Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump is pushing both China and Iran to the brink, betting they’ll capitulate and warning of dire consequences if they don’t.

Why it matters: The stock market is already taking a beating as China retaliates to Trump’s tariff hikes on $200 billion in Chinese goods, and analysts are warning of a possible global recession if he follows through with his threat to extend them to all Chinese imports. Meanwhile, Trump’s warnings that Iran will "suffer greatly" if “they do anything” to provoke the U.S., paired with bellicose statements from senior officials, are deepening fears of another war in the Middle East.

  • Even short of war, Trump’s pressure campaign will likely mean higher oil prices, more suffering for the Iranian people and the collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Between the lines: This is how Trump negotiates, Axios’ Jonathan Swan emails:

  • “He believes in grand displays of hard power — extreme threats of military force ('fire and fury' for North Korea, sending the carrier to Persian Gulf) and punitive measures (tariffs and sanctions) — more than he does the subtler tools of statecraft.”
  • “He believes the only way to get what you want from another country is to first force them into a begging position. The leaders in both China and Iran are hardliners who put a premium on maintaining national pride and, as the Chinese explicitly said, ‘dignity.’"
  • “Both countries' leaders have indicated they're willing to be patient with Trump and intend to wait him out. The question is how impatient Trump becomes and how he reacts to the negative domestic effects of some of his punitive policies.”

The latest: China announced tariff hikes today on $60 billion in U.S. goods. Meanwhile, the Communist Party’s propaganda machine kicked into high gear, Bill Bishop reports in his Sinocism newsletter.

  • Chinese media “has struck a defiant tone since Friday, blaming the US for the failure, playing the victim with its usual shrill skill, talking tough about being able to outlast the US in any prolonged trade fight, and … threatening non-tariff retaliatory measures,” Bill notes.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added a last-minute stop in Brussels to his schedule today in order to warn leaders there of the “escalating threat” from Iran.

  • Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton have continued to raise such threats over the past week without offering specifics. Trump told reporters today that he’d been “hearing little stories about Iran,” adding: “If they do anything, they will suffer greatly.”

“Today, the question in Washington — and surely in Tehran, too — is whether President Trump is making moves that will provoke, instigate, or inadvertently drag the United States into a war with Iran,” Robin Wright argues today in the New Yorker.

  • “The Administration has vowed to keep increasing pressure until Iran changes its behavior. ... So far, Tehran has not changed course.”
  • The stated position from both civilian and military leaders is that the U.S. isn’t seeking a military confrontation with Iran but is prepared for one if necessary.
  • “The problem, as U.S. history proves, is that the momentum of confrontation is harder to reverse with each escalatory step,” Wright contends.

What to watch: Last month, as the U.S. stepped up its attempts to block all Iranian oil exports, Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil chokepoint,” per Fortune.

  • Today, Saudi Arabia announced that two Saudi tankers were damaged by an “act of sabotage” over the weekend in the Gulf, without identifying any suspects. Iran’s foreign ministry distanced itself, calling the incident “worrisome” and “regretful."
  • But now, AP is citing an anonymous U.S. official as saying an "initial assessment is that Iranian or Iranian-backed proxies" were responsible.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Sports

Robot umpires inch closer to calling MLB games

The Automated Ball-Strike system (ABS), the tech powering what's colloquially known as robo-umps, is inching ever closer to the big leagues.

Driving the news: The independent Atlantic League — which has partnered with MLB since 2019 — last week announced it was doing away with robo-umps after testing them for the past season-and-a-half.

FBI conducts "court-authorized" search of Rep. Henry Cuellar's home

Rep. Henry Cuellar. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The FBI said it conducted a "court-authorized" search on Wednesday in the area of the Texas home of Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).

State of play: "The FBI was present in the vicinity of Windridge Drive and Estate Drive in Laredo conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity," an FBI spokesperson told Axios, adding that they "cannot provide further comment on an ongoing investigation."

Big Tech lobbies hard against looming antitrust bill

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big Tech CEOs, including Apple's Tim Cook and Google's Sundar Pichai, have been jawboning lawmakers as a Senate committee takes up a key antitrust bill Thursday.

Why it matters: The bill prompting this lobbying frenzy could upend how tech's giants do business, and tech's critics see this as a "now or never" moment for Congress to check the industry's power.