Good Monday morning from Menlo Park.
You're invited: Tomorrow at 8 a.m. in D.C., I kick off the Axios360 Hometown Tour, focusing on heartland issues. We'll talk trade, taxes and more with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, House Agriculture Chair Mike Conaway, former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. RSVP here.
Situational awareness: "Most U.S. business economists expect corporate sales to grow over the next three months and hiring and pay to rise with them," AP reports.
- "But a majority of the  economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics say the corporate tax cuts that the Trump administration pushed through Congress have yet to affect their plans for hiring or investment."
- Go deeper.
1 big thing: An unforgettable scene in an unforgettable story
Two years of Donald Trump, of Russia, of federal investigations, of fake news, of Fox all come together today in a made-for-the-big-screen and destined-for-the-history-books scene, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei points out:
- Pull the camera back. At today's Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, you have an American president huddling alone with an enemy of the United States who infiltrated our election system.
- They'll do it on the first weekday after the president’s own government indicted a dozen Russian intelligence agents for carrying out the cyberattack. Also Friday, Trump's top intel official declared that the current danger of more Russian cyberattacks is akin to warning signs before 9/11, when 3,000 were killed and terrorism reshaped the core of our country and lives.
- You have an American president who publicly shrugs at the threat, and claims most of the coverage is fake — even as it echoes the precise warnings and conclusions of his own government officials.
When the meeting concludes, Vladimir Putin will postgame with a Fox News interview (Chris Wallace), while Trump will hit two Fox News shows (Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson) to give his own spin.
- Trump will surely amplify his take on Twitter. This morning, he began Summit Day by tweeting: "Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!"
- The post-summit sit-downs will be with the same Fox News many expected would be tempered — or even fade — after Roger Ailes was ousted. Instead, it's now the most powerful White House visual stage in history, thanks to Trump.
- And the same Twitter that was the playground for reporters and news junkies is now the most powerful presidential messaging system in history, thanks to Trump.
Be smart: Sitting silently back in D.C. will be the one man who can pull all these strings together, sort through the fact and fiction, and tell a tale no one will ever forget — Robert Mueller.
Continuing coverage on Axios.com, with Jonathan Swan in Helsinki:
- Trump has a "1:1 bilateral meeting with the President of the Russian Federation," beginning at 6:20 a.m. ET, per the White House schedule.
- The two leaders are scheduled to hold a joint press conference at 9:50 a.m. ET.
2. Muslim candidates run in record numbers
"From Congress to state legislatures and school boards, Muslim Americans spurred to action by the anti-Muslim policies and rhetoric of President Trump and his supporters are running for elected offices in numbers not seen since before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001," AP reports:
- "There were as many as 90 Muslim-Americans running for national or statewide offices this election cycle, a number that Muslim groups say was unprecedented, at least in the post-9/11 era."
- "But recent primaries have whittled the field down to around 50."
- Many face strong anti-Muslim backlash: In Arizona, "U.S. Senate candidate Deedra Abboud received a torrent of Islamophobic attacks on Facebook last July that prompted outgoing U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, the Republican lawmaker Abboud is hoping to replace, to come to her defense on Twitter."
What's next: "The next critical stretch of primaries is in August. In Michigan, at least seven Muslim Americans are on the Aug. 7 ballot, including [Michigan Democrat Abdul] El-Sayed, who could become the nation’s first Muslim governor."
- "In Minnesota, the decision by Keith Ellison, the nation’s first Muslim congressman, to run for state attorney general has set off a political frenzy for his congressional seat that includes two Muslim candidates, both Democrats: Ilhan Omar, the country’s first Somali-American state lawmaker, and Jamal Abdulahi, a Somali-American activist."
4. Pics du jour
President Emmanuel Macron, 40, leapt to his feet to celebrate France's 4-2 victory over Croatia in the World Cup final, got drenched in the rain on the pitch, then attempted to "dab" with players in the locker room. (AFP)
- The match "served up as many goals as the [previous] four World Cup finals combined, and the most in a final since 1966, when England beat West Germany, 4-2, in overtime." (Soccer America)
5. Future online shopping: Ads let you try things on
Social media giants are beginning to roll out ads that feature augmented reality, giving marketers the ability to let users virtually test their goods before buying them, Axios' Sara Fischer reports:
- Why it matters: The technology brings virtual and real world shopping experiences closer together, and would likely shift retail spending further online.
How it works: A user who sees a digital ad using AR could see what a pair of glasses looks like on their face, or what a rug would look like in their living room, before making a purchase.
- The ads are digitally targeted to users based on their preferences, increasing the likelihood that they'd be interested in the product to begin with.
- Sign up here for Sara's weekly newsletter, Media Trends.
6. Energy influence groups proliferate under Trump
Informal energy coalitions are popping up more under President Trump than they have in the past, according to Washington consultants and new federal lobbying data, Amy Harder writes in her weekly "Harder Line" column:
- These groups are mostly separate from the familiar, entrenched trade groups that traditionally run Washington’s lobbying and public relations machine.
- Through the first quarter of this year, nearly 550 informal groups using the words “ad hoc,” “coalition” or “alliance” disclosed lobbying in Washington, a figure poised to match or surpass last year, according to Center for Responsive Politics data compiled for Axios.
- Last year’s total, 643, was the highest in at least a decade.
7. Billionaires fuel state charter-school groups
"Billionaires are influencing state education policy by giving money to state-level charter support organizations to sustain, defend and expand the charter schools movement across the country," AP's Sally Ho reports from Seattle:
- "Since 2006, philanthropists and their private foundations and charities have given almost half a billion dollars to those groups, according to an Associated Press analysis of tax filings and Foundation Center data."
- "The Walton Family Foundation, run by the heirs to the Walmart fortune, is the largest donor to the state charter advocates, giving $144 million to 27 groups."
- "[T]he Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given about $25 million to the [Washington State Charter Schools Association,] credited with keeping the charter schools open after the state struck down the law."
8. Tracking power
"Goldman Sachs is expected to name its president, David M. Solomon, as its next chief executive early this week," the N.Y. Times' Kate Kelly reports:
- "The announcement would formally establish Mr. Solomon as the successor to Lloyd C. Blankfein as one of the most powerful executives on Wall Street."
- "Solomon, 56, has been considered the heir apparent to Mr. Blankfein since he was named the firm’s sole president in March. But a formal announcement of his ascent had not been expected until the fall."
9. CEOs to join Trump for job-training pledges
More than a dozen major companies and associations have signed on to a Pledge to the American Worker to be announced by President Trump on Thursday, the White House tells Axios:
- The employers have committed to new investments in job training for hundreds of thousands of current and future workers over the next five years.
- Several CEOs will join Trump in the East Room as he signs an executive order. Cabinet secretaries and workers from around the country will also attend.
- The White House says the workforce initiative was spearheaded by Ivanka Trump and the Domestic Policy Council, which have worked for several months to enlist private sector, government and academic support.
- The White House calls this the next step in the president's economic agenda, building on deregulation and tax cuts.
Why it matters: Minority workers, people without high school degrees, and those with disabilities will benefit from the program, which will include new slots for apprenticeship and work-based learning, continuing education and on-the-job-training.
10. ⚽️🏆 1 kick thing: World Cup records
The 2018 World Cup in Russia "averaged 2.64 goals per game, second only to Brazil in 2014 for World Cups this century," AP reports:
- 'The record of 5.38 per game from 1954 is unlikely ever to fall without major rule changes."
- ""[T]he number of own goals in Russia  was double the previous record."
- "But the new Video Assistant Referee system has led to an increase in the number of penalties awarded to a record 29, 11 more than the previous mark from 2002."
"Young stars ... made a mark, none more than France's 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe, who became the youngest player to score two goals in a World Cup game since Pele in 1958. He also became the first teenager since Pele to score in a World Cup final."
- "Aging players have set records, too. Goalkeeper Essam El Hadary became the oldest player ever start in a World Cup game when he lined up in Egypt's last match against Saudi Arabia aged 45."
"There [wasn't] a single red card for violent conduct, and just four ejections in total. It's the lowest number at the World Cup for 40 years."
- "However, there have been plenty of cases of players mobbing referees, wasting time and writhing in exaggerated agony. Swiss broadcaster RTS calculated Neymar spent nearly 14 minutes on the ground in Brazil's first four games."
P.S. Two stats from a N.Y. Times story by Joe Drape reporting that U.S. youths are abandoning soccer "in alarming numbers":
- "Over the past three years, the percentage of 6- to 12-year-olds playing soccer regularly has dropped nearly 14 percent ... [B]aseball and basketball experienced upticks, buoyed by developmental programs begun by Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association."
- "American households with more than $100,000 in annual income provide 35 percent of soccer players, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, compared with 11 percent from households earning $25,000 or less."