Jun 18, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

💻 In honor of Juneteenth, Axios will host a virtual event tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET.

  • Markets editor Dion Rabouin will interview Valerie Jarrett, BET co-founder Bob Johnson, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Campaign Zero co-founder DeRay Mckesson.
  • Register here.
1 big thing ... Exclusive: Trump plots virus-era, made-for-TV mass festival

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump plans to turn this weekend's Tulsa rally into a massive comeback festival complete with musical acts, Axios' Jonathan Swan and Margaret Talev report.

  • Organizers are leasing a jet to fly in surrogates the night before and multiple film crews are being brought in to record the event to show the world the fervency of his supporters, people familiar with the plans tell Axios. Watch for these scenes to be quickly converted into TV ads.

Why it matters: Saturday's "Great American Comeback" event is partly a kickoff for a comeback tour amid the pandemic. It's also a giant commercial for Trump's re-election campaign — an answer to protests outside the White House and a trial run for Republican convention events in Jacksonville in August.

Temperature checks are planned on-site, and masks and hand sanitizer will be handed out.

  • The Trump campaign says 1 million people have signed up — a data grab for the campaign — and of those, tens of thousands are expected to attend.
  • The BOK Center, where the indoor event will be held, holds 19,000 people The area next to it, where the second stage will be set up, can hold tens of thousands more.

Additional staging is to be set up outside for other speakers and performers.

  • Trump plans to speak at both the indoor and outdoor stages, according to a source with direct knowledge of the plans.
  • The Trump campaign announced that more than 50 campaign surrogates plan to attend the Oklahoma rally, including at least a dozen Republican House members and Sens. Jim Inhofe, James Lankford and Tom Cotton.
  • The event will be expensive. But the campaign says it raised $14 million on Sunday by promoting the Tulsa rally as well as the president's birthday.

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2. Trump whacked from within

Top right: Bolton's book on my bookshelf. Graphic: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo of Bolton: Mark Humphrey/AP

John Bolton's brutal memoir about his 17 months in the White House portrays President Trump as an easy mark for dictators and others who know how easily he falls for flattery.

  • Why it matters: There has never been — and may never be — another book like this. Trump's national security adviser took hyper-detailed, real-time notes, and is sharing them with the world just nine months after leaving.

The Justice Department last night asked a federal judge for an emergency temporary restraining order against publication of "The Room Where It Happened," scheduled for next Tuesday.

  • But it's too late: Axios and other news organizations already have copies, and reviews and extensive excerpts were posted yesterday.
  • Trump told the Wall Street Journal in an interview last night that Bolton "is a liar": "[E]verybody in the White House hated John Bolton."

The most damaging revelations concern the president's efforts to cozy up to Chinese President Xi Jinping— revealed during an election season when Trump wants to portray himself as tough on China and Biden as a patsy.

  • Bolton said Trump gave Xi the green light to build concentration camps in Xinjiang, and "stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat" to his own re-election.
  • Biden said last night: "[M]y message to China's leaders, or anyone else who President Trump might invite to interfere: ... Stay out of our elections."

In one memorable scene, Bolton — a Fox News regular before joining the administration — is auditioning for the job and Trump says: "This is so great. John sounds just like he does on television. I could just keep listening. I love it." (p. 15)

  • Bolton describes a pattern of conversations by Trump that "looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life."
  • After one Trump statement, Bolton adds dismissively: "another fantasy." (p. 349)
  • Bolton says Trump didn't know that the U.K. was a nuclear power, wondered if Finland was part of Russia, and referred to reporters as "scumbags" who "should be executed."

On the same day that accounts of the book's contents spilled out, the N.Y. Times' Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni popped a story in which numerous current and former aides portrayed Trump as "acting trapped and defensive."

  • The story also has aides wondering if he was self-sabotaging, and alarmed by his bizarre behavior.
  • "[H]e has not seemed excited about the possibility of governing for four more years," people close to him told the Times. "One official ... claimed policy staff members were told just this week to come up with initiatives for 2021."

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3. Community policing returns

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Community policing, aimed at forging stronger relationships between police and the citizens they serve, is seeing renewed interest as a way for cities to rebuild trust and repair racial rifts, writes Kim Hart, author of Axios Cities.

  • Why it matters: A national shift back to true community policing would reshape how officers spend their time and resources, with a greater priority on solving everyday problems before making arrests and issuing tickets.
  • While this policing strategy has been criticized as too "soft," proponents say the emphasis on de-escalation — along with daily engagement with residents, and a greater sense of empathy and tolerance — is exactly what's needed to defuse the national outrage over police brutality against African Americans.

The backstory: Community policing was popular in the 1990s, but was de-prioritized after 9/11.

  • Responding to possible terrorist threats became a larger focus, officers took on more homeland security-related duties, and a more militaristic culture took hold in police forces.

The other side: Community policing isn’t cheap and doesn’t lead to instant, quantifiable results. Building relationships, networking and information-sharing with residents don't always align with the modern data-driven methods that put a priority on increased arrest and warrant numbers.

  • Some police unions have pushed back against the mandate, arguing that playing football with kids and taking complaints from residents isn't the best use of uniformed officers' time.

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  • Go deeper: Differences between House Democrats' and Senate Republicans' policing bills.
4. Pic du jour: Duke Conehead

Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images

In Glasgow, Scotland, the statue of the Duke of Wellington sports a traffic cone with a Black Lives Matter logo.

5. Budget strain from protests

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Cities and states have spent millions of dollars on police overtime over the past few weeks during the Black Lives Matter protests, Axios' Stef Kight and Dan Primack write.

  • Why it matters: Government budgets already were under severe strain from virus shutdowns due to steep tax revenue declines, and these extra expenses could make it even more difficult to meet obligations.

By the numbers: The Dallas Police Department tells Axios it spent $1.5 million in extra staff and equipment costs during the first three days of the protests.

  • Nashville's police department spent an estimated $2.3 million just on police overtime since May 30.
  • The Miami Police Department has spent more than $1.8 million on police overtime since May 29.

Even some small towns are facing these unexpected expenses.

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6. Corporations reap windfalls from virus tax breaks

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Large companies have started pocketing billions of taxpayer dollars thanks to tax breaks tucked into the federal coronavirus stimulus, Axios health care business reporter Bob Herman writes.

  • Why it matters: Corporations are getting sizable, multiyear cash benefits, while most Americans received one-time, $1,200 checks.

Congress created several sizable tax provisions for companies in the main coronavirus aid package:

  1. Net operating loss carryback: Companies can take any operating losses they recorded in 2018, 2019 and 2020 and apply them to any of the previous five years to offset profits — in essence, recouping taxes they already paid.
  2. Business interest expense deduction: The amount of interest that companies could deduct on tax forms previously was capped at 30% of adjusted profits, and Congress raised that limit to 50%.
  3. Employee retention tax credit: Companies that continue to keep people employed during the pandemic get a 50% tax credit to subsidize their workers' wages, up to $5,000 per worker.

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7. Our famous map: Oklahoma among states with highest virus growth
Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments. Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise, Naema Ahmed/Axios

Coronavirus cases are quickly spreading in Arizona, a handful of southern and western states and, ominously, Oklahoma — the planned site of President Trump's rally on Saturday, Axios' Caitlin Owens and Andrew Witherspoon report.

  • Oklahoma has seen a 91% jump in its coronavirus cases over the past week, and new cases are up 53% in Arizona.

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8. Sen. Kamala Harris on Biden digs

Courtesy CBS

Stephen Colbert last night asked Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) about the awkwardness of her sparring with Joe Biden, now that she's on his shortlist for V.P.

  • Harris, laughing: "It was a debate!"
  • Colbert: "Not everybody landed punches like you did, though."
  • Harris: "It was a debate! ... I am 1,000% supportive of Joe Biden."


9. Top stocks with shutdown traders
Data: Robintrack. Table: Axios Visuals

These are the hottest stocks on Robinhood, the easy-to-use app that is drawing young users who otherwise would be betting on sports during the shutdown.

  • Why it matters, from Dion Rabouin in Axios Markets: While stocks favored by institutional investors (Apple, Microsoft, Amazon) occupy slots in the top 20, the list is heavily filled by speculative bets like cruise operators and airlines, whose prices are down significantly from the beginning of the year.
10. 🐦 Coming to your timeline: Voice Tweets
How a Voice Tweet looks in the timeline. Graphic: Twitter

Twitter announced that users soon will be able to add voice messages to tweets — up to 140 seconds of audio, Axios' Sara Fischer writes.

  • Why it matters: The idea is to let you immediately record and post what's happening around you, or your thoughts and reflections.

To listen, tap the image of the user in the center of the voice tweet. The tweet plays while you continue scrolling.

  • The feature rolled out to a limited number of people yesterday, and will be unveiled for all Twitter users in coming weeks.
Mike Allen

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