Jan 10, 2021

Axios AM

🥞 Hello Sunday. Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,499 words ... 5½ minutes.

🚨 Situational awareness: As of last night, President Trump hadn't spoken to Vice President Pence since the Capitol siege — more than three days earlier — an administration official tells me.

  • Pence will attend the inauguration of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris. President Trump, in one of his final tweets, said he won't.

Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, appearing today on CNN's "State of the Union" and NBC's "Meet the Press," became the second Republican senator to call for President Trump to resign, after Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

1 big thing ... Our new reality: Three Americas
A man takes a photo of broken windows near the Rotunda in the early morning hours after the siege. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

The United States, torn apart by insurrection and mass misinformation, is witnessing a political and social realignment unfold in real-time: We’re splitting into three Americas, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei writes.

  • Why it matters: America, in its modern foundational components, is breaking into blue America, red America, and Trump America — all with distinct politics, social networks and media channels.

The existential question for Republicans, and perhaps for America, is whether Trump America — animated by the likes of Newsmax + Rush Limbaugh + Tucker Carlson + Parler (or whatever replaces it) — eclipses the traditional Red America in power in the coming years.

  • The danger: Parts of Trump America, canceled by Twitter and so many others, is severing its ties to the realities of the other Americas, and basically going underground. There will be less awareness and perhaps scrutiny of what's being said and done.
  • Axios' Sara Fischer reports that AppTopia shows a surge in downloads for conservative-friendly social networks — Parler, MeWe, and Rumble — in the past two days, following Trump bans by mainstream social media and tech.

The big picture: The Republican Party is splitting into two, starting with the relatively small Never Trumpers breaking off in 2016, and joined four years later by a new slice establishment Republicans repulsed by President Trump's post-election actions.

  • We have no clue how big this faction will grow. But it seems clear that the Trump-vs.-them saga will dominate the coming months, and maybe years.

There's no hard evidence yet that Trump America has shrunk significantly, despite the lies about the election and mob assault on the U.S. Capitol.

  • There is hard evidence Trumpers are flocking to social media groups and hard-right outlets like Newsmax to get and share news that reinforces their views.
  • It'll take a while to determine if voters share the anti-Trump views of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
  • Twitter's decision to permanently suspend Trump forces this faction further underground.

Blue America is ascendant in almost every area:

  • It won control of the House, Senate and White House; dominates traditional media; owns, controls and lives on the dominant social platforms; and has the employee-level power at big tech companies to force corporate decisions.

The big picture: Now, more than ever, is the time to read and reflect: our nation is rethinking politics, free speech, the definition of truth and the price of lies. This moment — and our decisions — will be studied by our kid's grandkids.

📱 What do you think? Write VandeHei: jim@axios.com.

2. Tech is our regulator and speech cop
Photo: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In a devastating one-two punch, Parler — a social media app that's become popular among conservatives and far-right extremists — was dropped from Apple's App Store, and was notified that Amazon is cutting off its web hosting.

  • Apple told Parler on Friday it had received complaints that the app had been used to help plan the Capitol siege.
  • Parler was Apple's No. 1 app this weekend before being suspended.
  • Google had earlier pulled the plug on Parler's app.

Why it matters: Parler was widely touted as one of the networks to which President Trump might go after being banned from Twitter and Facebook.

Apple's move means iPhone users won't be able to download Parler's app, but could continue to access it on any mobile or desktop device via its website, Axios' Scott Rosenberg, Kyle Daly and Ashley Gold report.

  • Amazon's move shuts the whole service down.
  • Parler's CEO said it might be offline for as long as a week.

Go deeper.

3. Dems privately fear impeachment backlash
New fences surround the Capitol. Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

Speaker Pelosi faces an impossible task: She plans to proceed with impeaching President Trump, without Democrats appearing overtly political and divisive on the eve of an incoming Democratic administration, sources tell me.

  • Pelosi's view is that members overwhelmingly want to take action, and that an act of insurrection can't go unanswered.

Why it matters: Some advisers to President-elect Biden have reservations about a final-days impeachment. They see a nation torn apart, and fear impeachment might worsen things without actually restraining Trump.

Pelosi, in a letter to House Democrats last night, signaled the tone she'll take as the House proceeds with impeachment this week:

  • "Solemnity. In light of the tragic nature of the assault on our democracy, it is essential that we proceed with great Solemnity."
  • "From what I have heard from Members, and from the deluge that I have received from the public," she continued, "it is clear that, once again, the Times Have Found Us to save our democracy."

Biden, asked about impeachment during a news conference Friday in Wilmington, said: "[T]hat’s a decision for the Congress to make. I’m focused on my job."

4. Pictures of America: The second Saturday of 2021
Photo: Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP

In San Diego, police battle protesters after an unlawful assembly was declared, because of acts of violence as Trump supporters clashed with counter-protesters.

Photo: Matt Stone/The (Louisville) Courier-Journal via Reuters

In Frankfort, Ky., two "militia members" carried guns outside the Kentucky capitol as state senators and representatives met inside.

  • The men were part of a "Patriot Freedom Rally," with about 100 people marching to honor Ashli Babbitt, 35, an Air Force veteran who was killed by Capitol Police as she tried to storm the Speaker's Lobby during the siege.
Photo: Lawrence Bryant/Reuters

"RESIGN HAWLEY" is painted on a St. Louis street during a protest against Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who led objections to the Electoral Vote certification.

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

An FBI poster on a bus stop on Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

5. Most sectors add jobs

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The labor market recovery came to a screeching halt in December, and the few data points that look promising are actually deeply troubling upon further inspection, Axios markets reporter Courtenay Brown writes.

  • Economists say if there’s a silver lining in Friday's report, it’s that the labor market pain was largely limited to the leisure and hospitality industry, while most other sectors continued to add jobs.

One false hope exists in the gap between white and Black unemployment. It narrowed last month, as the Black unemployment rate fell to 9.9% from 10.3%. 

  • But that's in part because the number of Black workers considered in the labor force shrunk — i.e. gave up looking for work altogether.
  • Whites were the only group to see a net rise in employment in December. Latinos fared the worst by far, with 252,000 fewer considered employed. There were 40,000 fewer employed Asians, and 26,000 fewer Black workers.

The professional and business-services sector — think lawyers, accountants or consultants —  saw the biggest job gains last month (161,000), helping offset the nearly 500,000 jobs shed in the leisure and hospitality sector.  

  • But over 40% of the gains were in temporary help services — limited gigs that may or may not turn into longer-term work.

What's next: The fate of restaurant, hotel, casino and other hospitality jobs rests on the virus path and mass vaccinations.

  • The dynamic contributes to the economy’s K-shaped recovery: Workers in some of the lowest paid industries are out of work, while less virus-sensitive industries aren't feeling the same economic pain. 

Keep reading.

6. Austin convention center becomes a hospital
Photo: City of Austin

After record new cases and hospital admissions, the City of Austin announced that the Austin Convention Center will be used as an overflow site for COVID care, as it was during last summer's spike.

  • “Activating the Alternate Care Site means that we believe that it is inevitable that the healthcare system in Central Texas will exceed capacity and will soon be overwhelmed,” said Jason Pickett, deputy medical director for Austin and Travis County.

Why it matters: Hospitals, especially in California, are so overrun that they're putting COVID patient beds in chapels, gift shops, administrative offices, parking decks and hallways.

7. House increases security for lawmaker's travel
Social media grab shows Sen. Lindsey Graham being escorted by security personnel Friday as Trump supporters berate him at Washington Reagan National Airport. Photo: Oreo Express via Reuters

After several lawmakers were hassled in airports, federal authorities are increasing security for members of Congress when they travel to and from Washington, according to an internal memo obtained by Axios.

  • Why it matters: The unusual new safety measures reflect the increased incidents of angry Americans confronting lawmakers, and the hostile aftermath of Wednesday's siege of the U.S. Capitol.

A "House Alert" sent to members yesterday said that the House Sergeant at Arms "and the U.S. Capitol Police have partnered with the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority and the United States Air Marshals to increase security for Members of Congress while traveling to and from Washington D.C."

8. 1 smile to go
Photo: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Madrid had unusually heavy snowfall yesterday, closing transit and producing this fun in a plaza near Las Ventas, the biggest bullfighting ring in Spain.

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