Sep 29, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🌅 Happy Sunday! Rosh Hashana begins at sunset.

⚡ Breaking: House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said on ABC's "This Week" that he's reached an agreement with the whistleblower to come before the committee.

  • Schiff also told NBC's "Meet the Press" that House Dems will push for memos from Trump calls with other world leaders, including Putin.

Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,093 words ... 4 minutes.

1 big thing: Trump’s playbook for planting suspicion

lllustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's effort to paint Joe Biden as c0rrupt — debunked by fact checkers — fits a pattern for Trump attacks on enemies, Axios' Neal Rothschild writes:

  • Raise deeply serious questions, regardless of what the facts say; hammer on those questions; never, ever seek finality.

Why it matters: Trump tries to plant seeds of suspicion and doubt, even if he doesn't actually prove a case. He incubates the attacks in perpetuity, rather than seeking an actual resolution.

  • But in Biden's case, they've backfired in a way Trump couldn't have imagined.

Trump's formula:

  • Ask questions, raising the specter of wrongdoing
  • Be vague and broad with accusations — specifics can be proven wrong
  • Never seek finality. Once it's over, the attack goes stale.
  • The innuendo is always more titillating than the real story.

This is how Trump has worked for years — and not just when he has an election opponent:

1. When Trump promoted the "birther" conspiracy against Barack Obama.

  • It wasn't until Obama produced his long-form birth certificate that Trump gave it up, saying: "I was able to do something that nobody else could do."

2. When Trump leveled charges of voter fraud in the 2016 election.

  • He formed a commission. After states declined to provide information, the commission disbanded.

3. When Trump accused Obama of tapping his phones.

  • He later said the claim was based "on a little bit of a hunch."

4. When Trump cast "deep state" government workers as agents covertly working to undermine the policy aims of his administration.

5. When Trump paints immigrants as criminals.

6. When Trump hammered (and continues to hammer) Clinton over her emails.

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2. Pelosi's power play
Speaker Pelosi talks to Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith yesterday during the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Speaker Pelosi said yesterday at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin: "I'm saying to the president and I'm saying to you, 'You've come into my wheelhouse now. I have 25 years of experience in intelligence.'"

That quote captures the speaker's mood and posture after a week in which her quiet patience on impeachment looked vindicated:

  • "Pelosi has tried to frame [impeachment] through a historical, apolitical lens," the L.A. Times' Jennifer Haberkorn writes.
  • "She is sprinkling her speech with quotes from Ben Franklin and Abraham Lincoln. And she has repeatedly cited her frequent prayers for the president, his family and their safety."
3. World's mood = dark
A police officer guards Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, after the mass shooting in March. Photo: Vincent Yu/AP

This week's UN meeting in New York reveals a world in a really bad mood, with speech after gloomy speech by leaders from all corners of the planet, AP's Ted Anthony writes:

  • "The planet is heating. Island nations are slipping away. A Pakistan-India nuclear war could be a "bloodbath." Governments aren't working together like they used to. Polarization is tearing us apart. Killing. Migration. Poverty. Corruption. Inequality. Sovereignty violations. Helplessness. Hopelessness."
  • "The problems of our times are extraordinary," said Ibraham Mohamed Solih, president of the Maldives, an Indian Ocean island nation threatened by the rising waters of climate change.

Why it matters: "The United Nations was founded in an optimistic fervor after World War II's devastation, on the notion that a cooperative body of countries could construct a brighter future by learning to get along."

  • "[T]he actual tenor these days seems to set a lower bar: Try to mitigate climate Armageddon and prevent some of its 193 member nations' diligent attempts to undermine and sometimes destroy each other.
4. Pic du jour: To show your kids
Photo: Alessandro Rampazzo /AFP/Getty Images

A Lego event in Helsinki yesterday included this Lego city.

5. Military drones go global
Expand chart
Data: The Drone Databook. Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

About half of the world's militaries now fly drones, according to a new study that reveals the swift spread of a critical technology that until recently was too expensive or sophisticated for most countries, Axios' Kaveh Waddell writes.

  • Why it matters: The increasingly robot-crowded skies mean that clashes involving drones — like the recent attack on a Saudi oil facility that the U.S. has blamed on Iran — are likely to become commonplace.

The takeaways: From cheap, off-the-shelf quadcopters to enormous, missile-toting aircraft, flying drones are proliferating widely.

  • And they're becoming deeply integrated into militaries, according to the report by Dan Gettinger, co-founder of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College.

🔮 Sign up for the twice-weekly Axios Future newsletter, by Kaveh Waddell and Erica Pandey.

6. 🇨🇳 China this week celebrates 70 years of Communist rule
A policeman confronts protesters in Hong Kong today. Photo: Vincent Thian/AP

Ahead of a massive military parade marking Tuesday's 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong police fired blue dye at pro-democracy protesters, who threw petrol bombs, CNN reports.

  • It was the 17th consecutive weekend of unrest for the ongoing protest.

What's next: A parade Tuesday by China's secretive military will offer a rare look at its rapidly developing arsenal, including possibly a nuclear-capable missile that could reach the United States in 30 minutes, as Beijing gets closer to matching Washington and other powers in weapons technology. (AP)

7. It's not normal: What historians will be reading
via Twitter
8. 📊 Polling FYI for California readers

President Trump is on track for the poorest showing by a Republican presidential candidate in California since the Civil War, according to the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll for the L.A. Times.

  • 29% of likely California voters say they plan to vote for Trump, compared with 67% who say they do not.
  • That tracks 2016 results: Hillary Clinton, 62%; Trump, 32%.
9. 🍦 College journalist pops global scoop
The State Press

A 20-year-old student at Arizona State University broke Friday's news of the departure of a key State Department official who was involved in talks between President Trump and the Ukrainian government, AP reports.

  • Andrew Howard, a managing editor of The State Press student newspaper, scooped that Kurt Volker — executive director of the McCain Institute, a think tank in Washington that is run by Arizona State — had stepped down as the State Department's special envoy for Ukraine.
  • "I just talked to [the State Press] editor in chief and said we should look into this because we thought it would be good to localize a big story," Howard said.

When the story went online, Howard was working in the newsroom of the big Phoenix paper, the Arizona Republic, where he's an intern.

  • "I briefly said out loud: 'Sorry about that,' " he recalled. "They were incredibly nice about it. It was sort of a funny moment."
10. 1 food thing: Meat vending machines
Jennifer May/Poughkeepsie Journal via Reuters

A butcher in New York's Hudson Valley has opened vending machines stocked with vacuum-sealed packages of Porterhouse steaks, short ribs and rack of lamb, the Poughkeepsie Journal reports.

  • Inside Applestone Meat Co.'s 24/7 stores, you "just swipe your credit card, push a button, slide open the door and retrieve your sustainably raised meat."
  • One array "features seven vending machines, each dedicated to a category such as beef, pork, lamb, chicken or sausage."

What's next: A Westchester County location with 12 vending machines.

Mike Allen

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