Feb 25, 2017

This week in Trumpland

The 5th week in Trumpland was a shorter, quieter affair than we've gotten used to. With DC shut down on Monday for Presidents' Day and Congress out of town all week for a recess (where many lawmakers faced a storm of their own), President Trump used the annual gathering of mostly friendly faces at CPAC at the end of the week to take control of his message…

Erasing 44: The Trump administration rolled back two key directives from the Obama era; one on private prisons and another on transgender rights in schools.

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions nixed guidance to phase out the use of private prisons by the Department of Justice. And the Trump administration has directed schools to ignore an Obama directive allowing students to use the bathroom that conformed to their gender identity, calling it an issue for states to decide.

Javanka rising: Jared and Ivanka made their presence known on a variety of issues in the White House this week. Ivanka — via Twitter — was one of the first to speak out from the Trump inner circle on anti-Semitic attacks and vandalism around the country. Jared organized meetings between CEOs and cabinet secretaries while Ivanka took the lead on a human trafficking summit. And, in perhaps their biggest win, Javanka got Trump to scrub out language attacking the Paris climate deal from a forthcoming executive order on environmental regulations.

Comey's back: The one big stumble this week came from a bombshell CNN report that the White House had reached out to the FBI to knock down reports about an investigation into Trump campaign communications with Russia. The report alleged direct discussions between Reince Priebus, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and FBI Director James Comey. The WH said none of the conversations were "wrong" or "nefarious."

MSM to the kid's table: That report probably put CNN in the administration's crosshairs, as the network — along with the New York Times, Politico, BBC, Buzzfeed, and other outlets — was barred from Sean Spicer's press gaggle at the White House on Friday afternoon. Conservative outlets like Breitbart, The Washington Times, and One America News Network were allowed to participate. The AP and Time boycotted the gaggle in protest over the White House's decision.

CPAC: And while all of this was going down, conservative activists threw a huge party a few miles south of the White House at CPAC. Kellyanne Conway gave her thoughts on feminism. Steve Bannon outlined his nationalistic worldview. Nigel Farage crowned himself Mr. Brexit. Oh, and Trump was there! He played the hits — "fake news media," mentioned his love for Bernie Sanders, there was even a "lock her up" chant!

Go deeper

HBCUs are missing from the discussion on venture capital's diversity

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Venture capital is beginning a belated conversation about its dearth of black investors and support of black founders, but hasn't yet turned its attention to the trivial participation of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as limited partners in funds.

Why it matters: This increases educational and economic inequality, as the vast majority of VC profits go to limited partners.

Unemployment rate falls to 13.3% in May

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May, with 2.5 million jobs gained, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The far better-than-expected numbers show a surprising improvement in the job market, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The difficulty of calculating the real unemployment rate

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Note: Initial traditional state claims from the weeks of May 23 and 30, continuing traditional claims from May 23. Initial PUA claims from May 16, 23, and 30, continuing PUA and other programs from May 16; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The shocking May jobs report — with a decline in the unemployment rate to 13.3% and more than 2 million jobs added — destroyed expectations of a much worse economic picture.

Why it matters: Traditional economic reports have failed to keep up with the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and have made it nearly impossible for researchers to determine the state of the U.S. labor market or the economy.