May 10, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

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☕ If you're in D.C. this morning ... Please join me at 8 a.m. for a breakfast conversation with House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff; Cecile Richards, co-founder of Supermajority; and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise.

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1 big thing: Trump's new impeachment trap

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

House Democrats' heightened hunger for impeachment is being fueled by President Trump's scorched-earth strategy of rebuffing every congressional demand for information related to the special counsel's Russia probe.

  • An outside adviser to the West Wing tells me: "Trump’s statement that they will not comply with the subpoenas and document requests was not posturing or an opening negotiating position. It is administration policy."
  • Why it matters: Multiple fights between the two branches of government will wind through the courts, with some likely to end up at the Supreme Court.

The bottom line:

  • Damned if he does: If Trump allows Democrats to rummage through notes and witnesses, he risks new material surfacing that piles on top of the Mueller report, triggering impeachment. 
  • Damned if he doesn't: If Trump refuses all cooperation with Congress, Democrats increasingly see the opportunity to try to impeach him.

Be smart: Some Trump advisers would love nothing more than Dems trying to impeach him before 2020. It's win-win in their minds, per Axios' Jonathan Swan:

  • Run out the clock by obstructing Dem oversight efforts. And if that leads to House Democrats trying to impeach him, then all the better: They think it’ll redound to Trump’s political advantage. 

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2. Midnight strikes, and trade war spikes
A man browses an iPhone at a hypermarket in Beijing. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

"The U.S. increased tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25% ... and threatened to impose additional levies on virtually everything China exports to the U.S. ... Beijing said it would retaliate," per the Wall Street Journal (subscription).

  • Why it matters: "[T]he move ... made clear that Mr. Trump sees tariffs as a winning tactic, both internationally ... and at home with Congress."

What's next: Though talks are set to resume today, "some close observers said they were not hopeful for any meaningful breakthroughs," per Bloomberg.

3. How the past may shape tech's future

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Big Tech is urging regulators to adopt approaches from the past to regulate their businesses, including self-regulation, Axios' David McCabe reports:

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says moderation of malicious content could be overseen by an industry standards body — like the Motion Picture Association of America's voluntary film-rating system.
  • Another potential model is the private body that polices the securities industry, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, according to Zuckerberg’s top U.S. policy executive, Kevin Martin.
  • Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said in December that social media could be regulated like broadcast television.

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Bonus: Pics du jour
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the Mueller investigation, held a farewell ceremony yesterday with Attorney General William Barr (left) and former A.G. Jeff Sessions.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
4. Bezos' plan to colonize space
Jeff Bezos speaks in front of a model of Blue Origin's Blue Moon lunar lander, yesterday in D.C. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

Jeff Bezos said his space company Blue Origin will land a robotic ship the size of a small house on the moon, Axios' Miriam Kramer reports.

  • The lander is designed to bring tons of cargo to the lunar surface, with a possible human configuration coming later.
5. North Korea capability grows
This Thursday photo provided by the North Korean government shows Kim Jong-un observing a military test. Photo: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

What's new: North Korea’s two missile tests this week signal "it is serious about developing new, short-range weapons that could be used early and effectively in any war with South Korea and the United States," per Reuters.

  • Why it matters ... Melissa Hanham, a weapons expert at Datayo, which tracks international security threats: "[E]ven though they can’t reach the U.S. mainland, it's missiles like these that will start the war."
6. 🍨 Scoop: Don Jr. endgame

A single senator criticizing a fellow senator of the same party, especially a committee chair, is rare enough.

  • But six Republican senators (Cornyn, Cruz, Daines, Graham, Paul, Tillis) criticized the decision by Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) to subpoena Don Jr. about the Russia investigation.

A Trump ally said: "We're drawing battle lines: If you touch Don, we'll come after you. ... And our base will come after you."

  • And Don Jr.'s camp knows the media will always cover a Republican civil war.

What's next: We're told Don Jr. won't show up. Options include daring the committee to hold him in contempt, taking the Fifth in writing, or (most likely) a compromise like answering written questions.

7. Red Sox at White House
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy on the "awkward from the start" White House ceremony honoring the World Series champion Boston Red Sox:

As was the case when the Super Bowl champion Patriots visited in 2017, ... only team personnel who were in attendance were cited by the president. ...
A casual observer might wonder how the 2018 Sox won 108 games without a manager or an MVP right fielder.
Photo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox via Getty Images
8. Three-pointers lead analytics revolution
Expand chart
Data: Sports Reference. (NFL data through 2018 season; MLB data through yesterday.) Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Analytics are driving teams to hyper-optimize their strategies: NFL passing is way up and MLB home runs have risen to historic heights — but neither can touch the rise of the NBA three-pointer, Axios' Andrew Witherspoon writes:

  • NBA: In the 20-year span from 1980 to 2000, NBA teams averaged 2.6 three-pointers per game. This season, they averaged 11.4(!).
  • MLB: Whether it's the balls, launch angles, or absurd velocity of modern pitchers, dingers have never been hit at a higher rate than the 1.30 per game mark so far this season. Even at the peak of the "steroid era" in 2000, home runs topped out at 1.17 per game.
  • NFL: A correlation between winning and passing-oriented offenses led NFL teams to pass for a record 243.8 yards per game in 2015, up from 221.6 in 2010, 206.9 in 2000 and 194.8 in 1990. This revolution is the weakest of the three, however, with multiple dips occurring throughout the years. From 2015-2017, for example, passing yards dropped every season.

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9. 🍦 Scoop: 2020 books
Center Street

Charlie Hurt — Fox News contributor and Washington Times opinion editor — will be out July 9 with a funny, pointed book, "Still Winning: Why America Went All In on Donald Trump — and Why We Must Do It Again."

  • President Trump gave Hurt a wild interview.
  • Preorder.
10. 1 foot thing
Photo: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Nike will add a foot scanner to its app this summer that'll measure the length and width of your feet when you point the camera at them, AP's Joseph Pisani writes.

  • Why it matters: The app will tell shoppers what size to buy, which Nike hopes will cut down on returns, as it seeks to sell more through the web and apps.
  • Nike will also get a flood of data on the feet of regular people. Nike mainly relies on the feet of star athletes to build its kicks.
Mike Allen

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