Posts tagged with "Axios"

Scaramucci: Trump’s time in the White House is almost up!

August 13, 2019

The GOP needs a new presidential candidate for 2020, according to former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci—who is, perhaps, best-known for the amount of time he spent in the Trump administration (11 days).

Scaramucci told Axios on Sunday that President Donald Trump’s time in the White House is just about up, comparing it to a cable movie currently streaming on TV. “We are now in the early episodes of ‘Chernobyl’ on HBO, where the reactor is melting down and the apparatchiks are trying to figure out whether to cover it up or start the clean-up process,” Scaramucci told the news outlet.

“A couple more weeks like this and ‘country over party’ is going to require the Republicans to replace the top of the ticket in 2020,” he said.

Scaramucci, a prominent Republican donor, said that if Trump “doesn’t reform his behavior, it will not just be me, but many others will be considering helping to find a replacement in 2020.”

“Right now, it’s an unspeakable thing,” he continued. “But if he keeps it up, it will no longer be unspeakable. The minute they start speaking of it, it will circulate and be socialized. We can’t afford a full nuclear contamination site post 2020.”

Scaramucci’s comments to Axios came after he called Trump’s visit to El Paso following mass shootings last week a “catastrophe.”

Trump fired back soon after, saying that Scaramucci “knows very little about me other than the fact that this Administration has probably done more than any other Administration in its first 2 1/2 years of existence. Anthony, who would do anything to come back in, should remember the only reason he is on TV, and it’s not for being the Mooch!”

Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld currently is the only Republican to announce a challenge to Trump for the nomination.

According to The Hill Any challenger would likely face long odds in a primary bid. The Republican National Committee already has voted to express its “undivided support” for Trump as its 2020 nominee, and Trump’s reelection campaign has staffed up with party insiders.

Research contact: @axios

Going south? Trump’s Miami resort in mix to host G7 summit

July 23, 2019

The Trump administration, which next year will host the leaders of the world’s seven most powerful industrialized economies for the G7 summit, is down to its final few choices after completing site surveys of possible locations —and Trump National Doral, the president’s 800-acre golf club in Miami, is among the finalists, Axios reported on July 22.

The G7 comprises the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada—traditionally, this country’s closest allies; although President Trump has shown a preference for other nation states during his time in office.

Trump loves showing off and promoting his properties with no qualms about criticism for mixing state and personal business, and his interest in hosting the G7 at Doral was first mentioned by The Washington Post last month.

The Post also reported, on May 15, that the Doral was “in steep decline, according to [Trump Organization] documents,” with operating income down 69% since 2015.

The downturn at this Trump property “is especially significant,” the Post said, “because the resort had seemed better insulated from political backlash than other Trump properties, protected by its place in golf’s history, by its recent renovations, and by its location in a booming state that won Trump won in 2016.” It wasn’t.

Thus, the G7 would provide opportunities for extra conference bookings and worldwide publicity for the underperforming property.

This would be the first G7 summit since 2012 to be held in the United States. At that time, former President Barack Obama invited leaders to Camp David.

Research contact: @Axios

Before entering 2020 race, Biden ruminates over naming Abrams as running mate

March 22, 2019

He’s an elder statesman at a time when Millennials will be a major factor in winning the popular vote. Therefore, advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden, age 76, reportedly are considering adding somebody less “seasoned” to the ticket before he announces his run for the presidency in 2020.

Indeed, Axios reported on Thursday that Biden’s aides are considering pairing him with Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is only age 45 and is a dynamic rising star in the Democratic party.

Although Abrams ultimately lost to Republican Brian Kemp in the 2018 state gubernatorial race—edged out by fewer than 55,000 votes—she won support across America and has maintained a national profile since the midterm elections.

In fact, she was chosen by the party to deliver the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in February.

According to Axios, Biden’s staff currently is calculating the political consequences of such an announcement. Would it reassure the U.S. electorate about the vitality of the candidacy—or would it be perceived as a cynical political ploy? Could it even expose Biden to criticism that he is overlooking his fellow Democratic candidates as possible VPs?

The former vice president’s office declined to comment to Axios.

The Hill reported on March 21 that Biden and Abrams had met earlier in the month, as rumors swirled of both candidates entering the race. However, Abrams also has met with a number of other 2020 Democrats, including Senators Elizabeth Warren, (Massachusetts ), Kamala Harris (California) and Cory Booker (New Jersey).

Based on the same news story, Abrams said earlier this month that under a previous career plan, 2028 had been the earliest she would consider a run for president. She quickly added that a run in 2020 is “definitely on the table.”

Research contact: @axios

Home free: Amazon sends gratis samples to its most gung-ho shoppers

January 9, 2019

Axios reported on January 8 that online retail giant Amazon has a “stealth pilot” in progress—testing whether consumer brands such as Maybelline and Folgers can pique consumer interest by sending out free samples.

The brands pay Amazon to ship out their complimentary goodies, based on what the popular website already knows its frequent customers are most likely to buy.

Everyone likes a freebie—and by using samples as “targeted ads,” Amazon is playing on its major strength as a trusted delivery service of everyday goods, Axios said. What’s more, this is a new gambit that Amazon is betting its biggest competitors—Google and Facebook— cannot duplicate.

Indeed, the Seattle-based tech giant has the purchasing data and logistics infrastructure to offer samples of actual products, whereas Facebook and Google currently can only offer display ads or search ads, respectively, for certain kinds of consumer packaged goods brands.

To date, Amazon, itself, has made most of its roughly $5 billion in ad revenue through its own display ads. But the company now says that marrying old-school samples with its customer data will provide brands “a higher likelihood of conversion than display ads,” according to a summer job posting.

With 100 million subscribers to its Prime services alone, Amazon certainly has the numbers and the established long-term relationships with customers who purchase goods regularly, to make this strategy work, Axios pointed out.

“Having this huge installed base of users, or really Prime subscribers, and putting something in the box that people will have a high proclivity for liking — that seems like a brilliant Amazon strategy,” Rich Greenfield, a managing director and media analyst at BTIG Research, told the news outlet.

Samples of new products are sent to customers selected using machine learning based on Amazon’s data about consumer habits, according to recent job postings and details listed on its site.

Right now, Amazon is keeping the pilot project under wraps among its other advertisers, but its legal terms for advertisers include details about how its sample program functions. “No later than the date specified by Amazon, Advertiser will deliver to Amazon at the location(s) designated by Amazon and at Advertiser’s expense, all Samples to be delivered or distributed by Amazon,” the terms say.

Most analysts are bullish on the program, Axios reports. However, there could be privacy concerns.

“Amazon sent me a random coffee sample!” said one Twitter user in August. “Is it because I have like 15 [different] types of coffee in my cart?” A package pictured in the tweet included both Amazon and Folgers branding, and a link to a website devoted to the new coffee offering.

On its website, Amazon promises that privacy conscious consumers will have the option to opt out. But will confidentiality win out over avid consumption? Stay tuned.

Research contact: @rebeccazisser

Trump parries with press on CIA report that MBS ordered Khashoggi murder

November 26, 2018

On Thanksgiving, President Donald Trump took time out from thanking himself for doing a wonderful job to say that the CIA did not reach a conclusion about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi—adding during a teleconference with U.S. military troops that Salman “regretted the death more than I do,” Politico reported.

The president previously had declined to listen to Turkey’s tape of the actual murder—or to confirm or deny reports that the CIA had concluded that the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s assassination.

When asked who should be blamed instead, Trump said on the conference call from his residence and private club Mar-a-Lago, “maybe the world” because it’s a “vicious, vicious place,” and referenced oil prices as a reason not to punish Saudi Arabia further, according to pool reports.

Asked by a reporter if the CIA had a recording implicating Salman, Politico noted that the president responded: “I don’t want to talk about it. You’ll have to ask them.”

Later, he answered a question on the crown prince’s possible involvement by saying: “Whether he did or whether he didn’t, he denies it vehemently. His father denies, the king, vehemently. The CIA doesn’t say they did it. They do point out certain things, and in pointing out those things, you can conclude that maybe he did or maybe he didn’t.”

Comments from both the press and the public were, on the whole, critical of Trump’s refusal to denounce the Saudis during the holiday and the preceding week.

“He’s actually publicly lying about whether or not the US government and its intelligence agencies have concluded … that Khashoggi was murdered and by whom, MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow tweeted on 1 p.m. on November 23.

According to a November 23 report by The Hill, Turkey’s top ranking diplomat scorched President Trump on Friday, accusing him of turning a ‘blind eye’ to the killing of Washington Post journalist and Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi.

“Trump’s statements amount to him saying ‘I’ll turn a blind eye no matter what,'” Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said in an interview.

“Money isn’t everything. We must not move away from human values,” Çavuşoğlu added.

David Axelrod, director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, tweeted, “For all his bravado @real Donald Trump has proven himself pathetically weak in the eyes of the world, heeling like a Chihuahua on the end of a gilded Saudi leash,” at 8:42 a.m. on November 22.

Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia), vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, commented, “The president’s failure to hold Saudi Arabia responsible in any meaningful way for the death of Jamal Khashoggi is just one more example of this White Houe’s retreat from American leadership on issues like human rights and protecting the free press.”

Finally, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) tweeted, “ … [It] is not in our national security interests to look the other way when it comes to the brutal murder of Mr. Jamal #Khashoggi.”

A poll conducted at the end of October by Axios/SurveyMonkey found that most Americans think President Trump hasn’t been tough enough on Saudi Arabia in response to the  Khashoggi by Saudi agents—with just one-third saying his response had been “about right” and only 5% thinking he had been too tough.

Research contact: @LilyStephens13

In a gift to his base, Trump says he will nullify ‘birthright citizenship’

October 31, 2018

In a direct gift to his political base just a week before the midterm elections, President Donald Trump says he is preparing an executive order to end birthright citizenship in the United States, according to an October 30 report by The New York Times.

According to a same-day story by Axios, “This would be the most dramatic move yet in Trump’s hardline immigration campaign, this time targetinganchor babies’ and ‘chain migration.’ And it will set off another stand-off with the courts, as Trump’s power to do this through executive action is debatable to say the least.”

Playing fast and loose with the truth, the president told Axios, “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

In fact, dozens of other countries, including Canada, Mexico, and many others in the Western Hemisphere, grant automatic birthright citizenship, according to a report by the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization that supports restricting immigration.

Doing away with birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants was an idea that Trump pitched as a presidential candidate, the Times reported—but there is no clear indication that he would be able to do so unilaterally, and attempting to would be certain to prompt legal challenges.

Indeed, to outlaw birthright citizenship, the POTUS would have to find a way around the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

Amendments to the Constitution cannot be overridden by presidential action, the Times noted— and can be changed or undone only by overwhelming majorities in Congress or the states, with a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or through a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of state legislatures.

But some conservatives argue that the 14th Amendment was meant to apply only to citizens and legal permanent residents—not immigrants who are present in the country without authorization.

Whether or not the idea is legal or actionable the president is accomplishing what he thinks needs to be done in the next seven days—appealing to a base of voters who are key to Republican domination in the U.S. Congress.

Research contact: @juliehirschfelddavis

Scores of companies back away from Saudi business over Khashoggi

October 25, 2018

A number of businesses and investors are backing away from doing business with Saudi Arabia until more answers are provided on the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whom Turkish officials believe was murdered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

According to an October 23 report by Axios, many of the world’s largest prospective financial deals involve Saudi Arabia and are predicated on trust in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) as a reformer. Meanwhile, there is speculation that MBS was personally involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

In the three weeks since Khashoggi’s disappearance, several companies and individuals have pulled out of Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative (FII), a massive conference nicknamed “Davos in the Desert.” The meeting is being hosted by MBS and the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund from October 23-25 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh.

The conference is described by The New York Times as “an extravagant embodiment of Crown Prince Mohammed’s dream to modernize Saudi Arabia and wean it off its reliance on oil by 2030.

Indeed, the Times reported, on the first day of the meeting, MBS presented a blueprint for Neom, a $500 billion planned city that would rise from the desert as a futuristic Zanadu of high-tech jobs and robot workers.

Unfortunately, fewer investors than planned will be on hand to support that vision. According to Axios, the following business, financial, and government invitees have pulled out (in chronological order):

And the list goes on, including about three dozen more high-profile names—among them, J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, Ford Chairman Bill Ford, MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga, Sotheby CEO Tad Smith, HSBC CEO John Flint, Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam, Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, President of the New York Stock Exchange Stacey Cunningham, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, U.K. Trade Secretary Liam Fox, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, and Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra.

In addition, several major Saudi supporters who are based in the United States and Europe have cut ties with the Kingdom:

  • Richard Branson, billionaire entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Group, announced on October 18 that he would suspend his directorships of two Saudi tourism projects and is suspending talks of a $1 billion investmentwith the country, saying: “What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi Government.”
  • Ernest Moniz, former energy secretary under President Obama, is suspending his involvement advising Saudi Arabia on its $500 billion smart city project.
  • Neelie Kroes, a Neom board member and former vice president of the European Commission, said she would suspend her role in the project until more is known.

The conference already has started, with fewer speakers scheduled to be heard.

Research contact: zach.basu@axios.com

With Trump ready to topple Rosenstein, Sen. Kamala Harris calls for bill to protect Russia probe

September 25, 2018

On September 24, Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) urgently called for the Senate to pass legislation that would protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia investigation—a move that came amidst scuttlebutt that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein expects to be fired this week by the White House, The Hill revealed.

Even as Senator Harris was appealing to her colleagues to save the probe—which Rosenstein oversees at the Department of Justice—the Deputy AG was meeting with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly with full expectations that Kelly would give him the axe. However, that did not happen—and Rosenstein did not resign—as the news outlet Axios had predicted that he would.

Instead, the Deputy AG now has been scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump on Thursday, when the POTUS returns from the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City. (However, Trump had previously said that he would not sack either Attorney General Jeff Sessions or Rosenstein before the midterm elections. Also, it is not the president’s style to dismiss an employee personally; Trump would be expected to delegate that task, as usual.)

The reports of “a Saturday night-type massacre at the DOJ”—shades of the Nixon administration—came just days after The New York Times published an article claiming that in 2017 Rosenstein proposed surreptitiously taping President Trump, and that he discussed with DOJ colleagues the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

Senator Harris appealed to her colleagues to protect the ongoing Russia inquiry, which, based on findings of a September 12 CNN poll, is supported by American voters by a 20-percentage-point margin. Respondents nationwide said they approve of Mueller (50%) over Trump (30%) when it comes to the handling of the Russia investigation.

“Republican leaders must allow [the investigation] to be voted on. We can no longer afford to wait. This is a matter of preserving the rule of law,” she said.

Harris’s call for legislative action was echoed by other Democratic senators, including  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (New York) and Senator Patrick Leahy (Vermont).

“It is more urgent than ever that the Senate pass S.2644, the bipartisan bill to protect the independence of the Special Counsel,” Leahy said on Twitter. “If we do not defend the rule of law in these moments, we risk losing it.”

Leahy also noted in a later tweet, “Saturday Night Massacres don’t need to happen on a Saturday. If President Trump fires DAG Rod Rosenstein or forces his resignation, he will come one giant leap closer to directly meddling with the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation.

Senator Gillibrand said, “The Senate must step up to protect the Special Counsel immediately. We must pass the bipartisan bill to protect the Mueller investigation. The American people deserve answers about Russian interference in our democracy.”

Research contact: @JustinFWise

Out of the blue: Republicans look toward a litigious future

August 28, 2018

The end is near–or at least that’s what Congressional Republicans are expecting, as the midterm “Blue Wave” approaches. Axios’s National Political Reporter Jonathan Swan has obtained a spreadsheet that, he says, has “circulated through Republican circles on and off Capitol Hill” and that scrupulously previews the investigations Democrats will likely launch if they flip the House.

Publicly, Axios reports, House Republicans are “putting on a brave face” about the midterms. But behind closed doors, they are preparing for the worst. The document, which catalogs the requests that Democrats already have made, is part of that effort.

According to Swan, the following list enumerates some of the probes that the GOP predicts will be launched by mid-November:

  • President Trump’s tax returns;
  • Trump’s family businesses — and whether they comply with the Constitution’s emoluments clause, including the Chinese trademark grant to the Trump Organization;
  • Trump’s dealings with Russia, including the president’s preparation for his meeting with Vladimir Putin;
  • The hush money paid to Stephanie Clifford — a.k.a. Stormy Daniels;
  • Former FBI Director James Comey’s firing;
  • Trump’s firing of U.S. attorneys;
  • Trump’s proposed transgender ban for the military;
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s business dealings;
  • White House staff’s personal email use;
  • Cabinet secretary travel, office expenses, and other misused perks;
  • Discussion of classified information at Mar-a-Lago;
  • Jared Kushner’s ethics law compliance
  • Dismissal of members of the EPA board of scientific counselors;
  • The travel ban;
  • Family separation policy;
  • Hurricane response (or lack therof) in Puerto Rico;
  • Election security and hacking attempts; and
  • White House security clearances.

The spreadsheet in question, says Swan, originated in a senior House Republican office —and catalogs more than 100 formal requests from House Democrats this Congress, spanning nearly every committee.

The bottom line, the Axios political pundit reports: Thanks to their control of Congress, Republicans have blocked most of the Democrats’ investigative requests. But if the House flips, the GOP loses that advantage.

Swan says that lawyers close to the White House have told him that the Trump administration “is nowhere near prepared for the investigatory onslaught that awaits them, and they consider it among the greatest threats to his presidency.”

Research contact: @jonathanvswan

White House unveils $12 billion aid plan for farmers impacted by trade war

July 26, 2018

On July 24, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue revealed details of an emergency plan that would extend $12 billion in aid to farmers in ten states hit by retaliatory tariffs caused by the Trump administration’s escalating trade war with China, Axios reported.

However, word has come back from the sector that the farmers “want trade, not aid,” according to a report by Newser.

The funding for the expensive program would come partially from a USDA branch called the Commodity Credit Corporation, which was founded during the Depression to help farmers, according to a July 25 story by The Washington Post. Because this is an existing program, approval by Congress would not be necessary.

Farm groups–including producers of soybeans, corn, and hogs—would begin seeing payments by September. Perdue said the “one-time” program, which would be “short-term,” would help farmers dealing with “illegal retaliation” to U.S. tariffs, The Wall Street Journal noted. The Ag Secretary said that the program would give the administration time to work on a longer-term trade solution.

According to Axios, China recently retaliated against Trump’s tariffs with duties on soybeans and pork—affecting 10 farming states, nine of which voted for Trump in 2016.

According to a poll conducted by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal—and posted by  CNBC on July 22—voters do not approve of President Donald Trump’s handling of foreign trade policy. Roughly half say Trump’s tariffs will raise consumer prices and hurt the average American, while only one-quarter say they will protect jobs and help the average person.

Research contact: @mmurraypolitics