Sep 16, 2019

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 551 words, a 2 minute read.

1 big thing: The Iran situation

Photo: Reuters/Stringer

President Trump's anti-Iran strategy increasingly looks like it's facing its greatest test, while his White House waits for a new national security adviser.

  • Evidence out today indicates Iranian weapons were used to hit the Saudis.
  • Iran denies responsibility for the attacks.
  • The Saudis say the attacks weren't from Yemen, where the country's Iran-backed Houthi rebels initially claimed responsibility.

The big picture: "The assault ... has highlighted what analysts say is a rapidly evolving threat from Iranian-made weapons in the region, marking a potentially alarming shift toward precision strikes on critical infrastructure," the WashPost reports.

  • "The same strategic logic that animates Iran’s missile program is evident in its drone program: it enables Iran to operate from range, keep its territory safe and strike at far away targets,” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Between the lines: The Iranians are attempting to apply pressure on the U.S. and its allies by creeping out of the 2015 nuclear deal and by creating havoc in the region, Axios' Dave Lawler emails.

  • Iran has rejected the possibility that President Hassan Rouhani would meet Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting next week, according to the New York Times. They insist they won’t sit down with Trump until he loosens sanctions.
  • Trump continues to express interest in talks, while in the meantime standing by his “maximum pressure” approach.

In the Oval Office today, Trump says it “certainly would look” like Iran was behind the attack. He has said that the U.S. is “locked and loaded,” while insisting the U.S. is insulated from disruptions to the oil supply and he wants to avoid a military conflict with Iran if possible.

  • "Brent crude futures, the global gauge of oil, soared 15% to $69.02 a barrel [today], the largest-ever percentage gain for the front-month contract on a closing basis," the WSJ reports.

The bottom line: As we saw over the weekend, until this dynamic changes, expect more escalation.

Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: NASA via AP

Brad Pitt, star of the new space movie “Ad Astra,” speaks from NASA headquarters in D.C. to astronaut Nick Hague aboard the International Space Station.

2. What you missed
  1. Good news: No new cases of measles were reported to the CDC last week for the first time since January. Go deeper.
  2. Prosecutors have subpoenaed 8 years of Trump's "personal and corporate tax returns" as part of its investigation into hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election. Go deeper.
  3. An American Special Forces soldier in eastern Afghanistan was killed in action today, bringing the total U.S. service members to die during combat operations to 17 this year.
  4. Netflix has finalized a 5-year contract to bring "Seinfeld" to its platform beginning in 2021.
3. 1 ☕️ thing

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

No more instant: Picky employees are increasingly driving companies to offer high-end coffee, with demand causing firms to go "a bit more niche and independent," the Financial Times reports.

  • The big picture: "Dedicated coffee-makers ... are one example of the caffeinated offerings that some companies deploy to keep their employees productive, happy — and in the building."

"Employees .. will make their voices heard if they’re not happy with this coffee," Glassdoor's Jo Cresswell told FT.

  • Each floor of Goldman Sachs’ City of London headquarters has a coffee bar, including one that serves single-origin coffee.
  • Landlords like WeWork brag up their "micro-roasted coffee bar," a major departure from the days of the instant variety.

The bottom line: For happy employees, dump the instant and get the good stuff.

Mike Allen