April 18, 2024

👋 Happy Thursday! Smart Brevity™ count: 1,363 words ... 5 mins. Thanks to Noah Bressner for orchestrating. Copy edited by Bryan McBournie.

Breaking: Google fired 28 employees after sit-ins at offices in New York and Sunnyvale, Calif., to protest cloud computing contracts with the Israeli government: "Physically impeding other employees' work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies." (N.Y. Times)

1 big thing: Shadow grievance campaign

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

With former President Trump tied up in court for much of the next six weeks or so, supporters are staging events and creating an online chorus that the trial-bound Trump later touts on social media, Axios' Sophia Cai writes.

  • Why it matters: Trump supporters, operating separately from his campaign, are amplifying Trump's grievance-fueled messaging well beyond his online rants and indignant statements before and after court sessions in Manhattan.

These groups and personalities are creating Trump-adoring content that ranges from sympathetic to the sort of indignant, critic-bashing attacks that can sound like they came from Trump himself.

  • Elon Musk told his 180 million followers on X: "This case is obviously a corruption of the law." Trump posted it on Truth Social.

Right-wing activist Laura Loomer is pumping out partisan research that seeks to link Judge Juan Merchan to liberals. Loomer hosted a pro-Trump rally this week near the Manhattan courthouse where Merchan is presiding over the hush-money case.

  • Trump and his son Don Jr. shared a promo for a 30-minute documentary criticizing the prosecutors in Trump's four criminal cases.
  • The film, "Chasing Trump," was produced by American Greatness, a conservative site run by author and publisher Chris Buskirk.

Conservative celebrities — including Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Newt Gingrich and former White House official Stephen Miller — are among the Trump friendlies who've generated dozens of easily shared pro-Trump radio and TV soundbites this week.

  • Their posts became a staple of Trump's Truth Social feed.

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2. 🚨 GOP may make it harder to oust speaker

Speaker Mike Johnson leaves a press conference on foreign aid bills for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan yesterday.
Speaker Mike Johnson leaves a press conference on foreign aid bills for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan yesterday. Photo: Mariam Zuhaib/AP

House Republican leaders "are privately discussing using the debate over the $95 billion foreign aid package to make it harder to oust Speaker Mike Johnson," Punchbowl scoops.

  • Why it matters: Johnson's hold on the gavel is imperiled from his right. His plan for weekend votes on a series of bills, including aid for Ukraine, could bring the danger to a head.

GOP leadership "is discussing embedding language in the rule for debating the legislation that would raise the threshold needed to file motions to vacate," Punchbowl reports. Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy lowered it to just one member — which ultimately cost him his job.

  • Johnson hasn't decided whether he'll pursue the change — but he's getting pressed by scores of members to raise the threshold, per Punchbowl.

State of play: Johnson needs Democratic votes to pass the aid package — and possibly save his speakership from a motion-to-vacate campaign led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

  • A source said they expect more Republicans to join Greene and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) in their effort to oust Johnson, Axios' Juliegrace Brufke and Andrew Solender report.
  • "I'm willing to take personal risk for that because we have to do the right thing and history will judge us," Johnson told reporters yesterday.

🔎 Zoom in: The aid package totals $95 billion and includes long-awaited bills on Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan — plus another measure that would force a sale of TikTok, sell off seized Russian assets and sanction Iran.

  • Johnson promised a fifth bill on border security to appease angry conservatives.

Between the lines: The revised provision to force the sale of TikTok includes a change that makes it more likely to clear the Senate, Axios Pro Tech Policy's Maria Curi scoops.

  • It provides an additional 180-day delay at the discretion of the president for ByteDance to sell the platform.

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3. 🏛️ Dems quickly end Mayorkas trial

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) swears in senators for yesterday's impeachment trial.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) swears in senators for yesterday's impeachment trial. Photo: Senate TV via AP

Senate Democrats quickly squashed impeachment charges against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas yesterday — ending the GOP's attempt to oust him, Axios' Stephen Neukam and Stef W. Kight write.

  • Why it matters: Killing the charges without a full trial shows that Dems saw the impeachment as political theater. Republicans argue it sets a dangerous precedent.

Senators voted along party lines to rule the articles of impeachment unconstitutional for not meeting the standard of high crimes and misdemeanors.

  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted present on the first article, rather than joining with the rest of her Republican colleagues who voted against the articles being unconstitutional.

🖼️ The big picture: Republicans have made border security and immigration their top campaign issue this year. Dismissing the impeachment effort was a tough vote for Democrats facing competitive races to keep their seats in November.

  • Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) voted against the impeachment effort despite facing re-election.

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4. 🎒 Mapped: Where kids thrive

Child Opportunity Score for 100 largest U.S. metros
Data: Brandeis University. (Based on educational, health, environmental, social and economic indicators spanning 2012-21.) Map: Axios Visuals

Metro areas across the South and Southwest, with few exceptions, offer worse conditions for children to grow up healthy and become successful adults, according to data from researchers at Brandeis University.

  • Why it matters: The Child Opportunity Index seeks to quantify childhood opportunity based on education, health care and the environment, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick, Alice Feng and Jared Whalen write.

Bridgeport, Conn. (88 out of 100); San Jose, Calif. (87); and Boston (86) have the highest overall "Opportunity Score" among the country's 100 biggest metros.

  • McAllen, Texas (6); Brownsville, Texas (9); and Visalia, Calif. (13) have the lowest.

Between the lines: Racial chasms help explain the gaps. Black and Hispanic children typically live in relatively lower-opportunity neighborhoods compared to white and Asian children.

5. 🗳️ Kennedy family endorsing Biden

President Biden poses with dozens of Kennedy family members on St. Patrick's Day.
President Biden poses with dozens of Kennedy family members at the White House on St. Patrick's Day. Photo via Kerry Kennedy/X

Members of the Kennedy family will appear en masse to endorse President Biden at a campaign event in Philadelphia today, Axios' Alex Thompson and Hans Nichols write.

  • Why it matters: The event reflects the reality that Biden is more at risk from RFK Jr.'s third-party challenge than former President Trump is.

RFK Jr.'s sister, Kerry Kennedy, will invoke the legacy of her slain father, former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, as well as that of her uncles: former President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).

  • "I can only imagine how Donald Trump's outrageous lies and behavior would have horrified my father," she says in prepared remarks shared with Axios.
  • "President Biden has been a champion for all the rights and freedoms that my father and uncles stood for."

Biden will be introduced by Joe Kennedy III, a former member of Congress who currently serves as the president's special envoy to Northern Ireland.

6. 💰 Climate's rising cost

Projected change in income due to climate change by 2049
Data: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Chart: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios

Climate change through the middle of this century is likely to be far costlier than previously thought — to the tune of $38 trillion per year, Axios' Andrew Freedman writes.

  • Why it matters: A new study published yesterday in Nature finds the world economy is headed for a loss of 19% of income within the next 26 years.

The $38 trillion figure is more than double the annual GDP of the entire EU.

7. 🔋 Elon Musk's $56 billion ask

Tesla stock price
Data: Yahoo Finance. Chart: Axios Visuals

Elon Musk is asking Tesla shareholders to approve two proposals that would be unthinkable at almost any other public company:

  • Moving the corporate headquarters out of Delaware, and giving the CEO billions in pay that's already been stripped from him by a Delaware judge.

Why it matters: The votes are effectively a referendum on Elon exceptionalism, Axios' Felix Salmon writes.

  • Musk seems to be confident he'll win them both. Keeping Elon happy — at almost any price — is ultimately in shareholders' best interests.

🥊 Reality check: While Tesla's army of retail investors largely supports him, small investors vote in such limited numbers that they're unlikely to sway the outcome.

The bottom line: In a rational world, Tesla would lose this vote. Which probably means Musk is going to win it handily.

8. 🏀 1 hoop thing: 8-figure deal for Clark

A pedestrian walks past a Caitlin Clark mural in Indianapolis on Tuesday.
A Caitlin Clark mural in Indianapolis this week. Photo: Michael Conroy/AP

Caitlin Clark — days after being drafted by the Indiana Fever — is closing in on an eight-figure endorsement deal with Nike that will dramatically boost her income, The Athletic's Shams Charania scoops.

  • Why it matters: The deal will help offset Clark's shockingly low rookie salary — $76,535.

She's expected to have her own signature shoe. Adidas and Under Armour "also made sizable offers" to Clark.

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