Good Tuesday morning ...
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
President Trump sucking up to Vladamir Putin after the summit in Helsinki yesterday was such an unbelievable, indelible moment that many deflated White House officials didn’t even bother to defend or explain it:
The prevailing theory among Trump aides and alumni is pretty simple: "He can’t separate meddling from colluding," said one source close to Trump. "He can’t publicly express any nuanced view because he thinks it concedes maybe there's something he did wrong."
Jonathan Swan — who was sitting 20 feet from Putin, in the second row of the ballroom in Helsinki — reports that the Russian leader smirked his way through the questioning over election interference, puffing and thrusting his chest at U.S. reporters.
The shell shock in the room was a preview of the global reaction:
Trump friends and allies, who often avert their gaze from his outbursts, made it clear that he's on his own for this one:
Future foretold: It’s highly unlikely any top White House officials will quit in protest; inconceivable congressional Republicans will do anything other than complain (mostly gently) in public; and unimaginable Trump will regret or rethink his pro-Putin approach.
Even several of Trump's Fox friends were critical, Axios media trends reporter Sara Fischer notes:
Some Fox hosts, though, still made excuses. Tucker Carlson, who has an interview with Trump tonight, said from Finland: "The idea that where you are on Russia is the defining question, like, that's kind of demented, actually."
In Helsinki yesterday, the limos of Putin (left) and Trump.
"The Justice Department charged a Russian national who ... aimed to set up backchannel communications during the presidential campaign between ... Trump and ... Putin, with conspiring against the US as a foreign agent," CNN reports:
The Treasury Department "will no longer require certain tax-exempt organizations including politically active nonprofit groups, such as the National Rifle Association and Planned Parenthood, to identify their financial donors to U.S. tax authorities," Reuters reports.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Politicians on the left and right are manipulating the news to bolster their election efforts with fake headlines, websites and articles, Axios' Sara Fischer reports:
On the left, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez has set up a website called HealthNewsNJ.com that at first glance looks like an upstart health website, but is actually backed by the senator's campaign, per STAT.
On the right, fake news websites backed by political candidates and groups have been popping up all over the country.
In South Africa today, former President Obama "is set to make his highest-profile speech since leaving office, urging people around the world to respect human rights and other values under threat in an address marking the 100th anniversary of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela's birth," AP's Andrew Meldrum reports from Johannesburg:
Colleges are using retailers' approach of analyzing consumer databases to target ads, the Wall Street Journal's Melissa Korn reports (subscription):
Why it matters: "An extremely tight labor market means adults can find decent-paying jobs without advanced degrees, or in some cases without any postsecondary credentials."
Prepping for expanded sports betting, the NBA has upgraded its stat systems to get data out so fast that it beats the typical lag of 7 to 15 seconds for TV or streaming services to show what happened, AP's Tim Reynolds reports:
Thanks for reading. Updates all day on Axios.com.