Mar 3, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 467 words, a 2-minute read.

Situational awareness: The Federal Reserve is cutting interest rates by .5% — a large amount — in an emergency response to the spread of coronavirus.

  • After the announcement, the yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury fell below 1% for the first time ever.

✍️ The first Super Tuesday polls close tonight at 7:30 pm ET. Live coverage on the Axios homepage.

1 big thing: Trump's historic phone call

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

It's no Nixon to China moment, but President Trump made history today with what is apparently the first presidential phone call with a top Taliban leader.

Why it matters: The prospect of a peaceful end to America's longest war is on the line.

What they're saying:

  • The Taliban's Twitter account got the scoop: "#Breaking The President of the United States Trump @realDonaldTrump held a phone conversation with the Political Deputy of the Islamic Emirate, the respected Mullah Baradar Akhund. Details later."
  • Trump later commented: “We’ve agreed there’s no violence. We don’t want violence. We’ll see what happens.”
  • "We had a very good conversation with the leader of the Taliban today they're looking to get this ended ... the country really has to get it ended, we've been there for 20 years ... the relationship I have is very good with the Mullah," Trump said.

The big picture: The deal Trump struck with the Taliban will not bring peace to the country anytime soon, Pentagon leaders acknowledged yesterday.

  • The Taliban has declared its “reduction in violence” over and says it will continue operations against Afghan troops.
  • Afghanistan’s president has objected to the deal’s condition that 5,000 Taliban prisoners be released.
  • The Afghan government said more than 20 people — including civilians, troops and insurgents — had been killed in a series of attacks in the 24 hours after the Taliban resumed offensive operations.
  • The Trump administration says its deal with the Taliban is intended to set the stage for a larger deal on Afghanistan’s future with the government in Kabul.

The bottom line: That larger deal looks a long way off, Axios World editor Dave Lawler tells me.

2. Sad news from Nashville

Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

At least 22 are believed dead in Tennessee after tornadoes tore across the state last night.

  • Schools, courts and transit lines in Nashville were closed today, and more than a dozen polling stations were damaged before Super Tuesday voting began in the state.
  • More photos
3. Catch up quick
  1. France is requisitioning all current and future stocks of face masks to ensure their distribution to virus patients and health workers, the AP reports.
  2. Former FBI director James Comey voted for Joe Biden, saying that "there is a reason Trump fears" the former vice president.
  3. Another bad day for Robinhood: Millions of traders were effectively shut out of the market for two hours of early trading today. Go deeper.
  4. Mike Bloomberg has "no intention of dropping out" and told reporters his path to the nomination depends on a contested convention. Go deeper.
  5. Journalists within the Voice of America are pushing back on the idea that their reporting could fall prey to political influence. Go deeper.
4. Two can play that game

The rise of back-seat driver apps — which let parents know if their kids are speeding — is apparently backfiring on some parents, the WSJ reports.

  • "Bianca Woodberry’s family has turned safe driving into a competition."
  • "Ms. Woodberry was concerned that her son would be using his phone while driving ..."
  • "[B]ut the app claims she’s a worse offender on that front than he is."

"In one recent week, her instances of phone usage while driving totaled 120 while his numbered 28. 'That’s terrible,'" she told the Journal.

Mike Allen