Jul 20, 2018

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Situational awareness: The FBI has obtained Michael Cohen's secretly-recorded audio of a conversation with President Trump about potential payments to a Playboy playmate.

  • Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani confirmed the tape but said payment never happened, the NYT's Matt Apuzzo, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt report. "He said the recording was less than two minutes and demonstrated that the president had done nothing wrong."
1 big thing: Colleges get creative

Colleges are increasingly turning to ways to help potential students afford tuition sticker shock, including what's known as "income share agreements," the AP's David Jordan reports.

Why it matters: The student loan crisis is real, and only getting worse — with spillover effects on the broader economy.

  • That's compounded by declining state taxpayer support for public universities and the increasing demand for credentials for entry-level work.

What's happening:

  • "In contrast with traditional loans, in which students will simply pay down the principal and interest until there is nothing left, students with income share agreements pay back a percentage of their salary for a set period of time."
  • The lower your salary, the lower your payments. Most agreements are paid back within 10 years or less, which gives students an interest rate between 8.7% and 21%, per the Wall Street Journal.
  • "Those touting the programs say they give colleges greater incentive to help students find high-earning jobs after graduation, because a higher salary means the school may recoup its investment in a shorter period of time."
  • The latest example is Norwich University in Vermont. "Norwich’s program is starting out on a small scale, mainly for students who do not have access to other types of loans or those who are taking longer than the traditional eight semesters to finish their degree," the AP reports.

The other side: "But because employment and salary determine repayment, it’s possible providers could be seen as discriminating against recipients who choose lower-paying professions."

Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: VCG

This year's Zhoushan International Sand Sculpture Festival in China features 50+ works by sand sculptors from eight countries.

2. What you missed
  1. The NFL and the NFL Players Association have agreed to freeze the new national anthem policy for the next several weeks as they hold confidential negotiations to work on a resolution outside of court.
  2. Trump swiped at the Federal Reserve again this morning while criticizing China and the European Union, complaining that currency manipulation is "taking away our big competitive edge." What he's saying.
  3. A China-based developer of facial recognition technologies is in talks to raise around $1 billion from SoftBank Vision Fund, per Bloomberg.
  4. Trump is not supporting a referendum in Eastern Ukraine, the White House said today. Vladimir Putin reportedly floated the idea during his one-on-one meeting with Trump. Go deeper.
  5. CNN has unearthed audio of Minnesota Republican Rep. Jason Lewis making misogynistic comments on a radio show he hosted from 2009 to 2014, in which he lamented that men could no longer call women "sluts," and mused about women's inability to make rational voting decisions. What they're saying.
  6. Congress will not push to reinstate Trump’s ban on Chinese phone maker ZTE, which has been labeled a national security threat by the Pentagon. Timeline.
3. 🏖 1 beach read

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals

New relevance/resonance after this epic week ... "The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age," by David E. Sanger, N.Y. Times national security correspondent and nuclear weapons expert (Crown):

  • "Putin was out to ... show that he could use [America's big-tech] tools to break democracy and enhance his own power."
  • "Putin's goals in Ukraine were as much psychological as physical. He wanted to declare to Ukrainians that their country exists only because Russia allows it to exist. Putin's message to the Ukrainians was simple: We own you."

Go deeper: My full list of 2018 summer beach reads

What're you reading? Shoot me a note: mike@axios.com. And please invite your friends to sign up here for Axios PM.

Mike Allen