Sanders: Trump did "more for bipartisanship in 8 days" than Obama - Axios
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Sanders: Trump did "more for bipartisanship in 8 days" than Obama

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at a briefing. Photo: Alex Brandon / AP

Sarah Sanders confirmed Wednesday that President Trump is hosting Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi for dinner tonight, and added that Trump wants to work with "all members of Congress" on tax reform and other legislation if it will help advance his agenda. "This president has done more for bipartisanship in the last 8 days than Obama did in the last 8 years," she said. "I'm basing that on the fact that he's actually willing to sit down with members of the opposite party, something President Obama rarely did."

As for why Trump didn't invite Speaker Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to the dinner? Sanders said, "You've got the leader of the Republican Party sitting at the table... anybody who thinks the Republican viewpoint isn't being represented is completely misunderstanding that the president is the leader of the Republican Party."

Other highlights:

  • On Bernie Sanders' single payer health bill: Sanders called the measure a "horrible idea" noting, "America doesn't support it or Bernie Sanders would be sitting in the Oval Office right now."
  • Resolution from Congress condemning hate groups, such as the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists: Trump will "absolutely" sign it.
  • On Trump's meeting with Sen. Tim Scott (currently the only black Republican senator): "It was a very productive meeting that both the president and [Scott] wanted to have," said Sanders. She confirmed that they discussed Trump's controversial response to Charlottesville, but mainly focused solutions moving forward, and bringing people together, not about division in the country.
  • Should Comey be prosecuted? Sanders said Comey passing his memos off to his friend "violates federal law" ... "facts of the case are very clear."
  • On ESPN host Jemele Hill calling Trump a white supremacist: Sanders said her comments were "outrageous" and "a fireable offense."
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Venture firm IVP raises $1.5 billion for new fund

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Institutional Venture Partners has raised $1.5 billion for its sixteenth fund, Axios has learned. The final close came last Wednesday, although it's possible that IVP won't actually begin investing the money until early 2018.

Why it matters: IVP is one of Silicon Valley's most active late-stage venture firms, with a portfolio that includes such companies as Dropbox, Domo, Pindrop Security, The Honest Company, Slack and Tanium.

Scale: The firm has wide latitude in check sizes, able to go as small as $10 million and as large as $150 million. That means it can supplement later-stage deals with some earlier opportunities, like it did for Snapchat (where its cost basis was just $0.98 per share).

Exits: 37 year-old IVP has had more than 100 portfolio companies go public, but partner Dennis Phelps acknowledges that the overall pipeline is currently gummed up a bit. "A number of companies that planned to go public in Q4 of this year have paused, partially because there is still plenty of ability to raise capital in the private markets and partially because of the performance of high-profile companies like Snap and Blue Apron."

Consistency: $1.5 billion is only a slight increase over the $1.4 billion IVP raised for its fifteenth fund in 2015, and the new vehicle features the exact same group of general partners. Per Phelps: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

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VC: Not enough startups are building self-driving car software

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Venture capitalist Reilly Brennan believes that self-driving cars are coming faster than most people expect, but that his peers aren't necessarily making the best funding decisions.

Too much: Companies selling dongles for car data. "There are 100 of those and there should probably be three," says Brennan, who last year co-founded transportation-focused Trucks Venture Capital. There are also too many "Uber for freight" companies, he adds.

Not enough: Startups working on decision-making systems. "There's around 24 of those companies; I would suggest there should be 125 to 200 of those companies."

Also, driver monitoring: "There's a lot of people focused on external sensors that are shooting laser beams out, and trying to make a map of what's outside the car, and I would suggest that there's a huge opportunity for taking that same type of thinking but doing it inside the cabin."

More Q&A with Brennan, who co-founded Trucks Venture Capital last year and previously was executive director for Stanford's automotive research program:

What is the most likely exit for these companies? Are they all going to be $1 billion exits? IPOs?

Some of these technologies that are directly related to the supply chain are probably in line for acquisitions by other large supply chain companies like Tier 1 suppliers or manufacturers. I would suggest those exits are measured in the $50 million to $300 million range.

Those tech commodities, which are related to decision making, vehicle-to-vehicle kind of communications and things that are super important in keeping a fleet in high utilization — those are really valuable to a fleet owner which might be sort of a higher level of M&A or potentially a small IPO.

And then you have companies that are trying to build new categories of business in autonomy, for example [Trucks VC portfolio companies] Starsky or May Mobility, I think the idea for those companies is they would become public companies."

Does that affect how you invest?

For some companies that have the opportunity to be really category-defining, we are less price sensitive.

What will most impact the adoption of self-driving cars?

Policy is really important in this space and there's a lot of enthusiasm from lawmakers. There's probably not as much knowledge as there is enthusiasm so some of the lawmakers are actively engaging with startups. Sen. Thune being one, Jeff Brandeis in Florida who puts on his own autonomous vehicle conference.

A lot of the narrative has been "Silicon Valley is gonna win this one and Detroit just doesn't know what it's doing."

I think people underestimate and overestimate unfairly on both sides. If you actually want to deploy a self-driving vehicle, the vehicle piece of it is really important for a number of reasons: People want to feel safe. Also, in the world of automating vehicles, utilization is really important. Kind of like with a Formula 1 car, you don't wanna waste time in the pits, you always want to be out on the road earning money. So vehicles that can execute on a really high-duty cycle, that are always on the road, are super durable, are really for the passengers make the experience really safe — that's an incredibly valuable part of an autonomous vehicle system.

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Software jobs grow at fast clip

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

The software industry directly accounts for 2.9 million jobs in the U.S., a 14.6% increase since 2014, according to a report out today by Software.org, the research arm of the software industry's trade group BSA. The average annual salary for software developers is $104,360, which is more than twice the annual average wage for all U.S. occupations, according to the report.

Why this matters: The software industry is growing as new technologies like artificial technology, self-driving cars, augmented reality and the internet of things — all of which rely heavily on software — continue to advance. Software-related jobs continue to be among the more lucrative jobs requiring STEM skills, a shortage of which puts such workers in high demand.

Just yesterday the Trump administration announced an initiative to expand students' access to computer science and STEM education. Increased training in these areas, particularly in the K-12 setting, is one way experts think students can be better prepared for the modern economy that is increasingly leaving many communities behind.

Go deeper: Silicon Valley no longer has a lock on software developer jobs.

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Puerto Rico in crisis

A man looks at the horizon early in the morning after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. Photo: Carlos Giusti / AP

Puerto Rico remains without power and short on supplies after being slammed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Officials are having difficulty even communicating with outlying towns that were devastated by the storm, and the humanitarian crisis is growing.

After focusing for days, at least publicly, on NFL protests and other matters, President Trump tweeted about the crisis in Puerto Rico on Monday night — and seemed to blame Puerto Rico in part for its own misfortune.

Trump's tweets: "Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble....It's old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars....owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities - and doing well. #FEMA"

What Puerto Rican officials have said

From Governor Ricardo Rosselló: "We are U.S. citizens that just a few weeks ago went to the aid of other U.S. citizens even as we're going through our fiscal downturn and as we were hit by another storm…Now, we've been essentially devastated. Complete destruction of the power infrastructure, severe destruction of the housing infrastructure, food and water are needed. My petition is that we were there once for our brothers and sisters, our other U.S. citizens, now it's time that U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico are taken care of adequately, properly."

From Manati mayor Jose Sanchez Gonzalez: "Hysteria is starting to spread. The hospital is about to collapse. It's at capacity," he said, crying. "We need someone to help us immediately."

The scale of the crisis

  • Government officials said Sunday a dam on the Western part of the island "will collapse at any time." Eastern areas, which were hit by the eye of the storm, could take years to recover.
  • Officials estimate it could take up to 6 months to restore power to the whole island.
  • Federal agencies have cleared the Port of San Juan for daytime operations, but accessing Puerto Rico is pretty difficult right now — airports and harbors are severely damaged and the whole island remains out of power. 11 ships have delivered 1.6 million gallons of water, 23,000 cots, dozens of generators and food, per the AP. Many hospital patients are being flown to the U.S. mainland for treatment.
  • The death toll is at least 10 in Puerto Rico, and 31 if you include other Caribbean islands, per the AP.
  • 1,360 of the island's 1,600 cell towers are down. 85% of phone and internet cables were knocked out.

Personal experiences

  • When locals see outsiders, the first thing they ask is "Are you FEMA?" per The Washington Post.
  • "Nothing's working, we don't hear from anyone…We feel abandoned," Toa Baja resident Johanna Ortega told USAToday.
  • Food at local grocery stores is "VERY LIMITED," San Juan resident Claudia Batista messaged Axios. Batista described the situation in San Juan as "desperate times," saying because of "all the material loss, people are losing control and patience and are stealing in other homes and assaulting people on the streets."
  • Some local responders in Juncos cleared streets with machetes since the town doesn't have enough chain saws. People are riding bikes and walking for miles to get to gas stations

What FEMA is doing

  • FEMA teams were in Puerto Rico earlier this month following Hurricane Irma, and as soon as Hurricane Maria's winds died down they launched search-and-rescue missions, per USAToday.
  • All of the 28 task force teams around the U.S. have been recruited to help, which is rare, per Karl Lee, a FEMA Incident Support Team member.
  • FEMA responders are using a San Juan hotel as a command center.
  • 4,000 U.S. Army Reserve members have also been deployed to the island. The Army Corps of Engineers dispatched the 249th Engineer Battalion, per CNN.

What Trump has said

Trump declared a major disaster in Puerto Rico and said all of the U.S. government is behind the relief efforts. White House adviser Tom Bossert and FEMA's chief are heading to Puerto Rico Monday, although a trip from Trump isn't expected for a while, per CNN.

  • Rosselló thanked Trump on Monday for having federal emergency assistance provided, per the AP, noting FEMA has done a "phenomenal job."

Trump's most recent tweets about Puerto Rico, from last week:

Take a look

How to help

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Trump goes after McCain over health care vote

President Trump tweeted at Senator John McCain, who is currently in treatment for brain cancer, over his decision to oppose the latest Republican health care plan:

The back-and-forth: McCain was more subtle in critiquing Trump during a 60 Minutes interview Sunday. He said the two had very different upbringings, after noting that Trump had not apologized for saying he was not a war hero.

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Entire Cowboys team takes a knee

Photo: Matt York / AP

Prior to the national anthem at their Monday Night Football matchup with the Arizona Cardinals, the entire Dallas Cowboys team, including owner Jerry Jones, took a knee. They then stood for the anthem.

Go deeper: How NFL teams have reacted to Trump's comments.

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Report: Bannon, Priebus, Ivanka used private email in White House

From L-R, Stephen Miller, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon. Photo: Carolyn Kaster / AP

Several current and former senior Trump administration officials occasionally used private email to conduct government business, the NY Times reports. The officials named: Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, Ivanka Trump, Gary Cohn, Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner (Politico had previously reported Kushner sent or received about 100 emails about White House matters using his private address).

Why it matters: Trump railed against Hillary Clinton incessantly during the campaign for her use of private email as Secretary of State. Government officials are supposed to use their government accounts so their communications will be stored, and failing to do so can cause security risks.
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Trump denies split with Kelly over NFL comments

Trump lashed out at CNN for reporting that John Kelly opposed his NFL remarks. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

President Trump lashed out at CNN on Twitter Monday evening, calling them "Fake News" for reporting that John Kelly was opposed to his comments at Friday's rally calling for NFL players who protest during the national anthem to be "fired." CNN reported that Kelly "was not pleased" with Trump's remarks, later updating the story to reflect Kelly's conversation with CNN reporter Jeff Zeleny, during which Kelly said he was "appalled" by the lack of respect for the flag.

"I believe every American, when the national anthem is played, should cover their hearts and think about all the men and women who have been maimed and killed," Kelly told Zeleny. "Every American should stand up and think for three lousy minutes." However, Zeleny noted that Kelly declined to say whether he felt Trump should have weighed in.

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Russian Facebook ads aimed to spark divisions over Black Lives Matter

Russian hackers used Facebook ads to pit different social, racial and political groups against one another. Photo: Joerg Koch / AP

Last week, Facebook said it was planning to turn more than 3,000 ads bought by Russian operatives during the 2016 campaign over to congressional investigators. On Monday, the Washington Post reported on details of some of the ads, which pitted different social groups against one another. For example, some of the Russian ads promoted groups like Black Lives Matter, while others warned that those groups pose a dangerous threat to society.

Between the lines: Russian hackers, who worked off of evolving lists of racial, religious, political and economic themes, were able to take advantage of the ability to send targeted messages to different Facebook users based on their political and demographic affiliations. The aim appears to have been to inflate tension between already feuding groups.

Facebook declined to comment, but referred Axios to its earlier update, which noted that "the ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum."

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Collins will oppose Senate health care bill

Sen. Susan Collins said she opposes the Senate's health care plan. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Sen. Susan Collins officially said she will oppose the Senate's latest bill to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act — yet another nail in the coffin for a bill that's moving further away from the 50 votes it would need to pass.

Why it matters: It would only take three "no" votes to kill the bill. And Collins' opposition makes it a total of four Republicans who say they won't vote for the bill — two moderates (Collins and Sen. John McCain) and two conservatives (Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz).