Jan 12, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

😎 Good Saturday morning.

Situational awareness: National security adviser John Bolton said in a statement that the U.S. "does not recognize Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro’s illegitimate claim to power."

1 big thing: Record shutdown hits Trump states hard
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Data: Office of Personnel Management and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Map: Chris Canipe/Axios

Rural Western states that voted for President Trump are disproportionately affected by the government shutdown, which today sets a record as the longest in U.S. history, since federal workers there make up a large share of the workforce.

Axios senior visual journalist Chris Canipe found that of the 10 states with the most affected federal employees per 10,000, six voted for Trump — Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Idaho and West Virginia.

  • The top 10 states that voted for Hillary Clinton were D.C., Maryland, New Mexico and Virginia.

Why it matters: Trump's hard line over wall funding could end up hurting some of the people who put him into office.

  • One example: Offices of the USDA's Farm Service Agency, which help farmers affected by China's soybean tariffs, are closed due to the shutdown.
  • An Axios analysis from September found that Trump states were the ones hit hardest by his tariffs.

About the data: The map above shows federal workers in the nine departments affected by the partial shutdown: Homeland Security, HUD, Commerce, Interior, Transportation, State, Agriculture, Justice and Treasury.

  • The data also includes other employees who are affected: EPA, FDA, Indian Health Services, NASA and Small Business Administration.

Go deeper: Explore the interactive map

2. FBI feared Trump was working for Russia
President Trump holds roundtable on border security yesterday with state and local leaders. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

"It sounds like spy fiction but it is not: the F.B.I. was investigating the president of the United States to see if he was working for the Russians," the N.Y. Times' Jesse McKinley tweets.

  • Or as the N.Y. Times' Maggie Haberman tweeted: "The imputed subtext of the Mueller probe is now in stark relief."

After President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, FBI counterintelligence agents "began investigating whether [the president] had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests," the N.Y. Times' Adam Goldman, Mike Schmidt and Nicholas Fandos report:

  • "Agents ... sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence."
  • Why it matters: "The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security."
  • "[A] vigorous debate has taken shape among some former law enforcement officials outside the case over whether F.B.I. investigators overreacted."

"Just Watch!" ... Trump this morning posted a five-tweet response: "Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof."

  • "James Comey ... was a Crooked Cop ... who is being totally protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats - leaking machines who have NO interest in going after the Real Collusion ... by Crooked Hillary Clinton, her Campaign, and the Democratic National Committee. Just Watch!"
3. Joe Biden is running — most days
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This graphic will be updated in the Axios stream to reflect Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's announcement Friday night. Graphic: Naema Ahmed, Aïda Amer and Haley Britzky/Axios 

Joe Biden has told some top Democrats he’s definitely running for president, and even threw out Jan. 15 — next Tuesday — as a target announcement date.

  • "If I’m walking, I’m running," he has told friends winkingly.

His youngest brother, Frank Biden, thinks the former vice president is in. Ditto for some advisers. Several Democrats, including Michael Bloomberg and Terry McAuliffe, are watching him as their most formidable potential competitor.

  • Biden is "closer than he ever was in 2016" and "serious in his discussions with potential supporters," one confidant tells me.

Nevertheless, Jan. 15 will come and go with no Joe-mentum — I'm told no chance of an announcement by then.

  • No staff has signed up for a campaign, or been given a commitment of a job.

We're told authoritatively that Biden hasn't decided.

  • So who knows where his head winds up. But we sure know where his heart is.

P.S. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard told CNN's Van Jones last night that she intends to run for president.

Bonus: Pic du jour
Jin Liwang/Xinhua via AP

China broadcasts from far side of the moon ... A screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center shows the Jade Rabbit 2 rover, and the Chang'e 4 spacecraft that transported it (right), taking pictures of each other.

  • "The pictures were transmitted by a relay satellite to a control center in Beijing ... [I]t wasn't immediately clear when they were taken." (AP)
4. Picturing a record shutdown
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Data: Congressional Research Service; Chart: Axios Visuals
Bill Striffler via AP

Above: This week's electronic pay stub for Bill Striffler, still working as an air traffic controller at Newark Liberty International Airport, shows net pay of $0.00.

Below: A National Park Service ranger works yesterday on the observation deck of the Old Post Office Tower, leased by the government to Trump International Hotel. Rangers have stayed on the job there, even as many others are furloughed.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
5. You should be aware

Marijuana may be less safe than we think.

That's the Smart Brevity on a piece by the great Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker, "Unwatched pot":

  • "Drug policy is always clearest at the fringes. Illegal opioids are at one end. ... The cannabis industry would have us believe that its product, like coffee, belongs at the other end of the continuum."
  • "But cannabis is not coffee. It’s somewhere in the middle. The experience of most users is relatively benign and predictable; the experience of a few, at the margins, is not."
  • "For the moment, cannabis probably belongs in the category of substances that society permits but simultaneously discourages" or limits — cigarettes, alcohol, prescription drugs.

The bottom line: "The advice that seasoned potheads sometimes give new users — 'start low and go slow' — is probably good advice for society as a whole, at least until we better understand what we are dealing with."

6. 1 🍺 thing
Bud Light via AP

Starting next month, packages of Bud Light will have bigger nutrition labels, showing the beer's calories and ingredients as well as the amount of fat, carbohydrates and protein in a serving, AP's Dee-Ann Durbin reports:

  • Why it matters: "Bud Light is likely the first of many to make the move. The labels aren't legally required, but major beer makers agreed in 2016 to voluntarily disclose nutrition facts on their products by 2020.
  • "Many brands, including Corona Light, Guinness, Heineken and Coors Light, already have calories and other nutrition information on their bottles or packaging. But it's in small type, or hidden on the bottom of the six-pack, and ingredients aren't listed."

"Bud Light went with a big, black-and-white label, similar to the ones required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on packaged foods. At the top, Bud Light lists its four ingredients: water, barley, rice and hops."

  • "Below that, it shows the calories in a 12-ounce bottle or can (110) ... Bud Light contains 2% of the recommended daily amount of carbohydrates."
  • Andy Goeler, vice president of marketing for Bud Light, said the brand's research shows younger drinkers want to know what's in their beer.

Fun fact: "Researchers at Cornell University and Louisiana State University tracked what happened when diners were given menus with calorie counts. ... [D]iners who knew the calorie counts ordered lower-calorie appetizers and entrees, but the calorie counts had little impact on orders for drinks and desserts."

Mike Allen