😎 Good Thursday morning.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Here’s how crazy — and perilous — the next 18 months will be for President Trump:
Historians tell Jim VandeHei and me that the only two scandals that come close to Trump-Russia are Watergate, which led to President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974, and the Teapot Dome scandal of the early 1920s, in which oil barons bribed a corrupt aide to President Warren Harding for petroleum leases.
The "biggest" realization might strike Trump supporters as overblown or plain wrong. But consider what we already know about actions of Trump and his associates:
Scandal 1: Trump secretly paid hush money to two mistresses on the eve of his presidential victory, and lied about it. His longtime personal lawyer is going to prison after carrying out the scheme on his behalf.
Scandal 2: During the presidential campaign, Trump confidantes continued negotiating for a tower in Moscow, potentially one of Trump's most lucrative deals ever. He hid this from the public and lied about it. His lawyer is going to prison for making false statements to Congress about the deal.
Scandal 3: Russian officials had more than 100 contacts with Trump associates during the campaign and transition, including his son, his closest adviser, his lawyer, and his campaign manager. The Russians offered assistance in undermining Hillary Clinton. The FBI and other government authorities weren't alerted about this effort to subvert our election.
Scandal 4: Michael Flynn was national security adviser at the same time U.S. intelligence officials believed he was compromised by the Kremlin. He pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts.
Scandal 5: Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, and told NBC's Lester Holt it was at least in part because of the Russia investigation: "[T]his Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story."
Scandal 6: Trump overruled the advice of his lawyers and intelligence experts, and granted his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a top-secret clearance. This so alarmed his White House chief of staff John Kelly that he recorded his opposition in a memo. Trump and his family repeatedly denied he had interfered.
The big picture: Presidential historian Jon Meacham tells us that this "transcends scandal — it’s a national crisis in the sense of a period of elevated stakes, high passions, and possibly permanent consequences."
Be smart: Trump himself might survive all of this — and even more. Republican voters seem basically unmoved by the mounting evidence.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Facebook's decision to shift gears to focus on encrypted private messaging will either cement the social network's global dominance or end it. Either way, it will change the way more than one-third of the world's population engages with the internet, Axios' Sara Fischer and Scott Rosenberg write.
But the shift, if it actually happens, could go a lot further than privacy principles.
Zuckerberg is painting Facebook's next shift on the same scale as the transformations that propelled Microsoft and Apple:
Be smart: Facebook's efforts to increase commerce and payment interactions on its platform could suggest the company is looking to replace ad revenue it might lose in the future.
Two of Trump's most reliable media allies — Fox Business host Lou Dobbs and Matt Drudge — called him out last night over the direction of his administration.
Between the lines: Some prominent immigration restrictionists who support Trump, including Dobbs, have grown increasingly worried that he might flip from wanting to cut legal immigration to advocating an increase in legal immigration.
Matt Drudge used this banner over a WashPost story reporting that Trump's administration "has been on a pronounced losing streak over the past week":
This is how proud workers draped the hood of the last Chevy Cruze to come off the assembly line of the GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio, where 1,700 hourly positions were eliminated as of yesterday, perhaps for good.
What's new: "America’s trade deficit in goods with the rest of the world rose to its highest level in history last year as the United States imported a record number of products, including from China, widening the deficit to $891.3 billion," the N.Y. Times reports in today's lead story.
Chaser ... L.A. Times front page: "Many promises unkept, but Trump may pay no price."
Michael Cohen directed his then-attorney to inquire last spring about the possibility of a presidential pardon, Cohen’s current lawyer, Lanny Davis, told The Wall Street Journal (subscription).
"HBO will play a crucial role as one of AT&T’s keys for unlocking digital fortunes" when executives later this year "introduce a streaming video service featuring WarnerMedia content, which includes brands such as TBS, TNT, and the Warner Bros. studio," Bloomberg Businessweek's Felix Gillette writes:
Disclosure: HBO recently renewed "Axios on HBO."
TIME's Charlie Campbell interviews the 14th Dalai Lama, 83, on the 60th anniversary of his exile from Tibet, at his private residence in Dharamsala, India.
[He] has become the most recognizable face of [Buddhism,] a religion practiced by nearly 500 million people worldwide. But his prominence extends beyond the borders of his own faith, with many practices endorsed by Buddhists, like mindfulness and meditation, permeating the lives of millions more around the world. ...
Beijing still sees the Dalai Lama as a dangerous threat, and swiftly rebukes any nation that entertains him. ... Today the Chinese Communist Party ... that drove him out of Tibet is working to co-opt Buddhist principles — as well as the succession process.
With this basket in L.A. last night, LeBron James moved past his idol growing up in Ohio, Michael Jordan ("I wanted to be like Michael"), for fourth place on the NBA career scoring list.
Video: Relive the night in 1 minute.
For the N.Y. Times Magazine's annual Music Issue, editors chose a bolder-than-usual list of 25 songs that matter right now — musically, culturally and politically.
There’s an oddly strong in-the-moment consensus on how everyone is feeling these days, and it is not good. At some point it became a routine conversational tic for all sorts of people, of all sorts of persuasions, to express, with an incredulous gesture, that things feel a bit grueling and frantic lately, don’t they?
Musicians are no exception. ... What’s amazing is that the musical expression of all this isn’t always some big swing toward darkness, or anger, or anxiety. ...
Read through this list, and what you’ll often see instead is a very earnest, very serious desire to find the right reaction to a world that feels tense and high-stakes — an ambient conviction that music should be looking for ways to cope, ways to protect ourselves, moments of escape, hard reckonings with our collective responsibilities, ideas for how to make the world feel less brutal.