Mar 20, 2018

Axios PM

D.C.ers ... Please join me tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Howard University for the fourth leg of our Axios Smarter Faster Revolution campus tour. I'll be discussing the future of work with JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, comedian and activist Baratunde Thurston, Revolution CEO Steve Case, and MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle and Ali Velshi. RSVP here

1 big thing: Trump and Putin

President Trump spoke with Vladimir Putin this afternoon, congratulating him on winning re-election on Sunday. After the call, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said it wasn’t up to the U.S. to “dictate" how Russia holds elections.

Sen. John McCain's response:

“An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections."

The bottom line: Trump is not alone in congratulating Putin — leaders in France, Germany and elsewhere have done so this week, as Barack Obama did in 2012. But past administrations certainly have seen it as America’s role to call balls and strikes when it comes to elections abroad, Axios world editor Dave Lawler notes.

What to watch: Will the White House take a similar position on elections in Venezuela in May, which are widely expected to be a farce? Based on past comments, probably not.

Flashback: Obama called to congratulate Putin in 2012, when he returned to the presidency after a four year hiatus. Obama, who was attempting a “reset” with Russia at the time, didn’t raise electoral issues either, though the State Department did.

Go deeper: What Trump and Putin talked about, per the White House

2. What you missed

Trump holds up a chart of military hardware sales with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

  1. Cambridge Analytica has suspended CEO Alexander Nix following reporting from the N.Y. Times and the U.K.'s Channel 4 on the firm's practices in international elections. The latest round was on their involvement in the Trump campaign. Statement... Highlights from the report.
  2. Facebook held a meeting today where employees could ask questions about the Cambridge Analytica issue, but neither CEO Mark Zuckerberg nor COO Sheryl Sandberg were there to offer answers.
  3. Great Mills High School shooting: Two students are in critical condition following a high school shooting in Maryland. A school resource officer "engaged" the shooter, who is confirmed dead. More.
  4. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was taken into police custody over claims Muammar Gaddafi, the late Libyan dictator, spent millions to fund Sarkozy's successful 2007 presidential campaign. More.
  5. Former Playboy model Karen McDougal is suing to be freed from a 2016 legal agreement that required her to stay silent about an affair she claims she had with Trump in 2006. Keep reading. Bonus: Read the Stormy Daniels polygraph results.
  6. German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a decision by President Trump to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal might lead to the collapse of the agreement and, as a result, could lead to a regional war.
Bonus: Wall Street turns on social media
Expand chart
Data:; Chart: Axios Visuals

Investors are beginning to sour on some of the biggest tech companies since weekend revelations that data firm Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed 50 million users' data through Facebook's platform.

Go deeper.

3. 1 fun thing

Black Panther has officially won Twitter, becoming the most tweeted movie of all time, according to the social network. Per the AP:

  • "Twitter said Tuesday that Ryan Coogler’s box-office smash has been tweeted about more than 35 million times."
  • That's more than "Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which come in second and third, respectively.
  • "It has grossed more than $607 million domestically and $1.2 billion worldwide. In the next week, it’s expected to pass 'The Avengers' as the highest grossing superhero film ever, not accounting for inflation."