Aug 25, 2018

Axios AM

Mike Allen

☕️ Good Saturday morning ...

Breaking: "Elon Musk scrapped his plan to take Tesla Inc. private, a remarkable reversal more than two weeks after blindsiding employees and investors with the idea in a bombshell tweet," Bloomberg reports.

  • "In a blog post published late Friday, Tesla’s chairman, CEO and largest shareholder said he had met with the board and 'let them know that I believe the better path is for Tesla to remain public. The Board indicated that they agree.'"
1 big thing ... Trump's magic number: 34

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The writing is on the wall, top Republicans tell us: Democrats will likely win the House and undoubtedly move to impeach President Trump.

  • Assuming Democrats win the House, it is inconceivable charges that Trump illegally paid off two women to protect his political campaign, corroborated by two longtime loyalists under oath, alone would not provoke impeachment proceedings.
  • It’s equally inconceivable Robert Mueller won’t provide much more impeachment fodder when he reports his findings.

This is where the insane run of politics could hit peak insanity: Trump knows all he will need is 34 Republican votes in Senate to save his presidency, if he were impeached by the House and tried by the Senate. It takes 67 of 100 senators to remove a president from office.

  • Trump's political superpower is his willingness to say, do and endure things most humans would never tolerate.
  • So those who know Trump best fully expect he would never surrender and bet his base is so strong, and Republican senators so fearful, his red wall will hold, regardless of evidence.

This wall would include:

  • True Trump loyalists.
  • Newly elected senators who credit Trump for helping them win.
  • Republicans running for reelection in states Trump won by 20 or more points.
  • Republicans in Trump states not up for 2020 reelection.

Why it matters: Yes, this is premature. But also yes, the thinking around Trump is turning to survival in impeachment proceedings.

Be smart ... An experienced Senate vote-counter, on why no one is likely to be #34 to save Trump: "If you lose 10 Rs on something like impeachment, you’re going to lose them all. I think it’s [preserve the] majority [in November] or bust."

Go deeper ... From Axios PM, "Trump's hell week: fear and fury," by Jonathan Swan:

  • "For the first time, I’m hearing real fear and concern in the voices of Trump allies."
2. DNC, TV networks discuss 2019 presidential debates

"The Democratic Party has begun conversations with television networks about a series of presidential primary debates in 2019," AP's Bill Barrow reports:

  • Why it matters: "The early start, well before the 2020 field is known, signals the importance that the Democratic National Committee chairman, Tom Perez, is placing on decisions that will be scrutinized for any signs of favoritism among potentially two dozen or more candidates."
  • "[T]he party is not yet talking to any potential candidates, taking pains not to be seen as manipulating the process."
  • Perez has tapped Mary Beth Cahill, who ran the 2004 campaign of Democratic nominee John Kerry, to lead debate discussions.
3. Catholic church faces ominous decline
Pope Francis arrives today in Dublin, Ireland, ground zero of the Catholic Church's sex abuse crisis, (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

The Catholic church’s sex scandal is crushing one of the world’s most powerful institutions. The numbers are brutal and speak to rapid, spreading decline, Axios' Haley Britzky reports:

  • In the U.S., allegations against 6,721 priests were reported to U.S. bishops between 1950 and 2016, and 18,565 victims have come forward, according to Bishop Accountability, an advocacy group.
  • 848 priests around the world were defrocked by the Vatican for rape or molestation of children between 2004 and 2014, per CBS. More than 2,500 were handed lesser penalties.

The bottom line: Outside of Africa, the number of priests and self-identified Catholics has been steadily dropping, with fewer and fewer young people joining the church.

Go deeper: Catholic church faces ominous decline

Bonus: Pic du jour
During his 2000 presidential campaign, Senator McCain and his wife, Cindy, talk to reporters as they travel from Columbia to Sumter, S.C., aboard his bus, the Straight Talk Express. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Celebrating a storied life: "One word ['maverick'] is sure to surface again and again as Sen. John McCain's legacy is detailed and debated in the wake of his decision to discontinue medical treatment for a deadly form of brain cancer," Arizona Republic national politics editor Dan Nowicki writes.

  • "The description reflected a backstory of heroism and duty during the Vietnam War and fit McCain's efforts to lead bipartisan reforms of the campaign-finance and U.S.-immigration systems. His central focus on Capitol Hill was national security, a bipartisan concern. And he eagerly sparred with presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump."
During a day-in-the-life feature in 1998, Senator McCain refers to his schedule card in his office. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ/Getty Images)
4. Data du jour
Data: Eurostat, American Councils for International Education; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

"Europeans keep lapping America on foreign language learning," Axios' Stef Kight reports:

5. Twitter CEO to testify on algorithms

"Amid concerns that conservative voices are being silenced on social media, a U.S. House committee announced ... that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and other tech executives will appear before the panel on Capitol Hill Sept. 5," Fox News reports.

  • "Dorsey will discuss his company’s 'algorithms and content judgment calls' before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the committee announced via Twitter."

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who pushed for the testimony, said in a statement:

  • "[T]ransparency is the only way to fully restore Americans’ trust in these important public platforms. This hearing will be critical to that end and I am happy Mr. Dorsey is taking a leadership role amongst his peers in this conversation."
6. 1 game thing
Courtesy Barron's

"The Videogame Industry Reaches for the Cloud: How efforts to create Netflix-like platforms for videogames could transform the industry and attract many more games," by Barron's senior editor Jack Hough in Redwood City, Calif.:

  • "The cloud is the future of videogaming ... Once pricey hardware is no longer necessary and top-tier games can run on two year-old smartphones, even casual gamers will become candidates for the latest releases."
  • "That will expand what is already an enormous business. ... [G]ames played on personal computers and consoles, such as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, will bring in an estimated $67.5 billion this year ... perhaps $25 billion more than films’ worldwide box office receipts."
  • "[M]obile games will make more than PC and console games combined."

Be smart: "Two maxims that have guided investors to profits in the information age are 'software is eating the world' and 'content is king' ... Cloud gaming sits at that intersection of software and content."

Mike Allen

🏖 Thanks for reading. We'll see you all weekend with a Virginia Beach edition of Axios.com.