Apr 24, 2018

Axios PM

Situational awareness: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has moved to end debate on Ric Grenell. He'll almost certainly be confirmed this week as President Trump's ambassador to Germany after months of being stalled in the Senate. More.

1 big thing: Trump's staffing troubles overshadow Macron

The handshake: French President Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump during a state welcome at the White House. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFG/Getty Images

President Trump's grand welcome for French President Emmanuel Macron has been eclipsed by news that Veterans Affairs nominee Ronny Jackson now faces a stalled confirmation process.

The timeline, by Axios' David Nather:

  • Sunday: Axios' Jonathan Swan reports that the White House knew about "specific concerns about Jackson's professional conduct in the Navy..."
  • Tuesday: Jackson's confirmation hearing is postponed.
  • Trump: "I don't want to put a man through a process like this that's too ugly and too disgusting ... I'd let it be his choice."
  • Just posted by AP: "2012 inspector general report suggested removing VA nominee Ronny Jackson and rival from White House roles." [Details]

Swan emails: Almost nobody at the senior level of the White House — including chief of staff John Kelly — agreed with the president's impulsive decision to tweet out that his unvetted White House doctor with no management experience should run the second largest agency in the federal government. His confirmation process, calamitous from the start, was predictable and widely predicted (including on Axios.)

The bottom line: Turns out vetting is still important.

What's next: Trump hosts Macron for a state dinner tonight. We'll have pictures and updates here.

Bonus: The news from Macron-Trump

Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

  • Iran deal: Macron wants a "new agreement" on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Trump signaled he is also open to a new deal, while also threatening Iran. [Details on Macron's bigger deal.]
  • North Korea: Trump said Kim Jong-un is “very honorable” and “very open," adding that North Korea wants to hold a meeting "as soon as possible."
  • Syria: Trump wants U.S. troops "to come home," but "I want [them] to come home with having accomplished what we have to accomplish.” Macron has previously tried to convince Trump to keep the U.S. military presence in Syria for a longer period of time.
  • Trump news: Trump called a query about whether he'd pardon Michael Cohen a “stupid question."
2. What you missed
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Data: Money.net; Chart: Axios Visuals
  1. The Dow on Tuesday fell 425 points (1.73%) and the Nasdaq was off 121 points (1.7%). But it could have been worse, as the Dow at one point was down more than 600. Driving factors.
  2. The trio: Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase are expected to pick the CEO for their health care partnership within the next two months. More.
  3. Sequoia Capital has officially reversed its decade-plus policy of not allowing U.S. public pensions into its funds.. Details.
  4. Federal agencies have no security requirements for employees' personal social media accounts —leaving the door open to mischief and mayhem should one of those accounts get hacked. Go deeper.
  5. James Comey's book is now dominating the charts after selling more than 600,000 copies in its first week.
3. 1 fun thing

The cast of "Homeland" sounded off on "spy camp," their term for visits to D.C. to mind-meld with top intelligence officials and other notable figures, during a panel moderated by Michael Hayden, the AP's Deb Riechmann reports.

  • Claire Danes: “I guess the challenge of the show is that it is constantly adapting to what’s happening in real-time."
  • Meeting Edward Snowden: “We were all on pins and needles,” [Mandy] Patinkin said. “It was the least interesting person who ever came through the door. I’m all for the truth. A lie is a cancer to my soul. But that guy was just proselytizing his manifesto.”
  • What they want during the meetings: “I’m looking for their heartbeat,” Patinkin said. “How they deal with terror in their own lives. Who do they talk to when they are frightened?”