Oct 10, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Happy Thursday! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,176 words ... 4 minutes.

1 big thing: Impeached and re-elected

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

It’s looking more likely by the day that President Trump will be impeached by the House. But if he is acquitted by the Senate — and then goes on to win a second term — Democrats will face a predicament neither party has confronted in U.S. history, Axios' David Nather and Margaret Talev write.

  • Why it matters: If Trump survives politically and is re-elected to serve another four years, Congress likely would have nowhere left to go in the event of another scandal, legal and political experts say — not because the House couldn’t impeach him again, but because it might be politically impossible.
  • So Democrats know they probably only get one shot at using impeachment to remove him from office.
  • Never before have we had a president who might be in a position to be re-elected after impeachment. Andrew Johnson wasn’t nominated for another term, Bill Clinton was already in his second term, and Richard Nixon resigned in his second term in the face of certain impeachment.

You've asked us: Could the House just impeach him again if there's a second-term scandal?

  • Technically, it can do whatever it wants, legal experts tell us. There’s nothing stopping it from bringing up new articles of impeachment if there’s another scandal — or even on the same issue all over again.
  • Politically, though, no one believes House Democrats would want to go through it again, with the risk of blowback in the midterms.

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2. The limits of political tribalism
Expand chart
Data: NORC survey of 523 registered voters in September. Support = voters who rated policies between 6-10 on a 0 (oppose) to 10 (support). Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Most Americans would move toward the center on policies including health care, immigration and the minimum wage if the two parties spent more time face-to-face — or at least that's the takeaway from "America in One Room," a social experiment conducted over a single weekend last month in Dallas.

  • Axios' Alexi McCammond reports that Henry Elkus, founder of Helena, the nonpartisan organization that hosted the experiment, acknowledged it's a "weird utopia" designed to counteract people's everyday, polarized lives.
3. Lead of the day
In September, U.S. and Turkish military forces conduct a joint ground patrol in northeast Syria. Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Alec Dionne via Reuters
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Turkey launched a ground and air assault on Wednesday against a Syrian militia that has been a crucial American ally in the fight against ISIS, days after President Trump agreed to let the operation proceed.
— The N.Y. Times' Ben Hubbard and Carlotta Gall

Keep reading.

4. Pic du jour
Photo: Noah Berger/AP

Above, Armando Espinoza delivers paper products to a café in downtown Sonoma, Calif., where power is turned off.

  • "A new layer of chaos is surrounding Pacific Gas and Electric Co. ... as public outrage escalates over the utility’s unprecedented forced blackouts in parts of 34 California counties because of wildfire concerns," per the S.F. Chronicle.
  • Why it matters: "PG&E, which is in bankruptcy protection due to past wildfires sparked by its equipment, has never before tried to prevent another disaster by cutting power to 750,000 customer accounts."

"Classes were canceled. Frozen foods melted. Hospitals switched to emergency generators. Blooms withered in florists’ coolers. Unused food was jettisoned at shuttered restaurants. Lines formed at gas stations. Cellphones faded out." (L.A. Times)

5. ⚖️ Impeachment state of play
Joe Biden smiles as he is introduced yesterday in Rochester, N.H. Photo: Elise Amendola/AP

Floodgates open at State ... President Trump "pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Rudy Giuliani" in 2017. (Bloomberg)

Joe Biden yesterday became the last of the major 2020 Democrats to call for Trump to be impeached:

  • "We all laughed when he said he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and get away with it. It’s no joke. He’s shooting holes in the Constitution, and we cannot let him get away with it." (Axios' Zach Basu)

🍦 Scoop: House committees have requested that Trump's former Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, appear for a deposition on Oct. 14, as well as turn over several documents dating back to January 2017. See the letter. (Axios' Alayna Treene)

6. The upward mobility gap
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Reproduced from Chetty, et. al, 2018, "Race and Economic Opportunity in the United States: An Intergenerational Perspective"; Note: Location based on where men grew up; Map: Axios Visuals

The fastest-growing cities in the U.S. may be adding lots of jobs for well-off people, but many have low rates of upward mobility for lower-income kids growing up there, writes Axios' Kim Hart.

  • And it's especially bleak for black males, according to Raj Chetty, Harvard economics professor and director of Opportunity Insights, a research and policy organization.

Why it matters: The extent of racial disparities and economic mobility "is so extreme in the U.S. that it's almost like they're two Americas," Chetty said about the maps above.

7. Job openings slow down
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Credit: Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. job market remains strong, with more job openings than unemployed people seeking a job, but companies are starting to put some hiring plans on hold, Axios' Dion Rabouin reports.

  • The Labor Department's job openings and labor turnover survey, or JOLTs, showed the number of job openings was 4.4% lower than it was a year earlier, falling for the third straight month.
8. Apple removes Hong Kong police tracker
HKmap.live. Photo: Vincent Yu

Confronted with evidence of danger to police and citizens, Apple removed an app last night that the company said "has been used in ways that endanger law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong."

  • Why it matters: With pro-democracy riots in their 18th week, the app — HKmap.live — has allowed users to track police movements, then target and ambush officers. Apple determined that those uses violate both App Store policy and Hong Kong law.
  • Hong Kong authorities, who had complained about the app, said it also was being used to victimize residents in areas where police weren’t present.

The context: Earlier in the day, the Communist Party's main newspaper, the People's Daily, had criticized Apple, saying the app "facilitates illegal behavior."

  • "Is Apple guiding Hong Kong thugs?" the commentary asked, per AP. "Apple needs to think deeply."
  • The South China Morning Post, the main English-language paper in Hong Kong, reported that the app "uses crowdsourcing to track police vehicles, armed officers and incidents in which people have been injured."
  • Apps removed from the App Store continue to work, but new users can't add the app.

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9. Hollywood's China cave

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

While the U.S. reckons with the fact that China's market power can stymie free speech after the NBA's firestorm, Hollywood has long willingly bent to Chinese censorship to rake in profits, writes Axios' Shane Savitsky.

  • Why it matters: China is set to become the world's biggest movie market in 2020, and with 1.4 billion citizens, it won't relinquish that title anytime soon. It is key for Hollywood studios to do all they can to ensure that their tentpoles can pass the standards of the country's strict censors, especially when it comes to Chinese political issues.

An extreme example was the 2018 decision to not allow Disney's "Christopher Robin" to be released because Chinese President Xi Jinping's resemblance to Winnie the Pooh had become a joke among activists who resisted the country's Communist regime.

10. 1 fun thing
Photo: Holly Persic/Chris Persic via AP

A Pittsburgh-area couple found out where all their walnuts have gone: squirrels stored more than 200 of them under the hood of the couple's SUV, AP reports.

  • Chris Persic tells KDKA-TV that his wife, Holly, called to say the vehicle smelled like it was burning. When she popped the hood, she found walnuts and grass piled over the engine.
  • They took the SUV to a mechanic who found half a trashcan of walnuts under the engine.

What's next: The Persics have gotten a quote on removing a black walnut tree from their property.

Mike Allen

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