Mike Allen
Featured

'Raging Bull' Trump shifts back into 2016 campaign mode

Chris O'Meara / AP

On Day 129 (and the beginning of the 19th full week), the next phase of Trump's presidency is becoming clear.

Facing political and legal jeopardy, he follows his instincts and runs the government even more like a campaign, with renewed stature for "street fighter" aides and an elevated obsession with his base.

Returning last night from a nine-day overseas trip where Russia headlines wrestled with beauty shots from the world stage, here's a snapshot of the emerging "Raging Bull" Trump:

  • Axios' Jonathan Swan and Amy Harder scooped last night that Trump has privately told multiple people, including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, that he plans to leave the Paris agreement on climate change. Trump has told different things to different people, and said yesterday in a TV-teaser-style tweet that he'll make up his mind this week. But his willingness to entertain such a drastic step, right up against his own deadline, was a brushback to Europe and a reminder to moderates in the West Wing, most notably Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, that they're advisers, not puppeteers.
  • The President is likely to spend more time in his happy place: massive rallies with supporters. The Washington Post reports (lead story: "Trump may retool his staff") that among the ideas from White House officials, in an effort to revive his stalled legislative agenda and overhaul communications, are proposing "more travel and campaign-style rallies nationwide so that Trump can speak directly to his supporters."
  • We're told that big changes are imminent for the press and communications operations, with a diminished role for the on-camera daily briefing that has proved so entertaining for daytime cable viewers, and such a gift to network correspondents who get to run daily cameos of themselves badgering Sean Spicer.
  • A classic line in the Post story: "'Go to the mattresses,' a line from the film 'The Godfather' about turning to tough mercenaries during troubled times, has circulated among Trump's friends."
  • All three members of the triumvirate who ran the fall campaign saw their power wane, but now are ascendant. White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has restored clout as the West Wing draws up org charts for a war room to field Russia incoming. Kellyanne Conway, White House counselor, had been isolated by West Wing enemies but has been empowered to court outside support for Trump. And conservative firebrand Dave Bossie, banished after the campaign, may come into the White House in a political or war-room role.
  • Corey Lewandowski, who ran afoul of the family as Trump's first campaign manager, is once again talking regularly to Trump. Corey is unlikely to come back inside, but a Trump confidant laughed at the press speculation about Corey returning: "Corey's already back."
  • The biggest talker of all inside Trumpland: Sam Nunberg, on the outs with the Trump inner circle since he was fired from the campaign in 2015, is among the members of Trump's outside chorus who are "being courted to play more active roles," The Post said.

The takeaway: One of the most plugged-in West Wing advisers points to this essential dynamic: "Jivanka has influence where it does not conflict with the base."

Coming attractions... N.Y. Times reports in an above-the-fold mash-up, "President Faces Growing Crisis On Russia Ties": "White House aides were trying to assemble a powerhouse outside legal team that they hoped would include seasoned Washington lawyers of the stature of Paul D. Clement, Theodore Olson or Brendan Sullivan, and they planned to introduce some of them to Mr. Trump as soon as this weekend."

Featured

Axios AM

Good Sunday morning. I'm making today a Top 5, in consideration of your time on the holiday weekend.

Starting Tuesday, I look forward to also chatting in the afternoon, with Axios PM! 1-click sign-up here.

1 big thing: "Raging Bull" Trump

The President and the First lady address U.S. troops and their families at the Sigonella Naval Air Station in Italy before boarding Air Force One / AP's Luca Bruno

On Day 129 (and the beginning of the 19th full week), the next phase of Trump's presidency is becoming clear:

Facing political and legal jeopardy, he follows his instincts and runs the government even more like a campaign, with renewed stature for "street fighter" aides and an elevated obsession with his base.

Returning last night from a nine-day overseas trip where Russia headlines wrestled with beauty shots from the world stage, here's a snapshot of the emerging "Raging Bull" Trump:

  • Axios' Jonathan Swan and Amy Harder scooped last night that Trump has privately told multiple people, including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, that he plans to leave the Paris agreement on climate change. Trump has told different things to different people, and said yesterday in a TV-teaser-style tweet that he'll make up his mind this week. But his willingness to entertain such a drastic step, right up against his own deadline, was a brushback to Europe and and a reminder to moderates in the West Wing, most notably Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, that they're advisers, not puppeteers.
  • The President is likely to spend more time in his happy place: massive rallies with supporters. The Washington Post reports (lead story: "Trump may retool his staff") that among the ideas from White House officials, in an effort to revive his stalled legislative agenda and overhaul communications, are proposing "more travel and campaign-style rallies nationwide so that Trump can speak directly to his supporters."
  • We're told that big changes are imminent for the press and communications operations, with a diminished role for the on-camera daily briefing that has proved so entertaining for daytime cable viewers, and such a gift to network correspondents who get to run daily cameos of themselves badgering Sean Spicer.
  • A classic line in the Post story: "'Go to the mattresses,' a line from the film 'The Godfather' about turning to tough mercenaries during troubled times, has circulated among Trump's friends."
  • All three members of the triumvirate who ran the fall campaign saw their power wane, but now are ascendant. White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has restored clout as the West Wing draws up org charts for a war room to field Russia incoming. Kellyanne Conway, White House counselor, had been isolated by West Wing enemies but has been empowered to court outside support for Trump. And conservative firebrand Dave Bossie, banished after the campaign, may come into the White House in a political or war-room role.
  • Corey Lewandowski, who ran afoul of the family as Trump's first campaign manager, is once again talking regularly to Trump. Corey is unlikely to come back inside, but a Trump confidant laughed at the press speculation about Corey returning: "Corey's already back."
  • The biggest talker of all inside Trumpland: Sam Nunberg, on the outs with the Trump inner circle since he was fired from the campaign in 2015, is among the members of Trump's outside chorus who are "being courted to play more active roles," The Post said.

The takeaway: One of the most plugged-in West Wing advisers points to this essential dynamic: "Jivanka has influence where it does not conflict with the base."

Coming attractions ... N.Y. Times reports in an above-the-fold mash-up, "President Faces Growing Crisis On Russia Ties": "White House aides were trying to assemble a powerhouse outside legal team that they hoped would include seasoned Washington lawyers of the stature of Paul D. Clement, Theodore Olson or Brendan Sullivan, and they planned to introduce some of them to Mr. Trump as soon as this weekend."

2. California's big quake is "definite"

Axios cuts away the fog and says things clearly, but we can't top this L.A. Times headline: "The Big One is going to happen, no matter how much you want to deny it, California scientists say." Rong-Gong Lin II, who has earthquakes as part of his beat, writes:

"Seismologist Lucy Jones ... said the way experts like her used to talk about earthquakes wasn't very effective. They tended to focus on the probability of a major earthquake striking in the next 30 years ... Now she is making a dramatically different point, emphasizing that a devastating earthquake will definitely happen, and that there is much the public can do to protect themselves."

  • What's coming: "[N]ext year, scientists and the U.S. Geological Survey are expected to unveil the first limited public phase of an earthquake early warning system that would eventually offer seconds and perhaps more than a minute of warning through smartphones and computers. The system has been planned for years but still could be derailed by budget cuts proposed by President Trump."
  • Failure of imagination: "Jones recalled a ... trip to a devastated area of Japan washed away by a tsunami after the magnitude 9 earthquake off the nation's east coast in 2011. Communities there endured a death toll as high as 10% of the population."
  • "She remembered being taken to Otsuchi, where the city hall sat behind a 20-foot sea wall. Experts had forecast a 16-foot tsunami from the quake. 'The city leaders ignored protocol that said to move to higher ground and conducted their emergency meeting in the city hall. When the tsunami poured over the sea wall, they lost over 1,000 people, including most of their city government.'"

3. Bite of the day

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, to "Meet the Press" moderator Chuck Todd, about leaking classified information like evidence from the Manchester concert attack: " I don't know why people do these kind of things, but it's borderline, if not over the line, of treason. ... I think it's darn close to treason."

Kelly, on reports Jared Kushner tried to set up a back channel to the Kremlin during the transition: "I know Jared. He's a great guy, decent guy. His ... number one interest, really, is the nation. So, you know, there's a lot of different ways to communicate — back-channel, publicly —with other countries. I don't see any big issue here relative to Jared." (Video)

Bonus bite ... French President Emmanuel Macron tells a Sunday newspaper in France (Le Journal du Dimanche) that his now famous white-knuckle handshake showdown with President Trump was "a moment of truth" — designed to show that he's no pushover:

"[M]y handshake with him, it wasn't innocent. ... One must show that you won't make small concessions, even symbolic ones, but also not over-publicize things, either." (AP)

Lingo ... WashPost columnist Jonathan Capehart refers to Trump's handshake as a "grab-and-pull power pump that always seemed to reduce the other person to a rag doll."

4. Hillary: "What I was doing was working"

From New York magazine's cover story, which Jon Favreau tweeted is "a tough but good read from @rtraister ... Hillary has some very smart insights on media, Dems, and politics":

Piecing together what happened, with six months of perspective, Clinton says she thinks she "underestimated WikiLeaks and the impact that had, because I thought it was so silly." Those hacked emails, dripped out over weeks, says Clinton, "were innocuous, boring, inconsequential. And each one was played like it was some breathless flash. And so you got Trump, in the last month of the campaign, talking about WikiLeaks something like 164 times; you've got all his minions out there, you've got the right-wing media just blowing it up. You've got Google searches off the charts."

Clinton has been looking at where some of the Google searches for WikiLeaks were coming from. "They were from a lot of places where people were trying to make up their minds," she says. "Like, 'Oh my God, I kinda like her, I don't like him, but she might go to jail. And then what about all this other stuff?' It was just such a dump of cognitive dissonance …" Clinton trails off and then smiles and nods to herself. "I have a lot of sympathy for voters in a lot of places I didn't win," she says. "Because I can see how hard it was."

5. 1 Memorial thing

The Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper tweets: "The HARPER 2 coming at you! Memorial Day edition🙌🏻🔥."

  • See pics of more custom Memorial Day cleats.

Bonus: A-Rod to ABC ... N.Y. Post "Page Six"-er Emily Smith has the scoop: "Former Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez has sealed a deal with ABC News, which will see him appearing in segments across the news division including for 'Good Morning America' and even 'World News Tonight.'"

"A network insider said A-Rod, 41, had been in talks with ABC News brass about appearing as an on-air contributor for sports, family and even financial segments."

Featured

Clinton: Trump tapped "malicious nostalgia"

Josh Reynolds / AP

Hillary friends say she's seething with rage and haunted by losing to someone she considers a dumb, soulless manipulator ...

"She's okay. How about you?" ... HRC interview with New York mag, "Hillary Clinton Is Furious. And Resigned. And Funny. And Worried. The surreal post-election life," by Rebecca Traister:

"Almost everywhere Clinton goes, it seems, someone starts crying. ... At restaurants, in grocery stores, on planes, and in the woods, there are lines of people wanting selfies, hugs, comfort."

"I had people literally seeking absolution. ... 'I'm so sorry I didn't vote. I didn't think you needed me.' I don't know how we'll ever calculate how many people thought it was in the bag, because the percentages kept being thrown at people ... I never bought any of that, but lots of people did."

Clinton knows that had she won, she would have governed in a time of deep anti-feminist backlash: "You know what? ... I would have loved to have had that problem. Look, I know what's out there. I have lived it."

"Part of what my opponent did, which was brilliant ... was blow the top off: You can say whatever you want about anybody else, and I'll tell you who to be against. I'll tell you who you should be resentful of." The stories her campaign tried to tell, she says, "were boring in comparison to the energy behind malicious nostalgia."

Traister asked if she's ever been in therapy, and she shakes her head: "Unh-uh. No. I have not. ... Well, we had some marital counseling in the late '90s, around our very difficult time, but that's all. ... That's not how I roll. I'm all for it for anybody who's at all interested in it. It's just not how I deal with stuff."

Without saying his name, Hillary ('69) goes after Trump at Wellesley commencement: "When people in power invent their own facts and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society."

"You are graduating at a time when there is a full-fledged assault on truth and reason."

Click here for best quotes.

Featured

Jared's Jam has White House on edge

Alex Brandon / AP

The hottest topic among top White House officials is the FBI's interest in Jared Kushner, the closest adviser and son-in-law of the President. The Washington Post report that Kushner discussed "a secret and secure communications channel between Trump's transition team and the Kremlin" is something from a Clancy novel.
Why it matters: He did it, knowing the world suspected Russia of helping tilt the election to his father-in-law.

Deets from N.Y. Times, which follows The Post and also makes it the paper's lead story: "The [December] conversation between Mr. Kushner and the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, took place during a meeting at Trump Tower that Mr. Trump's presidential transition team did not acknowledge at the time. Also present at the meeting was Michael T. Flynn."

"It is unclear who first proposed the communications channel, but the people familiar with the meeting said the idea was to have Mr. Flynn speak directly with a senior military official in Moscow to discuss Syria and other security issues. The communications channel was never set up."

Sound smart: A hot theory is that Trump can't clean house because those inside know too much to be let go, and outsiders (beyond old campaign hands) can't be trusted with what they'd learn.

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Axios AM

You asked for it ... You got it! Axios PM, coming Tuesday. 1-click sign up here — I look forward to our afternoon chats.

1 big thing: The Jared jam

Jared and Ivanka enter the Pantheon for a private visit in Rome on Wednesday / Photo by Massimo Percossi/ANSA via AP

Make no mistake: The hottest topic among top White House officials is the FBI's interest in Jared Kushner, the closest adviser and son-in-law of the President. The Washington Post report that Kushner discussed "a secret and secure communications channel between Trump's transition team and the Kremlin" is something from a Clancy novel.
  • Why it matters: He did it, knowing the world suspected Russia of helping tilt the election to his father-in-law.
  • Caveat, from WP: "Russia at times feeds false information into communication streams it suspects are monitored as a way of sowing misinformation and confusion among U.S. analysts."

Deets from N.Y. Times, which follows WaPo and also makes the "Russia channel" the paper's lead story:

  • "The [December] conversation between Mr. Kushner and the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, took place during a meeting at Trump Tower ... Also present ... was Michael T. Flynn."
  • "It is unclear who first proposed the communications channel, but ... people familiar with the meeting said the idea was to have Mr. Flynn speak directly with a senior military official in Moscow to discuss Syria and other security issues. The communications channel was never set up, the people said."
  • "This week, the Senate Intelligence Committee asked the Trump campaign's treasurer to preserve and produce all documents — including phone records and emails — dating to its official start in June 2015, according to one person associated with the campaign."

Sound smart: A hot theory is that Trump can't boot some top (non-Jared) aides because those inside know too much, and outsiders (beyond old campaign hands) can't be trusted with what they'd learn.

2. Tweeter in timeout?

Trump waves to reporters as he arrives at the Belvedere (sightseeing point) in the Sicilian citadel of Taormina, Italy / AP's Salvatore Cavalli

Nugget in a Wall Street Journal front-pager about Trump's coming staff shakeup (by Michael Bender and Peter Nicholas):

"One major change under consideration would see the president's social media posts vetted by a team of lawyers ... The idea, said one of Mr. Trump's advisers, is to create a system so that tweets 'don't go from the president's mind out to the universe.'"

  • Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign aide: ""I would be shocked if he would agree to that."
  • Memo to the folks who are plotting this: This has been tried before. Ask the inner circle from the transition.
  • West Wing sources tell me a more likely scenario is for Marc Kasowitz, the lawyer leading Trump's outside Russia defense, might convince him he absolutely has to vet tweets relating to Russia.
  • Be smart: Good luck with that, sir.

3. Diplomat in Middle East, disrupter in Europe

Running the world ... "Family photo" during G7 Summit (from left): European Council President Donald Tusk, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Trump, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker / Reuters' Philippe Wojazer

West Wing Edition ... Boston Globe A1, "On trip, a more presidential look for Trump: His less diplomatic side mostly under wraps abroad," by Annie Linskey in D.C.: "[H]is days overseas revealed that he's capable of avoiding major gaffes and of sticking, for the most part, to the script."

The takeaway ... N.Y. Times A1, "Mild in Mideast, but Elbows Are Out in Europe: Trump Is Rattling a Continent Eager to Jab Back," by Mark Landler and Mike Shear in Taormina, Sicily: "[T]he smooth statesman celebrated in Saudi Arabia and Israel is now being portrayed as the ugly American, trampling America's friends and trashing the trans-Atlantic alliance."

  • Aides say the disrupter stance will pay dividends "in the form of better trade deals and more equitable security arrangements."
  • Europe reacts — Erik Kirschbaum in Berlin, for L.A. Times: "Across Europe, the reaction to Trump's trip, and especially the NATO photo opp, was less than charitable. Scotland's J.K. Rowling, the author of the 'Harry Potter' books and a frequent Trump critic, posted a film clip of the Trump-Markovic [pushing] incident on Twitter: ... 'You tiny, tiny, tiny little man.'"
  • "Trump's image as an outsider continued in Italy on Friday at the G-7 meeting in Taormina, Italy ... The presidents, chancellor and prime ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom walked the streets of Taormina. Trump followed in a golf cart."
  • N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Daniel Gros, president of the Center for European Policy Studies, on Trump's interactions with European leaders: ""Everybody sees that he's trying to be a tough negotiator with the Europeans, whom he apparently views as a bunch of weaklings. But nobody sees any use in firing back. They think there will be very little action on trade. Ultimately, they think it's harmless."

4. Muslim holy month begins

"Tillerson declines to host Ramadan event at State Department," by Reuters' Yeganeh Torbati:

  • "Since 1999, Republican and Democratic secretaries of state have nearly always hosted either an iftar dinner to break the day's fast during Ramadan or a reception marking the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the month."
  • "Tillerson turned down a request from the State Department's Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host an Eid al-Fitr reception."
  • "The month of fasting and prayer for Muslims gets under way [today] in many countries."
  • Why it matters: "His rejection ... suggests there are no plans this year for any high-profile Ramadan function at the State Department."
  • State's response: "We are still exploring possible options for observance of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the month of Ramadan. U.S. ambassadors are encouraged to celebrate Ramadan."

5. Mika salutes Zbig: "#HailToTheChief"

Mika's Instagram

Mika Brzezinski announced on Instagram: "My father passed away peacefully tonight. He was known to his friends as Zbig, to his grandchildren as Chief and to his wife as the enduring love of her life. I just knew his as the most inspiring, loving and devoted father any girl could ever have. I love you Dad❤️ #HailToTheChief."

N.Y. Times A1, "A Security Adviser With Decades of Influence," by Daniel Lewis: "Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89."

  • "Brzezinski, a descendant of Polish aristocrats (his name is pronounced Z-BIG-nyehv breh-ZHIHN-skee), ... was adept at seizing the spotlight and freezing out the official spokesman on foreign policy, Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance, provoking conflicts that ultimately led to Mr. Vance's resignation."

Another Mika Instagram post: "My father and mother both escaped Europe before the start of World War II. They met in college and we're inseparable in the 6 decades that followed. Here they are in Greece so many years ago. But that same love kept them close through tonight when my dad passed away. We love you Dad." See the pic.

6. If U.S. leaves Paris climate deal ...

Greenhouse gas emissions produced by Paris Agreement members from 1850 to the present / AP

Breaking ... Trump tweets this a.m.: "I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!"

"Earth is likely to hit more dangerous levels of warming even sooner if the U.S. pulls back from its pledge to cut carbon dioxide pollution ... because America contributes so much to rising temperatures, " AP's Seth Borenstein writes:

  • "Trump ... will soon decide whether the United States stays in or leaves a 2015 Paris climate change accord in which nearly every nation agreed to curb its greenhouse gas emissions."
  • AP "consulted with more than two dozen climate scientists and analyzed a special computer model scenario designed to calculate potential effects" if the U.S. pulls out.
  • "Calculations suggest it could result in emissions of up to 3 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide in the air a year. When it adds up year after year, scientists said that is enough to melt ice sheets faster, raise seas higher and trigger more extreme weather."
  • Why it matters: "[I]t could be worse because other countries might follow a U.S. exit."

7. Clinton: Trump tapped "malicious nostalgia"

Clinton ('69) delivers commencement address yesterday in Wellesley, Mass. / AP's Josh Reynolds

Hillary friends say she's seething with rage and haunted by losing to someone she considers a dumb, soulless manipulator ...

"She's okay. How about you?" ... HRC interview with New York mag, "Hillary Clinton Is Furious. And Resigned. And Funny. And Worried.The surreal post-election life," by Rebecca Traister:

  • "Almost everywhere Clinton goes, it seems, someone starts crying. ... At restaurants, in grocery stores, on planes, and in the woods, there are lines of people wanting selfies, hugs, comfort."
  • "I had people literally seeking absolution. ... 'I'm so sorry I didn't vote. I didn't think you needed me.' I don't know how we'll ever calculate how many people thought it was in the bag, because the percentages kept being thrown at people ... I never bought any of that, but lots of people did."
  • Clinton knows that had she won, she would have governed in a time of deep anti-feminist backlash: "You know what? ... I would have loved to have had that problem. Look, I know what's out there. I have lived it."
  • "Part of what my opponent did, which was brilliant ... was blow the top off: You can say whatever you want about anybody else, and I'll tell you who to be against. I'll tell you who you should be resentful of." The stories her campaign tried to tell, she says, "were boring in comparison to the energy behind malicious nostalgia."
  • Traister asked if she's ever been in therapy, and she shakes her head: "Unh-uh. No. I have not. ... Well, we had some marital counseling in the late '90s, around our very difficult time, but that's all. ... That's not how I roll. I'm all for it for anybody who's at all interested in it. It's just not how I deal with stuff."

Without saying his name, Hillary ('69) goes after Trump at Wellesley commencement: "When people in power invent their own facts and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society."

8. Bite of the day

Former Speaker John Boehner on Trump, at KPMG Global Energy Conference in Houston this week, per Rigzone's Valerie Jones:

"Everything else he's done [in office, except national security] has been a complete disaster ... He's still learning how to be president."

Boehner, on resigning from Congress: "I wake up every day, drink my morning coffee and say: Hallelujah,! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!"

9. Lots of $$$ in self-driving cars

Barron's cover story, "Ford Races Toward an Exciting Future: New CEO Jim Hackett looks like an inspired choice to rev up Ford's self-driving car efforts and lift its stock," by Jack Hough (free link for Axios AM readers):

  • "Over the next five years, Ford stock has an excellent chance of outperforming Tesla."
  • "Eight companies have plans to bring fully self-driving cars to market within the next five years."
  • "IHS Markit, a research group, predicts 32% market penetration of highly autonomous cars by 2035."
  • Driverless taxis (Uber and Lyft in the U.S., GrabTaxi in Singapore) could roll out services in coming years "costing $1 a mile, which compares favorably with the cost of car ownership."
  • "Gross revenues for Uber, Lyft, and others more than doubled last year to $36 billion. By 2030, they could multiply another eight times."

10. 1 tasty thing: Top 10 new U.S. restaurants

"Food & Wine Restaurants of the Year 2017: Lessons learned after a six-month, 45,000-mile odyssey through hundreds of restaurants in 20 cities [continental U.S.] ... the 10 most magnetic openings of 2017":

  • Olmsted, Brooklyn
  • June's All Day, Austin
  • Roister, Chicago
  • Tartine Manufactory, San Francisco
  • Le Coucou, Lower Manhattan
  • The sleeper hit: Turkey and the Wolf, New Orleans
  • Here's Looking at You, L.A.
  • Tusk, Portland, Ore.
  • Rooster Soup Co., Philadelphia
  • Waypoint, Cambridge, Mass.

Featured

Kushner offers to cooperate

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

After Jared Kushner was named Thursday as the "current White House official" under scrutiny about Russia, a statement from his lawyer suggested he has not been contacted by investigators.

The lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said: "Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings. He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry."

  • Between the lines: The "if" suggests that hasn't happened.
  • What's new? The WashPost says in the lead story of Friday's paper: "Kushner, who held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow, is being investigated because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians."
  • Also per The Post: "[I]nvestigators are also looking broadly into possible financial crimes ... [P]eople familiar with the matter ... did not specify who or what was being examined."
  • But, but, but ... Per NBC: "[O]fficials said Kushner is in a different category from former Trump aides Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, who are formally considered subjects of the investigation."
  • Why it matters: Kushner has his hands in everything. So even the best-case scenario is a distraction at the very top of the White House.
Featured

Axios AM

You asked for it ... You got it! Axios PM — our super-quick take on what's happened while you've been doing actual work — detonates Tuesday afternoon, following the holiday weekend. Sign up here — I look forward to continuing the conversation. (The same link is an easy way to get your friends, colleagues and relatives to join the Axios AM breakfast bunch. Ditto for Future of Work, our newsletter coming soon on robots, artificial intelligence and automation.)

1 big thing: Bannon's back

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

The crises engulfing the White House have produced a sudden resurgence of power and purpose for Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who had seen his clout wane as the Jivanka faction gained sway.

Nine sources in the West Wing and within Trump's close orbit tell Axios' Jonathan Swan that the Russia scandals are Bannon's shot at redemption.

He's being described as a "wartime consigliere" relishing a fight against the "deep state," media, Democrats and investigators.

  • Why it matters: The once-omnipotent Bannon had been on rocky footing lately — Trump has vented about him to a number of people. But the war-room team being built to respond to the crises is a joint effort led by Jared Kushner, Bannon (who declined to comment for this story) and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
  • The senior staff that had been out for each other is now united by a common enemy.
  • The new mission fits Bannon's skills and passions: Cunning at misdirection and deflection, he played a key role during the tensest moments of the campaign, deploying scorched-earth tactics against Hillary Clinton.
  • The planned war room is not conceived as replacing current staff, but rather adding "experienced veterans from the campaign trail who recognize the gravity of the situation."

2. Kushner, "a focus," offers to cooperate

Rachel Maddow talks to WashPost's Matt Zapotosky.

Surprising no one in the West Wing, Jared Kushner was named yesterday as the "current White House official" who was reported last week to be "a significant person of interest" in the Russia investigation:

  • WashPost 2-column lead story, "Kushner meetings with Russians are a focus of probe," by Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz, Devlin Barrett and Adam Entous: "Kushner, who held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow, is being investigated because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians."
  • "The Post has not been told that Kushner is a target — or the central focus — of the investigation, and he has not been accused of any wrongdoing."
  • "[I]nvestigators are also looking broadly into possible financial crimes — but ... people familiar with the matter ... did not specify who or what was being examined."
  • Statement from Kushner lawyer Jamie Gorelick, suggesting he hasn't been contacted by investigators: ""Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings. He will do
    the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry."
  • Why it matters: Jared has his hands in everything. So even the best case scenario is bad: This is a terrific, distracting time suck at the very top of the White House.

3. Big Sky apology

Greg Gianforte and his wife, Susan, celebrate at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bozeman, Mont., last night / Photo by Rachel Leathe / Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP

In Montana, Republican U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte, charged on election-eve with assaulting a reporter, wins (50.2% to 44.1%), then apologizes:

  • N.Y. Times' Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns: "Gianforte apologized to the Guardian reporter, Ben Jacobs, by name, acknowledged he 'made a mistake ... You deserve a congressman who stays out of the limelight and just gets the job done.'"
  • "Gianforte's success underscored the limitations of the Democrats' strategy of highlighting the House's health insurance overhaul and relying on liberal anger toward President Trump, at least in red-leaning states."
  • Why it matters: The GOP had a near-death experience. Republicans and Trump had better get some concrete things done, or they will blow this once-in-a-generation opportunity.

N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Speaker Paul Ryan on Gianforte, while polls were open: "Should the gentleman apologize? Yeah, I think he should apologize. I know he has his own version, and I'm sure he's going to have more to say, but there's no call for this, no matter what — on any circumstance."

4. Sneak peek: Al Franken's book

Here's a taste of "Al Franken: Giant of the Senate," by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), the "Saturday Night Live" alumnus, out Tuesday from Twelve Books:

  • "Here's the thing you have to understand about Ted Cruz. I like Ted Cruz more than most of my other colleagues like Ted Cruz. And I hate Ted Cruz."
  • "When Trump demanded an investigation into those millions of fraudulent votes, it reminded me of O.J. Simpson, who, after being acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and Ron Goldman, vowed to spend the rest of his life 'finding the killer or killers.'"
  • On campaign life: "[I]magine ... the training montage from a 'Rocky' movie, with a driving soundtrack and energetic editing. But instead of jumping rope, I'm eating hotdish at an assisted-living facility that traditionally has high caucus turnout."
  • The funniest Republican in the Senate ... Lindsey Graham: "In 2016, Lindsey ran for president, and found himself somewhere around fifteenth in a field of seventeen. Running into him in the senators' bathroom, I told him, 'Lindsey, if I were voting in the Republican primaries, I'd vote for you.' ... [W]ithout hesitation, he replied, 'That's my problem.'"

5. "You are graduating into a world that needs purpose"

Facebook CEO and Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg sits next to actor James Earl Jones onstage during Harvard commencement / AP's Steven Senne

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who dropped out of Harvard in 2004 after launching his social network in his dorm room, returned 12 years later to receive an honorary degree, and was introduced to graduates as "Dr. Mark Zuckerberg." From his commencement address:

  • "A student in a dorm room, connecting one community at a time, and keeping at it until one day we connect the whole world. Change starts local. Even global changes start small — with people like us."
  • "[I]t's our time to define a new social contract for our generation. We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful."
  • "We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things."
  • "We're all going to make mistakes, so we need a society that focuses less on locking us up or stigmatizing us. And as technology keeps changing, we need a society that focuses more on continuous education throughout our lives."

6. 🇮🇹 Trump in Italy before returning tomorrow night

President Trump grips French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday during a meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels / AP's Evan Vucci

Omission galls allies ... N.Y. Times 1-column lead story, "TRUMP'S MESSAGE TO NATO IS PAY UP, NOT 'ALL FOR ONE': ALLIES GET A SCOLDING — Europe Doesn't Hear a Firm Endorsement of Mutual Defense," by Mike Shear, Mark Landler and James Kanter, in Brussels:

"On a tense day when Mr. Trump brought the 'America first' themes of his presidential campaign to the very heart of Europe, he left European leaders visibly unsettled, with some openly lamenting divisions with the United States on trade, climate and the best way to confront Russia."

Pushy, pushy ... "Watch President Trump push a prime minister aside," by CNN's Daniella Diaz: "While walking with the NATO leaders during his visit to the alliance's headquarters, ... Trump pushed aside Dusko Markovic, the prime minister of Montenegro, as he moved to the front of a group of the leaders."

  • "Trump shoves fellow NATO leader aside on his first summit" — Reuters: He confidently adjusted his suit as he emerged in the front of the group, closer to NATO head Jens Stoltenberg.
  • 53-second video.

Death grip? ... President Trump, who had called Marine Le Pen the "strongest" candidate in the French election, met the new French President, Emmanuel Macron, in Brussels and told him: "You were my guy."

Pool report from WashPost's Phil Rucker: "The two presidents ... shook hands for an extended period of time. Each president gripped the other's hand with considerable intensity, their knuckles turning white and their jaws clenching and faces tightening."

7. GOP operative gets 2.5 gigabytes of Dem docs

"How Alleged Russian Hacker Teamed Up With Florida GOP Operative: Political consultant Aaron Nevins received documents from hacker 'Guccifer 2.0' and posted some on his blog," by Wall Street Journal's Alexandra Berzon and Rob Barry:

U.S. officials believe Guccifer 2.0 is linked to Russian military intelligence. ... DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] documents sent to Mr. Nevins analyzed specific Florida districts, showing how many people were dependable Democratic voters, how many were likely Democratic voters but needed a nudge, how many were frequent voters but not committed ...

Besides posting some of the hacked material on his blog, Mr. Nevins said he passed some on to Florida journalists. He said he didn't use any in his consulting business, which includes running grass-roots-style campaigns for corporations and wealthy landowners seeking to influence local politics.

8. Turkish attack in D.C.: frame by frame

A police officer pushes a man away from protesters, in this still image captured from a video footage, during a violent clash outside the Turkish ambassador's residence between protesters and Turkish security personnel during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Washington on May 16 / Courtesy Armenian National Committee of America, via Reuters

A remarkable interactive reconstruction from the N.Y. Times, "Did the Turkish President's Security Attack Protesters in Washington? What the Video Shows":

  • Labels for individual "Men in Dark Suits" include "Rushed, punched protesters" ... "Kicked, punched protesters" ... "Choked, slammed woman" ... "Kicked man in head" ... "Kicked man on ground" .... "Punched, kicked two protesters."
  • "Ten of the men who attacked protesters appear to be part of a formal security detail. They dressed in dark suits, and they wore in-ear radio receivers, Turkish breast pins and lanyards with identification cards. At least four of the men carried guns."
  • Why it matters: "Turkey's president, [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, watched the brawl from a black Mercedes-Benz sedan parked nearby, at the Turkish ambassador's residence. ... [V]ideo ... shows that at least one member of the security detail positioned next to him rushed into the fight and started kicking and punching protesters."

9. "More is not always better"

Economist cover story, "Jail break: America's prisons are failing. Here's how to make them work — A lot is known about how to reform prisoners. Far too little is done":

America passed the point of negative returns long ago. Its incarceration rate rose fivefold between 1970 and 2008. Relative to its population, it now locks up seven times as many people as France, 11 times as many as the Netherlands and 15 times as many as Japan. ...

A ten-year sentence costs ten times as much as a one-year sentence, but is nowhere near ten times as effective a deterrent. Criminals do not think ten years into the future. If they did, they would take up some other line of work. ...

Appeals to make prisons more humane often fall on deaf ears; voters detest criminals. But they detest crime more, so politicians should not be afraid to embrace proven ways to make prison less of a school of crime and more of a path back to productive citizenship.

10. 1 fun thing: Snapchat streaks

Ask your kids the longest streak they've heard of ... "Whatever You Do, Don't Let Your Snapchat Streak End Today: Snapchat fans go to extremes to make daily check-ins; 'send a blank picture'" — Wall Street Journal A-hed, by Katherine Bindley:

  • "Send a snap, get one back within 24 hours; send another, get another. After three days, it's an official streak that continues as long as each person sends a snap within a 24-hour window."
  • "A streak earns a flame emoji and a number showing how many days the chat has gone on. An hourglass appears when time is running out."
  • "Do whatever it takes to beat the clock. Dropped your phone in the ocean? Borrow a friend's, log on and snap. Grounded with no phone? Get a friend to log on as you and send snaps."
  • Elizabeth Kroll, 17, of Lapeer, Mich., has a streak that "hit 437 days on Tuesday, she says — snapping even friends she is angry with. ... To save a streak with a friend whose phone died, Ms. Kroll got the friend's password. 'I had to log in for four days and Snapchat myself.'"

Featured

Trump's "street fighters"

Evan Vucci / AP

West Wing officials are prepping for a years-long war with investigators and the bureaucracy, with plans to beef up legal, surrogate, communications and rapid-response teams as part of a "new normal" for President Trump — besieged.

"The White House is embracing the fight, which is going to last as long as Donald Trump is president," said a Trump ally familiar with the preparations. "We're getting street fighters ready to go."

A West Wing official said Trump has been frustrated by the ferocity of the incoming, and has demanded a more visible response.

Trump aides recognize that besides being in the crosshairs of investigators on Russia, they will be the continuing target of leaks from the bureaucracy. The Trump ally referred to this second enemy as "nameless, faceless, deep-state types" who have been inflamed and are punching back through the media.

  • What's next: Proposed war-room org charts have been prepared, and final decisions on the structure will be made after Trump returns this weekend.
  • Jonathan Swan hears that comms/rapid response structures are being considered for both inside the White House and on the outside.
  • The moving parts: Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon broke off from the trip and returned early, in part to quarterback planning. Numerous officials are involved. There was extra urgency because fired FBI Director Jim Comey had been expected to testify on the Hill next week. But that has been postponed so he can first meet privately with special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • The backstory: Aides recognize they should have built more push-back capacity from the beginning. But the weakness reflects the minimalist transition planning and thin staffing that have beset the whole Trump machine.

Be smart: The new machinery is an effort to compartmentalize the scandals, so that some officials can focus on probes and revelations while others do their day jobs. But the success of that plan depends partly on President Trump's willingness to compartmentalize. Close aides have trouble imagining that.

Featured

Trump's iPhone has one app: Twitter

AP

Top White House officials tell me the key to forcing a more disciplined President Trump (like the one onstage overseas) is limiting his screen time. In Trump's case, it's curtailing his time watching TV and banging out tweets on his iPhone.
Trump himself has been pushing staff to give him more free time. But staff does everything it can to load up his schedule to keep him from getting worked up watching cable coverage, which often precipitates his tweets. It has worked well overseas so far.
One fun thing: POTUS' current device is an iPhone with ONE app: Twitter.
Featured

Axios AM

1 big thing: Trump's "street fighters"

From left, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, the President and the First Lady pose for a family photo during their visit to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums, following their meeting with Pope Francis / Photo by L'Osservatore Romano/Pool via AP

West Wing officials are prepping for a years-long war with investigators and the bureaucracy, with plans to beef up legal, surrogate, communications and rapid-response teams as part of a "new normal" for President Trump — besieged.

"The White House is embracing the fight, which is going to last as long as Donald Trump is president," said a Trump ally familiar with the preparations. "We're getting street fighters ready to go."

A West Wing official said Trump has been frustrated by the ferocity of the incoming, and has demanded a more visible response.

Trump aides recognize that besides being in the crosshairs of investigators on Russia, they will be the continuing target of leaks from the bureaucracy. The Trump ally referred to this second enemy as "nameless, faceless, deep-state types" who have been inflamed and are punching back through the media.

  • What's next: Proposed war-room org charts have been prepared, and final decisions on the structure will be made after Trump returns this weekend.
  • Jonathan Swan hears that comms/rapid response structures are being considered for both inside the White House and on the outside.
  • The moving parts: Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon broke off from the trip and returned early, in part to quarterback planning. Numerous officials are involved. There was extra urgency because fired FBI Director Jim Comey had been expected to testify on the Hill next week. But that has been postponed so he can first meet privately with special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • The backstory: Aides recognize they should have built more push-back capacity from the beginning. But the weakness reflects the minimalist transition planning and thin staffing that have beset the whole Trump machine.

Be smart: The new machinery is an effort to compartmentalize the scandals, so that some officials can focus on probes and revelations while others do their day jobs. But the success of that plan depends partly on President Trump's willingness to compartmentalize. Close aides have trouble imagining that.

2. Screen time

Top White House officials tell me the key to forcing a more disciplined President Trump like the one onstage overseas is limiting his screen time. In Trump's case, it's curtailing his time watching TV and banging out tweets on his iPhone.
Trump himself has been pushing staff to give him more free time. But staff does everything it can to load up his schedule to keep him from getting worked up watching cable coverage, which often precipitates his tweets. It has worked well overseas so far.
  • Fun thing: POTUS' current device is an iPhone with ONE app: his tweeter.

3. CBO woe for GOP

Data: Census Bureau Current Population Survey Data, Congressional Budget OfficeChart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

The Congressional Budget Office scoring of the House healthcare bill was laden with bad news for Republicans, putting them in a terrible political position and making it even harder to find a way out in the Senate.

Under the CBO projections, the House bill will still un-insure a lot of people (23 million vs. 24 million before the "fix"), save less money in deficit reduction than the prior version, and open up a can of worms that could make people with employer-sponsored insurance worry that their policies might change.

Anyone with a preexisting condition now covered by Obamacare will worry that they might lose coverage (and they could). Opponents will argue that it disproportionately hurts older, sicker, and poorer Americans, and makes insurance more expensive for the sick and the pregnant.

The big takeaway ... "Final House health care bill could cause some state markets to unravel," by Axios' David Nather: "The last-minute changes to the [House] bill didn't affect the cost or coverage estimates that much. ... But CBO is warning Congress that the latest changes — letting states opt out of two of the ACA's main insurance regulations — could ruin the insurance markets in those states even if they make insurance cheaper for healthy people."

4. Drips filling the bucket

CNN's Manu Raju and Evan Perez: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings he had last year with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance."

  • "Sessions initially listed a year's worth of meetings with foreign officials on the security clearance form, according to Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores. But she says he and his staff were then told by an FBI employee who assisted in filling out the form, known as the SF-86, that he didn't need to list dozens of meetings with foreign ambassadors that happened in his capacity as a senator."

N.Y. Times lead story, "Top Russian Officials Discussed How to Influence Trump Aides Last Summer," by Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo: "American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over ... Trump through his advisers," mainly Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.

5. U.K. furious at U.S. leaks

"Police investigating the Manchester Arena bomb attack have stopped sharing information with the US after leaks to the media, the BBC understands."

  • "UK officials were outraged when photos appearing to show debris from the attack appeared in the New York Times. It came after the name of bomber Salman Abedi was leaked to US media just hours after the attack.
  • Prime Minister Theresa May "said she would tell Donald Trump at a Nato meeting that shared intelligence 'must remain secure.'"
  • See the N.Y. Times pics.

6. Big Sky beatdown?

Today is special Election Day in Montana, to fill the sole congressional seat, and the favored candidate has been charged with assault ...

"Republican candidate charged with assault after 'body-slamming' Guardian reporter ... Audio of Greg Gianforte attacking Ben Jacobs corroborated by Fox News journalists in the room, who described candidate 'slamming him to the ground.'"

  • "Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was asking Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire endorsed by Donald Trump, about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate allegedly 'body-slammed' the reporter.
  • "A statement by campaign spokesman Shane Scanlon blamed Jacobs for the altercation, saying that he 'entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face, and began asking badgering questions.'"
  • Why it matters, per N.Y. Times' Jonathan Martin: "It was an extraordinary development in a race that was already being closely watched for clues about the national political environment in the tumultuous first months of the Trump presidency."

7. Media trends: Cord-cutting explodes

Data: Magid Proprietary Insights, April 2017; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Cord-cutters are ditching their cable packages faster than ever opting instead for cheaper, bundled digital TV options, Axios' Sara Fischer writes.

  • Why it matters: The trend (new figures from Magid Broadcast Study) reflects consumers' preferences to ditch bundled cable packages for more affordable, niche bundled services that can be accessed on TV box tops or on mobile.
  • For consumers, there are more bundled packages than ever, all popping up around similar price ranges. YouTube TV and Hulu TV launched within the past two month, joining the likes of SlingTV and DirectTV Now — all at a roughly $40 monthly price point — a bargain considering the average American pays $92 monthly for cable.
  • Cord-cutting is being matched by a rise in streaming, also at a rate faster than ever. Per the Interactive Advertising Bureau's latest TV industry study, 56% of U.S. adults own a streaming-enabled television, up from one-third of adults in 2015.
  • "Skinny" is the new trend: Most major content providers are transitioning to "skinny" bundles — smaller channel packages that combine only a few highly-desired channels. Earlier this year, Apple announced it would offer a "skinny bundle" of HBO, Showtime and Starz.

8. Top-paid female CEOs

AP

The 10 highest-paid women CEOs for 2016, as calculated by The Associated Press and Equilar, an executive data firm (with change from last year):

  1. Ginni Rometty, IBM, $32.3 million, up 63%
  2. Marissa Mayer, Yahoo. $27.4 million, down 24%
  3. Indra Nooyi, Pepsico, $25.2 million, up 13%
  4. Mary Barra, GM, $22.4 million, down 22%
  5. Phebe Novakovic, General Dynamics, $21.2 million, up 4%
  6. Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin, $19.4 million, down 4%
  7. Irene Rosenfeld, Mondelez International, $15.8 million, down 13%
  8. Lynn Good, Duke Energy, $13.5 million, up 26%
  9. Heather Bresch, Mylan, $13.3 million, down 27%
  10. Susan Cameron, Reynolds American, $13.1 million, down 3%

9. Fastest-growing cities

New Census Bureau figures ... 10 of the 15 fastest-growing cities with populations of 50,000 or more were spread across the South in 2016, with four of the top five found in Texas, AP's Terry Wallace reports from Dallas:

  • "Conroe, Texas, a northern Houston suburb, was the fastest-growing of the 15, seeing a 7.8 percent increase from 2015 to 2016, a growth rate more than 11 times that of the nation."
  • "The rest of the top five fastest-growing large cities were Frisco, Texas, a northern Dallas suburb ... McKinney, Texas, another northern Dallas suburb ... Greenville, South Carolina ... and Georgetown, Texas, a northern Austin suburb."
  • "New York remains the largest U.S. city by a wide margin, its population of 8.5 million people being more than twice that of the 4 million of runner-up Los Angeles. Chicago trailed in third place with 2.7 million residents, despite a population loss of 8,638.
  • "Phoenix showed the largest one-year numerical population increase of 32,113 from 2015 to 2016."

10. 1 fun thing

"Al Gore on the French Riviera: Why he was reluctant to make 'An Inconvenient Sequel,'" by L.A Times' Kenneth Turan:

  • "Gore is in Cannes to promote the worldwide release of an impassioned and involving new documentary, 'An Inconvenient Sequel.' Due in U.S. theaters on July 28, it brings us up to speed on where the battle against climate change stands more than a decade after the Oscar-winning documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth.'"
  • "A pair of factors, Gore explains, made the difference with the new film, co-directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk. First was the fly-on-the wall / cinema verite philosophy of the filmmakers, ... who for two years shadowed their protagonist everywhere, even watching as he changed soaking-wet socks."
  • "The other factor was Gore's belief that 'though the crisis is worse, we now have the solutions we need' in wind and solar power, whose costs are dropping dramatically as use increases."