Jul 22, 2018

Trump's Bill Clinton problem

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Not since the Bill Clinton sex scandals of the 1990s has the national conversation focused on a president's personal life on so many fronts so often.

And not since the 1990s has sex been part of a federal investigation stirring calls for impeachment: Kristin Davis, known as the "Manhattan Madam" for the high-end prostitution ring she ran in the 2000s, says Robert Mueller's prosecutors have notified her that he wants to interview her — probably about her close friend, Roger Stone, she tells the WashPost.

Karen McDougal, the former Playmate who claims she had an affair with Trump, will stay in the news now that the FBI has a recording Michael Cohen secretly made of Trump, then his client, discussing payments to her.

  • Trump tweeted yesterday that the tape is "perhaps illegal" — which, as the N.Y. Times put it, "signaled open warfare on Mr. Cohen."

And there may be a lot more revelations: Jonathan Swan, reporting yesterday that Michael Cohen has begun privately questioning Trump's fitness to be president, points out: "The question of what Cohen knows about Trump is now a far more compelling question than it was in the days when Cohen would tell anybody who'd listen that he'd take a bullet ... for his boss."

  • The porn star Stormy Daniels, in a blitz orchestrated by lawyer Michael Avenatti, has filed suits accusing Trump of defamation and Cohen of collusion after the lawyer paid her $130,000 just before the election in order to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with Trump.
  • A BBC documentary airing in the U.S. this weekend — called "Trump: Is the President a Sex Pest?," a British terms for a harasser — reports a claim that Trump once told a 17-year-old model when he was pursuing her: “Oh, great. So you’re not too old and not too young. That’s just great.”

Be smart: Beyond the morality tale, do any of these sexual transgressions hurt Trump, politically? No evidence they have so far. Truth is, they will only hurt if they lead to legal and impeachment action against Trump. 

Go deeper

Pompeo tells Congress Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Wednesday that he has certified to Congress that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China and does not warrant special treatment under U.S. law.

The big picture: The Chinese Communist Party has unveiled a sweeping new security law that will criminalize sedition, foreign influence and secession in Hong Kong. The move and the subsequent reaction from the U.S. has put the once semi-autonomous city's status as one of Asia's largest financial hubs at risk.

Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter ... vs. Trump

Twitter came under fire on Tuesday for allowing President Trump to tweet conspiracy theories about Joe Scarborough and the 2001 death of one of his staffers, despite the objections of the staffer's family. The company came under further fire from Trump himself for fact-checking two of his tweets about mail-in voting.

Dan and the New York Times' Kara Swisher dig into Trump’s use of the platform and Twitter’s steps — and missteps — in handling it.

Go deeper: Trump has turned Big Tech's speech rules into a political football

25 mins ago - Technology

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 5,618,829 — Total deaths: 351,146 — Total recoveries — 2,311,404Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 1,681,793 — Total deaths: 98,933 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Public health: Fauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine — Nearly half of Americans say someone in their household has delayed medical care.
  4. Tech: Zipline drones deliver masks to hospitals; vaccines could be next
  5. Business: Boeing to lay off 6,770 more U.S. employees.
  6. 🏒Sports: NHL unveils 24-team playoff plan to return from hiatus.
  7. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy