Shane Savitsky

Big business to Trump: Don't gut the State Department

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Ahead of the White House's budget proposal this week, which is rumored to cut 31% from the budgets of State Department and USAID, hundreds of top business leaders have sent Secretary of State Rex Tillerson a letter urging him to fight for funding for State, per the WSJ.

A key quote: "With 95 percent of the world's consumers outside the United States and many of the fastest growing economies in the developing world, now is the time to double down on America's global economic leadership."

A taste of the signatories: Top executives from Walmart, Pfizer, Coca-Cola, GE, Nike, UPS, and Marriott.


First-class travel, hotel suites: WHO spending under scrutiny

Raphael Satter / AP

The World Health Organization nearly spent more on travel for its 7,000 staffers in 2016 — $201 million — than its combined programs for AIDS, hepatitis, malaria, tuberculosis, mental health, and substance abuse, which total $213.5 million, per the AP.

  • How it happened: Lax rules surrounding first-class travel and hotel bookings allowed WHO employees to ignore official travel policy. For example, the agency's Ebola head spent nearly $400,000 in West Africa during the crisis, often opting for helicopter travel.
  • Comparisons: Doctors Without Borders spent $43 million on travel for its 37,000 aid workers; UNICEF spent $140 million for its 13,000 staffers.
  • Worth noting: The agency's polio expenditures hit $450 million last year.

U.S. trees are following their Manifest Destiny

Elaine Thompson / AP

A new study shows that tree populations in the eastern United States are unexpectedly moving west, per The Atlantic.

  • What's expected: As the effects of climate change hit the East Coast, scientists expected to see the centers of populations for trees in that part of the country shift northward to compensate for rising temperatures.
  • What's happening: Some of the 86 species studied are indeed moving northward (about 55%), but about 65% are shifting westward as well.
  • The explanation: Climate change has caused far higher-than-normal precipitation in the Great Plains, so the trees are following the moisture west. But the scientists behind the study said that only explains 20 percent of the movement. Other possible causes: changes in land use, wildfires, new pests, and conservation efforts.

This Week in Trumpland: Russian for a scoop

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

POTUS kicked off his nine-day, five-country swing across the Middle East and Europe this weekend, hoping for a reset after a disastrous week. Just how bad was it? Well, there were no less than seven White House-related stories that individually could have led multiple news cycles in more normal times — but we live in Trumpland! So while POTUS enjoys Saudi Arabia, let's look back on a week of Russian scoops…

Monday: In an Oval Office meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister and Russian ambassador to the United States — that the American press couldn't enter, but Russian press did — POTUS bragged about intel from a foreign pal on a key ISIS source. The pal was Israel, which Trump visits in 2 days. They weren't happy. But the explanation should make you feel better: POTUS' disclosure was "wholly appropriate" because he wasn't aware of where the information came from!

Tuesday: The news that POTUS asked Comey back in February about "letting Flynn go" blew up every happy hour in Trumpland. Things went downhill quickly. Some Democrats started throwing around the word "impeachment." Even John McCain made a "Watergate" comparison! And given the news of Comey's fastidious paper trail, there could be even more bad weeks ahead.

Wednesday: Right at 6 PM, maybe the biggest news of the week: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had appointed former FBI Director Bob Mueller as special counsel on the Russia investigation. No one saw it coming — not even the White House, which apparently only got an hour's notice. And why not drop another at 10 PM? Michael Flynn told the transition team back in January that he was under FBI investigation for undisclosed lobbying for Turkey — and he still got hired to be the gatekeeper for the Trumpland's national security decisions!

Thursday: After months of repeatedly denying any communications between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, news came of at least 18 previously undisclosed contacts, involving Flynn and other officials. After such a crazy week, this one almost seemed tame. But don't worry — you're fully authorized to make contact with Trumpland each and every Saturday.

Friday: The week has to end just like POTUS' meal — with two scoops. First: POTUS told Russian officials in the Oval Office that Comey was a "nut job" and that firing him had "taken off" great pressure because of the Russia investigation. Second: a senior White House official is under scrutiny as "a significant person of interest" in the Russia investigation, so, uh, it definitely looks like the pressure is still on in Trumpland.


Comey agrees to publicly testify before Senate

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Fired FBI Director James Comey has agreed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in an open session that will be scheduled after Memorial Day.

Chairman Richard Burr:

The committee looks forward to receiving testimony from the former Director on his role in the development of the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 US elections, and I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner:

I hope that former Director Comey's testimony will help answer some of the questions that have arisen since Director Comey was so suddenly dismissed by the President. I also expect that Director Comey will be able to shed light on issues critical to this Committee's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Director Comey served his country with honor for many years, and he deserves an opportunity to tell his story. Moreover, the American people deserve an opportunity to hear it.

The Global List: Trump takes off

Welcome to the The Global List, Axios' daily international news roundup for Apple News readers. Check out the Axios STREAM here for more smart brevity in politics, health care, tech, and business.

1. Trump hits the road

Alex Brandon / AP

President Trump jets off today on his first foreign trip — and it's a doozy. Over nine days, he's tackling five countries, three major world religions, and two core American alliances.

Where he's going: Saudi Arabia, Israel, Vatican City, Italy, Belgium

A taste of who he's meeting: Pope Francis, French President Emmanuel Macron, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu

Check out each stop — and what the White House hopes to achieve — in the Axios STREAM.

2. Not everyone’s looking forward to it

Ariel Schalit / AP

Trump's relationship with Israel reached a potential turning point this week after he revealed Israeli intel to Russian officials. Now, Israelis are preparing to make their voices heard with protests once Trump touches down. See their plans here.

One thing to note: Trump's popularity is plummeting among Israelis. Only 56 percent of Israeli Jews consider Trump to be pro-Israel, a significant drop from the 79 percent who felt that way before the inauguration.

3. Brazil’s crazy situation

Ricardo Botelho / AP

The Financial Times has a cogent rundown of the political whiplash experienced in Brazil this week.

On Thursday: President Michel Temer faced calls for resignation and impeachment as Brazil's coalition government began to fall apart. Simultaneously, the country's slow and steady economic growth over the past year quickly collapsed.

The trigger: A tape that apparently featured Temer agreeing to pay bribes to an ally in a corruption scandal involving Brazil's state-owned oil company.

The state of play: Brazil just impeached another president last year, so this political chaos isn't desired in such a shaky climate. But the revelations can be seen as a positive push against corruption as Brazil attempts to transform itself into a genuine world economic engine.

4. Art for climate change

Lorenzo Quinn, Support, 2017

Artist Lorenzo Quinn's "Support" installation is a PSA against the dangers of what he views as man-made climate change and its effects on Venice. Quinn "wants to speak to the people in a clear, simple and direct way through the innocent hands of a child."

Why it matters: Venice is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the city, which spreads across 118 small islands, has suffered from consistently rising sea levels over the past few decades. In the 1950s, the city's historic St. Marks Square flooded 20 times per year, but now it floods around 60 times a year.

Read more about Quinn's work.

5. 1 fun thing: adopt a “despot and dictator”

Cat People of Melbourne

Per NPR, Lord Bigglesworth is a cat available for adoption in Melbourne, Australia — with one warning: he is "an utter, utter bastard of a cat."

From the listing: "Lord Bigglesworth believes he was put on this earth to be decorative and be worshipped by his human slaves!"

If you want to adopt the Lord, click here.

Thank you for reading! If you want the news that matters in newsletter form, be sure to sign up for Mike Allen's Axios AM, which arrives in your inbox in time for your morning coffee. Sign up here and follow both Axios and me on Twitter.


Trump's unconventional first foreign trip

Susan Walsh / AP

Trump's first foreign trip is a noted break from his predecessors, as he becomes the first president to select the Middle East as his primary stop on his maiden voyage, per CNN.

Nah-FTA: The last five presidents — back to Ronald Reagan — all hit Canada or Mexico for their first trip, so it's interesting to note that Trump snubbed the other members of the trade pact.

Why it matters: Trump's a showman who likes a flourish, so it makes sense that he'd break convention and head to Saudi Arabia first on a trip built around the three major world religions. And it's certainly worth noting that the administration is on the verge of announcing a Kushner-negotiated arms deal worth more than $100 billion with the Saudis.


Paul Ryan says the GOP is "back on track"

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

During an appearance on The Hugh Hewitt Show this morning, Paul Ryan said the GOP is "back on track" after a "rough couple of weeks" and set to be a governing party.

Two big promises: Ryan said tax reform will get done in 2017 and the Senate should pass health care by its August recess.

  • On losing the House in 2018: "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, this is what I call the white noise of Washington beltway media."
  • On Trump: "He clearly did have a bad two weeks. Clearly, it's my hope that he does right the ship, that he improves."

What to expect from Trump's first overseas trip

President Trump jets off today on his first foreign trip — and it's a doozy. Over nine days, he's tackling five countries, three major world religions, and two core American alliances. Here's a quick look at the biggest items on the itinerary:


New video: Erdogan watches DC protestor attack

A new video has emerged showing that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan witnessed his bodyguards attack protestors outside of the Turkish Embassy in DC on Tuesday. Erdogan, wearing a red tie, emerges from the car at the 1:13 mark:

And the Turkish Embassy released a statement today, blaming the incident on Kurdish groups and absolving itself of any blame:

"Groups affiliated with the PKK, which the U.S. and Turkey have designated as a terrorist organization, gathered yesterday without permit in Sheridan Circle in the immediate vicinity of the Ambassador's Residence, while the President of Turkey was visiting the Residence. The demonstrators began aggressively provoking Turkish-American citizens who had peacefully assembled to greet the President. The Turkish-Americans responded in self-defense and one of them was seriously injured. The violence and injuries were the result of this unpermitted, provocative demonstration. We hope that, in the future, appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that similar provocative actions causing harm and violence do not occur."