Jun 13, 2019

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon. Today's PM top is 476 words, a < 2 minute read.

Situational awareness: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is leaving her post at the end of the month, President Trump announced this afternoon.

1 big thing: America blames Iran

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks from the State Department briefing room. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Without providing evidence, the U.S. is blaming Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Middle East, an escalation from last month.

  • "Damage to one of the tankers was extensive, including a hole at the water line that was consistent with a hit by a torpedo or other projectile, according to early assessments. The other ship, a Japanese tanker, was hit with a projectile in a series of assaults." [WSJ]
  • The Japanese ship "was targeted just as Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was wrapping up a high-stakes visit to Tehran to help cool hostilities." [Washington Post]

Why it matters: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran was attempting to follow through on its threat to "disrupt the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz," per Axios' Dave Lawler and Orion Rummler.

  • Another four tankers were attacked in May, with the U.S. blaming Iran at the time, again without providing evidence. [NYT]
  • “Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security,” Pompeo said today.
  • Iran's foreign minister denied responsibility for the attacks and said the timing was "suspicious."

The bottom line: "U.S. officials say the move to squeeze Iran is ultimately aimed at bringing Tehran back to the negotiating table. But experts say the recent tensions have underscored the limits of that policy." [WashPost]

Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It's U.S. Open weekend: Scott Piercy of the U.S. plays a shot from a bunker on the 18th hole during the first round at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

2. What you missed
  1. A civil service watchdog determined Kellyanne Conway repeatedly violated the Hatch Act and recommended she be removed from the federal workforce. Go deeper.
  2. Sen. Marsha Blackburn blocked an effort to pass a bill requiring campaigns to report any offers of foreign assistance to the FBI. Go deeper.
  3. The North Carolina-based maker of Fortnite has acquired group video chat app Houseparty for an undisclosed amount. Details.
  4. Merger talks between CBS and Viacom could reach a "critical stage" tomorrow, when the CBS board is scheduled to discuss the deal. Details.
3. 1 fun thing

A view of pregame ceremonies prior to Game Five. Photo: Robert Reiners/Getty Images

"A look at why pro basketball and Oracle Arena were a perfect fit" ... A eulogy for Oakland's basketball mecca on the eve of its last Warriors game — Game 6 of the NBA Finals — from S.F. Chronicle urban design critic John King:

  • "The design firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill ... gave us a simple circular form with diagonal braces of structural concrete as an outer shell and tall glass walls within — instantly memorable and not gratuitous at all."
  • "I’ve entered a hermetically sealed world. One so compact that we feel the heat from the fire cannons as the starting lineup is announced. Where the waves of noise stirred by early buckets and late rallies have tsunami-like force."

"We’ve been lucky for the past five years to watch a dynamic dynasty excel within a structure that embodies the virtues of honest and strong, yet elegant architecture."

Mike Allen