🚨 Bulletin: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted this morning that the U.S. has "come to an understanding with the Taliban" that could lead to a peace deal in Afghanistan.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Mike Bloomberg got into the 2020 race to stop Bernie Sanders and socialism. If he doesn't bounce back from this week's debate, he may seal the deal for both, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei writes.
Bloomberg warned in Salt Lake City yesterday: "Look, the real winner in the debate last night was Donald Trump. Because I worry that we may very well be on the way to nominating somebody who cannot win in November."
Situational awareness: Bloomberg is polling at 15-plus in most states and his money can buy a viable floor, regardless of debate performances.
Between the lines: For Bloomberg's dream scenario to play out, other moderate candidates would need to drop out quickly. And that's not happening, Axios' Margaret Talev points out:
🥊 Quote of the day ... Bloomberg to a crowd in Salt Lake City: "So, how was your night last night?"
Intelligence officials warned the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help President Trump get re-elected, AP reports.
Why it matters: The warning raises questions about the integrity of the presidential campaign and whether Trump's administration is taking the proper steps to combat the kind of interference that the U.S. saw in 2016.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Despite historically low interest rates, U.S. companies are being unusually frugal, holding back on issuing new debt and pumping up their balance sheets with cash.
Why it matters, via Axios Markets editor Dion Rabouin: Historically, in such a situation, companies have moved to increase capital expenditures and buy assets in order to expand — but the opposite is happening now.
What's happening: Despite increased profits from President Trump's tax cuts, CEOs and company leaders have told Axios the uncertainty of the U.S.-China trade war and fears of an imminent recession discouraged big-ticket spending during 2019.
By the end of January, Mike Bloomberg had spent more in three months than the other top four candidates (Sanders, Biden, Warren, Buttigieg) had spent combined since they started running, the N.Y. Times writes from FEC filings.
Go deeper (subscription): Cash on hand, burn rate.
Big Tech weathered the regulatory threats of 2018's techlash, with the five biggest companies adding $2 trillion in value over the last year, but there's reason to believe that stormy waters could still lie ahead, The Economist writes.
The bottom line: "All this means that, far from having peaked, anger may be in the foothills."
MGM Resorts International said it was the victim of "unauthorized access to a cloud server" that exposed guest info last year, after a report claimed 10.6 million hotel guests had information compromised, per Reuters.
Technology website ZDNet reported earlier that the "personal details of more than 10.6 million users who stayed at MGM Resorts hotels" were published on a hacking forum this week.
... one of D.C.'s old-school expense-account destinations, about an hour after he'd been sentenced to 4o months in prison for crimes that include obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering:
Our tipster says Stone jovially greeted a surprised Terry McAuliffe, former Virginia governor and now CNN contributor.
Page A27 of today's N.Y. Times carries the stunning op-ed headline: "What We, the Taliban, Want ... I am convinced that the killing and the maiming must stop, the deputy leader of the Taliban writes."
The lead author of that story, Mujib Mashal, the paper's senior correspondent in Afghanistan, criticized his own paper for publishing the Taliban's piece:
Ad-libbing in Colorado Springs, President Trump attacked "Parasite," which this month became the first non-English-language film to win the Best Picture Oscar.
The context: "Parasite" tells the story of how a family of four poor, unemployed people living in a slum basement apartment comically infiltrates a wealthy family's mansion before things unravel violently and tragically. (AP)
Team USA celebrates its victory over the Soviet Union. Photo: Steve Powell/Getty Images
Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the "Miracle on Ice" — the U.S. hockey team's upset of the mighty Soviet Union at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics: