David Ignatius column in WashPost, "Some creative ways to deal with North Korea":

  • "If we see Kim as a regional threat, rather than a global one, then perhaps the right response is an intelligence strategy that begins with the reality of his split with China."
  • "[S]ometimes it's less costly to bribe an adversary than to go to war. What blandishments would get Kim to agree to halt his testing program? Is there a 'freeze' option, as suggested by Robert Einhorn of the Brookings Institution, that would stop escalation, prevent proliferation and stabilize the situation — but leave denuclearization for the distant future?"
  • "[Ar]e there defensive measures that can sharply reduce the North Korean threat?"

6. Reopening today

George Washington Lansdowne Portrait / Oil on canvas, 1796 (National Portrait Gallery)

The "America's Presidents" exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery — one of my first recommendations to out-of-town guests (and #1 if they've been here before) — reopens today ...

"The White House may be chaos, but our old presidents are looking dignified," by Philip Kennicott, Washington Post Art and Architecture Critic (a title like that deserves caps), on the Style front:
  • "Closed since early this year, the rooms devoted to portraits of this country's chief executives (and sometimes their wives and family members) have been reinstalled for the first time since 2006, with new carpeting, lighting, window treatments and touch-panel information screens. Some of the works on view are different, and all of the wall texts have been rewritten."
  • "Given the way so many museums are going today — toward entertainment and trivial educational agendas — one couldn't help but wonder what the Portrait Gallery would do with one of its most beloved ... exhibitions. The good news: The curators went for substance."

If you're going: Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F streets NW; 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; admission is free.

  • "America's Presidents" showcases "multiple images of the past 44 U.S. presidents, starting with Washington and continuing to Barack Obama. Six presidents are given expanded attention because of their significant impact on the office: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan."

7. Sign of the apocalypse

"They're BACK!": The "Classic" box (AP)

"Silly Rabbit! Original Trix With Artificial Colors Is Back After Customers Revolt: Using radishes and turmeric instead of Red 40 and Yellow 6 didn't work for children and adults alike" — Wall Street Journal A-hed by Annie Gasparro:

  • "General Mills ... started selling all-natural Trix in early 2016 made ... with radishes, purple carrots and turmeric."
  • The company's "seven reformulated, all-natural cereals boosted sales by 6% ... At the same time, natural-ingredient haters [!] flooded the company with calls, emails and social-media posts."
  • "So ... General Mills has decided to reintroduce the original, more-vibrant Trix, artificial flavorings and all, and will start selling it on supermarket shelves alongside the more wholesome version in October."
  • Why it matters: "The reintroduction of Classic Trix is a reversal of General Mills' pledge two years ago to remove artificial colors and flavors from all its cereal brands."

8. Get smart fast

Photo: The Economist

"Tensions over China's industrial might now threaten the architecture of the global economy," The Economist writes in its cover editorial:

  • "America's trade representative this week called China an 'unprecedented' threat that cannot be tamed by existing trade rules."
  • "At the heart of these tensions is one simple, overwhelming fact: firms around the world face ever more intense competition from their Chinese rivals."
  • Why it matters: "China is not the first country to industrialise, but none has ever made the leap so rapidly and on such a monumental scale."
  • "Little more than a decade ago Chinese boom towns churned out [zippers], socks and cigarette lighters. Today the country is at the global frontier of new technology in everything from mobile payments to driverless cars."

9. Coming attractions

CBS

  • The 50th anniversary season premiere of "60 Minutes" (Sunday at 7:30 p.m. on CBS) will feature stories from Scott Pelley (what Hurricane Harvey tells about the impact such weather will have on cities in the future), Lesley Stahl (talking to Sen. John McCain about how he learned about his brain tumor); and the debut of Oprah Winfrey as special contributor, exploring the political divide that's stirring America.
  • Video clip: See the Harry Reasoner and Mike Wallace open from the first-ever broadcast of "60 Minutes," on Sept. 24, 1968: "Kind of a magazine for television."
  • Mika Brzezinski, founder of "Know Your Value" and co-host of "Morning Joe," announces the return of her "Know Your Value" series, with an all-day Oct. 30 event at The Grand Hyatt in New York City, including Sarah Jessica Parker; Martha Stewart; Jane Pauley; Bobbi Brown, founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics; Laura Brown, editor-in-chief of InStyle; and BBC's Katty Kay. Tickets here.
  • Megyn Kelly to AP's David Bauder on her new, studio-audience show, "Megyn Kelly Today," debuting Monday at 9 a.m. on NBC: "I don't want to talk about Trump all day ... In fact, the bar is very high for Trump coverage ... If you want Trump, you can watch virtually every channel in the country and get Trump non-stop. I think people are looking for a break from that. Not just Trump, it's inside the Beltway. I don't want to talk about Mitch McConnell either, or Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi."

10. 1 bad thing

"Some parents, spouses, teenagers ... are finding that texting [each other inside the same house] can sometimes actually make a household run more smoothly," according to a Boston Globe front-pager by Beth Teitell:

  • "Tired and hungry after a day of high school and sports, Isaiah Ramsey likes to collapse on his bed, grab his phone, and place a mobile dinner order. To his mom. In the next room."
  • "Digital natives who are accustomed to summoning everything from their phones — restaurant meals, consumer goods, Uber — are lounging in their rooms and tapping out requests for service from their parents. 'Can you bring my charger?'"
  • "Parents who were initially horrified at the seemingly impersonal communication mode have not only made their peace with it — they're deploying it themselves. 'It's the only reliable way to reach them when they're upstairs,' said Remi Dansinger, a mother of three ... They are always looking at their phones — at Snapchat or Instagram — so they can't pretend they don't see my messages.'"

Be smart: Just for fun, try the opposite. One family I know has a basket in the entryway, and you leave your phone on the way in. It's a great idea, because then you don't forget your phone on the way out, but you're not tempted to look at it while you're socializing.

  • Another idea (but you have to set the example) is a rule of no electronics in the bedroom.
  • Thank a millennial for the idea of putting all the phones in the center of the table when you're at dinner with a friend group. (A twist: The first person to sneak a peek gets to pick up the check.)

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Axios PM

1 big thing: Facebook gives Congress the Russia ads

"Facebook will give congressional investigators access to the more than 3,000 ads bought by Russian operatives during the campaign," Axios' David McCabe and Sara Fischer report, "reversing a previous decision that had drawn criticism. It also said it would increase transparency around political ad spending in a move that gets ahead of any new disclosure rules lawmakers could try to impose on digital campaign ad spending."

What Facebook isn't doing: Releasing this information to the public, citing "sensitive national security and privacy issues" involved in the investigation.

Key Zuckerberg quote on Facebook Live (pic below): "I don't want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy... Now, I wish I could tell you that we're going to be able to stop all interference. But that just wouldn't be realistic."
Thought bubbles:
  • From David: "Facebook once again playing catch-up on a scandal. It's not unlike the aftermath of the 2016 allegations that curators for the social network's trending topics section may have buried conservative-leaning stories. That ended with Zuckerberg quelling the fears of a group of influential conservatives at the company's California headquarters. That settled things then, but it seems unlikely that this is the last time Facebook has to speak out about Russia's influence on the 2016 election..."
  • From Sara: "Facebook still continues to grow its dominance within the U.S. digital ad market. Just this morning, eMarketer increased its prediction that Facebook would take 19.7% of all U.S. digital ad revenue this year to 20.9%."

Go deeper: Dive on in...

Tweet du jour

Image: Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook Live

What you missed

  1. President Trump announced this afternoon: China's central bank has directed its subsidiary banks within the country's "massive banking system" to cease all business with North Korea. Video.
  2. New NBC News/WSJ poll: 71% of Americans support President Trump's deal with Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Poll.
  3. The disappearing down payment: The affordability crisis in real estate has made down payments an impossibility for many young home-seekers. The startups working to change this.
  4. The price of changing NAFTA: Cargill CEO warns ripping up the trade agreement would cost them $11 billion. The interview.
  5. Graham-Cassidy update: They're considering three new Alaska-specific changes to their health care proposal. Details.

Featured

Another potential Mueller honey pot: Spicer's notebooks

Sean Spicer in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in January 2017. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

The Watergate resonance of the Bob Mueller probe rose this week with a CNN report that the special counsel has details of wiretaps of "former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election."

Now we can tell you about another potential honey pot for Mueller. Former colleagues of Sean Spicer tell Axios that he filled "notebook after notebook" during meetings at the Republican National Committee, later at the Trump campaign, and then at the White House.

When Spicer worked at the RNC, he was said to have filled black books emblazoned with the party's seal. Spicer was so well-known for his copious notes that underlings joked about him writing a tell-all.

  • One source familiar with the matter said that the records were just to help him do his job.
  • "Sean documented everything," the source said.
  • That surprised some officials of previous White Houses, who said that because of past investigations, they intentionally took as few notes as possible when they worked in the West Wing.

When we texted Spicer for comment on his note-taking practices, he replied: "Mike, please stop texting/emailing me unsolicited anymore."

When I replied with a "?" (I have known Spicer and his wife for more than a dozen years), he answered: "Not sure what that means. From a legal standpoint I want to be clear: Do not email or text me again. Should you do again I will report to the appropriate authorities."

The WashPost reported Sept. 8 that Mueller "has alerted the White House that his team will probably seek to interview" Spicer and five other top current and former Trump advisers.

One White House official told me: "People are going to wish they'd been nicer to Sean. … He was in a lot of meetings."

About an hour after Spicer's texts, he replied to a polite email I had sent earlier, seeking comment:

Per my text:

Please refrain from sending me unsolicited texts and emails

Should you not do so I will contact the appropriate legal authorities to address your harassment

Thanks

Sean M Spicer

-----

Editor's Note: For more breaking news and scoops on the most important stories of the day, sign up here for Axios AM.

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Axios AM

Good Thursday morning. Chris Krueger, in his "D.C. Download" for Cowen Washington Research Group, has perfect headline for GOP's health-care repeal-quest: "What Is Dead May Never Die."

1 big thing: Mueller's tapes, Spicer's notes

Trump talks with reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel in New York yesterday, with Vice President Pence, SecState Tillerson and National Security Adviser McMaster. (AP's Evan Vucci)

The Watergate resonance of the Bob Mueller probe rose this week with a CNN report that the special counsel has details of wiretaps of "former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election."

Now we can tell you about another potential honey pot for Mueller. Former colleagues of Sean Spicer tell Axios that he filled "notebook after notebook" during meetings at the Republican National Committee, later at the Trump campaign, and then at the White House.

When Spicer worked at the RNC, he was said to have filled black books emblazoned with the party's seal. Spicer was so well-known for his copious notes that underlings joked about him writing a tell-all.

One source familiar with the matter said that the records were just to help him do his job.

"Sean documented everything," the source said.

That surprised some officials of previous White Houses, who said that because of past investigations, they intentionally took as few notes as possible when they worked in the West Wing.

When we texted Spicer for comment on his note-taking practices, he replied: "Mike, please stop texting/emailing me unsolicited anymore."

When I replied with a "?" (I have known Spicer and his wife for more than a dozen years), he answered: "Not sure what that means. From a legal standpoint I want to be clear: Do not email or text me again. Should you do again I will report to the appropriate authorities."

The WashPost reported Sept. 8 that Mueller "has alerted the White House that his team will probably seek to interview" Spicer and five other top current and former Trump advisers.

One White House official told me: "People are going to wish they'd been nicer to Sean. … He was in a lot of meetings."

About an hour after Spicer's texts, he replied to a polite email I had sent earlier, seeking comment:

Per my text:

Please refrain from sending me unsolicited texts and emails

Should you not do so I will contact the appropriate legal authorities to address your harassment

Thanks

Sean M Spicer

2. "A feeling of inevitability"

Brian Williams said on his MSNBC show last night that Mueller has "become a vacuum cleaner":

  • "Probe casts wide net toward White House" — WashPost front-pager by Carol Leonnig and Roz Helderman: "White House lawyers are now working to turn over internal documents that span 13 categories."
  • "Mueller has asked for all documents related to meetings between Trump and Comey while Comey served at the FBI, records of any discussions regarding Comey's firing and any documents related to a statement by then-press secretary Sean Spicer made on the night Comey was fired. He has also asked for any documents related to a meeting Trump held in the Oval Office with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov the day after Comey was fired."
  • Quote du jour, from a government official: "I am convinced that no matter where they end up, this investigation will run to completion even if they fire Mueller. ... There is a feeling of inevitability now that we didn't have before — not of the outcome of the investigation but that there will be an outcome. There is no escaping this thing, whatever the conclusions."
  • WashPost lead story by Tom Hamburger, Roz Helderman, Carol Leonnig and Adam Entous: "Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin," Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past.
  • Manafort email on July 7, 2016: "If he needs private briefings we can accommodate."
  • "People close to Manafort believe Mueller's goal is to force the former campaign chairman to flip on his former Trump associates and provide information."

Go deeper: "How the Russia probe closed in on Paul Manafort" — timeline by Axios' Dave Lawler.

3. "Read every message"

Bill Clinton passes Mike Bloomberg onstage yesterday. (AP's Mark Lennihan)

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told me in an interview yesterday at his inaugural Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York that the Russian fake news and paid propaganda from the last election were "killing democracy," and that Facebook should "read every message" if that's what's needed:

  • "It's not all their fault, but they have a responsibility. And if they say, 'Well, there's no ways to do it other than maybe we're going to have a human being read every message,' I'm sorry. You're going to have to do that."
  • "[I]f they build the technology that makes it difficult to regulate and to control, that's their problem. It's not society's problem. We have to make them give us the ability to protect ourselves. The first fundamental thing is to keep this country safe, keep democracy for all of our citizens."
  • "The platforms, generally, absolutely, have to be more aggressive. They cannot sit there. The banks, for example, are responsible under the law to make sure you don't launder money. The telephone company is responsible to know where calls come from, whatever it is. ... [W]e have laws to protect you. Those laws should apply to social media as well."
  • "We just cannot let terrorists, for example, plant a bomb and set it off by hitting a button on their iPhone and the FBI or the CIA or the NSA can't find out in advance they're going to do it and protect us.

See the video.

4. "A big, enticing target"

"Facebook has 2 billion users, record profits, vast influence, and big problems in Washington," write Max Chafkin and Sarah Frier in Bloomberg Businessweek's forthcoming cover story:

  • Why it matters: "Zuckerberg has become a big, enticing target for both liberal Democrats, who see him as a media-devouring monopolist, and for nationalist Republicans, who see an opportunity to rail against the company that embodies globalization more than any other."
  • "Zuckerberg's political awakening began a little more than a year ago. 'I guess it was while the primaries were going on,' he says. Trump was on the ascent, thanks to a nationalist message Zuckerberg saw as an attack on the global connectivity Facebook has long promoted… 'I mean, for most of the existence of the company, this idea of connecting the world has not been a controversial thing .. Something changed.'"
  • "In surveys of users, only 100 million people told Facebook they use the site to connect with groups they find 'meaningful.'"
  • "Zuckerberg finds the figure disappointing and has told employees they should seek to increase the level tenfold. 'It'll take years,' he says, 'but if we can get to a billion more people in meaningful groups online, that will reverse the decline in community membership and start strengthening the social fabric again.'"
  • "Throughout the interview, he seems irritated that his actions could be viewed as anything other than expansive benevolence."

P.S. "Twitter Inc. representatives will meet with the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence staff next week in relation to inquiries into the 2016 U.S. presidential election." (Reuters)

5. Data du jour

Most searched, per Axios' Stef Kight using Google Trends data: Since 2004, around the world, the most common searches for health issues were pain, then cancer, with diabetes most commonly coming in third. It was occasionally replaced by acne and in 2004, HIV/AIDS.

6. Day of disaster

Rescuers search for people trapped inside a building felled in Del Valle area of Mexico City. (AP's Rebecca Blackwell)

  • "Puerto Rico: '100% without power,'" per CNN: "'The island's energy grid took such a severe blow from Maria that restoring power to everyone may take months."
  • In Mexico City, "With anxious parents gathered outside awaiting news of missing children, civil protection volunteer Enrique Gardia announced that a thermal scanner had detected survivors trapped between slabs of concrete." (BBC)

7. The wilderness

TIME's Phil Elliott cover story on Democrats:

  • "[E]ight months into the Trump presidency, the party looks to face its toughest odds since Ronald Reagan won 49 states in 1984."
  • "The Democrats are in their deepest congressional rut since the class of 1946 was elected, and hold the fewest governors' mansions — 15 — since 1922."
  • "Of the 98 partisan legislatures in the U.S., Republicans control 67. During Barack Obama's presidency, Democrats lost 970 seats in state legislatures."
  • "The median age of their congressional leadership is 67, and many of the obvious early presidential front runners will be in their 70s by the 2020 election."
  • On the need to focus on the heartland: "28% of House Democrats hail from states that don't touch the Atlantic or Pacific oceans, down from 37% in 2007."
  • Read more.

8. Jimmy Kimmel v. GOP

"Jimmy Kimmel Escalates Senator War ... Kimmel's feud with Bill Cassidy over health care reform plans continued for a second night," by Hollywood Reporter's Lauren Huff:

  • "Kimmel has a lot more to say about Sen. Bill Cassidy [R-La.] and his and Sen. Lindsey Graham's [R-S.C.] recent health care bill: "Oh I get it, I don't understand because I'm a talk show host right? Which part am I not understanding?"
  • Read more of Kimmel's words.

P.S. L.A. Times, top of column 1, "Millions could lose insurance under GOP bill," by Noam Levey: "The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest."

  • "Healthcare safety nets in dozens of states stand to lose more than $200 billion by 2026 and hundreds of billions of dollars more in the years that follow, the analyses indicate."

9. Google's big hardware deal

"Google said it would buy part of struggling Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Corp. for $1.1 billion in cash, as it accelerates its efforts to crack the handset market," per Wall Street Journal and others:

  • "Google said an HTC team that helped develop Google's flagship Pixel smartphone will join the company."
  • Why it matters: "Google's deal with HTC should settle the question of whether it is serious about making its own phones.

P.S. "SEC Discloses Edgar Corporate Filing System Was Hacked in 2016," per Wall Street Journal front-pager:

  • "Breach may have allowed trading that profited from nonpublic information."
  • Why it matters: "The intrusion shows how confidential information that can yield easy trading profits has increasingly become a target of hackers."

10. 1 fun thing

"Justice Ginsburg surprise speaker at Jewish new year service," by AP's Jessica Gresko:
  • "Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a surprise guest speaker Wednesday evening during services for the Jewish new year in Washington, telling worshippers she believes being Jewish helped her empathize with other minority groups."
  • "Ginsburg spoke at services for Rosh Hashana ... organized by Sixth & I, a historic synagogue that hosts a range of Jewish and cultural events."
  • "She said during about 20 minutes of answering questions from attorney Kenneth Feinberg: 'If you are a member of a minority group, particularly a minority group that has been picked on, you have empathy for others who are similarly situated.'"
  • "Ginsburg is one of three Jewish justices on the nine-member Supreme Court. Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan are also Jewish, and Breyer spoke at services organized by Sixth & I last year. The 84-year-old Ginsburg, who has served on the court since 1993, noted that she is now the longest-serving Jewish justice."

Featured

Axios PM

1 big thing: the Global Business Forum

Bloomberg Philanthropies drew more than 40 heads of state, 250 CEOs and 300 journalists to the classic Plaza hotel in New York for an inaugural Global Business Forum where the hot topics were automation, Trump, and the role of business amid global disruption.

With world leaders gridlocking New York for the U.N. General Assembly, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched an elite sideshow.

Quotes from Axios' Alayna Treene:

  • Michael Bloomberg: "Too often governments and businesses don't talk to each other. This forum aims to fix that, and it's especially important when isolationism is rearing its head."
  • Bill Clinton: "[U]nderneath all these debates that are going on today lingers one simple question... whether you believe social strength, economic reform and political reform flow from division or multiplication."
  • Alibaba founder and CEO Jack Ma: "[I]n the past 30 years we made people like machines. In the next 30 years we'll make the machines like people."
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook: DACA is "the biggest issue of our time because this goes to our values of being American..."
  • Canadian PM Justin Trudeau: "So we've seen growth, but it hasn't necessarily reached everyone... we need to make a turn into a new progressive trade agenda."

Go deeper: The best quotes on 1 screen.

What you missed

From left: Mike Bloomberg, Bill Clinton, Tim Cook, and Justin Trudeau. Photos: Bloomberg Global Business Forum and AP

  1. Big NYT story: Robert Mueller has sent the White House a request for documents pertaining to some of President Trump's most controversial moves in office. Why it matters.
  2. Canada's reverse brain-drain: Numerous startups in the tech hub of Toronto say they have had steady, double-digit increases in job applications from the United States since last year's presidential election. Details.
  3. Maria hits Puerto Rico: 100% of Puerto Rico is without power after Maria struck as a Category 4 storm this morning. Updates.
  4. The long game: Trump's approval ratings are ticking up. Numbers.
  5. The Fed starts selling: The Federal Reserve will begin selling off the government debt and mortgage bonds it amassed in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Quick story.

1 Trump quote

"Africa has tremendous business potential. I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich. I congratulate you. They're spending a lot of money." — Trump to African leaders today at the UN. Video.