Happy Friday (one of the last of summer)!
As President Trump has settled into Year 2 of his presidency, he has become especially enamored with powers he can exercise — just like back at the Trump Organization — without the approval or even consultation of anyone else.
Four sources close to Trump tell Jonathan Swan that the revocation of former CIA Director John Brennan's clearance belongs in the same category as the president's love of the pardon power and the signing of executive orders:
Now — after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) pointed out to Trump that he could revoke security clearances from former senior officials who were attacking him — he is clearly relishing the unilateral power:
Another source close to Trump said: “I don’t believe Trump is inclined to do anything that erodes separation of powers — at least, nothing that exceeds the historical rate at which executive power has expanded."
Reality check: The White House has provided no evidence that Brennan is a threat to national security.
Be smart: The narrative that Trump is doing this to silence Brennan — as the former CIA director suggested in his N.Y. Times Op-Ed — is absurd.
The takeway: Trump always needs a villain to run against and he and his media allies, like Fox’s Sean Hannity, are trying to brand Brennan as the sinister face of the “Deep State” that they claim is out to get Trump.
Dr. Robert Gates — who served eight presidents, including stints as CIA director, and later as Defense Secretary for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama — just added his name to a stunning list of former intelligence officials who signed a letter criticizing the Brennan slap as "ill-considered and unprecedented":
The conversation ... Jeremy Bash, NBC national security analyst and former chief of staff at the CIA and Pentagon, tells me:
P.S. N.Y. Times Quotation of the Day ... Mary McCord, who helped run the Justice Department’s national security division until she left last year:
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
A surge of nefarious activity online has created new businesses, research disciplines and newsroom beats focused on studying and combating internet propaganda, Axios' Sara Fischer reports:
Every expert Axios has spoken to about fighting misinformation agrees that no one institution has enough visibility to piece together a full picture of the underlying campaigns perpetuated by bad actors.
"Aretha Franklin never saw herself as a feminist heroine. That, she quipped, was Gloria Steinem’s role. But she leaves a legacy of indelible anthems that resonated deeply with women by celebrating their strength and individuality — and demanding, well, just a little respect," AP's Jocelyn Noveck writes:
"Elon Musk was at home in Los Angeles, struggling to maintain his composure. 'This past year has been the most difficult and painful year of my career,' he said. 'It was excruciating,'" the N.Y. Times' David Gelles, James B. Stewart, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Kate Kelly write:
Why it matters: "For two decades, Mr. Musk has been one of Silicon Valley’s most brash and ambitious entrepreneurs, helping to found several influential technology companies. He has often carried himself with bravado, dismissing critics and relishing the spotlight that has come with his success and fortune."
N.Y. Times' Maggie Haberman and Ken Vogel:
"President Trump lashed out ... at The Boston Globe and renewed his attacks on the media after more than 400 newspapers published editorials defending the role of the free press," the Boston Globe reports:
Women military veterans are among the record number of female candidates running for office, AP's Laurie Kellman and Bill Barrow report:
Driving the conversation ... Vanity Fair editor Radhika Jones announced speakers for the fifth Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit, in Beverly Hills on Oct. 8–10, including:
This fall in Scottsdale, Ariz., Kroger will begin testing grocery deliveries with a completely autonomous vehicle, called an R1, with no human aboard, per AP.
Thanks for reading. See you all weekend on Axios.com.