Nov 30, 2017

The Rex situation is simple

Photo: Cliff Owen / AP

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been politically dead for months; the only question is when they're going to hold his funeral.

Sound smart: CIA Director Mike Pompeo — as we first telegraphed — is an obvious choice for Trump as a replacement because the two have a stronger relationship than the president has with just about anybody else.

Here's why Tillerson is on the way out:

  • Trump can't stand him and has contradicted him on many major policy issues — from North Korea, to Iran, to Qatar, to Saudi Arabia.
  • He has no allies in the White House, few if any in the State Department beyond his innermost circle and he's managed to alienate even his tiny number of supporters on Capitol Hill.
  • His natural constituency would've been Democrats and moderates who view him and General Mattis as restraints on the president, but he lost that crowd because of what he's done to the State Department — a bungled reorganization and a failure to appoint people to top jobs.
  • He never had favor among mainstream Republicans in foreign policy circles because he's got a history of ignoring the human rights agenda to get business done.

Most damning of all: When foreign leaders and diplomats hear Tillerson speak, they know he's not speaking for the president. They know this because Trump makes it abundantly clear, in public.

Go deeper: How Rex Tillerson alienated every ally he needs

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Ivanka Trump plans focus on coronavirus recovery for small businesses

Ivanka Trump speaks at yesterday's White House videoconference with bank and credit card executives. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Ivanka Trump personally lobbied top bank executives to line up the $1.5 billion in commitments to small business that were announced yesterday at a videoconference among the bank executives and President Trump — stoking competitive juices among the execs to drive up their commitments.

The state of play: Ivanka, who has had workforce development in her portfolio going back to 2017, plans an increasing emphasis on small businesses in the weeks ahead as they navigate the rescue bill’s Payroll Protection Program, sources tell me.

Public transit's death spiral

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Public transit systems across the country are experiencing a painful trifecta: Ridership has collapsed, funding streams are squeezed, and mass transit won't bounce back from the pandemic nearly as fast as other modes of transportation.

Why it matters: Transit agencies could see an annual shortfall of as much as $38 billion due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to TransitCenter. At the same time, they're more important than ever, with more than 36% of essential workers relying on public transportation to get to work.

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World coronavirus updates: London mayor says U.K. nowhere near lockdown lifting

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offered hope in the fight against the novel coronavirus, saying she believes New Zealand has "turned a corner" after two weeks of strict lockdown measures. But London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said the U.K. is "nowhere near" lifting restrictions.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed over 82,000 people and infected 1.4 million others globally as of early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Global recoveries have surpassed 301,000. Spain has reported the most cases outside the U.S. (more than 141,000) and Italy the most deaths (over 17,000). Half the planet's population is on lockdown.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health