☕️ Good Tuesday morning from T-Town — Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where I'm visiting nephew Anders, starting his sophomore year at Alabama.
Situational awareness ... Russian military intelligence "appears to have a new target: conservative American think tanks that have broken with President Trump and are seeking continued sanctions against Moscow, exposing oligarchs or pressing for human rights," the N.Y. Times' David E. Sanger and Sheera Frenkel report.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
With China’s economy cooling, President Trump and his aides are emboldened on the hardline tariffs strategy that they increasingly believe is jamming President Xi Jinping, officials tell Jonathan Swan and me.
The Wall Street Journal reports in today's lead story: "The Trump administration is moving closer ... to levying tariffs on nearly half of Chinese imports despite broad opposition from U.S. business."
A member of Congress who recently spoke at length with Trump about trade said: "He thinks he’s right and he thinks he’s winning."
Based on news reports out of China (Wall Street Journal, Aug. 14, from Beijing: "China’s Growth Engine Sputters as It Battles U.S. Over Trade"), some administration officials believe Trump is winning his fight with Beijing.
The member of Congress said: "They think internally that because China sells so much more to the U.S. than the U.S. sells to China, this is a war they can win."
Most of Trump’s top economic and trade officials adamantly oppose these auto tariffs. Trade adviser Peter Navarro is a lonely internal advocate alongside the president.
Be smart: If Trump carries out his threats on auto tariffs, it could be the act that provokes a Republican rebellion on Capitol Hill.
President Trump in a Reuters interview yesterday, on the Mueller probe:
"I can go in, and I could do whatever — I could run it if I want. But I decided to stay out ... I’m totally allowed to be involved if I wanted to be. So far, I haven’t chosen to be involved. I’ll stay out."
Trump calls his administration "a smooth-running machine."
The setting sun is seen through smoky air behind the Narrows Bridge in Tacoma, Wash.
The New Yorker's Adam Entous: "A turning point for [President Obama's last CIA director, John] Brennan was a tweet from the President on March 4, 2017, in which Trump falsely claimed, 'How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!'"
"Protesters toppled the Silent Sam Confederate statue on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill" last night, The (Raleigh) News & Observer's Jane Stancill reports:
In the week since a Pennsylvania grand jury reported on child sex abuse by Catholic priests, the reputation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, has taken a brutal hit, the WashPost's Michelle Boorstein reports:
Be smart: "[U]nlike the quiet protests and longings for change of past decades, Catholics in 2018 are demanding accountability — and fast."
"Broken Bones And Missing Teeth: Scooter Injuries Are Becoming Common At Hospitals ... Emergency rooms are seeing people injured on scooters, or by tripping over them," per BuzzFeed's Katie Notopoulos:
"More companies than ever are using the profit motive to help the planet and tackle social problems."
See the full Change the World list.
"The Eagles' greatest hits album has moonwalked past Michael Jackson's "Thriller" to become history's best-selling album of all-time in the U.S.," AP Music Writer Mesfin Fekadu reports:
P.S. For Bob Costa ... "Phish Fans Are Usually Peaceable — Until the Tarps Come Out ... Tempers flare when concert-goers claim whole rows of choice space by throwing giant plastic covers over them" — Wall Street Journal A-hed by Ira Iosebashvili (subscription):
Thanks for reading. See you all day on Axios.com.