Jul 12, 2020

Axios AM

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1 big thing ... Biden's doctrine: Erase Trump, re-embrace the world

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Getty Images

This is the first episode of an Axios series about how a President Biden would handle the world’s hot spots.

Foreign policy will look drastically different if Joe Biden defeats President Trump in November, advisers tell Axios — starting with a Day One announcement that the U.S. is re-entering the Paris Climate Agreement and new global coordination of the coronavirus response, Hans Nichols reports.

The big picture: If Trump's presidency started the "America First" era of withdrawal from global alliances, Biden's team says his presidency would be the opposite: a re-engagement with the world and an effort to rebuild those alliances — fast.

  • Biden will be pressed in the coming months for more details about how his proposals have changed since his time as Barack Obama's vice president, but his choice of advisers and his remarks thus far serve as guideposts about his thinking.

Biden advisers who watched the 2008-09 financial crisis consume Obama’s early days say that, similarly, the domestic challenges posed by the coronavirus will demand much of the next administration’s attention while the global impacts may compete with other priorities.

  • "Job one will be to get COVID under control," said Tony Blinken, Biden’s longtime foreign policy adviser.
  • Colin Kahl, a former Biden aide who is familiar with his views, said if Biden is elected, “Day One is making sure that our approach to COVID and the associated economic crisis is coordinated internationally" — as well as re-entering the Paris accord to combat global warming.
  • The pandemic doesn't recognize borders, and team Biden is concerned about a potential global food crisis, security vulnerabilities, worldwide depression and an emerging market debt crunch.

But the coronavirus is just the beginning. Biden's advisers look at the world they could inherit and feel a sense of dread and urgency in every time zone: Climate change, Iran’s breakout time for a nuclear weapon, North Korea’s missile advancement, a revanchist Russia and an assertive China.

2. Keepers of the Biden doctrine

Joe Biden stopped Thursday at his childhood home in Scranton, Pa. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The core Biden foreign policy team served under President Obama, Hans Nichols writes:

  • Tony Blinken, who during Biden’s earlier days in the U.S. Senate was his staff director on the Committee on Foreign Relations, served as Biden's national security adviser in the White House and later as deputy secretary of state under John Kerry.
  • Jake Sullivan, who joined the Obama administration in Hillary Clinton’s State Department, later served as Biden’s national security adviser and was instrumental in the Iran deal.
  • Susan Rice, who served as Obama’s third national security adviser and first UN ambassador, has been advising the campaign and is among the women being considered for Biden's running mate.
  • Samantha Power, Obama’s second UN ambassador, is very involved in the Biden campaign and is talked about as a potential secretary of state.
  • The Donilon brothers, long in Biden’s personal and professional orbit, served in Obama’s White House — Mike in the VP’s office, and Tom as Obama’s second national security adviser.
  • Julie Smith, a Europe specialist who started in the Pentagon and then served as Biden's deputy national security adviser, could find herself as ambassador to NATO or the UN.

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3. Jobs Apocalypse 2

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

We have entered Round 2 of the jobs apocalypse, with big new rounds of cuts and major bankruptcies, Axios Markets Editor Dion Rabouin writes:

  • While Round 1 was a swift reckoning that left 20.5 million Americans without a job after one month, Part 2 will be a slow burn that sees millions more jobs lost as some businesses reduce headcounts and others shut down for good.
  • In the first half of 2020, more than 3,600 companies filed for bankruptcy, according to legal services provider Epiq. Just over 600 filed in June, up 43% from June 2019.

How it works: The initial jobs apocalypse was due to the mandated and temporary closures of businesses across the country in an attempt to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Part 2 is the fallout from the decline in consumption that resulted and will likely include the wreckage from wide-ranging business closures and a reckoning for white collar jobs, experts say.

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  • Sign up for Dion Rabouin's weekday newsletter, Axios Markets.
4. Tweets du jour
Via Twitter

Trump advisers and supporters shower him with attaboys for wearing a mask (with a gold presidential seal) for White House photographers for the first time, during a visit yesterday to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

  • Why it matters: They're trying to convince him he looks awesome, and therefore to take their advice to keep wearing masks.
Via Twitter
5. Disney's new world of masks, social distancing
Photo: David Roark/Walt Disney World Resort via Getty Images

Disney World drew light crowds to the Magic Kingdom when the park opened to the public yesterday for the first time since mid-March, the Orlando Sentinel reports:

  • "Disney employees wore face coverings, and workers with high contact with guests, such as ride operators, were equipped with clear face shields."
  • "Most visitors seemed to be obeying the requirement to wear masks, as well as markers keeping them 6 feet apart."
Photo: Matt Stroshane/Walt Disney World Resort via Getty Images
6. White House moves oppo on Fauci

Howard Wolfson spotted this nugget in a WashPost front-pager, "White House sidelines an increasingly candid Fauci":

A White House official released a statement saying that "several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things," and attaching a lengthy list of the scientist’s comments from early in the outbreak. ...
They ... point to public reassurances Fauci made in late February [on the "Today" show], around the time of the first U.S. case of community transmission, that "at this moment, there is no need to change anything that you’re doing on a day-by-day basis."

The context, per The Post: "Fauci’s supporters acknowledge those early mistakes, attributing them to the challenges posed by a new, largely unknown pathogen."

  • And Fauci added on "Today": "You gotta watch out. ... When you start to see community spread, this could change — and force you to become much more attentive to doing things that would protect you from spread."
7. Roger clemency
Screenshot via CNN

🚨 Robert Mueller broke his silence on Trump's commutation of Roger Stone's sentence, writing in a rare WashPost op-ed yesterday: "Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so."

  • House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said on ABC's "This Week": "It shouldn't matter, but this was a Republican-led investigation that Roger Stone lied to."
  • "This is the distinction between now and Watergate. The Republicans at that time would not have stood for this, and Nixon understood that. But Donald Trump understands that he has these Republicans cowed."
8. 🏀 Woj bombs

ESPN has suspended its top NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, who apologized on Friday for sending a profane email to Sen. Josh Hawley in response to a letter the Republican senator had sent to commissioner Adam Silver, Outkick reports.

  • Hawley had criticized the league for allowing pre-approved social justice messages on players' jerseys but barring criticism of China and support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
9. 🌮 Virus fells Hill landmark

Photo: Mike Allen/Axios

Tortilla Coast — "T-Coast," to generations of Capitol Hill lawmakers, lobbyists, aides and reporters who shared margaritas in the bar and turned up for briefings and fundraisers in the basement — will close a week from today, July 19, at 9 pm.

  • The cause of death, according to the employee we reminisced with: COVID.
10. 🕹️ 1 smile to go: $114,000 video game
Photo: Emily Clemens/Heritage Auctions via AP

An unopened copy of a vintage Super Mario Bros. video game sold for $114,000 at a Dallas auction, AP reports:

  • A bidder who wished to remain anonymous snapped up an early version of the pioneering game, released in 1985 for Nintendo's NES console.

Other titles auctioned off included "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!" — a 1987 video game that sold for $50,400.

Photo: Emily Clemens/Heritage Auctions via AP

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