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Behind the scenes of Mnuchin's viral money pic

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton,. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin / AP

A photo Wednesday of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton, posing with a sheet of new $1 bills — the first notes bearing his signature — prompted a frenzy online. Some remarked that the pair resembled James Bond villains. Here is how AP's Jacquelyn Martin, who took the photo, tells it:
  • "My assignment ... was to photograph Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, getting a glimpse of the first dollar notes with their signatures on them."
  • Mnuchin "walked down the hall with his wife, Louise Linton, who I was surprised to see with him, and she was wearing full-length black leather gloves. ... [H]e turned to the camera and held up the bills, which I hadn't expected him to do so early in the tour. Mnuchin turned his head and gestured to Linton to join him. He then had her help him hold up the sheet of bills for the photo.
  • When Mnuchin "gestured for Linton to come over and be in the photo op, ... I knew for sure this image would get some interest. Based on their history and previous images that have been put out there — I had a feeling that this would take off. There is something about this couple that people are just fascinated by."
  • "Her direct gaze at the camera and the touch of her gloved hand on his as they hold a sheet of money together seems to have struck a chord."
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Franken accuser: "Not my call" whether he should step down

Leeann Tweeden. Screengrab via MSNBC

Leeann Tweeden on whether Sen. Al Franken should resign:

"People make mistakes. I'm not calling for him to step down, that's not my place to say that. If there are other people that come out and say he's done this, I mean I don't know. If I'm the only one that's come out and said that Senator Franken's done something to me — but if there are other women who have come out, you know, I've gotten a phone call from a woman, I've only gotten a message that said something similar has happened to her and I haven't returned it yet, so that's to be determined but I don't know, that's not my call."

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Immelt says he wasn't "ready" to lead Uber

Lauren Olinger / Axios

Former GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt said he's ok with not getting picked to be CEO of Uber. "At the end of the day I wasn't really ready for something that visible, that intense," Immelt said at an Axios "Smarter Faster Revolution" event at the University of North Carolina.

He said Uber is based on a "seminal" idea but an open question remains: "Can you take this thing that's an amazing idea and turn it into a fantastic business, a profitable business?"

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Immelt says GE will thrive, use of jets was "terrible"

Lauren Olinger / Axios

General Electric is in "tough" markets like oil and gas, and power but will be successful, former GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt said. "I'm fully confident that this company is going to thrive in the future," Immelt said at an Axios "Smarter Faster Revolution" event at the University of North Carolina. "It's 125 years old. We go through cycles."

Why this matters: GE's CEO John Flannery said earlier this month the company is cutting its dividend and he wants to "reinvent" GE to make it "simpler and easier to operate." Shares are down more than 22% in just the last month.

Immelt said use of an empty "backup" jet for his GE travel was a "terrible" idea and not something he approved. "It's a practice that, in retrospect, I wish we hadn't done."

Go Deeper: The WSJ story on GE cost cuts that first reported on the use of multiple jets.

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Judge declares mistrial in Menendez corruption case

Photo: Julio Cortez / AP

A judge has declared a mistrial in the corruption case against Sen. Bob Menendez after the jury remained deadlocked. "I find that you are unable to reach a verdict" and that "there is no alternative but to declare a mistrial," the judge said, per the NY Times' Nick Corasaniti.

Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, was charged with participating in a bribery scheme involving a wealthy doctor. Menendez thanked the jurors "who saw through the government's false claims and used their Jersey common sense to reject it." Mitch McConnell has now said Menendez should be investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee.

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Al Franken says he'll cooperate with ethics investigation

Photo: Lawrence Jackson / AP

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) released a statement Thursday saying he will cooperate in the Ethics Committee's investigation after a reporter said he kissed and groped her in 2006 without her consent.

Key quote: "I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate."

His full statement:

"The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part od that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There's more I want to say, but the first and most important thing — and if its the only thing you care to hear, that's fine — is: I'm sorry.

I respect women. I don't respect men who don't. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.

But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us — including and especially meant who respect women — have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.

For instance, that picture. I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter. There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. IT isn't funny. Its completely inappropriate. Its obvious how Leeann would feel violate by it — women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experience, women who look up to me, women who had counted on me.

Coming form the world of comedy, Ive told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren't the point at all. Its the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I'm sorry its taken me so long to come to terms with that.

While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women's experiences.

I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate."

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Axios Morning 5

Welcome to the Axios Morning 5, where we bring you 5 stories to get you smarter for the day ahead. Check out our Apple News channel for the latest smart brevity on politics, tech, business, science and the future of work, and sign up here for our free newsletters.

Situational awareness: In 10 years' time, you might be applying to be a personal memory curator or genetic diversity officer. Check out the jobs of the future.

1. The future of trucking

Data: IEA World Energy Outlook 2017, OECD/IEA; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Tesla is hardly the only player in the nascent electric truck market — as Bloomberg notes — as big companies like Daimler and Cummins are moving toward commercialization.

Why electric trucks matter: Trucks, especially big rigs, are a small percentage of vehicles on the road but use lots of oil. (Check out the chart above, reconstructed from the International Energy Agency's new World Energy Outlook 2017.)

Go deeper: Axios' Ben Geman details what this means for world fossil fuel consumption.

And even deeper: Axios' Steve LeVine got a sneak peek of Tesla's new electric truck.

2. "A change in the global order"

Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP

President Trump yesterday declared his 12-day Asia swing "historic." A David Ignatius column says that may indeed prove true, but "probably not in the way he intends... It may signal a U.S. accommodation to rising Chinese power, plus a desire to mend fences with a belligerent Russia — with few evident security gains for the United States."

Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group, has a similar mega-trend interpretation — but says it was baked even before Trump's trip.

Go deeper: Find out how last week marked "a change in the global order."

3. The tax bill drama ramps up in the Senate

Parts of the Senate's tax bill — like the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate and the sunset of the individual and small business tax cuts despite a permanent corporate tax cut — are endangering its passage.

Our thought bubble: Sen. Ron Johnson's declared opposition and the sudden prospect that the GOP could lose a Senate race in Alabama next month giving them only one vote to spare if the tax bill takes longer than a few weeks, have increased the odds of the tax bill's success. Driving Republicans forward is the intense pressure they face for a legislative victory.

Go deeper: Axios' Caitlin Owens outlines where key GOP senators stand on the bill.

Keep it handy: A tracker of the differences between the House and Senate tax bills.

4. The future of artificial intelligence

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Deep learning — the AI technique that allowed a computer to beat a world-champion Go player — has become very good at recognizing patterns in images and games. But it's loosely based on ideas we've had about the human brain for decades. Researchers now have more insights from neuroscience and better technologies, both of which they are trying to use to make more intelligent machines.

What's new: On Tuesday, DeepMind co-founder Demis Hassabis presented new work from the company that indicates a move into different territory. Researchers gave an AI system pictures of a 3D scene, along with the coordinates of the camera angles, and it was able to output a new scene from an angle it had never seen. Being able to build models of the world like this — and then use them to react and respond to new situations never encountered before — is considered key to intelligence.

Go deeper: Axios' Alison Snyder lays out some other goals for the AI industry.

5. The ACA's open enrollment isn't going so great

Photo: AP

You've probably seen a lot of headlines saying Affordable Care Act enrollment is going well. But after the most recent update, released yesterday, we should probably all recalibrate our math. And when we do, enrollment won't look so hot.

Go deeper: Axios' Sam Baker details why open enrollment is struggling.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to follow Axios on Facebook and Twitter for all of your news needs throughout the day, and if you want to read even more Axios, dive into our stream.

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Fortune businessperson of the year: Nvidia's Huang

NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang delivers a speech about AI and gaming during the Computex Taipei exhibition. Photo: Chiang Ying-ying / AP

FORTUNE Businessperson of the Year is Jensen Huang, co-founder and CEO of chip maker Nvidia, based in Santa Clara:

Huang on why he started Nvidia: "We ... observed that video games were simultaneously one of the most computationally challenging problems and would have incredibly high sales volume. ... Video games was our killer app — a flywheel to reach large markets funding huge R&D to solve massive computational problems."


  • Huang, born in Taiwan, is "the rare cofounder still running his company 24 years later. He ... foresaw a blossoming market for a new kind of computing early enough to reposition his company years in advance."
  • On the next billion-dollar opportunity: "The ability for artificial intelligence to write artificial intelligence by itself. ... We're seeing early indications of it now. Generative adversarial networks, or GAN. I think over the next several years we're going to see a lot of neural networks that develop neural networks.
  • "For the next couple of decades, the greatest contribution of A.I. is writing software that humans simply can't write. Solving the unsolvable problems."
  • On the company's name: "We couldn't think of one, so we named all of our files NV, as in 'next version.'" A need to incorporate the company prompted the cofounders to review all words with those two letters, leading them to "invidia," Latin for "envy."

FORTUNE's runner-ups: #2 Jamie Dimon (CEO, JPMorgan Chase) ... #3 Marc Benioff (CEO, Salesforce) ... #4 Jeff Bezos (CEO, Amazon) ... #5 Mary Dillon (CEO, Ulta Beauty) ... #6 Ajaypal "Ajay" Banga (CEO, Mastercard) ... #7 Huateng "Pony" Ma (CEO, Tencent Holdings) ... #8 Dan Schulman (CEO, PayPal) ... #9 Marillyn Hewson (CEO, Lockheed Martin) ... #10 Francisco D'Souza (CEO, Cognizant).

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Trump's own "Little Marco" moment

Trump looks for his water bottle. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Giving a 21-minute wrap-up on his Asia trip in the Diplomatic Room yesterday, "Trump pauses address to nation to take 2 big swigs of water," by AP's Ken Thomas:

"At first, he couldn't find any in his presidential lectern. 'They don't have water? That's OK,' he said. When he was informed it was sitting on a small table to his right, the president unscrewed the cap, took a drink [of the Fiji water] and then resumed his speech. He took another swig later in the speech. ... Trump's water break drew instant comparisons to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's 2013 speech after then-President Barack Obama's State of the Union."

  • Trump said at a campaign event in Fort Worth in February 2016: "When they put Marco on to refute President Obama's speech, do you remember that catastrophe? ... He's like this: 'I need water. Help me, I need water' ... This is on live television. This total choke artist ... Unbelievable."
  • Rubio retweeted yesterday's Fox video and added: "Similar, but needs work on his form. Has to be done in one single motion & eyes should never leave the camera. But not bad for his 1st time."

Trump used variations of "respect" eight times: "Everywhere we went, our foreign hosts greeted the American delegation, myself included, with incredible warmth, hospitality, and most importantly respect."

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Why lawyers everywhere are watching Houston after Harvey

A submerged pickup truck remains in a neighborhood which was flooded when the Barker Reservoir reached capacity in the aftermath of Harvey. Photo: Charlie Riedel / AP

"The U.S. Flooded One of Houston's Richest Neighborhoods to Save Everyone Else," Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its cover story: "The Army Corps of Engineers sent water cascading into West Houston's Energy Corridor to avoid a catastrophic reservoir failure during Hurricane Harvey."

Why it matters: "[A] web of lawsuits could change how the government handles extreme weather."

  • "In New Orleans, economically disadvantaged communities, some of them historically black, bore the brunt of the loss, with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of deaths. The victims in West Houston include white, wealthy, Republican-voting energy executives. ... Their debris piles include wine fridges, coffee table books about Renoir, and Chinese bar carts from overseas assignments."
  • The legal significance: "[T]he takings clause could ... become 'a kind of social insurance program for risk associated with climate change.'"