Dec 13, 2019

Axios AM

🔮 Good morning. It's Friday the 13th.

  • Situational awareness: "President Trump is discussing with his advisers the possibility of sitting out the general election debates in 2020 because ... he does not trust the Commission on Presidential Debates," the N.Y. Times reports.
1 big thing: Normalizing impeachment
Expand chart
Sources, compiled with help of the House Historian's Office: "A Petition for Presidential Impeachment," "The House Impeaches Andrew Johnson," "Origins and Development of the House: Impeachment," "Hinds' Precedents" Vol. 3, "The Age of Impeachment," Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

With the House headed toward voting next week to impeach President Trump, some lawmakers warn that impeaching presidents could become the new normal — just another partisan ritual, Axios' Alayna Treene and Margaret Talev write.

  • This is what's happened to government shutdowns, Supreme Court fights and filibusters.
  • Why it matters: If impeachment becomes just another partisan instrument to juice elections and fundraising, that weakens its power as an emergency mechanism, and further polarizes the parties.

The taboo has eroded:

  • Before Richard Nixon, only five of 36 U.S. presidents had an impeachment resolution brought against them, according to the Office of the House Historian.
  • Five of the eight post-Watergate presidents saw multiple impeachment resolutions introduced against them: Presidents George H.W. Bush, Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush and Trump.

Share this story.

2. ⚖️ Impeachment vote today at 10 a.m.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (left) and ranking member Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

At 11:12 p.m., House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) stunned the marathon impeachment hearing by pushing the vote off until this morning, infuriating Republicans who just wanted to get the inevitable over with.

  • What's next: At 10 a.m., the committee will vote on impeachment articles.

A senior House Judiciary staffer told reporters: "Republican Judiciary Members have complained about process and transparency, yet apparently wanted to force the committee to vote on Articles of Impeachment in the dark of night."

  • Why it matters: Dems knew that a literal dark-of-night vote could later be used against them politically.

Inside the room, from Axios' Alayna Treene: Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the committee's top Republican, shot out of his chair and accused Nadler of postponing the vote so it would receive better media coverage.

  • "The chairman just ambushed the entire committee," Collins yelled. "Crap like this, this is why people have such a terrible view of Congress."

Congress at work: After several hours of debate about altering the articles, the only change that passed — via a verbal vote — was the substitution of "Donald John Trump" instead of "Donald J. Trump."

  • At 9 p.m., more than 12 hours after the chairman gaveled in the second day of the impeachment markup, Nadler finally called a 30-minute recess.
  • Tired members and staff flowed out of the room to scarf down pizza (for the GOP) and BBQ (for the Dems), while reporters snacked in the halls.
Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), as the hearing entered its 13th hour. Photo: Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Reuters
3. Corporate America pressured to boost paid parental leave

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As the House moves ahead with legislation to give 12 weeks of paid parental leave to civilian federal workers, corporate America is feeling pressure to offer sweeter policies, Axios' Courtenay Brown reports.

  • Why it matters: The U.S. is the only industrialized country that doesn't mandate paid leave for new parents.
  • Between the lines: The tight labor market gives workers leverage.

After the House approved the bill on Wednesday, the Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs whose companies employ more than 15 million, urged Congress and President Trump to make paid family leave — a broader category than parental leave — available to "as many working Americans as possible."

  • Ginni Rometty, the CEO of IBM, signed the letter, saying that "while most Business Roundtable companies provide very generous paid leave, there is a need for economy-wide action."
  • Just 16% of private employees had access to paid family leave in 2018.

Where it stands: Only a handful of companies — primarily corporate giants — offer anything nearly as rich as what the government is poised to pass.

  • Microsoft leads the pack, according to Glassdoor, with "five months paid leave to all new birth mothers, and three months for fathers, adoptive parents, and foster parents."
  • Glassdoor also gave kudos to Netflix ("a full year of paid time off to both mothers and fathers"), Deloitte and KPMG.

Share this story.

4. 🇨🇳 Trump signs off on China trade deal
President Trump speaks yesterday at the White House Summit on Child Care and Paid Leave. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

"President Trump has agreed to a limited trade agreement with Beijing that will roll back existing tariff rates on Chinese goods and cancel new levies set to take effect Sunday," the Wall Street Journal reports (subscription).

  • Why it matters: "The limited trade pact could help revive U.S. agricultural exports to China."

Markets rose.

5. 🇬🇧 Landslide mandate for Brexit
Graphic: Reuters

After three years of political deadlock over Brexit, Boris Johnson won the largest Conservative majority since the Margaret Thatcher era, Axios World editor Dave Lawler reports.

  • Why it matters: There's little doubt that Boris can pass a deal now, allowing Brexit to finally happen.

How he did it ... Johnson was successful on three closely connected fronts:

  1. Centering the election around Brexit and his oft-repeated message: "Get Brexit done."
  2. Uniting the "Leave" (anti-Brexit) vote behind him, while the "Remain" vote was split.
  3. Flipping long-held Labour seats, particularly in the north of England, where most voters backed "Leave" in 2016.

Boris benefited from a historically unpopular opposition leader in Labour's Jeremy Corbyn.

  • Watch for ... Corbyn to set out the terms of his departure.

How it's playing ...

The Sun
6. British warning to America's Democrats

Boris today. Photo: Frank Augstein/AP

If the U.K.'s Brexit vote foreshadowed Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, yesterday's landslide for Boris Johnson could be a warning sign for America's liberal Democrats in 2020, Axios' Margaret Talev writes.

  • Why it matters: It's a reminder that mainstream voters hesitate to embrace radical change. And voters who are uneasy about an incumbent won’t necessarily choose the opposition party if they don’t like its leaders.

Being there: Big-screen TVs carried live election results from the BBC last night at a watch party at the British Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue, as waiters passed around fish and chips and champagne. 

  • Charge d'affaires Michael Tatham — a new ambassador hasn't been named — welcomed guests who included RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel and some Trump White House officials.
  • Tatham joked that he's asked so regularly whether things are more tumultuous in Britain or America, he has a pat answer: The U.K. gets a five-hour head start every day, but "by lunchtime the U.S. has generally caught up."
7. Forbes' "World's 100 Most Powerful Women"
Graphic courtesy Forbes

Forbes releases its 16th annual list, "The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women":

  • 1. Angela Merkel, German chancellor
  • 2. Christine Lagarde, president, European Central Bank
  • 3. Speaker Nancy Pelosi
  • 4. Ursula von der Leyen, president, European Commission
  • 5. Mary Barra, CEO, GM
  • 6. Melinda Gates, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • 7. Abby Johnson, chair and CEO, Fidelity
  • 8. Ana Botin, chair, Santander Group
  • 9. Ginni Rometty, CEO, IBM
  • 10. Marillyn Hewson, chair, president and CEO, Lockheed Martin
  • 18. Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
  • 20. Oprah Winfrey
  • 33. Laurene Powell Jobs, founder and president, Emerson Collective
  • 39. Anne Finucane, vice chair, Bank of America; chair, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Europe
  • 40. Queen Elizabeth II
  • 42. Ivanka Trump

See the list.

8. Trump tweet record
Trump's Twitter

The president’s @realDonaldTrump account tweeted and retweeted 115 times yesterday, marking his most active Twitter day, AP writes.

  • Why it matters: Trump has noticeably ramped up his tweeting during the impeachment inquiry.

POTUS tweeted 77 times Wednesday and 105 times Sunday.

9. 3-digit suicide hotline coming

The FCC voted unanimously to create a three-digit suicide prevention hotline that "will soon make seeking emergency mental health help more like calling 911," per USA Today.

  • "When the months-long process is completed, U.S. residents will be able to call 988 for help in a mental health emergency."

Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-TALK (8255).

10. 1 🎄 thing
Photo: Sarah Blake Morgan/AP

Christmas tree supplies are tight across the U.S., pushing up prices, per AP.

  • Why it matters: The industry is still bouncing back from the Great Recession, and trying to win people back from a shift toward artificial trees.

What's happening: An oversupply of trees about a decade ago caused a domino effect nationwide.

  • Fewer trees were cut down, which meant not as many seedlings were planted to replace them.
  • Hot, dry weather also took its toll, forcing many growers to close.

📬 Thanks for reading! Please tell a friend about AM/PM.