Nov 11, 2018

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

📺 Tonight on “Axios on HBO” (6:30 p.m. ET/PT): Our poll finds 61% of Democrats think Republicans are racist ... Inside the flood of new investigations about to hit Trump ... Impeachment pressure ... The new way women ran — and won.

1 big thing ... Scoop: House Democrats to probe Trump on CNN, Amazon

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

House Democrats plan to investigate whether President Trump abused White House power by targeting — and trying to punish with "instruments of state power" — The Washington Post and CNN, incoming House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff said in an interview for "Axios on HBO."

  • Why it matters: Until now, all Trump critics could do is complain about his escalating attacks on the media. With subpoena power and public hearings, the incoming House Democratic majority can demand emails and testimony to see if Trump used “the instruments of state power to punish the press,” Schiff said. 
  • “It is very squarely within our responsibility to find out,” he said in the interview, which will air Sunday evening on HBO. 

Schiff brought up two avenues of inquiry with a press-freedom theme, aimed at investigating possible administration actions to target two of the nation's highest profile corporations.

1) Schiff said Trump "was secretly meeting with the postmaster [general] in an effort to browbeat the postmaster [general] into raising postal rates on Amazon."

  • "This appears to be an effort by the president to use the instruments of state power to punish Jeff Bezos and The Washington Post," Schiff said. Jeff Bezos is founder, chairman and CEO of Amazon, and owns the Washington Post. 

2) Schiff said Congress also need to examine whether Trump attempted to block AT&T’s merger with Time Warner as payback to CNN.

  • "We don't know, for example, whether the effort to hold up the merger of the parent of CNN was a concern over antitrust, or whether this was an effort merely to punish CNN," Schiff said.

Schiff’s warning comes amid the tensest showdowns between the presidency and the press in our lifetimes. Trump, who calls much of the media "the enemy of the people" and "fake news," this week took the extraordinary steps of revoking the press credentials of a CNN correspondent and berating another CNN correspondent for asking "stupid" questions.

  • Trump says other reporters might be banned from the White House, too. 

Be smart: Some senior White House officials were uncomfortable with Trump’s fixation on his inaccurate belief Amazon was ripping off the U.S. Postal Service.

  • Several former senior officials tried to explain to Trump that the Postal Service's billion-dollar losses had nothing to do with Amazon. But Trump simply wouldn't accept their arguments, according to two sources with direct knowledge.
  • Trump, in private, often vents about Bezos and The Washington Post. In an interview with "Axios on HBO" last week, Trump said he’s considering antitrust action against Amazon, but made plain he might not pursue it. 

Go deeper: "Trump personally pushed postmaster general to double rates on Amazon, other firms" ... "Judge rules that AT&T can buy Time Warner."

The second episode of Axios on HBO airs Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT. 

  • This edition includes: interviews with incoming congressional committee heads, House Democrats Nita Lowey and Adam Schiff; a poll that probes Republicans' and Democrats' perceptions of one another; and a look at a new style of campaigning by a record number of women candidates.

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2. 25 dead: Epic ruin as California burns, north and south
Horses are tied to lifeguard booths on the beach in Malibu, Calif., yesterday (Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP)

In Northern California, the death toll from the Camp Fire in Paradise, the most destructive fire in California history, surged to 23 people, with more than 100 still missing in Butte County, the L.A. Times reports.

  • "Cars abandoned by fleeing motorists who found themselves unable to escape lay crumpled in the roadways, their tires melted."

In Southern California, the Woolsey fire "has burned 83,000 acres, claimed two lives, destroyed more than a hundred homes and forced 260,000 people to evacuate across a wide swath of Los Angeles and Ventura counties," per the L.A. Times.

  • "The fire spread in several directions, burning homes in Malibu, Westlake Village and Thousand Oaks while threatening parts of Simi Valley, West Hills and numerous Ventura County communities."
  • "The fire, which is only 5% contained, has doubled in size since Friday afternoon."
  • "Firefighters staged a furious battle overnight to save Pepperdine University in Malibu, where hundreds of students and staff were sheltering in place."
Courtesy N.Y. Post
3. Three statewide recounts in Florida, Florida, Florida
Andrew Gillum, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Florida, withdraws his concession yesterday in Tallahassee. (Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

"The razor-thin margins in the races of U.S. Senate, agriculture commissioner and the governor’s race caused Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner to order mandatory machine recounts in all three statewide races ... after all counties submitted their unofficial results," the Miami Herald reports.

  • The second round of unofficial returns is due from the counties on Thursday.

If you doubt that every vote counts ... "Republican Ron DeSantis led Democrat Andrew Gillum in the race for governor by 0.41 percent (33,684 votes) [out of more than 8.2 million cast]."

  • "Republican Rick Scott led Democrat Bill Nelson in the Senate race by 0.15 percent (12,562).
  • "Democrat Nikki Fried led Republican Matt Caldwell in the agriculture commissioner race by 0.18 percent (5,326 votes)." (Tampa Bay Times)
  • See the recount order.

P.S. AP advisory after the recount order: "The Associated Press is retracting its call in the race for Florida governor. The AP had declared Republican Ron DeSantis the winner over Democrat Andrew Gillum."

  • "It is AP policy not to call a race facing a recount."
4. Pics du jour
Francois Mori, Pool via AP

Over 60 heads of state and government attended ceremonies today at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to commemorate the 14 million who died from 1914 to 1918 in World War I, which ended 100 years ago today.

Philippe Wojazer/Reuters/Pool via AP

Above, Europe embraces peace: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are head to head yesterday after a ceremony in the Glade of the Armistice in Compiègne , north of Paris.

Below, Macron welcomes President Trump to the Élysée Palace in Paris yesterday.

Chesnot/Getty Images
5. The end of the Great War, 100 years on
Getty Images

How's this for a lead? This is what we call rising to the occasion. AP's "WAR IS OVER" bulletin from 100 years ago today:

  • "WASHINGTON, NOV. 11 (AP) — The greatest war in history ended Monday morning at 6 o’clock Washington time, after 1,567 days of horror, during which virtually the whole civilized world had been convulsed."
The Armistice document signed by the Allies and Germans on Nov. 11, 1918. (Michel Euler/AP)

To prevent war with China, study World War I ... Graham Allison, the Douglas Dillon professor of government at Harvard Kennedy School, for the WashPost:

  • "The ... structural cause of World War I follows a familiar historical pattern: a rapidly rising power, Germany, challenging the primacy of an established one, Great Britain, which had ruled the world for a century."
  • "In this dangerous dynamic — the Thucydides’s Trap — both rivals become extremely vulnerable to third-party provocations, or even accidents, that trigger a cascade of reactions, at the end of which they find themselves in a war neither wanted."
6. Troops on border don't have hot food, phone charging outlets
Four days before midterms, U.S. troops place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas. (Eric Gay/AP)

Waiting for the caravan ... The midterms are over. "But the 5,600 American troops who rushed to the brown, dry scrub along the southwest border are still going through the motions of an elaborate mission that appeared to be set into action by a commander in chief determined to get his supporters to the polls, and a Pentagon leadership unable to convince him of its perils," the N.Y. Times' Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Helene Cooper report:

  • "Defense Department budget officials fret that if the number of troops sent to the border does reach 15,000, the price tag could hit $200 million, with no specific budget allocation from which to draw."
  • Some soldiers "suffered heat exhaustion, just days into their new mission."

"There is no mess hall, just the brown, prepackaged M.R.E.’s."

  • "The tents sleep 20 soldiers and have no electricity or air-conditioning."
  • "Phone charging is relegated to a few generators that power the spotlights around the living area."
7. Longtime GOP congressman loses
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (left) loses to real estate executive Harley Rouda. (Getty Images)

"Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican fixture in California who represented Orange County for 15 terms, has lost his bid for re-election. ... The Associated Press called the race [late yesterday], with Harley Rouda receiving 52 percent of the vote to Mr. Rohrabacher’s 48 percent," the N.Y. Times Adam Nagourney reports.

  • "Rouda, 56, is a former Republican turned Democrat who became a symbol of the Democratic efforts to win back Congress this year."
  • "Rohrabacher, 71, was viewed as particularly vulnerable because he defended Russia in the midst of allegations about its efforts to intervene in elections in the United States."
  • This is amazing: "Rohrabacher was considered so valuable to the Kremlin that the F.B.I. warned him in 2012 that Russia regarded him as an intelligence source worthy of a code name."

Why it matters: Rohrabacher's defeat underlines the Republican Party's "setbacks in a part of the state that was long a symbol of its political dominance."

  • Mood music: LA. Times, top of column 1, "GOP’s 'bad year' just got a little worse ... As Rohrabacher falls, party fears additional House losses in state."
8. How soon for #MeToo comeback?

John Lasseter, the powerful Disney Animation chief who stunned the industry in June by stepping down because of #MeToo transgressions, "has been looking to reenter the entertainment business just months after his ouster," the WashPost's Steven Zeitchik reports:

  • Why it matters: "This raises "questions, a year after the Me Too movement, about how and if industries should accept attempted comebacks,

"Lasseter recently met with officials from at least one agency, WME Entertainment, where in a two-hour meeting at the firm’s Beverly Hills headquarters, he gave his side of the accusations and outlined his hopes for his next act."

  • "[A]mong the areas in which Lasseter expressed interest ... was one unrelated to animation: podcasting."
9. 🎞 Hollywood identity crisis
Courtesy The New York Times

On the cover of today's redesigned N.Y. Times Sunday Business section (and tomorrow, "Business Day" will become just "Business"!) ...

"The movie capital is ... mired in a profound malaise," the N.Y. Times Brooks Barnes reports:

  • "The reason involves fallout from the #MeToo earthquake, both the positive changes it forced, and, lately, the pushback it has incurred."
  • "Contributing are the mega-mergers that have left Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox with new owners and may find Sony Pictures, Lionsgate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer sold or reconfigured before long."

"In the 100-year history of Hollywood, rarely if ever has so much upheaval arrived so fast and on so many fronts."

  • "For streaming upstarts like Netflix and Amazon Studios, where the cultures are still forming and money is gushing, the disruption is invigorating.
  • "But the rest of the entertainment business is filled with a deep unease."
10. 1 late-night thing: Republican makes surprise "SNL" appearance
NBC

"Saturday Night Live" cast member Pete Davidson appeared on the "Weekend Update" segment to apologize to former Navy SEAL and congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) — and brought Crenshaw with him, per Variety.

  • "Davidson ... reiterated 'from the bottom of my heart' that it was a poor choice of words to say [on] the Nov. 3 'Weekend Update' ... that Crenshaw looked like 'a hitman from a porno.'"
  • "Crenshaw rolled over to Davidson behind the desk to say, 'You think?' He also thanked Davidson for 'making a Republican look good.'"
  • "Davidson pointed out that Crenshaw lost his eye to an IED while he was fighting in Afghanistan during his third combat tour. He apologized directly to Crenshaw, who said they were good and the apology was accepted."
  • YouTube.
Mike Allen