Jul 9, 2018

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good Monday morning ...

Flash ... CNN: A fifth child is rescued.

  • MAE SAI, Thailand (AP) — Ambulance with flashing lights seen leaving Thai cave complex hours after latest operation to rescue trapped boys began.
1 big thing: The year's most consequential campaign

Illustration: Axios Visuals

Within seconds of President Trump's announcement of his Supreme Court pick at 9 tonight, the conservative Judicial Crisis Network will begin running digital ads targeted at Democrats in red states who might vote for confirmation.

  • On the left, Demand Justice — a group launched in May to prepare progressives for a Court fight — plans to spend at least $5 million to oppose Trump’s nominee, with a pincer plan that pressures both Republican and Democratic senators in key states.

Why it matters: For the rest of the summer, the confirmation fight will overshadow the congressional midterms, which were supposed to be the year's most momentous melee.

  • This battle will be fought both inside the Beltway and in the country, focused in a few key states from Alaska to Maine, with Alabama, Indiana, North Dakota and West Virginia in between.
  • "If you combine the intensity of the health care and tax fights, and condense it all into three months running right up to the midterms, that's what's in store on SCOTUS," said Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice.

As former (and perhaps future) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can tell you, congressional control can be undone every two years, with a wave and the whim of the voters:

  • Seats on the Court, a more durable prize, exist outside the political calendar — open based solely on a given justice's health and personal plans.
  • An opening is an opportunity to cement history that every president wishes and plans for, but none can count on.
  • Trump has now had two in two years, meaning his imprint on the nation is likely to last decades past the inauguration of his successor in 2021 or 2025.

The fight now takes on a calendar of its own:

  • Demand Justice is partnering for a Week of Action this week with groups that include Indivisible, MoveOn, Planned Parenthood and NARAL.
  • And groups that support abortion rights will be back with a Day of Action on Aug. 26, the 98th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

Court TV ... Here's how the air war looks from the right:

  • Tomorrow, the Judicial Crisis Network will launch an introductory bio spot about the nominee on national cable and on TV in Alabama, Indiana, North Dakota and West Virginia.
  • That ad will run for a week as part of a $1.4 million buy (including digital), and JCN has reserved another four weeks of air time nationally and in the four states.
  • The group has already spent $1 million on a campaign called "Another Great Justice" that launched the day after Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement.

... And from the left:

  • NARAL and Demand Justice plan a #SAVESCOTUS rally on the steps of the Supreme Court tonight to react in real time to Trump's announcement.
  • Demand Justice is already up with a Roe-focused ad in the home states of Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, urging those Republicans to oppose an anti-abortion nominee.
  • Later this week, Demand Justice will go on TV in red states to bolster Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The ads will praise those senators for pushing to preserve the Affordable Care Act's protections for people with preexisting conditions.
2. Supreme Court math

Republicans have "a narrower margin for error than they did when the Senate confirmed Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, by a vote of 54-45 in April 2017," AP's Kevin Freking writes:

  • "Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama has replaced Republican Sen. Luther Strange, cutting the GOP's Senate majority to 51-49.
  • "Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona is battling brain cancer and has not been back to the Capitol since December."

The bottom line: If Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) "vote 'no' and Democrats all vote 'no,' the nomination would be blocked."

  • "If McCain were to miss the vote, only one GOP defection would be needed to block the nomination if all Democrats were opposed."
3. Understanding Trump country

As part of our continuing quest to illuminate forces in the country that produced President Trump's surprise victory in 2016, Axios Future editor Steve Levine found these striking stats in a new paper co-authored by U.K. economist Carl Frey, a writer of one of the most-cited papers about automation and jobs:

  • From 1979 to 2013, productivity rose by 65% but hourly wages for 80% of the workforce were up by just 8%.
  • From 2000 to 2013, wages for 70% of workers were either flat or fell.

Why it matters, from Frey's paper: "The trajectories of the American economy over the four decades following the revolution in automation of the 1980s almost exactly mirror the first four decades of the Industrial Revolution in Britain."

4. The shuffling deck of White House staff

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Trump administration has broken records for the most White House departures in a presidency — just a year and a half in, Axios' Lazaro Gamio, Stef W. Kight and Sarah Grillo write.

Expand chart
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio and Sarah Grillo/Axios

The data, from AP's Zeke Miller and Ted Bridis:

  • "Trump has seen staff turnover in excess of 37 percent over the calendar year ending June 30."
  • "141 staffers who worked for the president at that point last year are gone, with 138 new arrivals."
  • "Trump's White House is setting records for attrition, said the White House Transition Project's Martha Joynt Kumar. Some 61 percent of Trump's senior-most aides have left the White House. Only Bill Clinton's 42 percent comes close for the last five administrations."

Explore the graphic.

5. Global drama
Courtesy ABC News
Courtesy N.Y. Post
6. "They don't have a following in our caucus"

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi interview with Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson ...

Let’s look ahead to the speaker contest that would follow the election. What do you make of the Tim Ryans or Seth Moultons who’ve called for a new generation of leadership?

  • "Inconsequential. They don't have a following in our caucus. None. ... [T]here are lots of people who have worked very hard, and are more in line for what will happen one of these times."
  • "People who paid their dues. Not to put anybody down. Anybody is consequential. But I have great support in my caucus. I'm not worried about that. And I'm certainly not worried about them."

What’s your thinking on impeachment?

  • "I think it's a gift to the Republicans."

Expand on that.

  • "Because people really want to know how we will improve their lives. We don't really know what Mueller has."
  • "[W]hen I was elected speaker, people wanted me to impeach Bush. In the streets [chanting]: 'Impeach Bush!' I thought the war in Iraq was sinful. ... They didn't have weapons of mass destruction! It would be like me saying there’s 20 puppies on this table. It wasn't there! Nobody could show it to you. It was a complete lie. But nonetheless he got re-elected."

Full interview.

7. Hunger, fear, desperation: What came of an ordinary ICE raid

"Many miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border, authorities are separating families in raids that target immigrants at home and at work, conducted in the name of public safety. Most of these raids go unnoticed outside of the communities affected," AP's Nomaan Merchant writes from Covington, Ky.:

  • "[B]ut they are integral to the Trump administration’s broader crackdown on immigration that is leading to more arrests, particularly of migrants with no criminal records."
  • "This is the story of one such operation, and the lingering effects it had not just on families but on the community they had come to call home."
  • "Over two days in five towns across northern Kentucky, agents staked out homes before sunup, stopped men heading for jobs, went to warehouses like the one where Tomas had worked for more than a year. By ICE’s accounting, 20 men and two women were picked up."

Worthy of your time.

8. Fact-checking Amy's energy crystal ball

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

In January, Amy Harder laid out eight energy and climate issues to watch this year. In today's "Harder Line" column, she unveils her rejiggered crystal ball — and a fact check for how her predictions are playing out.

  • "The pace of President Trump’s regulatory rollbacks at the Environmental Protection Agency is slower than I had predicted in January, though this summer is gearing up to be a busy one."
  • "I was pretty spot-on with my prediction oil prices would trend upward, with gasoline prices rising accordingly."

See the tally.

9. Jonathan Chait's "Russian asset" theory
Courtesy New York Magazine

"The media has treated the notion that Russia has personally compromised the president of the United States as something close to a kook theory," Jonathan Chait writes in New York Magazine's cover story:

  • "A minority of analysts, mostly but not exclusively on the right, have promoted aggressively exculpatory interpretations of the known facts, in which every suspicious piece of evidence turns out to have a surprisingly innocent explanation. And it is possible, though unlikely, that every trail between Trump Tower and the Kremlin extends no farther than its point of current visibility."
  • "What is missing from our imagination is the unlikely but possible outcome on the other end ... After all, treating a small probability as if it were nonexistent is the very error much of the news media made in covering the presidential horse race."
  • "And while the body of publicly available information about the Russia scandal is already extensive, the way it has been delivered — scoop after scoop of discrete nuggets of information — has been disorienting and difficult to follow."
  • Keep reading.
10. 1 fun thing

"Waiter, There’s a Bloody Mary in My Chicken Dinner ... A classic cocktail becomes performance art garnished with sliders, chickens, doughnuts" — Wall Street Journal A-Hed by Thomas Vinciguerra (subscription):

  • "The Bloody Mary was once a simple combination of tomato juice, vodka and seasonings in a normal-size glass. Now, in some bars and restaurants, ... [c]reations are so out of hand, they’re nearly impossible to consume without great struggle."
  • "The 'Bloody Royale' at Franklin & Company in Los Angeles sports a burger slider, a bacon-wrapped jalapeño, a pickle spear, a cube of pepper Jack cheese, a pickled tomatillo, a lime, a roasted Brussels sprout and an onion ring."
  • Lee Grossman, 42, a New York television executive: "I’m not in favor of turning it into a buffet.”
  • Cindy Matar, a 24-year-old Nashville salesperson who ordered a $55 Bloody: “[T]he thing needs a lot of space…You try not to poke yourself on all of the skewers.”
Mike Allen

Thanks for reading. See you tonight for instant analysis of the Court pick on Axios.com.