Friday's top stories

May 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump's holiday weekend pressure campaign

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump wants to throw open the houses of worship "right now," claiming they are essential services.

What he's saying: “The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now. For this weekend. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors," he said during a press conference on Friday.

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Updated May 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden apologizes for "you ain't black" comments

Joe Biden defended on Friday his ties to the African American community during an interview with Charlamagne tha God on the radio show "The Breakfast Club," saying "you ain't black" if "you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or [President] Trump."

Why it matters: The show has become a popular venue for Democratic candidates to sell their message to black voters during this election cycle, given its young, diverse audience and wide syndication.

"Covid" catches up to "coronavirus"

Data: Google Trends; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Searches for 'covid' are beginning to catch up to 'coronavirus' and have surpassed it in some states as the top term users are entering on Google, according to Google Trends data.

Between the lines: The gap has shrunken considerably since March when 'coronavirus' was searched five times more than 'covid'. In the past week there have been just 1.2x more. 'covid-19' and 'virus' lag way behind both.

FBI director orders internal review of investigation of Michael Flynn

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Friday ordered an internal review of the investigation of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, whether any employees engaged in misconduct during the investigation and if any improvements need to be made.

The big picture: Earlier this month, the Justice Department moved to dismiss the criminal case against Flynn, which is now before a judge. Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI.

Go deeper:

Trump calls for churches to reopen "right now"

Trump spoke to bikers from the White House balcony earlier Friday. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump announced Friday that he was declaring churches and places of worship as "essential places that provide essential services," and said that he would override governors to allow them to open "right now."

What he's saying: "Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It's not right," Trump said from the White House podium.

May 22, 2020 - Economy & Business

Electric vehicle startups try to keep the spark alive during coronavirus uncertainty

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

At least a dozen electric vehicle startups with dreams of becoming the next Tesla are suddenly in limbo, hoping they can hang on through the coronavirus pandemic for a chance to deliver on their long-shot ambitions.

The big picture: Building a car company from scratch is extraordinarily difficult, requiring billions of dollars in capital. Tesla made it, but not without a few harrowing brushes with death. Add the economic uncertainty of a global pandemic, and the stunning collapse in oil prices, and the odds of success are even lower.

Small businesses left in limbo as Senate waits to pass PPP extension

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Senate failed millions of small businesses Thursday by ending its week without passing an extension to the number of weeks that PPP loan recipients have to use their funds.

Why it matters: People may lose their jobs while politicians dither.

U.S., Russia, EU and UN to discuss possible summit on Israel-Palestine

Mahmoud Abbas (L) with Vladimir Putin in 2018. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

Officials from the U.S., Russia, EU and UN will hold a video-conference today to discuss the possibility of an international meeting to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Western diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: The meeting comes amid escalating tensions, with Israel threatening to move forward with annexations in the West Bank and Palestinian leaders announcing the suspension of all agreements with Israel and the U.S., including on security coordination.

The pandemic class of CEOs

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Investors are getting acquainted with a new class of CEOs, who are making crucial decisions about how to steer the companies that are in some cases taking the worst hit from the coronavirus crisis.

The problem: No one has experience dealing with an economy-shuttering global pandemic.

May 22, 2020 - Sports

Golf could set the standard for sports' coronavirus reset

The 2019 British Masters. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

As sports and leagues around the world desperately try to figure a way back to competition, golf seems primed to set the standard for which all other sports will strive.

The state of play: Though leagues like South Korea's KBO, Germany's Bundesliga, and even NASCAR here in the States have already begun competing again, golf seems uniquely suited to avoid any coronavirus-related setbacks.

What Zoom women are saying

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Some women are eager participants as the coronavirus spurs conversations about politics on video calls with their families and friends. Others are less enthusiastic about the trend.

Here's how women describe their Zoom conversations about politics — and how they're wrestling with what those talks mean for November.

2020's newest swing voters: Zoom moms

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

She can't be a soccer mom because soccer's canceled. She's not a conventional security mom since America's biggest threat is now measured in microns. In an election year defined by the coronavirus, the new voter to watch is the Zoom mom.

Why it matters: The presidency may hinge on the women's vote — how many white, suburban women who backed President Trump in 2016 will abandon him now, and how many women of color who stayed home four years ago will turn out for Joe Biden.

Amy Harder, author of Generate
May 22, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Scoop: Prince Charles leads global meeting on climate change and economy

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Dozens of the world’s leaders in business, finance and politics are planning to convene June 3 to discuss how the global economy can be “reset”— with climate change a defining theme — as nations recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Driving the news: The online event will be hosted by His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales, and Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
May 22, 2020 - Health

The coronavirus invades Trump country

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republicans are still less worried about the coronavirus than Democrats or independents, even as it spreads out from primarily urban areas into suburban and rural Republican-leaning areas.

Why it matters: The virus doesn't care about politics or geography. High-risk behavior in places where the virus is spreading is the recipe for an outbreak.

May 22, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus searches shift from health to economic fallout

Reproduced Schema analysis of Google Trends; Chart: Axios Visuals

Questions about the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic are beginning to overtake questions about the virus itself, according to a new analysis of Google search data from around the world.

Why it matters: Even with the global death toll rising, search data indicates that the coronavirus has become a fact of life for much of the world. Now, people have more questions about jobs, unemployment, furloughs and government aid.

Biden boots reporters from Wall Street donor call

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden's 2020 campaign kicked reporters off the question-and-answer portion a Thursday evening fundraising call after five minutes of opening remarks.

Why it matters: It's an unusual move for Biden's campaign, which has typically been transparent and allowed reporters to cover its fundraising events in their entirety. The campaign indicated that press restrictions would be implemented looking ahead.

May 22, 2020 - Health

Fauci on states reopening: "Be on the alert" for small coronavirus spikes

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci advised states that are reopening "to be on the alert" for "little blips" of infections as stay-at-home restrictions are lifted across the U.S., at a CNN coronavirus town hall on Thursday.

Why it matters: Nearly every state in the U.S. has taken steps to reopen certain regions and industries that are seen as "low-risk" for spreading the virus, per a New York Times analysis.

May 22, 2020 - Health

CDC emphasizes coronavirus does not spread easily on surfaces

CDC Director Robert Redfield briefs reporters on the coronavirus at the White House on April 22. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus does not spread easily from touching surfaces or objects, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasizes in recently updated guidance.

Why it matters: The virus can last on surfaces from hours to days, depending on the material, according to a widely referenced study in the New England Journal of Medicine. But, person-to-person spread is currently thought to be the primary way the virus is transmitted, the CDC says.