Jun 12, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Happy Friday!

🗳️ President Trump's acceptance speech as the Republican presidential nominee will be held in Jacksonville's VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena after official convention business in Charlotte, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced last night.

  • Why it matters: President Trump and the RNC pulled the convention's grand finale out of North Carolina after Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said he would require the convention to be downsized due to COVID-19.
1 big thing: Fears grow of eviction apocalypse

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Most states paused evictions when the coronavirus hit — but those holds are expiring at about the same time that more generous unemployment benefits are set to dry up, Courtenay Brown reports.

  • Why it matters: The one-two punch could easily exacerbate the housing crisis for Americans already bearing the worst of COVID-19's effects.

One-fifth of adults polled in May said they had slight or no confidence they would be able to pay their rent or mortgage due in June, according to a weekly Census Bureau survey measuring COVID-19’s impact on Americans.

  • An Urban Institute analysis of census data found nearly 25% of black renters deferred or did not pay their rent last month, compared with 14% of white renters.

The big picture: The pandemic — which forced an economic collapse — is adding new burdens on top of the country's longstanding housing problems.

  • The result could be even higher rates of homelessness — leaving more people on the streets in the midst of a global pandemic.

What to watch: It's possible that property managers or mom-and-pop landlords will negotiate with tenants before evicting them.

  • But landlords themselves are likely feeling the pinch: Some states have also put halts on property foreclosures, and those pauses are about to end.
  • The cost of evicting an existing tenant may not be worth it, particularly if there is little demand from new renters to sign a lease.

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2. Scoop: Bolton to argue Trump misconduct
Back cover: Simon & Schuster. Graphic: Axios

In a memoir coming June 23 that the White House has tried to delay, former national security adviser John Bolton will offer multiple revelations about President Trump’s conduct in office, with direct quotes by the president and senior officials, a source familiar with the book tells me.

  •  In "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir," Bolton will go beyond Ukraine, and argue there was "Trump misconduct with other countries," the source said.
  • Axios granted anonymity to the source in order to give readers a window into the book ahead of publication.

Why it matters: Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under President George W. Bush, is a lifelong conservative and longtime Fox News contributor who is well-known by the Trump base, the source pointed out.

Behind the scenes: People close to Trump have worried about the book because Bolton was known as the most prolific note taker in high-level meetings, Jonathan Swan reports.

  • Bolton would sit there, filling yellow legal pad after yellow legal pad.
  • In short: Bolton saw a lot, and he wrote it down in real time. And when he left, the White House never got those notes back.

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  • Go deeper: Bolton's lawyer, Chuck Cooper, chronicles the book's publication battle in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, "The White House vs. John Bolton" (subscription).
3. Ethics of vaccine deployment

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Moderna said yesterday that starting in 2021, it could manufacture "possibly up to 1 billion doses per year" of its experimental coronavirus vaccine, Axios health care business reporter Bob Herman writes.

That production level not only falls short of immediate need, but all 1 billion doses wouldn't come out at the same time. That's leading ethicists to consider:

  • Which clinics, hospitals and other facilities will get it?
  • Will health care workers, older people in places like nursing homes and others with compromised immune systems be prioritized? If so, who comes after?
  • What if the vaccine costs a couple hundred dollars, like other vaccines? Will everyone be able to get it regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay?
  • Since Moderna is based in the U.S., will the U.S. prioritize itself over other countries, and will it cut deals with other countries?

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4. Pics du jour
Photo: Kristen Zeis/The Virginian-Pilot via AP

In Portsmouth, Va., four statues on a Confederate monument were covered in graffiti and beheaded Wednesday.

Photo: Maxar Technologies via Reuters

A satellite view of 15th Street in downtown Oakland.

5. Big Tech's reckoning on race

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies are starting to open their wallets to help address racial inequities, but the issues that the industry needs to address go far beyond just writing checks, Axios chief tech correspondent Ina Fried writes from S.F.

  • Tech's lack of black and Latino representation is well documented, but the industry also must grapple with the vast impact its products can have in healing inequality — or worsening it.

Driving the news:

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook used a video yesterday to personally announce a $100 million racial equality effort aimed at supporting equality broadly and at boosting Apple's internal hiring and supplier diversity efforts. The effort will be led by Lisa Jackson, the former EPA administrator who has led Apple's environmental efforts for the last several years.
  • Google announced that YouTube is launching a $100 million effort focused on supporting black creators, and is changing guidelines to avoid digital redlining for job, housing and credit ads. Advertisers in those categories will no longer be able to target by ZIP code, among other categories.
  • PayPal announced a $530 million effort aimed at supporting black and minority-owned businesses and to boost its own internal diversity effort. Most of the money — $500 million — goes toward an economic opportunity fund that can invest directly in startups.
  • Microsoft said yesterday that it won't allow police in the U.S. to use its facial recognition technology until the government sets rules on its use, following moves earlier this week by IBM, which is getting out of the business entirely, and Amazon, which said it was banning police use of its Rekognition technology for a year.

The big picture: Tech companies are known for underrepresentation of black and Latinx employees — and the makeup of their workforces shapes everything from a company's culture to the biases that are embedded in its products.

  • The executive suites and boards of the large tech companies remain overwhelmingly white.
  • Microsoft, Google and IBM all have CEOs of Indian heritage, but there are no black CEOs of Fortune 500 tech companies.
6. Behind TIME's cover
Photo: Devin Allen for TIME

Devin Allen, a 32-year-old Baltimore photographer, took the cover photo of the forthcoming issue of TIME, showing people lying on the street during a Black Trans Lives Matter protest in Baltimore on June 5, The (Baltimore) Sun reports.

  • Allen told The Sun: "We leave out the LGBT community, especially when it comes to the black trans community ... The fact that they even have to go and hold a Black Trans Lives Matter march, it speaks for itself. Why do they have to do that? As a straight, black man, I'm going to give [them] the same energy that I give to all my people to that community."

Between the lines: Living at the intersection of two marginalized identities, black trans people are on the receiving end of an inordinate amount of violence.

7. Trump ramps up travel
Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump's latest slogan was featured yesterday during his trip to Dallas, where he led "a roundtable on Transition to Greatness" at a megachurch.

Trump's first campaign rally since the national shutdown will be held a week from today in Tulsa, Okla. People requesting tickets see this disclaimer:

By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President ... liable for any illness or injury.
8. Scoop: Biden won't tap Bloomberg agency

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Biden campaign won't use the tech and ad agency with close ties to Mike Bloomberg to run its digital operation, Sara Fischer and Hans Nichols report.

  • Why it matters: The NYC-based agency, Hawkfish, billed itself as the Democratic Party's digital savior. But Hawkfish lost its luster when Bloomberg underperformed in the primaries after spending $1b+.

What's next: We hear Hawkfish is in advanced talks with the DNC for a data and analytics contract.

9. 🎧 Ted Cruz interviews Mark Meadows
Mark Meadows and Sen. Ted Cruz, with co-host Michael Knowles. Photo via @tedcruz

In an episode out today, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) lands White House chief of staff Mark Meadows for his podcast, "Verdict with Ted Cruz," which has had 10 million views and downloads since launching Jan. 21, amid the impeachment trial.

Meadows on his West Wing routine: "I'll normally come in around 7:15. I get my daily briefing, which is an intel briefing at 7:30 that will scare anybody of all the threats that we get."

  • "We have a 15 minute meeting ... on the comms of the day. ... We go from there to a number of policy meetings. All of this is happening before 11. So you try to get in a full day's work before 11."

Meadows on midnight calls: "[S]o we have a church that was burning. I'm getting text messages in every way saying the president has got to do something. Washington, D.C., literally was burning. ... I'm on the phone with the president ... after midnight, and he says: 'Mark, we've got to get control of it.'"

  • "But that wasn't the first midnight call. ... [H]e calls the governor of Minnesota [Tim Walz] and says, 'Listen, I'm watching in real time what's happening in your cities there in Minnesota. ... We're going to send the National Guard. We'll help you.' And that was a president at almost 1 a.m."
10. 1 smile to go: Theme parks begin reopening
Photo: Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP

Above: Patrons enjoy the 200-foot dive on the SheiKra roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, owned by SeaWorld.

  • After being closed for 87 days, Busch Gardens and SeaWorld in Orlando reopened yesterday for the first time since March 16.

Masks are required for visitors age 2 and up. Most people complied, although some let them droop or took them off, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

  • SeaWorld has "face covering relaxation zones," where people can sit down and take off their masks,
  • The park is selling masks decorated like shark’s teeth or a dolphin’s snout.

Walt Disney World Resort theme parks will begin a phased reopening July 11.

Mike Allen

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