Nov 5, 2019

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 472 words, a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: "I now recall"

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A $1 million donor to Trump’s inauguration committee who later became the EU ambassador is now on record saying he told a Ukrainian official that the country wouldn't get military aid unless they caved to President Trump's demands.

  • Why it matters: President Trump keeps denying the existence of a quid pro quo.

The big picture: Gordon Sondland's additions to his House testimony are the "first admission by a senior figure who had direct contact with Mr. Trump that the military aid for Ukraine was being held hostage to the president’s demands for investigations into his political rivals," the NY Times reports.

  • "A wealthy Oregon hotelier who donated to the president’s campaign and was rewarded with the plum diplomatic post, Mr. Sondland can hardly be dismissed as a 'Never Trumper.'"
  • Sondland was a critic of the president during the campaign, publicly denouncing him in August 2016 over differences in values and Trump's attacks on Gold Star father Khizr Khan.

Sondland's testimony is the fourth transcript to be released this week:

The bottom line: The question isn't whether Senate Republicans believe there to have been a quid pro quo. It's whether they believe it's worthy of conviction.

  • “If it were today I don’t think there’s any question — it would not lead to a removal," Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today.
2. Border tragedy
Photo: Kenny Miller/Courtesy of Alex LeBaron via AP

At least nine members of a Mormon family — who held U.S. and Mexican citizenship — were killed during a cartel attack near the border.

  • The photos above show two views of a burned-out vehicle that was being used by some members of the family as they were driving in a convoy.
  • Go deeper.
3. What you missed
  1. 62% of people who approve of the job Trump is doing as president say they can't think of anything he could do that would cause him to lose their support. Go deeper.
  2. Middle school and high school students are vaping mint or menthol flavors almost as much as fruit-flavored e-cigarette products. Go deeper.
  3. AT&T agreed to pay $60 million to settle an FTC complaint that the company misled unlimited data plan customers when it slowed their speeds. Go deeper.
  4. Walgreens Boots shares were briefly halted this afternoon, following a Reuters tweet suggesting the pharmacy giant is in talks to be acquired by private equity firms.
  5. ABC News anchor Amy Robach was caught on a hot mic claiming that her network suppressed a bombshell sex trafficking story about Jeffrey Epstein three years ago. Go deeper.
4. 1 fun thing

Circa 1969: Cast members of the television show "Sesame Street" posing on the set with some of the puppet characters. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This first episode of “Sesame Street” aired 50 years ago, in the fall of 1969.

Why it matters: 1969 and 2019 have some interesting commonalities, the AP reminds us.

  • The media was going through disruption.
  • TV was becoming “a vast wasteland," the FCC chair said at the time.
  • Like today, there was lots of content, but it wasn’t necessarily quality.

The bottom line: Some shows have lasted longer — “Meet the Press” and “The Tonight Show” among them — but few have had as big a cultural impact.

  • "'Sesame Street' is shown in more than 150 countries, has won 193 Emmys, 10 Grammys and will get a 2019 Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime artistic achievement in December."
Mike Allen