Jan 9, 2021

Axios AM

🧤 Hello Saturday. Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,144 words ... 4½ minutes.

1 big thing: Trump, canceled

Leaders in business, technology and culture are pulling the plug on President Trump in the final days of his presidency.

  • Trump's political power, and his popularity with the Republican base, protected him from a backlash from business and tech — until now.
  • The Capitol siege was the final straw, Sara Fischer and David Nather write.

Twitter announced last evening that the platform will permanently suspend President Trump's account. It's the strongest action against the president, and comes in response to the risk of further incitement of violence.

  • Apple yesterday threatened to remove the right-wing-friendly app Parler from its App Store if it doesn’t lay out a plan to moderate its content.
  • Google went a step further, suspending Parler from the Google Play store.
  • Reddit said it banned the subreddit group "r/DonaldTrump," one of the company's largest political communities dedicated to Trump support. In the world of social media, that's pretty close to the end of the game.
  • Facebook faces calls from prominent voices — including Michelle Obama, a slew of celebrities, and high-ranking Hill Democrats — to boot Trump.

Businesses and billionaires have begun to reconsider their support for Trump, or at least their tolerance for his antics that came with the policies they supported.

  • Many of America's top execs plan to deny future contributions to Republicans who egged on his efforts to overturn the election, sources told Axios' Dan Primack and Alexi McCammond.

A slew of trade groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers, which typically supports conservative trade policies, called out Trump for egging on the rioters.

  • NAM's statement, by president and CEO Jay Timmons, was one of the first to raise the idea that Trump should be removed through the 25th amendment.

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Via Twitter
2. Dems to begin Impeachment II early next week
Photo: CBS News

House Democrats plan to move on a second impeachment of Donald J. Trump as early as Monday — and on Wednesday at the latest, depending on member travel, Hill sources tell me.

  • There's just one article in the four-page draft: "Incitement of Insurrection."
  • More than half of House Democrats instantly signed on.

Speaker Pelosi told Lesley Stahl for Sunday's "60 Minutes" that Trump is "deranged": "[S}adly, the person that's running the Executive Branch is a deranged, unhinged, dangerous president of the United States."

  • "And we're only a number of days until we can be protected from him. But he has done something so serious that there should be prosecution against him."

🥊 Senate Majority Leader McConnell threw cold water on impeachment, noting in a memo to Republican senators, obtained by the WashPost, that — based on the Senate schedule — a trial couldn't start before Inauguration Day.

  • Between the lines: An impeachment trial would screw up the new president's first 100 days.

🎥 See clip of Speaker Pelosi on "60 Minutes."

3. The future of babies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the U.S. fertility rate falls to a 35-year-low, new technologies promise to radically change how we have babies, Axios Future author Bryan Walsh writes.

  • Why it matters: The demand for assisted reproductive technology, like in vitro fertilization (IVF), is likely to grow as people delay the decision to have children. Advances in gene editing and diagnostic testing could open the door for a revolution in reproduction, raising huge ethical questions.

New technologies offer hope for improving IVF success rates:

  • Researchers tried to train an AI algorithm to identify the quality of embryos and found the model could differentiate between high- and low-quality embryos with about 97% accuracy — higher than most fertility professionals..

What's next: IVF is already more than 40 years old, but the next stage of reproductive technology is likely to be even bigger — and even more ethically complex.

  • As long as IVF remains expensive and uncomfortable, there will be natural limits to its use. But in his fascinating book "The End of Sex," the bioethicist Hank Greely predicts that as stem cell science improves, parents of the future won't even need to harvest eggs. Instead, skin cells could be reprogrammed to become egg or sperm cells, potentially allowing parents to create thousands or even millions of embryos, and choose the one they want.
  • In such a future, LGBT couples could produce children that share the genes of both partners, and single parents could create a child on their own, by generating both the egg and sperm cells from their own bodies.

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4. Pic du jour
Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The flag is lowered to half-staff at the Capitol yesterday, following the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, injured in the siege.

5. America's monumental week
Data: NewsWhip. Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The Capitol siege generated 3.5 times more interactions (likes, comments, shares) on social media than Georgia's runoffs, which gave Dems control of the Senate, Neal Rothschild and Sara Fischer report from exclusive NewsWhip data.

6. GOP's parallel universe

Nikki Haley speaks in Iowa in October. Photo: Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen via AP

At the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting yesterday, party members, "one after another, said in interviews that the president did not bear any blame for the violence at the Capitol and indicated that they wanted him to continue to play a leading role in the party," the N.Y. Times' Jonathan Martin reports from Amelia Island, Fla. (subscription).

  • The fealty to Trump was made plain with the unanimous reelection of Ronna McDaniel, Trump’s handpicked chair, and the reappointment of her co-chair, Tommy Hicks, first appointed because of his friendship with Don Jr.

Why it matters: "Trump is the first president since Herbert Hoover to preside over the loss of the White House, the House and the Senate in a single term and will be the first since Andrew Johnson to boycott his successor’s inauguration. That hasn’t yet fazed the Republican rank and file," JMart writes.

🥊 A dose of reality came from Nikki Haley — Trump's former U.N. ambassador, and a promising 2024 presidential candidate — who told the meeting the president "was badly wrong with his words" in stoking the mob, AP reported.

  • "His actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history," Haley said, calling the aftermath "deeply disappointing" because of the effect it'll have on the Trump legacy.
7. 🌱 Economic hope amid the storm
Cover: Barron's

Barron's, widely read on Wall Street, makes two arguments today for investor optimism amid national privation and chaos:

  1. With Democratic Senate control, more stimulus is likely (but so are tax increases and greater regulation.) (Subscription)
  2. COVID-driven productivity gains — including shorter commutes, online efficiency — could be here to stay. (Subscription)
8. GM electrifies image

GM via AP

General Motors is changing its corporate logo and launching an electric vehicle marketing campaign to reshape its image as clean-vehicle company, AP auto writer Tom Krisher reports from Detroit.

Why it matters: The campaign comes as stock market investors are enthralled with companies that make electric vehicles.

  • Tesla shares have skyrocketed more than 800% in the past year, and market value has passed $800 billion. GM's value is around $61 billion.
9. 🗞️ Time capsule
10. ⚾ "Bleeding blue till the end": Remembering Tommy Lasorda
In 1981, Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda celebrates after the Dodgers beat the Montreal Expos for the National League title. Photo: AP

"Tommy Lasorda loved the Dodgers ... at the highest of volumes, through every chapter of a 93-year-old life," L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke writes:

He loved them as their struggling pitcher, as their fiery manager, as their headstrong executive, as their wisecracking ambassador. In the end, he loved them as a frail elderly gentleman who watched his final games at Dodger Stadium in the owner’s box, huddled underneath his Dodger blue jacket, often alone, but always at home.

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In Dodger Stadium at age 91, in 2018, Tommy Lasorda throws the ceremonial first pitch at World Series Game 3, Dodgers v. Red Sox. Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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