Jan 3, 2018

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Situational awareness: Paul Manafort is suing the Department of Justice, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and special counsel Robert Mueller. The lawsuit claims Mueller was given an overly broad mandate and that the charges against him don't "relate to [his] activities during his brief stint" as campaign manager.

1 big thing: Bannon divorces Trump

Michael Wolff's book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," spilled into public view today, with Steve Bannon taking the brunt of the wrath from a not-so-thrilled White House.

  • In a statement this afternoon, Sarah Sanders called Wolff's book "trashy tabloid fiction" sourced by "false and misleading accounts" from people pushing "sad desperate attempts at relevancy."

Why it matters: Wolff had incredible access to the White House in 2017. He told me in November that "[p]erhaps not since the Tudors has palace intrigue been so corrosive and lethal, nor the king so volatile and so in need of instant gratification."

The Wolff details getting attention:

  • Steve Bannon calls the Trump Tower meeting attended by Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner "treasonous."
  • Bannon says the Mueller probe would "crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV."
  • "Their path to f---ing Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner … It's as plain as a hair on your face.'"
  • Bannon targets Kushner as well: "It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner shit. The Kushner shit is greasy."
  • Once it was clear Trump would win on Election Night, per Wolff: "Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost."
  • "Melania was in tears —and not of joy."
  • Trump had a longtime fear of being poisoned, Wolff claims, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald's — "nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade."
  • Trump didn't want White House staff touching his things, "especially not his toothbrush..."

As Axios' Jonathan Swan put it, "The White House was prepared for the Wolff book to be bad... but they weren't prepared for Bannon doing this."

President Trump himself put out a scorched earth statement this afternoon on Bannon.

Highlights:

  • "Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind."
  • "Steve had very little to do with our historic victory... Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama... Steve doesn't represent my base—he's only in it for himself."
  • "Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media..."
  • Go deeper: Read Trump's full statement

Go deeper: Read the highlights from Wolff's book

P.S. One piece of intrigue, via Swan: "The book's quotes and claims are so sensational that barely any attention has been paid to some eye-popping quotes that Wolff attributes to former deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh [in the New York Mag excerpt he quoted her saying managing Trump is "like trying to figure out what a child wants."] Katie told me she never said those things; and when I told that to Wolff's spokeswoman she said he stands by his reporting."

2. What you missed
  1. A soon-to-be-disclosed and massive chip flaw affects more than just Intel chips. Details.
  2. E-commerce sales may be twice as high as generally reported, according to a new calculation. Chart.
  3. Axios scoop: Spotify has filed for an IPO. It's pursuing a direct listing instead of a traditional float, causing both Silicon Valley and Wall Street to pay very close attention. More.
  4. Amazon earns exceptional profits, when you strip out its enormous investment in itself. The chart.
  5. Apple's offer to replace old iPhone batteries at a steep discount could cause sales of new phones to drop by millions of units. Details.
3. 1 Jeopardy! thing

"Is a gangsta the same as a gangster?" writes Daniel Victor of the N.Y. Times:

  • "For Nick Spicher, a museum educator from Everett, Wash., it's no minor matter of dialect. His pronunciation cost him a $1,600 answer on his 'Jeopardy!' appearance on Monday, and the show's decision has since been hotly debated."

Dive in...

Mike Allen