What happened behind the scenes ... President Trump this afternoon is expected to uncork his stunning withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, a decision that Axios' Jonathan Swan scooped yesterday. Ahead of the 3 p.m. Rose Garden announcement, AP says aides were deliberating on "caveats in the language."
Swan sends AM readers this fascinating postcard from behind the scenes:
Want to know how volatile many administration officials consider Trump? As the sun went down on Wednesday, Trump had told confidants, including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, that he was withdrawing from the Paris deal. A withdrawal speech had been drafted and redrafted. An announcement for the withdrawal had been planned for Thursday (today). A whole team of policy wonks inside the EPA had been told to work up mechanisms for withdrawal.
AND YET, numerous White House officials told me in confidence throughout the day that while they were as sure as could be that Trump would pull the trigger, they wouldn't believe it until they saw it.
[The West Wing buzzed] about the West Coast elites like Elon Musk and Tim Cook, who were making last-ditch pleas to Trump. And movement conservatives vented to me about the liberal influence of Ivanka.
All the while, Trump kept asking people's opinions, and expressing doubt, even after setting the train in full motion towards withdrawal. When this thing is over, a good number of West Wing staff will have acquired some new gray hairs.
Sound smart: Allies say Trump — with no ironclad policy convictions on climate, and buffeted by conflicting campaigns from rival advisers — defaulted toward delivering on a campaign promise that catered to his last refuge, the voters who put him in office.
Yet to be sorted: consequences for the party, the planet, and the U.S. role on the globe.
Bloomberg Businessweek cover on Trump's climate choice ... "An exit would undermine America's economic competitiveness, technological innovation, and global leadership. Not to mention the, um, planet," by Eric Roston:
Former Vice President Joe Biden is creating an American Possibilities PAC as a possible prelude to running in 2020, the N.Y. Times' Jonathan Martin reports.
What to think ... A Biden adviser emails me:
I'd say there are three ways to see this. First, it is driven by mechanics: He is much in demand for political travel and appearances, and he needs a way to staff and pay for it.
Second, it is driven by his passion. He loves politics: He doesn't see it as some unpleasant necessity to govern, he sees it as a joyous enterprise — and this is his platform to pursue that passion.
And third, it is driven by a desire to be seen as a 2020 player: Whether he runs or not, he knows he is a more significant figure if he is in the mix, and he sees no reason to take himself out of it.
P.S. Hillary Clinton was en fuego yesterday at Recode's Code Conference in Southern California, saying that last year's DNC data operation was "bankrupt ... mediocre to poor, non-existent, wrong. I had to inject money into it ... to keep it going."
Axios' Ina Fried isolates top nuggets from the 300-page annual tech trends report by Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins, delivered at Recode's Code Conference, in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.:
TIME cover story, "Family first: If one thing emerged crystal clear from the muddy first months of his father-in-law's presidency, it's that Jared Kushner prefers the background," by Editor-at-Large Karl Vick:"The quiet man is now conspicuous, having been slurped into the spotlight by the tentacles of [the] Russia investigation.""The bar to prove that someone improperly colluded with a foreign power is very high, and even the most aggressive investigators use a note of caution when speaking of Kushner's role in the probe.""Inside the White House, the promise of Kushner and his wife playing a moderating force may be overblown. They are more politically liberal than most but view themselves primarily as Trump's protectors.""Kushner's ability to skirt the system has made him popular among the town's diplomatic corps but has led to strains inside the building.""Now, with adjacent windows overlooking the White House lawn, [Kushner and Trump] are bound to rise or fall together."One U.S. official familiar with the investigation says of Kushner: "He's an ends-justifies-the-means guy. It could be naivete, but the investigation is about finding that out."
L.A. Times: "Between 20% and 25% of the nation's shopping malls will close in the next five years, according to a new report from Credit Suisse that predicts e-commerce will continue to pull shoppers away from bricks-and-mortar retailers."
"Investors pick Tesla's promise over GM's steady profits," by AP's Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin, in Detroit:
Economist endorsement cover rejects both major candidates ... "The British election: The middle has fallen out of British politics — The leaders of both main parties have turned away from a decades-old vision of an open, liberal country":
A top executive at a rival network told me: "Anchor transitions just don't happen this way. This is something you plan for years."
Among the names mentioned for the permanent gig: CNN's Anderson Cooper, NBC's Willie Geist, NBC's Peter Alexander, Fox's Chris Wallace, CNN's Jake Tapper and others.
About all that's certain is that CBS doesn't plan to mess with its winning "CBS This Morning" team of Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell.
CBS News President David Rhodes is taking the team and key staff to dinner tonight to congratulate them on their growth, and assure them of more ratings gains ahead.
This pulpit isn't open often. It is now. Rhodes' phone is ringing and his in-box abounds.
Six-year-old Edith Fuller of Tulsa, Okla. — the youngest speller in the 90-year history of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which allows contestants up to age 15 — had to spell words just as difficult as everyone else, AP's Ben Nuckols reports from Oxon Hill, Md.: