Mar 19, 2017

Axios AM

Rescheduled from D.C.'s lame snow day: An Axios event this Tuesday at 8 a.m. ... "The Journey from Route 66: A Discussion on America's Infrastructure," with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, House Transportation Chair Bill Shuster and Emil Frankel of the Eno Center for Transportation. Moderated by Axios EVP Tim Berry! Click here to RSVP.

1 big thing: The intrigue, between the lines

This is so juicy: Two White House factions, trashing their rivals in mirror-image stories on the Sunday front pages. We have talked to both sides, and they think they know with dead certainty who the sources are. And they're going to react. So this Kremlinology is just beginning to play out.

The big talker is at the top the WashPost front page, "Inside White House, a class war brews: Trump's populist aides tangle with N.Y. executives," by Phil Rucker and Bob Costa:

  • "[T]hey are dismissed by their rivals as 'the Democrats.' ... Led by Gary Cohn and Dina Powell — two former Goldman Sachs executives often aligned with Trump's eldest daughter and his son-in-law — the group and its broad network of allies are the targets of suspicion, loathing and jealousy from their more ideological West Wing colleagues."
  • "On the other side are the Republican populists, ... led by chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who has grown closer to Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in part to counter the New Yorkers."
  • "For the most part so far, the ideologues are winning."
  • "Cohn, Powell and other aides have chafed at Priebus's protocols because he and Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh tried to exert complete control over the president's daily schedule. ... Priebus recently started giving other senior staffers and Cabinet members more influence over ... face time with Trump."

So good ... Here's the view from the other faction, in the 12th graf of a New York Times front-pager by Julie Davis and Maggie Haberman:

"Gary Cohn ... is on the rise, and has the ear of the president's powerful son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Mr. Kushner also gained an ally on the National Security Council with the appointment of Dina Powell, a Republican and another former Goldman official who worked with Mr. Cohn, as a deputy for strategy."

Be smart: This is a White House of many factions — by design. Trump likes the chaos but it creates insane levels of rivalry, backstabbing and leaking. This is the rare instance where the hour-to-hour reality is even worse than what you read.

  • Be even smarter: You think it's a coincidence that every story about Ivanka, Jared and Dina portray them as the sane, soft ones? They want the world to know Operation Normal is underway.
2. Life lessons from a top Obaman

Alyssa Mastromonaco — who was picked as director of scheduling for Senator-elect Barack Obama in December 2004 and stayed with him a decade, ending as White House deputy chief of staff — will be out Tuesday with a tell-none memoir / career-advice book (published by Twelve), "Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?" It's a question no one on the campaign wanted to be asked by a disappointed Barack Obama.

Alyssa — now president of global communications strategy and talent at A+E Networks (and a proud Badger celebrating Wisconsin's upset of #1 Villanova in March Madness yesterday; her sister went to Nova) — includes this worthwhile life advice while explaining the peculiarities and obsessions of advance-world:

  • "I always keep a list. ... I separate it into three parts: immediate goals, long-term goals, and personal. ... The personal is basically just a list of friends whom, during the business of my life, I don't want to forget to call, get drinks with."
  • "I put everything in my calendar. It takes so much stress out of my life to know where I can find things. My credit score went up 100 points when I started putting in reminders to pay my bills. I put birthdays in my calendar and set a three-day reminder in advance so I can put a card in the mail. ... I keep birthday and all-purpose cards in the house at all times. And stamps."
  • "[Y]ou eat less, look younger, have a better attitude, and make better decisions if you get enough sleep."
  • "No matter what I'm doing or where I'm going, I try to give myself as much time as possible to get there."
  • "On studying: The first lady was particularly adamant about state dinners: They were not just a fancy spread with free food and nice booze; they were work ... Part of knowing how to be prepared comes from being self-aware ... At state dinners, this meant knowing who you were sitting next to and reading up on a few things to talk to them about. ... [E]veryone knows you're supposed to come to professional conversations with a couple of questions and a sense of whom you're talking to. Everyone knows how easy it is to Google."
  • And after Obama surprised her in 2011 with a visit to Buckingham Palace when she thought she'd be staying in the staff vans, and was wearing jeans: "Unless you're going to the Iowa State Fair, always hedge on the side of more professional."
3. Timeline for tax reform

Sean Spicer to Ireland's Sunday Independent newspaper, in an interview during Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny's visit: "We are going to have tax reform after we get healthcare completed ... I think we are looking at late spring to summer."

Ahead of a planned Thursday-night vote in the House, ABC's George Stephanopoulos asks HHS Secretary Tom Price on "This Week" if "everything you do to get votes in the House is going to cost you votes in the Senate."

Price: "Well, it's a fine needle that needs to be thread, there's no doubt about it."

4. I'm back!

"Hillary Clinton Says She's 'Ready to Come Out of the Woods,'" by N.Y. Times' Eli Rosenberg: "Clinton ... made the comments at the end of a nearly 20-minute talk she gave at a yearly St. Patrick's Day celebration held by a women's group in Scranton — in the northeast corner of a battleground state that made for one of her most surprising electoral losses."

"I'm like a lot of my friends right now. I have a hard time watching the news, I'll confess ... I am ready to come out of the woods and to help shine a light on what is already happening around kitchen tables, at dinners like this."

5. First look: Tonight's "The Circus"

"The Circus," Showtime's buzzy series of behind-the-scenes instant-docs, is back tonight at 8 ET/PT:

"Co-host Mark McKinnon goes behind closed doors inside a meeting of the House Freedom Caucus, ... where Senator Rand Paul [in black tie, after an earlier Irish gala with Pence] has a message for the group's conservative members of Congress that President Trump and readers of 'The Art of the Deal' might be familiar with."

In an exclusive first look for Axios AM readers, see a great clip (with Sergio Gor cameo): "Sen. Rand Paul Recites 'The Art of the Deal' to the Freedom Caucus."

6. Meals on Wheels spike in online donations

"Supporters of Meals on Wheels showered the nonprofit organization in online donations — over $100,000 over a two-day period — in response to the White House's budget proposal to defund dozens of social programs," per NBC's Dakshayani Shankar.

  • "On a typical day, Meals on Wheels America ... receives about $1,000 in unsolicited online donations."
7. An instant classic

"Conservative Darrell Issa turns to the left," on Orange County Register front page, by Martin Wisckol: "Issa, who built a reputation in Congress as an imposing conservative attack dog, has got a brand new bag."

"With Democrats closing in on his seat last fall, Issa mailed a campaign ad praising President Barack Obama for signing a victims rights bill Issa supported — the same Obama he unrelentingly criticized while serving as the high-profile chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

8. Fascinating read

"'London Bridge Is Down': The simple code which will one day alert the world to the Queen's death and trigger a chain of events that have been secretly rehearsed for decades ... Incredible sequence of events which will follow the Monarch's death is revealed" — Daily Mail:

  • "The death of a British monarch, and the accession of a new Head of State, is a ritual that is passing out of living memory: three of the Queen's last four Prime Ministers were born after she came to the throne."
  • "The last time a British monarch died, 65 years ago, news of the death of George VI was conveyed to Buckingham Palace with the coded phrase 'Hyde Park Corner' to prevent switchboard operators from finding out. For Elizabeth II, civil servants will say 'London Bridge is down' on secure lines.
  • "For a time, she will be gone without our knowing it. Governors general, ambassadors and prime ministers will learn first. Cupboards will be opened in search of black armbands, three-and-a-quarter inches wide, to be worn on the left arm."
  • "[A] footman in mourning clothes will emerge from a door at Buckingham Palace and pin a black-edged notice to the gates. The Palace website will show the same text on a dark background."
9. Futurecast: One place the robots are lagging

"Burgers and microchips on the menu for US fast-food chains: Introducing robots to an industry that employs 11m people is proving far from simple" Financial Times' Lindsay Whipp in Chicago:

"Most advances have focused on ordering and payments ... Food preparation ... has proved harder to automate fully, particularly in an era where customisation is king and consumers are choosing quality over price. ...

"[A]t Café X, a robotic coffee kiosk in San Francisco[,] ... aims to remove the repetitive tasks of coffee making by using a robotic arm to move each cup from a stack to the coffee machine and then to the customer, making an equally tasty brew as a trained barista but in less time."

10. 1 fun thing

"Uber's final frontier: Upstate New York," by AP's David Klepper in Albany and Mike Haim in Buffalo: "Upstate New York, essentially everything outside of the metropolitan New York City area, is Uber's final frontier: the largest area in the continental U.S. where app-based ride-hailing companies remain banned. Many in such upstate cities as Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and Syracuse are hoping this is the year that distinction ends, but they will have to persuade the state's legislature first.

"Uber and Lyft are banned outside of the New York City area. Every state except Alaska and New York now has statewide ride-hailing regulations ... Austin ... is the nation's largest city without Uber. The company pulled out after local leaders required drivers to be fingerprinted.

"New York's decision on whether to allow ride-hailing statewide could come within weeks."