August 01, 2018

Situational awareness: Activist investor Carl Icahn is seeking to block the $67 billion merger between health insurer Cigna and pharmacy benefit giant Express Scripts, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Breaking: Tesla reported Q2 revenue of $4 billion and a loss of $3.06 a share. Both numbers were slightly higher than expected. We'll have more analysis coming soon to

1 big thing: Reality check on Trump's Mueller tweets

Don't get too excited about President Trump's tweet today that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should end the Robert Mueller investigation's "witch hunt."

  • "This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!"

Reality check, from Axios' Jonathan Swan: This wasn't a directive, and Trump can end the Mueller investigation if he wants to. He hasn’t because he knows congressional blowback would be beyond even his control.

  • This morning was just more venting, more undermining Mueller.

Trump lawyers advanced a similar argument to the N.Y. Times today:

  • “It’s not a call to action,” Rudy Giuliani told the Times. "“He’s expressing his opinion, but he’s not talking of his special powers."
  • “He doesn’t feel that he has to intervene in the process, nor is he intervening,” Jay Sekulow told the Times.
  • The other side: “What he’s saying here is that there’s no one who ought to be able to investigate his actions and, if necessary, hold him accountable for those actions," Obama-era DOJ lawyer Matthew S. Axelrod told the Times.

Be smart: This clearly isn't normal, but this case hasn't been normal for a while.

Bonus: Photo du jour

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • "Chickens stand near a burning home as the River Fire moves through the area on July 31, 2018 in Lakeport, California. The River Fire has burned over 27,000 acres, destroyed seven homes and stands at only eight percent contained."

Go deeper: Our latest on the Carr wildfire in California

2. What you missed

  1. New heat record: Death Valley had the hottest month in American history in July, with an average temperature of 108.1°F. Go deeper.
  2. Barack Obama's 2018 endorsements list is public. Not featured: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Go deeper.
  3. New higher ed issue: As they keep raising tuition, colleges risk tipping the cost-value balance and losing minority groups. "Eventually college wouldn’t be worth it," said a senior economist at the Chicago Fed. Chart.
  4. In the business world: Google is working on a censored search engine for China, Uber added an independent member to its board and a startup raised $70 million to make avocados last longer.
  5. Down the rabbit hole: Trump's Florida rally yesterday got some attention for QAnon signs, which reference a wild conspiracy theory that Trump is secretly purging the deep state of pedophilia. Go deeper.

3. 1 coffee thing

Tea is still king in Chinese offices, but steaming-hot coffee, delivered by motorbike, is the new new thing, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.

  • The big picture: For those who have switched, coffee is an inconvenient luxury — few offices have brewing machines, and it can take ages to walk to a cafe on the packed streets.
  • But the other thing about China is a mania for on-demand delivery — Chinese want what they want, and they want it now. Hence the opening for delivered coffee, including a reported new venture between Starbucks and Alibaba.

Go deeper.