Jun 3, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🇬🇧 Top of the morning! President Trump and Melania Trump landed in London at 4 a.m. ET.

Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,182 words ... < 5 minutes!

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1 big thing: Kushner unsure whether he'd alert FBI if Russians request another meeting
Photo: "Axios on HBO"

On "Axios on HBO," Jared Kushner told Axios' Jonathan Swan he doesn't know whether he'd call the FBI if he were to receive an email today like the one before the campaign's Trump Tower meeting, which had the subject line: "Re: Russia - Clinton - private and confidential."

  • Kushner said this after a tense exchange about the email he received to set up the infamous Trump Tower meeting. 

Why this matters: Kushner is now in the West Wing, senior adviser to the president. Shouldn't an email with an offer of help from Russians trigger a mental alarm? This bolsters the perception that President Trump’s inner circle still doesn't fully recognize the ongoing threat of Russian interference in American elections.

  • Kushner’s response comes after FBI Director Christopher Wray said in congressional testimony that he would recommend that in the future, people contact the FBI if a foreign government offers campaign support.

What he's saying: Kushner said people are being "self-righteous" and playing "Monday morning quarterback" by asking him why he didn't call the FBI when he saw the email offering help for the Trump campaign from Russia.

  • "Let me put you in my shoes at that time. OK, I'm running three companies, I'm helping run the campaign. I get an email that says show up at 4 instead of 3 to a meeting that I had been told about earlier that I didn't know what the hell it was about."

Asked if he'd call the FBI if it happened again, Kushner said: "I don't know. It's hard to do hypotheticals, but the reality is that we were not given anything that was salacious."

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2. Kushner, for first time, claims he never discussed security clearance with Trump
Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Jared Kushner denied on "Axios on HBO" that he discussed his top-secret security clearance with his father-in-law, even though President Trump is said to have personally ordered the clearance over the advice of his own staff.

  • This is first time Kushner has denied it on the record.

Why it matters: Trump and Kushner talk constantly about key decisions. This gives House committees a new marker as they continue their investigation of White House security clearances.

Bonus: Kushner also said he wasn't aware of the allegedly suspicious transactions that a former Deutsche Bank anti-money laundering specialist says she found between Kushner's family company and Russian individuals.

3. Danger of over-hyping 5G

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

5G mania has swept the wireless industry, regulators and tech enthusiasts — but the hype may be getting ahead of the market demand for it, Axios' Kim Hart writes.

  • Why it matters: The promise of 5G — with mobile broadband speeds up to 100 times faster than current 4G networks — and the pressure to keep up with global competitors are impacting major merger reviews and city budgets.
  • But unrealistic expectations for 5G could lead to big disappointments.

Between the lines: It's always hard to anticipate how and when new technologies will catch on. No one predicted Uber and Airbnb would spring from 4G networks and the smartphone, for example.

  • When 4G launched, the U.S. wireless market still had plenty of room to grow, and revenue margins were relatively high. So the telecom industry's promotion of 4G service was more measured and less hyped.
  • Now the wireless market is mature and has little subscriber growth (around 1%), so telecom companies are searching for ways to wring new revenue from current subscribers.
  • That has driven the industry to push flashy marketing campaigns to sell consumers on the benefits of 5G.

The bottom line: "The hype is so preposterously misaligned with economic reality that inevitably there’s going to be this disastrous crash in expectations," said Craig Moffett, founding partner at MoffettNathanson Research.

4. Pic du jour
Photo: Danica Kirka/AP

95-year-old D-Day veteran John Roberts sits in a Jeep at the English Channel port of Dover, before boarding a ship bound for Normandy.

  • The cruise will take vets back to the landing beaches for Thursday's 75th anniversary. (AP)
5. 🥊 One-two antitrust punch

1. "The Justice Department is preparing to launch a fresh antitrust probe into Google, ... setting up a potential clash over how to regulate one of the world’s most powerful companies and perhaps the tech industry more broadly," The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription).

2. "Amazon could face heightened antitrust scrutiny under a new agreement between U.S. regulators that puts it under closer watch by the Federal Trade Commission," per the WashPost.

  • Why it matters, from Axios' David McCabe: These moves could set the table for the kind of long-running antitrust cases that can sap company resources, result in embarrassing legal discovery and depositions, and, in the most extreme scenarios, lead to corporate breakups.
6. Capturing carbon, illustrated
Expand chart
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Capturing carbon dioxide emissions is probably unavoidable to address climate change, but the technology to do it is still in its infancy, expensive and not broadly understood, Axios' Amy Harder writes in her "Harder Line" column.

  • The intrigue: We're here to show you something none of us can really see — CO2 emissions are invisible to the naked eye — and the technology that's just getting off the ground.

Click here to see Axios' first "illustrated column," by Amy Harder and Lazaro Gamio, deputy managing editor for visuals.

7. Liberals go after Biden

Spotted at the California Democratic convention in San Francisco this weekend. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

"The liberal wing of the Democratic Party launched a sudden volley of attacks against ... Joe Biden ... over the weekend, showing a new urgency to wrest control of the party from moderate forces that had seized an advantage in recent months." (WashPost)

8. Exclusive: Nikki Haley to attack pro-choice "conformity"
Nikki Haley speaks in the Oval Office in October. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the UN and South Carolina governor, will call out pro-choice activists who "demand conformity" as being "anti-women" in a keynote address at Susan B. Anthony List's 12th annual Campaign for Life Gala this evening, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

  • Why it matters: Her speech comes as a new wave of restrictive abortion laws ripples across red states, and conservative lawmakers are jockeying for a shot at challenging Roe v. Wade now that Justice Brett Kavanaugh is on the bench.

Key quotes: "Unfortunately, many on the left use the abortion debate to divide women and demand conformity. They do this in the name of feminism. But that is not real feminism."

  • "The idea that women must adhere to a particular set of values is one of the most anti-women ideas in today’s culture. It is a rejection of the ideas of equality and tolerance that the women’s movement is supposed to be about."
  • "As a pro-life, female governor, I was blessed with a unique platform, and I made every effort to use it appropriately. Not to lob attacks at people who disagreed with me, not to diminish the other side, but to reframe the debate. To explain that being pro-life is not about being for or against women. It is about being for a baby’s right to live — the most basic right there is."  
9. Stat du jour

"Venezuela economy in meltdown with inflation hitting 130,000%." (Financial Times)

10. 1 🎓 thing

"So many students accepted Virginia Tech’s offer of admission this spring that the school is offering financial incentives to delay enrolling," per the WashPost:

  • "Faced with ... a gargantuan freshman class of about 8,000 students — more than 1,000 above what they would like to have — school officials are ... offering scholarships to students who take gap years, [and] grants for ... community college classes, study-abroad programs and internships."
Mike Allen

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