Sep 11, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🇺🇸 Today, at 8:46 a.m. ET, is the 18th anniversary of 9/11.

  • 🇬🇧 It's 50 days to the Brexit deadline.
1 big thing: Bolton's chaotic exit
Photos (clockwise from upper left): Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP; Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP; Alex Wong/Getty Images; Evan Vucci/AP

The last time national security adviser John Bolton spoke with President Trump was Monday afternoon around 2 p.m. in the Oval Office.

  • Bolton offered to resign, Axios' Jonathan Swan, Alayna Treene and Margaret Talev report.
  • That was about 22 hours before the president's tweet suggesting that he had fired Bolton, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Why it matters: The timeline contradicts the president's account, and speaks volumes about how Trump runs his administration.

  • It underscores Trump's pattern of adjusting facts to fit his narrative, a week after the "Sharpie" controversy involving the path of Hurricane Dorian.
  • It also serves to warn Bolton's successor — whom Trump says he'll name next week — what they're signing up for.

Here's how yesterday's events played out:

  • At around 11:30 a.m., Bolton submitted a resignation letter to the president, and hand-delivered copies to the offices of Vice President Pence and Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
  • At 11:58 a.m., Trump tweeted that he had informed Bolton the night before that "his services are no longer needed at the White House."
  • A Bolton tweet countered that, saying that he had offered to resign Monday night and Trump said: "Let's talk about it tomorrow."

What's next:

  • Trump is seeking input from Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Republican lawmakers and others on who should replace Bolton, two people familiar with the deliberations tell Axios.
  • Contenders mentioned most often by people close to the White House include Maj. Gen. Ricky Waddell, a former Trump deputy national security adviser and assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special envoy for North Korea. CNN reported last month that he could be tapped as ambassador to Russia.  
  • Trump also has spoken favorably of the State Department's special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, and Pence's national security adviser Keith Kellogg, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News.

For now, deputy national security adviser Charlie Kupperman is serving as acting national security adviser.

  • White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham tells Axios that there are currently no frontrunners to replace Bolton.

The backstory: Bolton's end follows his resistance to peace talks with Afghanistan, including Trump's desire to host the Taliban at Camp David.

  • Even though Trump scrapped the secret plan after a suicide bombing in Afghanistan, he fumed over reports about internal resistance to the idea.

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2. 51 down ...
3. Health care dominates 2019 ad spending
Expand chart
Data: Advertising Analytics; Chart: Axios Visuals

More than half of all issue advertising this year (TV, digital, radio, etc.) has been on health care — and that spending will only increase as 2020 gets closer, Axios' Caitlin Owens and Sara Fischer report.

  • Between the lines: Most of the top health care spenders are focused on issues like surprise medical bills and drug prices — many of which would cut into the health care industry's profits.

Where it stands: The biggest spender by far is a dark-money group called Doctor Patient Unity.

  • It has shelled out more than $26 million on ads opposing Congress' plan to address surprise medical bills. Doctors and hospitals staunchly oppose the leading proposal because it would cost them money.
  • AARP and the Partnership for Safe Medicines, an industry group, are on opposite sides of the intense battle over drug prices, which will heat up further this fall.

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4. Pic du jour
Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer arrive for a Congressional Black Caucus ceremony commemorating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans in the English colonies.

5. GOP squeaker points to peril in 'burbs
Photo: Nell Redmond/AP

Who's calling this man? Dan Bishop waits to speak to President Trump at his victory party in Monroe, N.C., last night.

In a special election in North Carolina’s heavily Republican 9th congressional district, Bishop, a Republican, narrowly beat Democrat Dan McCready, 50.7% to 48.7%, in a race the GOP should have run away with. (Raleigh News & Observer)

  • Trump took credit as returns rolled in: "Dan Bishop was down 17 points 3 weeks ago. He then asked me for help, we changed his strategy together, and he ran a great race. Big Rally last night. Now it looks like he is going to win."

Why it matters: The tight results point to Republican weakness in suburbs, which showed up in the midterms and is a huge threat to Trump's re-election.

6. Sign of our times
Screenshot via MSNBC

From a CNN poll released yesterday: "71% say they trust only some or nothing at all of what they hear from official White House communications, about the same as the 68% who felt that way in late 2017."

  • 28% trust "most" or "almost all" of what they hear from the White House.
7. Apple takes on Netflix
Apple CEO Tim Cook delivers yesterday's keynote. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple launches its streaming service (Apple TV+) on Nov. 1 for, uncharacteristically, a bargain price — $4.99 a month. Netflix is $8.99 and up.

  • Disney+ starts streaming Nov. 12, for $6.99 monthly.

Go deeper ... Axios' Ina Fried reports from the Apple unveiling in Cupertino:

  • The iPhone 11 Pro (starts at $999) is out Sept. 20.
  • A Deep Fusion feature, coming via software update later this year, uses machine learning to fuse the best parts of nine images.
The new iWatch 5 was displayed after the event. Photo: Tony Avelar/AP
8. Rebuilding continues, 18 years after 9/11
Photo: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Last night, the annual Tribute in Light — a memorial lighting of two spotlights representing the Twin Towers — illuminated the skyline of lower Manhattan behind the Statue of Liberty, as seen from Bayonne, N.J.

  • Office towers, a museum and a Santiago Calatrava-designed transit hub have replaced the rubble left by the destruction of the World Trade Center, but the redevelopment of the complex has not been completed, AP reports.

At the 9/11 Memorial, twin reflecting pools — each nearly an acre, with the largest human-made waterfalls in North America — sit in the towers' footprint.

Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP
9. Exclusive: Biden hires campaign staff to focus on minority voters
Joe Biden in Laconia, N.C., on Friday. Photo: Mary Schwalm/AP

Joe Biden's campaign adds six senior staff members to focus on attracting women and minority voters, Axios' Alexi McCammond reports:

  • Laura Jiménez will be Latinx National Vote Director.
  • Amit Jani is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) National Vote Director.
  • Carissa Smith is Women's National Vote Director.
  • Erika Dinkel-Smith is Director of Labor Engagement.
  • Trey Baker National is Director of African American Engagement.
  • Vincent Evans is Southern Political Director.

Why it matters: Biden and his team hope this diverse staff can help them rebuild the diverse coalition that Barack Obama captured in 2008.

10. 1 🏈 thing
Photo: Ron Schwane/AP

The Cleveland Browns' Odell Beckham Jr. said he'll keep wearing the $200,000+ Richard Mille watch he sported during Sunday's season opener, AP's Tom Withers writes.

  • The showy wide receiver feels he's being targeted: "Yeah, that's just my life ... If it ain't this, it's something else. If it wasn't the watch, it would've been the way that I tie my shoes."
  • "Don't talk about any extracurricular, that's just it. If anybody else would've worn the watch, or if it was a $20 watch, it wouldn't have been no problem."
  • Beckham also drove his customized orange Rolls Royce to Sunday's game.

An NFL spokesman said there is no rule prohibiting players from wearing jewelry. But there is a policy "prohibiting hard objects."

Mike Allen

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