Ina Fried May 31
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Steve Ballmer wants better government, but not to be part of it

Ina Fried / Axios

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says he thinks more of society's problems need to be solved by government - and is pushing for greater transparency - but insists he has no plans to run for office himself.

"I have no political ambitions of my own — zero, nada, none," Ballmer said, speaking Tuesday at Code Conference. Ballmer recently launched USAFacts, an effort to produce the US government's equivalent of the annual reports that publicly traded companies have to file with the SEC.

USAFacts, he insists, is steadfastly nonpartisan. And Ballmer said he tries to personally steer clear of political stands, with two exceptions. "I do think budgets should balance," he said, adding his other belief is that every child should have the chance to advance economically from the position of his or her parents.

Ballmer also touched on his stake in Twitter, the technology of sports and what he did wrong at Microsoft.

On his Twitter stake:

Ballmer said he still has a big investment and believes in the company, but said he has stopped having quarterly calls with management. He does think CEO Jack Dorsey shouldn't be running both Twitter and Square.

On what he did wrong at Microsoft:

Ballmer said he and the company were too slow to recognize the need to go deeper into hardware sooner. And, when it came to phones, he said: "We tried to use the old techniques. The same techniques were never going to get us there."

On bringing more tech to sports:

His Clippers are working with Second Spectrum, an LA sports analytics firm, to offer local fans at home new ways to watch the game, including more stats and views. It will be in beta next season and launch the following one.

Cavs or Warriors?

"We're in the West... Go Cavs," he said, to significant boos.

Mike Allen 4 hours ago
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A White House olive branch: no plan to fire Mueller

Photo: Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

After a weekend at war with the Mueller investigation, the White House is extending an olive branch. Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer handling the probe, plans to issue this statement:

“In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”

Why it matters: The White House strategy had been to cooperate with Mueller. So this is an effort to turn down the temperature after a weekend of increasingly personal provocations aimed at the special counsel.

Jonathan Swan 6 hours ago
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Trump's trade plan that would blow up the WTO

President Trump announces tariffs on steel and aluminum earlier this month, flanked by Steven Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, Robert Lighthizer, and Peter Navarro. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

For months, President Donald Trump has been badgering his economic advisors to give him broad, unilateral authority to raise tariffs — a move that would all but break the World Trade Organization.

His favorite word: “reciprocal.” He’s always complaining to staff about the fact that the U.S. has much lower tariffs on some foreign goods than other countries have on the same American-made goods. The key example is cars: The European Union has a 10 percent tariff on all cars, including those manufactured in America, and China hits all foreign-made cars with 25 percent tariffs. But the U.S. only charges 2.5 percent for foreign cars we import.