Happy Friday! 🎣 Note from Mike: After 480 straight Axios AMs, I’m off the grid in Maine, catching fish and clearing my mind.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Last June, President Trump told me he was “100 percent” willing to answer questions — under oath — from Robert Mueller. Over the tumultuous months that followed, two things have remained consistent: 1) Virtually every lawyer friendly to the president has urged him to avoid an interview; and, 2) The president has said he is willing, even eager, to sit down with the special counsel.
Now it’s the Rudy Show. The President is gearing up not to talk to Robert Mueller, but to fight him.
The big picture: The president and the special counsel are engaged in a game of chicken — both sides threatening steps neither wants, because they could trigger a crisis with dangerous and unpredictable consequences.
What to watch: The negotiations over a Trump/Mueller interview continue.
LBJ withheld the title of chief of staff from his top aides, and President Trump is now living out that fantasy even with John Kelly in the building.
Jonathan Swan reports that Steve Bannon — who has zero contact with Trump these days and is loathed by many in the building — has told associates that Trump never had any respect for the chief of staff position and from the outset saw it as a lowly, administrative post.
Now, Trump is effectively running the White House the same way:
A source who speaks to Kelly often told Swan the chief is now resigned to the fact that he can’t come close to controlling Trump:
Tibetans-in-exile in Nepal take part in a candlelight vigil after a prominent monk self-immolates to protest Chinese rule. Photo: Prakash Mathema/AFP via Getty Images
As President Xi Jinping takes Chinese influence to every corner of the world, there remain corners of his own country that his government struggles to control, Axios' Erica Pandey writes.
The big picture: The Chinese Communist Party has no tolerance for dissent from its ethnic minorities, and fears it could be damaged if word of human rights violations against them spreads outside China’s borders.
The intrigue: Some U.S. lawmakers, including Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, are pushing the Trump administration to take a harder line on human rights violations.
Houston Astros left fielder Josh Reddick loses the ball as he hits the wall on a single by the Yankees' Neil Walker in Houston yesterday. Yanks won, 6-5.
"In the two months after the Florida school shooting that left 17 dead, Republican legislators across the country introduced 25 measures to arm teachers and staff members in schools," the WashPost's Joe Heim reports:
"The largest U.S. companies found a new formula for success in the first quarter: larger pretax profits and smaller tax bills—mostly compliments of the federal tax overhaul," the Wall Street Journal's Theo Francis and Richard Rubin report (subscription):
"The #MeToo Lawyer Fighting for Women in the Workplace: Tina Tchen is building up the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which already has more than 2,000 potential clients," by Bloomberg Businessweek's Arianne Cohen:
Go deeper ... The new issue of Bloomberg Businessweek includes "how-tos" for navigating the workplace: file a complaint with the EEOC ... get paid what you deserve ... confront a colleague who offended you ... break an NDA.
"Saving money may come at a deadly cost .... Bloodied bodies stacked in a prison yard — What happens when states slash prison spending," by USA Today's Steve Reilly:
"Despite North Korea, arms control is unravelling ... Complacent, reckless leaders have forgotten how valuable it is to restrain nuclear weapons," per The Economist's cover editorial:
Geopolitical trends will drive the usual summer price increases even higher, Axios' Amy Harder writes. The causes:
"The Port Authority is paying thousands of dollars every month renting a security robot to patrol LaGuardia Airport — but the bot is creeping out women while the crooks look on and laugh," the N.Y. Post reports:
Thanks for reading. See you on Axios.com.