August 15, 2018

Good Wednesday morning.

Family news: Axios has hired Felix Salmon, "the longtime financial columnist and inveterate provocateur," reports Joe Pompeo of Vanity Fair's Hive:

  • Salmon will write a Sunday newsletter in the style of Jonathan Swan’s Sneak Peek: "With Axios Edge, the company is signaling an expansion of its coverage of markets and finance, an effort that also will include CNBC alumna Courtenay Brown."

1 big thing: Trump sitcom gone wild

Omarosa on "Today" (Zach Pagano/NBC via AP)

In private conversations with President Trump before his first Omarosa eruption, advisers counseled him to hold his tongue, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports:

  • Several told him to ignore her and that engaging would only boost her book sales.
  • Trump said privately that First Lady Melania Trump had advised him to stay above it.
  • But they knew he wouldn't be able to resist.

And they were right. Trump's reality TV background, always a subtext of his approach to governing, this week became the dominant sensibility as he and his aides repeatedly engaged the celebrity villain from his "Apprentice" days:

  • Trump tweets about the former communications director for him Office of Public Liaison: "When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!"
  • Even Trump defender Geraldo Rivera scolded the president for that one: "Fear my friend @realDonaldTrump undermines himself by using intemperate, boorish language to describe his enemies. I can't stand @OMAROSA a bully, back stabber & big mouth. But to call her a 'dog' & 'low life' is beneath dignity of the office of @POTUS & open to ugly connotation."
  • The enemy of my enemy ... To bolster his case against O, Trump retweets Michael Cohen, the former fixer who turned on him and released an audio clip of Trump discussing hush money. Cohen tweeted: To "the many dozens of #journalists who called me, questioning @OMAROSA claim in her new book that @POTUS @realDonaldTrump took a note from me, put it in his mouth and ate it...I saw NO such thing and am shocked anyone would take this seriously."
  • "Trump's campaign arm ... filed a complaint with an arbitrator, accusing former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman of violating a 2016 confidentiality agreement with her tell-all book and publicity tour." (NPR)
  • And then, in response to Sarah Sanders' inability to issue a blanket denial on Omarosa's most incendiary allegation, the cable news banners ... CNN: "WH: 'CANNOT GUARANTEE' TAPE WON'T REVEAL TRUMP USING N-WORD" ... Fox: "WH: CANNOT GUARANTEE RECORDINGS WON'T REVEAL TRUMP USING RACIAL SLUR."

A current White House official told us: "From the folks I've talked to (and I know I feel this way), it's honestly more of true disappointment that she did this."

  • "Not because she's some pillar of integrity ... but because at the end of the day, she was in the trenches with us."
  • "[I]t's truly a bummer to think anyone can turn on so many people, so quickly."
  • "And ... she's clearly enjoying it."

The big picture, from an outside West Wing adviser: "Friends and allies are unfazed by the chaos around Omarosa, stunned by his retweeting Cohen ... and fearful about Manafort rolling over."

  • Omarosa ends her three pages of acknowledgments: "To God be the glory!"

2. Women replacing men in primaries

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

At least five men will definitely be replaced in Washington by women after last night's primaries, Axios' Alexi McCammond reports:

  • There are now at least 199 women who have won their primaries for U.S. House in 2018.
  • Why it matters: Midterms are typically a referendum on the president, but 2018 is showing over and over again that Americans want more women in elected office during the Trump era.

The men taken out by women include:

  • Former Democratic Sen. Al Franken, who was already replaced by a woman in the interim. Now, both the Democratic and Republican slots on the general election ballot for the remainder of his term are filled by women.
  • Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison will definitely be replaced by a woman in Minnesota — two women advanced to the general election for his congressional seat.
  • GOP Rep. Mark Sanford lost his June primary for re-election to Katie Arrington in South Carolina.
  • Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley lost his primary bid in New York for re-election to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
  • GOP Rep. Tom Price was replaced by Karen Handel after the special election for Georgia's 6th district, which was left open once Price left to work in the Trump administration.

Be smart: Congress is going to look a lot different in January.

P.S. Minneapolis Star Tribune: Hennepin County commissioner "Jeff Johnson shocked the Minnesota political world [by winning] the Republican primary for governor [53%-44%]... [derailing] former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s bid to win back his old job. Pawlenty had been widely seen as the front-runner."

3. Rainbow wave: LGBT candidates running for governor — and winning

Vermont's Christine Hallquist won the Democratic nomination in her quest to become the nation's first transgender governor. (Charles Krupa/AP)

Democratic nominees for governor are more diverse than ever in 2018, Axios' Alexi McCammond reports:

  • After Christine Hallquist won her primary for Vermont governor last night, "all 4 letters in [the] LGBT acronym" are represented in Dem gubernatorial nominees this year, per Washington Blade's Chris Johnson.
  • Why it matters: LGBTQ candidates are running in record numbers in 2018, and making unprecedented gains.

LGBT Democratic candidates who have won primaries for governor include:

  • Lupe Valdez, a lesbian woman running in Texas.
  • Jared Polis, a gay man running in Colorado.
  • Kate Brown, a bisexual woman who's the governor of Oregon.
  • Christine Hallquist, a transgender woman running in Vermont.

Be smart — N.Y. Times: "Like many racial minority or female candidates this year, many L.G.B.T. candidates are aiming to appeal to broader audiences than campaigns of the past, when gay candidates often ran in predominantly gay areas and tailored their pitches to those communities."

Bonus: Pics du jour

Vigili Del Fuoco via AP

At least 37 people were killed when dozens of vehicles fell from a bridge in Genoa, Italy, on the eve of today's summer Ferragosto holiday. (BBC)

  • "The Morandi Bridge, built in the 1960s, stands on the A10 toll motorway, an important conduit for goods traffic from local ports, which also serves the Italian Riviera and southern coast of France."
Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images

4. "A playbook for concealing the truth"

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

"Top Roman Catholic leaders in Pennsylvania covered up decades of child sex abuse involving more than 1,000 victims and hundreds of priests, according to a long-awaited grand jury report," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

  • "Capping what may be the most comprehensive examination yet of clergy sex abuse across a single state, the nearly 900-page document accuses church officials in six Pennsylvania dioceses of routinely prioritizing their institution over the welfare of children in their care."
  • "The allegations stretch back to the 1940s, detailing child rapes and groping that mirrored the reports that have roiled the church worldwide."

"[M]ore than 300 priests were singled out – though some names remain redacted amid legal wrangling over the fairness of the investigation and the public report."

  • "Dozens of church superiors — including some now in prominent posts nationally — were also named as complicit."

5. Cover du jour

Courtesy N.Y. Post

New Yorker drivers "made a mad dash ... to register their cars with Uber and Lyft as the mayor signed into law a first-of-its-kind, one-year cap on e-hail cars," per the N.Y. Post.

  • "A line of eager applicants stretched around the block at a Brooklyn office where Uber helps drivers get their rides licensed."

6. Article of the day

.Concept and vector art by Pablo Delcan. Photo illustration by Sean Freeman for The New York Times

Nick Confessore cover story in The New York Times Magazine ... "The Unlikely Activists Who Took On Silicon Valley — and Won: Facebook and Google made billions mining personal data, and fought off anyone who threatened to stop them. Then came a challenge in their own backyard."

  • "For most of its relatively brief existence, Silicon Valley has been more lightly regulated than almost any other major industry. The technology that drove the business was complex, and few lawmakers wanted to be seen as standing in the way of a new kind of wealth creation, one that seemed to carry no messy downsides like pollution or global economic collapse."
  • "When regulators finally threatened to intervene, the companies did what they were best at: They scaled up, this time not with software and servers but with phalanxes of lobbyists and lawyers."

"By last year, Google’s parent, Alphabet, was spending more money on lobbyists than any other corporation in America."

  • "Facebook, a decade younger than Google, built its political apparatus twice as fast, as if observing a kind of Moore’s Law of influence-peddling."

Worthy of your time.

7. Trump and McConnell quietly reshape courts

"The Senate ... has installed 24 appellate judges since Trump was sworn in, the highest number for a president’s first two years in office," the WashPost's Sean Sullivan and Mike DeBonis report:

  • Why it matters: "While much of the focus has been on [Brett] Kavanaugh and Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, the Senate’s rapid approval of appellate judges is likely to have its own broad impact on the nation."
  • The "13 circuit courts will shape decisions on immigration, voting rights, abortion and the environment for generations."

For Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, "this is the culmination of a years-long gambit that started with stymieing President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees, most notably Supreme Court choice Merrick Garland, and creating a backlog of vacancies on the nation’s highest courts."

8. A bite for bitcoin

The cryptocurrency market is "down 70% from its January high, reflecting user frustration over their modest inroads into commerce and a general shakeout in speculative investments," The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription).

  • "Bitcoin ... this week fell below $6,000 for the first time since late June. Ether, the second-most-used coin, dropped 17% over 24 hours."
  • Why it matters: "[M]any users say plunging cryptocurrency prices point to the apparent failure of bitcoin, ether and other popular units to gain widespread adoption in the economy."

Be smart: Some users "say there is a growing recognition that prices may never again reach the high levels of January and foresee a rush to sell cryptocurrencies before losses deepen further."

9. Puerto Ricans spent 11 months without power

After 11 months, the last residential customers of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority are being reconnected. But the island's electricity system isn't in much better condition than it was before Maria cut power to every home and business, the N.Y. Times' Frances Robles reports from Ponce, P.R.:

  • After $3.2 billion, 52,000 new electrical poles and 6,000 miles of wire, "many billions of dollars more must still be spent to reconstruct the system."
  • José Ortiz, the new chief executive of the power authority, known as Prepa, "estimates that up to one-quarter of the work done hurriedly to illuminate Puerto Rico after the storm will have to be redone."
  • Ortiz: "This looks like a mess, really, from the outside. Once you are inside, you see it is even worse."

10. 1 food thing

#1 in Bon Appétit's "Hot 10: America's Best New Restaurants 2018" is Oklahoma City's Nonesuch, a 22-seat tasting-menu spot from three 20-something chefs," Bon Appetit announced:

  • #2 is Washington, D.C.'s live-fire cooking Middle Eastern joint Maydan.
  • Also on the list: Los Angeles' next-gen Jewish delicatessen Freedman's (No. 4), and Yume Ga Arukara (No. 8), a small noodle shop hidden in a Cambridge, Mass., college food court that only serves one dish.
  • Bon Appétit crowned Portland, Maine, the Restaurant City of the Year.

See all 10.

Thanks for reading. See you all day on