Sep 7, 2018

Axios PM

Situational awareness: Forecasters are warily eyeing as many as 7 to 9 tropical cyclones that may spin up in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the next week, Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.

  • Of greatest concern to the East Coast is Tropical Storm Florence, which is now forecast to intensify into a Category 3 storm and potentially make landfall next week, somewhere along the East Coast.
1 big thing: Obama to America... Trump's not normal

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

He's back: Barack Obama re-entered the political arena today, declaring himself a "fellow citizen" rather than former president.

Why it matters: The most successful Democratic politician of his generation is breaking with precedents from a more civil era. It's highly unusual for a former president to criticize a current one in such blunt terms.

In a fiery speech at the University of Illinois, Obama directly criticized President Trump, linking him to a "darker aspect" of the American story.

  • "Each time we painstakingly pull ourselves closer to our founding ideals ... somebody somewhere has pushed back. The status quo pushes back."
  • "It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause."
  • "He's just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years."

The big picture: Obama's message to America is that Trump isn't normal, and shouldn't be accepted as normal.

  • "[W]e do not pressure the Attorney General or the FBI to use the criminal justice system as a cudgel to punish our political opponents."
  • "Or to explicitly call on the Attorney General to protect members of our own party from prosecution because an election happens to be coming up."
  • "[W]e don't threaten the freedom of the press... because they say things or publish stories we don't like.
  • "[Y]ou never heard me threaten to shut [Fox News] down, or call them enemies of the people."
  • "And we're sure as heck supposed to stand up... to Nazi sympathizers.
  • "How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad."

Between the lines: Obama didn't forget Republicans in Congress:

  • "Republicans who know better in Congress ... are still bending over backwards to shield this behavior from scrutiny or accountability or consequence."
  • "None of this is conservative... It sure isn't normal. It's radical."

Trump's response to Obama's speech, per the AP: "I’m sorry, I watched it, but I fell asleep... I found he’s very good for sleeping.”

The bottom line: Buckle up. This is just the beginning for Obama.

Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

George Papadopoulos, the former Trump aide who was the first to plead guilty in the Mueller investigation, was sentenced today to two weeks in jail, a year of supervision, community service and a fine.

2. What you missed
  1. The U.S. economy added 201,000 jobs in August and the unemployment rate held at 3.9%. Wage growth accelerated to 2.9%. Go deeper.
  2. The big picture on Brett Kavanaugh: His confirmation hearings were full of sound and fury, but he is very likely to be a Supreme Court justice, and a very conservative one, very soon and for a very long time. Go deeper.
  3. Trump thinks Jeff Sessions should investigate the anonymous writer of the NYT op-ed. Go deeper.
  4. Trump announced he plans to move ahead with tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and threatened further action on another $267 billion if China retaliates. Go deeper.
  5. Former AOL chief Tim Armstrong is negotiating an exit plan with Verizon, according to the Wall Street Journal. Verizon's Oath unit, which Armstrong has been instrumental in building, owns AOL and Yahoo.
3. 1 fun thing

"Alexa goes to college: Echo Dots move into dorms on campus," by USA TODAY's Dalvin Brown, who reports that an Echo replied to a student's sarcastic joke about schools spending tuition money on smart devices.

  • The devices were "met with varying degrees of acceptance by students descending on their campus homes for the new school year."
  • "Privacy and security also play a major role when introducing college students, many of whom are living on their own for the first time, to technology that could turn out to be a surveillance nightmare."