Dec 17, 2019

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 407 words, a 2-minute read.

Situational awareness: Secretive FISA court orders the FBI to fix surveillance standards in wake of the inspector general report. Go deeper.

1 big thing: Trump's 6-page rant

On the eve of his impeachment, President Trump’s letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reads like a Sean Hannity monologue.

Why it matters: This may feel totally normal from Donald Trump, but it’s hard to imagine a past president writing these words on White House letterhead.

  • “More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials."
  • "There is nothing I would rather do than stop referring to your party as the Do-Nothing Democrats."
  • "[Y]ou are offending Americans of faith by continually saying 'I pray for the President,' when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense."
  • Read the full letter.

Flashback: The White House dared Pelosi in October to hold a vote on an impeachment inquiry.

  • White House lawyers carefully reviewed the language in that October letter, expecting that it could find its way before a judge, Axios' Alayna Treene and Margaret Talev reported.
  • The lawyers weren’t steering the bus on today’s letter, according to two sources familiar with its drafting.

Between the lines: Trump's tweets and "Fox & Friends" appearances could be losing their shock value, incentivizing him to turn to the imprimatur of the White House.

The bottom line: "One hundred years from now, when people look back at this affair, I want them to understand it, and learn from it, so that it can never happen to another President again," Trump concluded his letter.

Bonus: Chart du jour
Expand chart
Data: Death Penalty Information Center (ExecutionsSentences); Chart: Axios Visuals
2. What you missed
  1. The House passed a $1.37 trillion spending measure to avoid a government shutdown when federal funding runs out at midnight on Friday. Go deeper.
  2. Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates was sentenced to 45 days in jail — to be served on weekends. Go deeper.
  3. Scoop: PBS is creating a new broadcast show and digital series centered around issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community. Go deeper.
  4. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has tweeted his support for soccer star Mesut Özil after the Arsenal player criticized China’s mass detention of Uighur Muslims.
  5. Facebook is creating a new pilot program in the U.S. that will leverage part-time contracted "community reviewers" to expedite its fact-checking process. Go deeper.
3. 1 fun thing
A plate at Komi, a Michelin-starred restaurant in D.C. Photo: Sean McCormick for Komi

A sentence designed to create a stir: "Washington, despite what you may have heard, is the most exciting food destination in America," Kate Krader writes in a provocative Bloomberg article.

  • "Washington has the manageability of a small town ... neighborhood restaurants are never more than a 20-minute ride share from each other."
  • "Even the most expensive spots in the city are reasonable compared with, say, San Francisco."
  • "Some of the country’s top fast casual spots started in the Washington area."

Go deeper.