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Photo: Ken Ross/VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

President Trump is pulling out all the stops to shut down an effort by California to enlist automakers on a plan that would undermine his administration’s effort to roll back strict Obama-era carbon emissions and mileage mandates.

Where it stands: The Justice Department is seeking to determine if Ford, VW, Honda and BMW "violated federal competition law by agreeing with each other to follow tailpipe-emissions standards beyond those proposed by the Trump administration," WSJ reports.

  • The story cites anonymous sources familiar with the matter. DOJ declined to comment. Ford, Honda and BMW said they will cooperate with DOJ on the matter.
  • VW couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

On a second front, lawyers for the EPA and the Transportation Department on Thursday warned Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, of legal action if the state tries to set its own rules "that would violate federal law."

Why it matters: The 2-pronged attack stands to escalate tensions between Washington, Sacramento and the auto industry over Trump's plan to freeze emissions standards at 2022 levels, rather than allow them to climb sharply higher.

  • By targeting the 4 companies that signed the California deal to make cleaner cars, the administration aims to dissuade more automakers from joining.
  • GM, whose CEO met with Trump on Thursday, is not likely to sign on to the California plan, sources tell Axios.

The Trump administration is cranking up the heat. Multiple reports on Thursday said that the EPA will soon move to revoke California's authority to set its own vehicle pollution rules, Axios' Ben Geman writes.

The bottom line: The administration appears to be taking no chances that California's attempted end run gains momentum while it finalizes its own, looser requirement.

Go deeper

State Department partners with aid group welcoming Afghan refugees to U.S.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaking in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 14. Photo: Mandel Ngan/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday that the State Department is partnering with Welcome.US, an aid group helping to welcome and support Afghan refugees who fled their country for the U.S.

Why it matters: The partnership is part of the Biden administration's Operation Allies Welcome, which involves the processing and resettlement of the more than 65,000 Afghans evacuated during the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Workout economy hangs fate on celeb trainers

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

At-home workout companies are turning fitness instructors into stars.

What's new: Tonal, which makes a wall-mounted, strength training device, said its machines will start streaming live classes in October. 

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

An inside look at Intuit's Mailchimp acquisition

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When Mailchimp recently agreed to be acquired by Intuit for $12 billion, we noted how it was the richest sale ever of a private bootstrapped company. Now we know more about why the Atlanta-based email marketing company never took outside funding.

The big picture: Mailchimp founder and CEO Ben Chestnut tells Axios that it was all about timing.