Dec 6, 2019

Axios AM

Happy Friday! Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,198 words ... 4½ minutes.

1 big thing: Biden says media, rivals wrong on AOC
Joe Biden arrives in Mason City, Iowa. Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP

Former Vice President Joe Biden told me during an "Axios on HBO" interview in Iowa that he has shaped the 2020 race, faulting the media and his rivals for thinking Democratic voters are more liberal than the reality. 

  • "You guys got it all wrong about what happened," Biden said in the interview, airing Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET on HBO.
  • "It's just bad judgment. You all thought that what happened was the party moved extremely to the left after Hillary. AOC was a new party. She's a bright, wonderful person. But where's the party? Come on, man."

Biden disagreed strongly with rivals who think the Democratic Party is hungry for Medicare for All, a top priority for Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders:

  • "The party's not there. The party's not there at all."

Be smart: Medicare for All is officially the central battlefield for go-big-or-go-home Democrats like Warren and Sanders vs. go-biggish-but-not-so-big-you-scare-moderates Democrats like Biden.

  • Biden believes Warren and Sanders misread Democratic voters. 

Watch the clip.

2. Most investors want companies to look beyond profits

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

84% of institutional investors told the Edelman Trust Barometer that "maximizing shareholder returns can no longer be the primary goal of the corporation," writes Axios' Jennifer Kingson.

  • "This is a wake-up-call" for corporate leaders, Lex Suvanto, global managing director of financial communications and capital markets at Edelman, told Axios.

Why it matters: Long considered a money-losing nicety, a focus on ESG issues — environmental, social and governance concerns — is going mainstream.

  • The poll also found that 52% said they'd put more trust in a company that linked executive compensation to ESG goals — for example, fighting climate change.
3. ⚖️ Pelosi: "Even Richard Nixon ... "
Screenshot via MSNBC

The House Judiciary Committee could approve articles of impeachment as early as next week, setting up a vote of the full House the week before Christmas.

  • "So sometimes people say, 'Well I don’t know about Ukraine. I don’t know that much about Ukraine,'" Speaker Pelosi said yesterday. "Well, our adversary in this is Russia. All roads lead to Putin."
  • On why the whistleblower's report was the "a-ha moment": "[I]n all the other cases we had the obstruction of justice, but we didn’t have as much information ... because the White House was withholding the information ...[E]ven Richard Nixon enabled us to have the grand jury testimony."

The articles of impeachment are likely to encompass two major themes — abuse of office and obstruction. But they could be divvied up into multiple articles, AP's Mary Clare Jalonick writes.

  • An impeachment article accusing President Trump of abuse of office, or abuse of power, would focus on the findings of the Ukraine investigation.
  • That conduct is the focus of a House Intelligence Committee report that will be presented to the Judiciary panel for consideration in a Monday hearing.
  • Some lawmakers have suggested that Democrats could break out "bribery" as a separate article, centered on Trump withholding Ukraine's aid.

Obstruction articles could be broken up into obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice, or combined.

  • The administration's refusals to provide documents and testimony would underpin an article charging obstruction of Congress.
  • Obstruction of justice could be based on the Mueller investigation.

Trump tweeted: "Nancy Pelosi just had a nervous fit. ... Where’s the Fake Whistleblower? ... Where’s the phony informer who got it all wrong?"

Twitter: Christine Pelosi

See the video: Pelosi returns to press conference to address question on whether she hates Trump.

4. Pic du jour
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Secret Service stands guard on the Ellipse before President Trump speaks at the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony.

5. Tech becomes new trade flashpoint
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

New opposition from Speaker Pelosi leaves the tech industry at risk of losing a cherished trade deal provision that could help cement its liability shield, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill reports.

  • Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects online platforms from liability for content their users post.
  • Pelosi cited the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement's extension of its principles to U.S. trade partners as a sticking point for getting the trade deal through Congress, the Wall Street Journal first reported (subscription).

The big picture: Tech companies have been pushing to extend their Section 230 protection to other countries, but the provision faces new criticism from a collection of industry groups, advocacy organizations and lawmakers amid a debate on revising or eliminating the law.

6. Uber's "radical transparency"

Photo: Alastair Pike/AFP via Getty Images

Uber disclosed yesterday that its U.S. users reported nearly 6,000 incidents of sexual assault during 2017 and 2018, reports Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva.

  • Why it matters: Over the years, Uber (along with its rival, Lyft) has been criticized for its handling of these incidents, including attempts at downplaying or hiding them.

Advocates have praised Uber for releasing its report, and are calling on more companies to do the same.

  • An Uber official told Axios that the report is "true radical transparency," and pointed out that such reporting isn't required.
7. USS Arizona's last internment
In this Nov. 17, 2016, file photo, Lauren Bruner holds with a 1940 photo of himself at his home in La Mirada, Calif. Photo: Reed Saxon/AP

Lauren Bruner, then 21, was the second-to-last man to escape the burning wreckage of the USS Arizona after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, writes AP's Audrey McAvoy.

  • He lived to be 98 years old, working for a refrigeration company for nearly four decades.

Bruner's ashes will be placed inside the battleship’s wreckage this weekend, making him the 44th and last crew member to be interred in accordance with this rare Navy ritual.

  • The last three living Arizona survivors plan to be laid to rest with their families.
8. Britain's election will tear it still further apart
Courtesy The Economist

The Economist endorsed the Liberal Democrats in next week's U.K. election, calling the centrist party "the only choice for anyone who rejects both the hard Brexit of the Conservatives and the hard-left plans of Labour."

  • It criticized Prime Minister Boris Johnson for turning his Conservative Party into "an economically interventionist and culturally conservative one."
  • It refused to back Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party, facing an ongoing anti-Semitism scandal, over its "ruinous plans at home and bankrupt views."

The Economist's bottom line: "[F]or the centre to hold is the best hope for Britain."

9. Worthy read
Courtesy The New York Times Magazine

Design director Gail Bichler writes that the New York Times Magazine cover story "tells the lurid tale of Paul Skalnik, a grifter whom Florida prosecutors relied on as a jailhouse informant after dropping a child-molestation charge against him":

His testimony has led to 37 convictions and four death sentences. For the cover, we created a gallery of just some of Skalnik’s mug shots, spanning a decade of criminal activity — though he has been breaking the law for far longer. The mug shots, in aggregate, show Skalnik as the prodigious con artist he is, even as his testimony served as the basis for the conviction of a man who could soon be executed in Florida for a murder he denies committing.

Read the article, "How This Con Man’s Wild Testimony Sent Dozens to Jail, and 4 to Death Row."

10. 1 shoe thing: Sneakers as high fashion
Photo: Brynn Anderson/AP

Above, a model walks the runway wearing the Christian Dior pre-fall 2020 men's fashion collection shoe Air Dior during Art Basel Miami.

  • This year, it's all about the kicks as several major brands including Dior, Adidas and Nike drop limited edition sneakers that had fans camping out overnight, AP's Kelli Kennedy writes from Miami Beach.

Rapper Travis Scott's Air Force 1 Cactus Jack sneakers retailed for $160. The various versions are extremely difficult to get and are often sold by a lottery.

  • Prada dropped its collab with Adidas, a sleek white leather shoe and a bowling/gym bag. The two are sold as a set for $3,170.
  • Louis Vuitton unveiled its first sneaker trunk. The price starts at $182,000.

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