☕️ Good Sunday morning ... Situational awareness: Exit polls and projections are expected from Rome as soon as polls close at 5 p.m. ET, per AP: The election for a new parliament will determine if Italy will join "the populist, euroskeptic and far-right sentiment that has swept through Europe. The campaign was marked by the prime-time airing of neofascist rhetoric and anti-migrant violence."
Breaking ... Roger Bannister, the first runner to break the 4-minute barrier in the mile, dies at 88.
Exclusive: Suspicious America ... A majority of Americans have little to no faith that the Trump administration will stop foreign governments from interfering in November's midterm elections, according to an Axios-SurveyMonkey poll:
Why it matters, from Axios managing editor David Nather:
Americans want action:
The bottom line: Americans are in a suspicious mood heading into the midterms — and that's a recipe for more than the usual distrust and fighting over the closest races.
In closed-door remarks to Republican donors in Florida yesterday, a recording of which was obtained by CNN, President Trump joked about China President Xi Jinping's consolidation of power:
Aides describe Trump as "uncontrollable" ... "Aides see a president isolated and on edge" — WashPost front-pager by Phil Rucker, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey:
Mueller interviews with George Nader — adviser to the UAE, and White House visitor in Bannon days — show the probe may include "how money from multiple countries has flowed through and influenced Washington during the Trump era," per N.Y. Times lead story (late-edition add, replacing tariffs in col. 6):
Crew members were trailed by media as they rolled out the red carpet Wednesday in front of the Dolby Theatre for tonight's 90th Academy Awards.
Above is a fisheye-lens view of the opening ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing,
Below are security personnel.
N.Y. Times Quote of the Day, in a front-pager about the AR-15, “Once Banned, ‘America’s Rifle’ Is Fiercely Loved and Loathed" ... Mark Westrom, who owned Armalite, the gun's original manufacturer:
Number of candidates who had filed with the FEC by Dec. 31 to run for Congress (House and Senate), via WashPost's Paul Kane:
Just hours after tweeting "Mainstream Media in U.S. is being mocked all over the world. They’ve gone CRAZY!," President Trump returned from Mar-a-Lago to make nice with the press at the Gridiron Club's 133rd anniversary dinner.
Trump's best lines, via Axios' Alexi McCammond and pooler Hunter Walker of Yahoo News:
A serious note: "I love the Dreamers. ... We’re going to help the Dreamers ... We’re all working together [on DACA] ... I hope that something’s going to happen."
The white-tie Gridiron Club dinner traditionally has a speaker from each party, and both of last night's headliners are future presidential possibilities.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.):
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D):
In a "Saturday Night Live" send-up of Hope Hicks' departure, Alec Baldwin as Trump asks National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster if he's staying:
Frances McDormand in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," nominated for Best Picture (Fox Searchlight via AP)
Ahead of tonight's 8 p.m. ET show, a debate in today's L.A. Times Calendar section:
Yes ... L.A. Times film critic Kenneth Turan:
No ... L.A. Times senior writer Jeffrey Fleishman:
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the Oscars, and we'll be updating Axios.com all day!