Jun 30, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🇭🇰 🇨🇳 Breaking overnight: China today passed a feared national security law allowing authorities to crack down on dissent in Hong Kong. Go deeper.

  • CNN's Will Ripley reported from Hong Kong this morning: "Painting things on the wall like 'Hong Kong is not China' or 'Destroy the Communist Party,' well, there are fears that could land protesters, potentially, in prison for life under this new law."
  • 🎧 Our new podcast, "Axios Today," hosted by Niala Boodhoo, has overnight analysis of the Hong Kong news from Axios China reporter Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian. Hear it here.

🍷 A winery owner will be among our guests tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET when Kim Hart and I host a live virtual event, "The Pandemic Pivot: Small Business Recovery." Register here.

🚨 1 big thing: Panic sets in at White House

President Trump golfs June 21 at Trump National Golf Club in Virginia. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump's advisers are sounding alarms about his re-election prospects to a degree that Axios' Jonathan Swan has not heard since the president entered the White House three and a half years ago.

Over the past week, widespread panic and pessimism have set in.

  1. Early optimism about a booming economic comeback has dampened because of new coronavirus outbreaks across the country.
  2. Early hopes that Trump’s return to rallies would bring back momentum has dampened because of the Tulsa rally debacle — and because advisers have recognized that Trump's elderly base is more fearful of the virus than previously realized.
  3. Trump, relentlessly, keeps committing egregious self-defeating acts — the latest being tweeting a video in which an elderly supporter chants "white power."

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2. The coming child care crisis

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With coronavirus cases surging and no end in sight, schools and day care centers may not fully reopen in the fall, triggering a massive child care crisis for millions of American workers, Axios' Erica Pandey writes.

  • Why it matters: What seemed like a temporary predicament is turning into an ongoing ordeal.

School districts are starting to release their plans for the fall. Many, including those in Seattle, Omaha and Fairfax County, Va., have come up with hybrid online and in-person schedules.

  • That means the continuation of remote learning, which leaves behind scores of kids without access to technology, and relentless stress for parents.

At the same time, more states are reopening — and calling employees back to work.

  • That leaves few options for single-parent households or parents who cannot afford child care.

A solution: Firms can build in flexibility for working parents by implementing shorter work days or weeks.

3. AP: U.S. knew of Russian bounties for over a year

In 2017, American soldiers wait on the tarmac in Logar province, Afghanistan. Photo: Rahmat Gul/AP

Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans, AP's James LaPorta reports.

  • The assessment was included in at least one of President Trump's written daily intelligence briefings at the time, according to officials.
  • John Bolton, then national security adviser, told colleagues he briefed Trump on the intelligence assessment in March 2019.
  • The White House has said Trump was not — and still has not been — briefed on the intelligence assessments because they have not been fully verified.

As the U.S. investigates whether any Americans died as a result of the Russian bounties, officials are focused on an April 2019 attack on an American convoy:

  • Three Marines were killed after a car rigged with explosives detonated near their armored vehicles as they returned to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
  • The Defense Department identified them as Staff Sgt. Christopher Slutman, 43, of Newark, Del.; Sgt. Benjamin Hines, 31, of York, Pa.; and Cpl. Robert Hendriks, 25, of Locust Valley, N.Y.

Two officials told the N.Y. Times (subscription) "that the intelligence was included months ago in Trump’s President’s Daily Brief."

  • "One of the officials said the item appeared in Trump’s brief in late February; the other cited Feb. 27."
Pic du jour

Photo: Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic via AP

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced that he is ordering bars, clubs, movie theaters, waterparks and gyms to close for 30 days to curb the virus. Go deeper.

"Los Angeles has become a new epicenter," Reuters reports:

  • "Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a 'hard pause' on when movie theaters, theme parks and other entertainment venues can reopen. Los Angeles County is the biggest movie theater market in the United States."

The World Health Organization said: "[T]he pandemic is actually speeding up."

4. Axios-Ipsos poll: Fearing fireworks and flower girls
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll. Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

78% of Americans say attending a July 4 celebration would be risky, and 83% say the same about indoor weddings, Axios White House editor Margaret Talev writes from this week's installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

  • Seven in 10 of the 1,065 adults polled (margin of error: ±3.1 points) see summer vacations as risky, and the intensity in their fear is rising.

Between the lines: Democrats, women and people over 65 are more likely to feel risky about gathering for "I dos" and Independence Day.

  • Republicans, men and adults younger than 30 are less likely to worry.

Keep reading.

5. Scoop: Biden staffs up from Obamaworld

Joe Biden speaks to families who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act during an event last week in Lancaster, Pa. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Joe Biden is turning to a diverse, younger generation of Obama White House alums to fill high-level campaign positions as he gears up for the general election, Axios' Alexi McCammond reports.

  • Why it matters: Biden's campaign is seeking to elevate a younger generation of Democrats and add more diversity to its top ranks after facing early criticism over the homogeneity of Biden's brain trust.
  • And the hires bolster ties to President Obama and his inner circle.

In the past few weeks, four former staffers who worked for Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett — all women or men of color — joined Biden's campaign:

  • Karine Jean-Pierre, Julie Chavez Rodríguez and Ashley Allison all joined in senior advisor roles in May.
  • Yohannes Abraham joined the campaign's transition team in late June.

Keep reading.

6. What John Roberts is thinking

A child toddles down the Supreme Court steps yesterday. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

After Chief Justice John Roberts stunned conservatives by voting against them on a big case for the third time in 12 days, I talked to advocates on both sides and they agreed on one thing: Roberts is playing a long game.

  • Roberts yesterday joined with the court's liberal bloc in striking down a Louisiana limit on abortion, as he had in the past two weeks on rulings protecting LGBTQ workers and giving a reprieve to Dreamers. Go deeper.

Roberts, 65, nominated by President George W. Bush, is acutely conscious of both his personal legacy and the reputation of the institution. So court-watchers in both parties see a wily pragmatism in his surprise votes.

  • "I think Roberts believes he is where much of the country see themselves — conservative about their money and tolerant on social issues," said Hilary Rosen, a Democratic consultant and co-founder of the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund. "The question is whether this year of blatant inequality has changed that balance."

Between the lines: The conservative court is still likely to roll back abortion rights, but the case the court decided yesterday was a bad vehicle to do it, Axios' Sam Baker points out.

  • The restrictions the justices struck down were almost identical to restrictions they voided in 2016. Roberts voted to uphold the restrictions in 2016, but he lost. This time, he said, the earlier precedent simply tied his hands. That's hardly judicial activism.
  • Roberts has had little trouble using his capital to advance the conservative cause on business, tax and regulatory issues, as well as important voting rights cases.

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7. Tech finally begins a crackdown on Trump

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Social media giants are no longer giving President Trump, his supporters and the alt-right a free pass for inflammatory or misleading speech online, Axios media trends expert Sara Fischer writes.

  • Why it matters: For years, Trump and far-right extremists have relied on the loose content policies of tech platforms to reach millions of Americans unfiltered. Ahead of the 2020 election, social media may be turning down the volume on Trump's online megaphone.

Nearly every major social media platform has taken action against the president or far-right channels that support him:

  • Reddit yesterday joined a growing list of major tech companies that said it would take action against users and groups that violated its hate speech rules, including the controversial subreddit r/The_Donald.
  • Around the same time, Twitch, the live-streaming platform owned by Amazon, temporarily banned Trump's channel for hateful content.

What's next: Yesterday's actions are already being met with charges of censorship from the right.

8. 🥊 Biden today: Trump is surrendering to virus

Joe Biden speaks at an Affordable Care Act event last week in Lancaster, Pa. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

As forecast by Jonathan Swan in Sneak Peek ... Joe Biden will say during a speech in Wilmington, Del., today that President Trump calls himself a wartime president but is surrendering to the virus.

  • Biden plans to say that Trump's historic mismanagement of the biggest public health crisis in 100 years is continuing to cost American lives and hurt the economy, according to the campaign.

The former vice president plans to add that, with infection rates increasing again, Trump is ignoring the crisis:

  • Biden will say Trump is golfing, holding rallies and telling the country that he’s the victim.
9. 14 states to limit transgender athletes

A transgender flag is unfurled outside the Supreme Court in 2018. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

14 state legislatures are considering limits on transgender students' participation in athletics, Axios' Jacob Knutson writes from Human Rights Campaign data.

  • Why it matters: Though states have halted action on the bills because of the pandemic and protests, lawmakers may resume consideration in upcoming special sessions beginning in late July

HRC state legislative director Cathryn Oakley told Axios that 66 anti-transgender bills were introduced this year — the most ever.

10. 🏀 NBA to paint "Black Lives Matter" on all sidelines

Disney's Grand Floridian is among the hotels where NBA players will stay. Photo: Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP

"The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are planning to paint 'Black Lives Matter' on the court inside both sidelines in all three arenas the league will use at the Walt Disney World Resort when it resumes the 2019-20 season late next month in Orlando," ESPN reports.

  • "The WNBA is also discussing painting 'Black Lives Matter' on the court when it begins its abbreviated 2020 season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida."

Why it matters: "Players have insisted that the fight for racial equality and social justice be a central part of the NBA's return."

As Major League Baseball plans Opening Day in July, a small group of players, including Nationals slugger Ryan Zimmerman and Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond, have announced they plan to sit out the shortened season. Go deeper.

Mike Allen

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