Welcome to August!
Situational awareness: "U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order blocking the release of downloadable blueprints for 3D-printed firearms." (Seattle Times)
Squint at the colorful, consequential news of the past 24 hours, and you see a preview of special counsel Robert Mueller's report(s) — plus a glimpse of the debates that will divide America through the fall, and heading into the presidential campaigns of 2020:
President Trump set the tone for the day by tweeting at 7:58 a.m.: "Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was No Collusion."
Then came the first day of the first trial stemming from Mueller's investigation. The headline out of opening statements at the trial of Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chair, at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va.:
A few hours later, as if teleporting himself to a comfy parallel universe, Trump hopped on Air Force One and flew to Tampa for a "Make America Great Again Rally" where the president's rhetoric (carried live on Fox News and Fox Business, but not MSNBC or CNN) was as over-the-top as we've seen:
Amid all this, Watergate sleuths Woodward and Bernstein are back in the news:
Be smart: All this foreshadows events that will unfold against the heat of the midterms and Trump's reelection campaign, promising hot days to come — with no respite for a divided, angry America that's only digging in.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Facebook, which has been a press punching bag, cleanly won the news cycle with yesterday's announcement about deleting suspicious political accounts:
This was the first announcement from any social platform about signs of a new coordinated disinformation campaign ahead of the 2018 elections, Axios Sara Fischer and David McCabe point out.
Facebook managed to avoid a fierce political battle over the disinformation campaign's motive while also getting credit for shutting it down:
Facebook would have walked into a political trap by assigning attribution to the root of the disinformation operation. But it didn't have to:
Our thought bubble: If Facebook says its platform is being abused, it wouldn't be surprising if other platforms are being manipulated or facing threats, too.
Here are examples from 32 suspicious pages and accounts on Facebook and Instagram, possibly linked to Russia, that Facebook announced yesterday it had removed "because they were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior."
P.S. "Trump criticized for not leading effort to secure elections ... As alarms blare about Russian interference in U.S. elections, the Trump administration is facing criticism that it has no clear national strategy to protect the country during the upcoming midterms," AP's Deb Riechmann reports.
President Obama golfs yesterday at Army Navy Country Club in Fairfax, Va.
Jeffrey Lewis, an arms control expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (Calif.), in a New York Times article headlined, "North Korea Keeps Building Missiles Despite U.S. Overtures":
"When North Korea handed over 55 boxes of bones that it said are remains of American war dead, it provided a single military dog tag but no other information that could help U.S. forensics experts determine their individual identities, a U.S. defense official said," per AP:
Apple "delivered its best-ever revenue, ... as demand for high-price iPhones remained resilient and services such as app-store sales swelled to a record," The Wall Street Journal's Tripp Mickle writes (subscription):
From the September issue of Vanity Fair, a look ahead to Trump's 2020 campaign, by Gabe Sherman:
"Senators have begun the deepest dive ever into the writings of a Supreme Court nominee, digging into a record 1 million-plus pages of legal opinions and emails from Brett Kavanaugh's career as a federal judge, White House attorney and assistant to the prosecutor who investigated President Bill Clinton." (USA Today)
The Nats, beating the Mets 25-4 at Nats Park, were the first MLB team to score 25 runs in 11 years, per MLB.com:
Thanks for reading. See you on Axios.com.