Good Friday morning. Situational awareness ... Senate Judiciary Committee asks Jared Kushner for documents "related to his security clearance and ... whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia" ... James Stewart column on N.Y. Times business cover: "If the government goes to court to block the merger of AT&T and Time Warner, as seems increasingly likely, it may well be the antitrust case of the decade."
Axios' Jonathan Swan files from his hotel in San Diego, after a day with Secretary of Defense James Mattis in the Rocky Mountains ... Kim Jong-un has gone two months without a ballistic missile test. That's unusual for the guy President Trump calls "Rocket Man." The portly dictator fired missiles every month between February and September — 22 in total, and he detonated the most powerful nuclear bomb in North Korea's history.What we're hearing: Secretary Mattis won't say he's encouraged by Kim's pause — only that he's watching closely. Mattis won't publicly discuss even the possibility of preemptive strikes to take out North Korea's nuclear facilities.I asked Mattis whether he agreed with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster that a "preventive war" was a viable option — in McMaster's words, "a war that would prevent North Korea from threatening the United States with a nuclear weapon.""You'll have to ask him [McMaster]," Mattis replied, adding, "I'm not going to answer the question."Between the lines: That response isn't unusual for Mattis; he always avoids discussing military plans. But it's telling that he's not publicly endorsing the more bellicose talk coming from the White House.What we're seeing: I flew with Mattis yesterday to the Rocky Mountains, where he spent the day visiting U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and the joint U.S.-Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). While Mattis attended classified briefings, the traveling press went inside the Cheyenne Mountain Complex (a Cold War era fortress made famous in the movie "WarGames"). We also visited the Peterson Air Force Base, the hub for monitoring threats to the homeland.The military officials who work here are responsible for defending America's airspace. The command centers they work in are the hubs for tracking North Korean missiles — which appear on the giant screens as a red donut that expands into a fan that shows which part of the world the missile threatens. Underneath the screens a sign with giant black block letters: "WE HAVE THE WATCH."When North Korea launches a missile, a white light starts shining and a horn starts honking. They gave us a trial run.Bottom line: After a day with these military officers, you can't help but be struck by the breadth of U.S. assets around the world and in space. But if this war of words between Trump and Kim becomes a real war, those radars, satellites and missile interceptors won't be able to prevent death on a scale the world has rarely seen.
Bill Bishop of Sinocism, author of the weekly Axios China newsletter, writes in his new issue: Militarily, Trump is reassuring allies to stand against China's growing military might, but economically Trump is turning his back on broad trade pacts with those same allies.
P.S. Barak Ravid of Israel's Channel 10 News writes for Axios, "Why Israel is nervous about the Syria ceasefire deal":
"House passes GOP tax bill, upping pressure on struggling Senate effort," the WashPost writes in its lead story:
A photographer captures the sunrise in the National Mall reflecting pool yesterday.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) "is facing an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee after a Los Angeles radio host revealed ... that Franken kissed and groped her against her will in 2006," the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes:
Trump tweets: "The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps? ... .And to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women."
P.S. "Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, who holds Hillary Clinton's former seat, [told the N.Y. Times' Jennifer Steinhauer that] Bill Clinton should have resigned the presidency after his inappropriate relationship with an intern came to light ... 'Yes, I think that is the appropriate response.'"
"Axios Raises $20 Million to Fund Newsroom Expansion: The 10-month-old media startup plans to increase staffing to 150 by the end of 2018, develop new coverage areas, and expand its data analysis and product offerings," The Wall Street Journal's Benjamin Mullin scoops:
Why it matters: We will use this money to better serve you with more smart (new content areas, deeper coverage) and more brevity (enhanced technology, an app).
"Tesla unveiled its new semi-truck, which CEO Elon Musk said can go zero-to-60 in five seconds with an empty trailer. That's a figure usually associated with luxury sedans, not big trucks," per CNN's Peter Valdes-Dapena:
Go deeper: Axios Future Editor Steve LeVine watched Musk's live feed.
"Negative-emissions technology ... Stopping the flow of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is not enough. It has to be sucked out, too" — The Economist's cover leader (editorial):
The Economist cover for Britain, the Middle East and Africa ... "The army sidelines Robert Mugabe, Africa's great dictator ... The world should learn from his misrule, and help Zimbabwe recover from it ":
A photo Wednesday of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton, posing with a sheet of new $1 bills — the first notes bearing his signature — prompted a frenzy online. Some remarked that the pair resembled James Bond villains. Here is how AP's Jacquelyn Martin, who took the photo, tells it: