Jun 4, 2017

Axios AM

Launching this afternoon ... The Axios Future of Work newsletter: "Steve LeVine reports on the biggest ricochet story in our lives: robots, artificial intelligence, jobs, and global economics." 1-click sign up here.

1 big thing: New trend in terror

CNN's Clarissa Ward said during last night's live coverage of the London Bridge terrorist rampage that the slaughter on a summery Saturday night was "sadly, rather unsurprising."

  • Why it matters: In a series of tragic episodes, Western Europe is learning that the war footing against domestic terrorism will be permanent.

The attack (seven killed, 48 injured in a two-location assault with a van and knives; three suspects shot dead by police) came five days before U.K. elections, and was England's third terrorist horror in less than three months.

  • It targeted average blokes out partying on the weekend: NBC's Matt Bradley told MSNBC viewers from the scene that there were enough drunk people around that it was complicating police operations.

President Trump was like a first responder, quickly retweeting a Drudge headline before details were confirmed: "Fears of new terror attack after van 'mows down 20 people' on London Bridge."

  • Then he went political (with critics pouncing on his use of "ban"): "We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!"
  • Only after that did he go personal: "Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U. K., we will be there - WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!"

"Enough is enough" ... Prime Minister Theresa May, seeking reelection on Thursday, warned in somber remarks outside No. 10 this morning that there has been "far too much tolerance of extremism" in the U.K., and promised to step up the fight against Islamist terrorism, per The Guardian:

  • "She said internet companies must not allow extremism a place to exist, but that there was also a need to tackle 'safe spaces in real world,' which would require 'difficult' conversations."
  • Key quote: "In terms of their planning and execution, the recent attacks are not connected but we believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face. ... They are bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism."
  • The new trend: "[T]errorism breeds terrorism and perpetrators are inspired to attack ... by copying one another and often using the crudest of means of attack. We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are."
2. Dems' 2020 vision

A bunch of out of-the-box names are getting buzz in elite Democratic circles for their quiet maneuvering to be part of the 2020 conversation:

  • Joe Biden: In private, he talks incessantly about what he'd be doing if he had the Oval. He'll look for every reason and opening to run. If he weren't 74 (Trump is 70), Biden would be in already. Watch for signs his campaign hands are quietly laying the groundwork.
  • Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe: He has talked extensively with friends and advisers about running. The guy has boundless energy, ambition and access to money — and the personality and love of the game to withstand the grind and glare of politics.
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.): She has met privately with top party officials and just hit California to raise money and her profile. Make no mistake: She wants to run. But that doesn't mean she will.
  • Mark Cuban: He considers himself a smarter, better-looking and more authentic version of Trump. He has coin, ambition and comfort in his own skin. Of all the CEO/celebrities, he's the most likely to plunge into the shark tank of politics.
  • Rahm Emanuel: He has not given any signals he'll run, but friends tell us the Chicago mayor thinks he has a better read than the others on what it takes for a Democrat to win in today's America. That said, he runs a city with huge murder and money problems.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.): Although she's assumed to shun the idea of running, reporters watching the field say Warren has the best developed, most intentional message of any of the hopefuls.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.): She was interviewed by Kara Swisher this week at Recode's Code Conference, exposing the freshman to a new swath of the chattering class.
  • Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.): He'd be so hacked if I left him off.
3. The Trump Show

Trying to show action despite a balky Congress, and knowing the week's news is likely to be dominated by fired FBI Director Jim Comey's public testimony on Thursday, President Trump is hitting the road to try to generate a little offense.

On Wednesday, he'll fly to Ohio (Ohio River, bordering Kentucky) "to address ways of improving levees, dams and locks along inland waterways that are crucial to agricultural exports."

The White House's "infrastructure week" gets a top-of-front page story by the WashPost's John Wagner:

  • "While a formal introduction of most of Trump's infrastructure plans are likely months away, the White House plans to send its principles for overhauling the air traffic control system to Congress separately this week."
  • A key message: "the White House's desire to streamline the government permitting process for new highways and other infrastructure, a prospect that has concerned environmental advocates."
  • Economic adviser Gary Cohn (a Cleveland native), during a preview briefing for reporters: "Time is money ... The cost of infrastructure goes up dramatically as time goes on in the approval process."

For your radar ... L.A. Times' Dakota Smith: "Mayor Eric Garcetti says he is worried that arrests of immigrants by federal authorities could trigger riots in Los Angeles and put police officers in danger."

4. The climate conversation

Fallout from the Paris exit dominates non-London news and commentary ...

On "Face the Nation," Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. tells John Dickerson, when asked if Trump believes in climate change:

"He believes the climate is changing. And he believes pollutants are part of that equation."

IndieWire's Eric Kohn: "Thanks to Trump, [Al] Gore just became the summer's biggest movie star — and, short of Wonder Woman, one of its most exciting superheroes, a larger-than-life figure whose ongoing efforts speak to the prospects of finding hope in dire situations."

Maureen Dowd's column: "America is living through a fractured fairy tale, in the grip of a lonely and uninformed mad king, an arrogant and naïve princeling, a comely but complicit blond princess and a dyspeptic, dystopian troll under the bridge." Infrastructure week!

And, of course, Russia ... Monica Crowley, a foreign-policy assistant to Richard Nixon from 1990 to 1994, writes in the N.Y. Post ("The warnings Nixon would give Trump") that he told her that ...

"[H]e should have recognized that, given the grave threat he posed to the establishment and media, he should have been hyper-vigilant and hyper-ethical, leaving no openings anywhere for anyone to leverage against him."

Chaser, also N.Y. Post: "'Kushnergate' is a big fat nothing-burger."

5. Turn the tables: We interview Megyn Kelly

Megyn Kelly landed a one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin for tonight's debut of her "Sunday Night" (7 on NBC, against "60 Minutes"). David Ignatius says she was tough on him in a roundtable that she moderated as part of her St. Petersburg trip:

"[A] session with Kelly ... included sharp questions about the hacking scandal, Syria and Ukraine — and Putin grew increasingly aggressive, sarcastic and peeved."

As part of Megyn Kelly's P.R. push ahead of the show, NBC offered us a brief phoner, which we taped while awaiting the closing of the boarding door on the DCA-LGA shuttle, with a passenger in first class summoning a flight attendant because my hushed conversation in coach was disturbing his reverie:

  • How Kelly sees herself: "I think that if there's one thing most people know about me, it's that I'm not in the tank for either side ... So, when it comes to covering politics and the Trump administration, I think I've earned the trust of the viewers that is important and unique."
  • Her plans for the show: "[C]able news is largely political. You can get some other stuff in, but I was at least 85% political. And being over here has allowed me ... to do things other than politics, and I actually think the country could really use some of that right now."
  • Sneak peek: "[O]ne of the first interviews we're going to roll out ... is when I sit down with [stalked sportcaster] Erin Andrews ... [W]e both cried. We talked about everything from really scary health issues to really scary stalker issues, to love to ... women working in a man's industry."
  • What she did in her four months off, because of restrictions in her Fox contract: "I thought that on my 'garden leave' ... I would be at the Met every day and I would be working out ... And what I found is that I have two speeds: 0 and 100. ... I was walking around my apartment ... bothering our housekeeper, who really was desperate to see me go back to work."
  • Did you watch much TV news? "No, not much at all. In fact, I started to consume my news by print."
  • Like a newspaper?! "I subscribed to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal."
6. 1 fun thing: A flying car?

This looks strikingly like a latter-day Wright brothers contraption ... A startup backed by Toyota is building a tiny flying car that engineers hope will develop into a viable vehicle who drive will be able to light the Olympic torch at Tokyo's 2020 Tokyo Summer Games.

For now, though, the project is a concoction of aluminum framing and eight propellers that barely gets off the ground and crashes after several seconds, AP's Uri Kageyama writes from Toyota Japan:

The goal ... is ... a seamless transition from driving to flight, like the world of "Back to the Future ...

Toyota has invested 42.5 million yen ($386,000) in startup Cartivator Resource Management to work on "Sky Drive ." At a test flight Saturday in the city where the automaker is based, the gadgetry, about the size of a car and loaded with batteries and sensors, blew up a lot of sand and made a lot of noise.

It managed to get up as high as eye level for several seconds before tilting and falling to the ground. Basketballs attached to its bottom served as cushions. After several attempts, the endeavor had to be canceled after one of the covers got detached from the frame and broke, damaging the propellers.

To tell your graduate ... Famed golfer Phil Mickelson "says he will miss the U.S. Open [starts June 15 at Erin Hills in Wisconsin] for the first time in 24 years to attend his oldest daughter's high school graduation in California."

"This is the same daughter who nearly caused Mickelson to miss the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, where he carried a beeper ... Amanda was born the next day. And now she's graduating high school."