Good Friday morning.
Situational awareness: "Bulk of families separated at U.S.-Mexico border remain apart," per Reuters. "[G]overnment lawyers reported ... that 364 of some 2,500 families with children aged 5 and older have been brought back together."
Breaking: "BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — At least 11 people, including children, died after a boat carrying tourists on a Missouri lake capsized and sank."
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The chances of a longer, wider, more damaging trade war with China are rising, top officials tell us.
Trump is spoiling for escalation. And China is ready to retaliate and out-wait America. Here’s why it could be even worse than you think:
I asked Larry Kudlow, the White House economic adviser, about that scenario. He told me that if China tries to bait Trump, "They're picking the wrong customer, I’ll tell you that — you know how intense he is on this issue."
The U.S. and China have not had trade conversations or negotiations "for weeks" — really since June, when Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross visited Beijing, according to Kudlow.
After the Chinese foreign ministry criticized comments Kudlow made this week to CNBC, he told me: "I'm honored to see the Chinese government attacking me."
Neither country is likely to cave, Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell and a Brookings fellow, tells Axios' Erica Pandey:
Michael Pillsbury — director of the Center on China Strategy at the Hudson Institute, and author of “The Hundred-Year Marathon” — tells Erica that during a trip to Beijing three weeks ago, he found Chinese officials "very feisty":
Axios future editor Steve Levine reports that scholars at CSIS and CFR do not expect China to throw caution to the wind and escalate unilaterally.
What's next: Already, the Chinese have begun non-tariff punishment, including delayed commercial approvals and inspection of U.S. goods at the dock.
Be smart: Three of the world’s most dangerous men are staring down Trump — Xi, Putin, Kim. They all know well his tells, his temperament and Twitter taunts. Of the three, Xi has by far the most leverage and levers.
President Trump's tariffs are introducing a new, wildly unpredictable issue into the midterms, with heavy impact on states with critical Senate races, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports:
In North Dakota — one of the GOP's best Senate pickup opportunities this cycle — Rep. Kevin Cramer has issued carefully worded statements on Trump's tariffs, emphasizing the need to protect farmers while stopping short of criticizing the president. He also accused Democrats of stoking "hysteria" over the tariffs.
P.S. "How Trump’s tariffs on Mexico are taking jobs from U.S. workers" — WashPost front page:
Today is 18 months since inauguration, a wild and historic ride that has produced record White House turnover.
Very, very few top aides are left who were there on Jan. 20, 2017, Jonathan Swan notes.
Today is the last official day for Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin and Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short.
The frame above captures the moment Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats found out, when NBC News' Andrea Mitchell read him a White House tweet onstage, that Vladimir Putin has been invited to the White House this fall.
The clips didn't play well in the White House: a Trump Cabinet member, disagreeing with the president and drawing laughter from the crowd — in Aspen, no less.
Jonathan Swan calls the interview "stunning ... a moment of true and startling independence."
"A generation ago, Democrats represented much of the country’s manufacturing base. Now, it’s in GOP hands, a swing remaking both parties," the Wall Street Journal's Bob Davis and Dante Chinni write (subscription).
Market research firm SuperData estimates that "Fortnite: Battle Royale," the free video game mode that took the world by storm, has generated more than $1 billion in revenue across all platforms, Business Insider's Kaylee Fagan reports:
"Three times this summer, government regulators have had to make major decisions regarding media ownership," CNN's Hadas Gold writes in "Rupert Murdoch's summer of good fortune."
The latest, from L.A. Times' Meg James: "The high-stakes drama over who would capture much of ... Murdoch’s media empire came to a close after Comcast Corp. said it was dropping out of the hunt for 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets."
"Hours after [the AP] reported that Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the anthem could be suspended for up to four games, ... the league and the players union issued a joint statement ... saying the two sides are talking things out," per AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maadi.
Joint statement: "The NFL and NFLPA ... have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue. In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy. No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing."
"[F]or people with accents — even the regional lilts, dialects and drawls native to various parts of the United States — ... artificially intelligent speakers [like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant] can seem ... inattentive, unresponsive, even isolating," the WashPost's Drew Harwell writes:
"The systems, they found, showed notable disparities in how people from different parts of the U.S. are understood":
Fox News' Juan Williams went behind-the-scenes at Nationals Park during this week's All-Star game, and took viewers where the late conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer used to sit.
Thanks for starting your Friday with us. Updates all weekend on Axios.com.