Jun 20, 2019

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM is 546 words, a 2 minute read.

Situational awareness: The S&P 500 closed at a record high, while the Dow rose 250 points and the Nasdaq ended 0.80% higher. Bond yields hit multi-year lows as more investors piled into U.S. treasuries.

1 big thing: Maximum pressure, uncertain results
A map of the Strait of Hormuz, where Iran shot down a U.S. drone today. Map: Department of Defense via AP

The Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran may work in the end, but if the goal is a less aggressive Islamic Republic, not so much right now.

  • This morning: Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. drone. The U.S. claimed it was in international airspace. The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard said he wanted to send "a clear message" Iran does "not have any intention for war with any country, but we are ready for war."
  • Monday: The U.S. announced it was sending another 1,000 troops to the region.
  • Also Monday: Iran announced it was prepared to speed up uranium enrichment, nearing a limit imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal.
  • Last week: Two oil tankers were attacked in the Strait of Hormuz, an important shipping channel. Iran denied U.S., U.K., Saudi Arabia and Israeli accusations that it conducted the attacks.

The big picture: The administration argues inflicting economic pain on Iran will restrict its regional aggression, and Tehran would have sparked a nuclear crisis down the road anyways.

  • “Rather than wait for all of these things to come to pass in 10 years when Iran is stronger, we have pulled that forward. But I truly believe everything we are seeing today is inevitable,” special envoy Brian Hook argued yesterday.
  • Our thought bubble: It will be difficult to generate a unified international response to Iran’s aggression when much of the world thinks this crisis is Trump’s fault, Axios' Dave Lawler emails.

Between the lines: Good luck figuring out what's coming next from the Trump administration on Iran:

  • Trump today: "Iran made a big mistake. This drone was in international waters, clearly. We have it all documented scientifically not just words. And they made a very bad mistake."
  • Also Trump today: "I think it could have been somebody who was loose and stupid that did it. We'll be able to report back and you'll understand exactly what happened. It was a very foolish move. That I can tell you."

The bottom line: The "two at-odds comments from the president [allow] different people to hear what they want," the N.Y. Times' Maggie Haberman tweeted.

Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Asuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

A Sudanese demonstrator recites a poem about revolution last night in Khartoum.

2. What you missed
  1. The Prime Minister race: U.K. Conservatives narrowed their next leadership pick to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt. Final winner July 22.
  2. Roy Moore is running again: The Alabama Republican entered the Senate race, despite broad GOP opposition (including Trump). Details.
  3. The Senate is seeking to block the Trump administration's sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, despite a White House veto threat. Go deeper.
3. 1 ⚾️ thing
Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

"The Washington Nationals will extend their protective netting during the All-Star break after recent injuries in baseball increased the focus on fan safety," the AP reports.

  • "[T]he club will replace the current protection with more transparent netting and extend it to just short of the foul poles in the left and right field corners."

The big picture: "At the urging of Major League Baseball, all 30 teams expanded their protective netting to at least the far ends of the dugouts at the start of the 2018 season. Several fans were injured by foul balls in 2017."

Mike Allen