Dec 14, 2019

Axios AM

🛍️ Happy Saturday. Smart Brevity™ count: 1,185 words ... 4½ minutes.

1 big thing: How Trump wins in 2020

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's re-election campaign wields more money, staff, infrastructure and digital muscle than any Democrat — and a fan base that hears "impeachment" as a rallying cry, Jonathan Swan and Margaret Talev write.

  • Over a 90-minute PowerPoint session at a hotel near the campaign office in Arlington, Va., Jared Kushner, campaign manager Brad Parscale and other senior Trump campaign officials presented to dozens of national political reporters the case for how Trump can win again in 2020.
  • Thursday's briefing took place as the House Judiciary Committee debated the articles of impeachment.

The top takeaways:

1. Crushing the Never-Trumpers: Team Trump has "remade" the state parties in "the president's image," per one official — with 42 state party chair elections since the 2018 midterms. The Trump campaign isn't tolerating anti-Trump officials in state party leadership positions in 2020.

  • The delegates team — Bill Stepien and Justin Clark, veterans of Trump's 2016 campaign and the White House — spent months ensuring Trump loyalists command party positions across the country, muscling out those cool to him.
  • The campaign studied how modern-day incumbent presidents lost re-election. An important "commonality" was that the losing teams didn't pay enough attention to delegates, and had drawn-out primary fights.

2. "New math": Tiny counties traditionally overlooked by candidates helped deliver Trump his 2016 victories in states like Wisconsin (where the smallest 48 counties = 22% of the statewide vote) and Pennsylvania (where the 45 smallest counties = 20% of the statewide vote), senior officials said.

  • They think they can work that dynamic next year in Minnesota, which Trump narrowly lost last time.
  • The campaign also sees Trump's grip on the party's message and the retirement of more old-guard Republicans as ways to redefine the party and appeal to new voters.
  • Kushner said: "I was not a Republican. Now I'm a Republican. I think the Republican Party is growing now that people like me feel comfortable being part of it."
  • They see a path to improve Trump's low standing with black voters by focusing on strong economic numbers and criminal justice reform.

3. "The DJT Disengager": These are voters who remain enthusiastic about Trump but didn't vote in the 2018 midterms when Trump wasn't on the ballot.

  • The Trump campaign says it has identified nearly 9 million of these voters, and will throw everything at ensuring they vote in November.

4. Making the best of his unpopularity: Impeachment has been good for business, advisers said.

  • The campaign has been raking in millions through text message and online fundraising, selling "Bull-Schiff" T-shirts and other impeachment merchandise in the online Trump store.
  • Through a recent commercial, the campaign is putting a positive spin on the reality that more than half of American voters consistently say they don't like him. The campaign is betting many of them will vote for him anyway.

5. The machine: The campaign is now trying to turn a single Trump rally into a "four or five day experience for that location," an official said, by building in an extra stop by Vice President Pence, local media hits from surrogates, targeted fundraising drives and volunteer outreach.

  • Trump rallies have become massive data-capturing opportunities, more sophisticated than in 2016, built for message testing as well as churning out new donors and volunteers.
  • The campaign says it already has 300,000 volunteers, and that the list of supporters has grown by nearly 200% since 2016.

Share this story.

2. Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler: "Today is a solemn and sad day"
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House impeachment vote is expected Wednesday, sandwiched between a Tuesday vote on funding the government and a Thursday vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal, Alayna Treene writes.

  • Democratic members, including those in Trump districts, don't expect a lot of defections. But they say there will likely be more defectors than there were on the vote launching a formal impeachment inquiry.
  • Members and staffers guess that four to six moderate Dems will break ranks.
  • Not a single Republican is expected to cross the aisle.
Graphic: AP. Rep Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) didn't vote because he's recovering from heart surgery.
3. Pictures at an impeachment
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Above: House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) leaves after speaking briefly to the press, following the impeachment vote.

Below: Rep. Doug Collins (Ga.), the committee's top Republican, arrives for the vote.

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
4. Pic du jour
Photo: Boris Roessler/dpa via AP

Starlings sit on the backs of fallow deer standing in the high grass of a nature reserve during drizzle in Moenchbruch, near Frankfurt, Germany.

5. 🇨🇳 Article of the day: China destroying documents
A Chinese detention facility in Kunshan Industrial Park in Artux, Xinjiang region. Photo: Ng Han Guan/AP

The Xinjiang regional government in China's far west is deleting data, destroying documents and tightening controls on information, AP scoops.

  • Why it matters: That's in response to leaks of classified papers on mass detention camps for Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities.

Crisis meetings began after the N.Y. Times last month published "The Xinjiang Papers," a cache of internal speeches by top leaders, including Xi Jinping.

  • They continued after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published secret guidelines for operating detention centers, and instructions on how to use technology to target people.
  • "The China Cables" was written by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, now Axios' China reporter.

Xinjiang had mandated stricter controls on information before the news reports, then pressure rose, according to Uighurs outside Xinjiang.

  • State offices were told to throw away computers, and put camp information in databases disconnected from the internet, in restricted-access rooms.
  • Some university teachers were ordered to clean out sensitive data on their computers, phones and cloud storage, and delete work-related social media groups.

In some cases, the state appears to be confiscating evidence of detentions.

  • One Uighur, who had been detained in Xinjiang years before, said his ex-wife called him two weeks ago and begged him to send his release papers to her.
  • She said eight officers had come to her home to search for the papers, and threatened she'd be jailed for life if she couldn't produce them.
6. Britain remade by Boris
Prime Minister Boris Johnson pulls a pint today in County Durham, northeast England. Photo: Lindsey Parnaby/Pool via AP

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's landslide erased Britain's political map and upended its economy, The Atlantic's London-based Tom McTague writes in the best big picture piece on a stunning election with global echoes:

  • "The Britain built by Tony Blair is gone, fatally undermined by David Cameron’s Brexit referendum and now swept away in a provincial tide of support for Boris Johnson’s Conservatives."
  • Why it matters: "[L]ess than four years ago, Johnson was still London’s mayor and undecided about whether to back Leave or Remain ... and Britain’s economy was among the most dynamic in Europe."

The bottom line: McTague calls it "a remarkable story of political change brought about by voters and politicians — and one politician in particular."

  • "In the space of six months, [Boris] has inherited a political disaster and turned it into a political triumph."
  • But, like with President Trump in America, "Brexit was a wave whose currents already existed before 2016, caused by economic and demographic changes."

Keep reading.

Data: Press Association. Graphic: AP
7. "Next stop, Brexit"

How the Boris romp played across the pond ...

Courtesy Financial Times
Photo: Matt Dunham/AP
8. 1 Santa thing: Secretly paying off $70,00 in layaway balances

A mystery man walked into a Walmart store in Anniston, Ala., and paid off tens of thousands of dollars in layaway purchases for several people, leaving some with tears of joy, WBMA-TV (ABC) reports.

  • Walmart said someone paid off $45,000 in layaways in Anniston.
  • Then someone paid off $25,000 two days later in nearby Oxford, per AP.

🎁 I hope some AM readers will try this. If it works, let me know and we'll share your story. Please just reply to this email, or write me:

📬 Thanks for reading! Please tell a friend about AM/PM.