Here’s one of the most intriguing — and consequential — theories circulating inside the White House:
The generals, the New Yorkers and Republican congressional leaders see themselves as an unofficial committee to protect Trump and the nation from disaster.
This loose alliance is informal.
But as one top official told us: “If you see a guy about to stab someone with a knife, you don’t need to huddle to decide to grab the knife.”
The theory was described to us in a series of private chats with high-ranking officials:
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The generals — White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — speak frequently, see the world similarly and privately express a sense of duty to help steer Trump. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, is an ally.
The New Yorkers, including economic adviser Gary Cohn and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell (with 25 years of foreign-policy experience), have subsumed some of their personal views to blunt Trump’s worst ideas. This crowd is highly skilled at communicating with the president (using visuals and grand positioning) to refine or moderate “America first” provocations. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is also very involved, helping demand a process where POTUS has all the information to make domestic and international economic decisions.
Republican congressional leaders won’t win any profiles in courage for standing up to Trump. But almost all could move against the president if special counsel Bob Mueller finds crimes, or the president succumbs to radical instincts.
These officials see their successes mostly in terms of bad decisions prevented, rather than accomplishments chalked up:
They view their main function as getting real facts to the president, and injecting their belief in the importance of alliances and military relationships around the world.
As an example, if Trump had plunged ahead with his thirst for a trade war, the U.S. might not have won China’s backing in the U.N. vote last weekend for sanctions against North Korea.
These officials pick their battles, knowing that Trump is going to go ahead with some decisions — like renouncing the Paris climate agreement — no matter what.
And much of what they do is silent. AP reported that Mattis and Kelly, when he was still Secretary of Homeland Security, “agreed in the earliest weeks of Trump’s presidency that one of them should remain in the United States at all times to keep tabs on the orders rapidly emerging from the White House.”
These officials think Trump deserves a functioning staff, West Wing and process. They say they believe in him, but want the processes in place to give him accurate information and the right options.
Outside critics contend that these aides are rationalizing their role as enablers.
Be smart: One of the biggest dangers to Trump’s reign is that if Mueller acts or public support plummets, he suddenly could be lonely in his own White House.
Sara Fischer 3 hrs ago
What to expect from Snap’s second earnings report
Rebecca Zisser /Axios
For months, Snapchat has been challenging the narrative that slower user growth is due to Facebook adopting copycat features, like Stories and Stickers. Snap will have another copycat headache to explain to investors tomorrow on its second earnings call — Facebook is building a product that could rival Discover, its successful video content platform.
Why it matters: As Axios reported earlier this week, video content has performed incredibly well on Discover, but Snapchat has yet to break out to investors how much revenue that platform drives.
Expect analysts and investors to ask how Snapchat plans to cash in on Discover, and retain user attention and engagement once Facebook’s rival feature is live.
Expect Snapchat to say its platform is uniquely positioned to serve younger audiences because it’s mobile-first, while Facebook’s is based on desktop and mobile consumption.
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David Nather 4 hrs ago
The different ways your health care costs are going up
We’ve spent so much time talking about Affordable Care Act costs this year that it’s easy to forget what most people are actually paying for health care — the 156 million Americans who get their health coverage through the workplace. Turns out, most of us aren’t seeing sky-high premium increases. But it’s also worth remembering that deductibles matter too — because that’s what we pay out of pocket before insurance kicks in.
Data: Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios
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Axios 1 hr ago
Trump turns up heat on McConnell: “screamed Repeal & Replace”
President Trump on Wednesday afternoon: “Senator Mitch McConnell said I had “excessive expectations,” but I don’t think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?”
President Trump on Thursday morning: “Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!”
Trump was responding to an unusually blunt speech McConnell gave in Kentucky on Monday, in which he said Trump had “excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.” Trump reportedly called McConnell before the Wednesday tweet to scold the majority leader for his comments, per the New York Times.
Mike Allen 1 hr ago
Inside Drudge’s new look
Matt Drudge — who has kept his look steady even as everything else in media has convulsed — made a striking change Monday, beginning with a “NUKE YOU” banner headline: His photos, usually colorful amid the spare typewriter front, were suddenly black and white.
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Axios 1 hr ago
Mueller turns “up the crank” on Russia probe
Matt Rourke / AP
The FBI’s pre-dawn raid on Paul Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Va., makes it look like the special counsel is trying to:
Squeeze the former Trump campaign chairman to cooperate against others.
Send a message to others that they better cooperate if they want to avoid humiliation.
As John Heilemann told Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC: “What Robert Mueller is doing right now is turning up the crank … There are two guys who could be the prime people who could flip on Donald Trump, on the Trump family: Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.”
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Axios 2 hrs ago
Eric Bolling files $50 million lawsuit against HuffPost reporter
Fox News host Eric Bolling was suspended from the network on August 5 after a Huffington Post article cited 14 women to allege allege he had sent them “lewd” texts. Now, Bolling is suing Yashar Ali, the author of the article, for defamation. The suit asks for $50 million in damages.
Bolling’s attorney Michael J. Bowe told Ali: “Mr. Bolling recalls no such inappropriate communications, does not believe he sent any such communications, and will vigorously pursue his legal remedies for any false and defamatory accusations that are made.”
Bolling’s ouster is the latest in Fox world: Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and Fox Business’ Charles Payne were all let go or suspeneded for accusations of sexual harassment or assault.
HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen: “Yashar Ali is a careful and meticulous reporter. We stand by his reporting.”
Kia Kokalitcheva 4 hrs ago
500 Startups’ Australian chapter won’t launch after all
TechCrunch / Flickr CC
500 Startups partner Rachael Neumman, who recently joined to run its forthcoming Australian program, has decided to resign after considering recent revelations of former leader Dave McClure’s sexual misconduct towards several women.
“I determined that this is simply not the right time for 500 [Startups] to launch in Australia and so I have resigned from the 500 team,” she tweeted.
LaunchVic, a Melbourne-based organization that planned to be 500 Startup’s local partner, also walked away from the accelerator, citing the lack of a local leader given Neumann’s departure. It also said that it still has the money originally set aside for the 500 Startups program, which comes from government grants.
Backstory: Several weeks ago, multiple women came forward with allegations against McClure about inappropriate sexual conduct, which resulted in his resignation as general partner of 500 Startups’ funds. Two other partners also left, with one citing 500 Startups’ lack of transparency, including concealing a recent investigation into allegations of misconduct from a female employee, for her departure. Neumann and LaunchVic were also kept in the dark about the allegations until they surfaced in the news.
Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation 4 hrs ago
The ACA stability “crisis” in perspective
The big questions about the stability of the Affordable Care Act marketplaces have focused on how fast premiums will rise, and how many plans will participate. But an equally important question, and the heart of the matter politically, is: How many people will be affected by the sharp premium increases?
Data: Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of data from Mark Farrah Associates, Healthcare.gov, and KFF Survey of Nongroup Health Insurance Enrollees; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios
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Christopher Matthews 4 hrs ago
Computer-powered hedge funds lag the bull market
Even as experts worry over the havoc AI could bring to financial markets, quantitative hedge fund strategies actually aren’t outsmarting more human-reliant competitors in recent quarters, according to Bloomberg.
Quant fund managers — who feed huge caches of data to sophisticated, proprietary algorithms to find inefficiencies in the market they can exploit for profit — are struggling to keep pace with the broader market, and some funds, like the once-promising R&F Capital, are shuttering their doors altogether.
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Sara Fischer 12 hrs ago
Facebook is launching a TV-like video feature
Facebook is rolling out “Watch,” a new platform for original and licensed TV-like programming on Facebook — available on mobile, desktop and in TV apps. Facebook will partner with digital websites, sports leagues and personalities to deliver live and scripted programming. (See what shows they’re announcing below.)
The new feature undoubtedly riffs off of rival Snapchat’s successful mobile video platform, Discover, but here’s how it’s different:
More personalized: Facebook’s platform will be organized by themes and personalized the same way the News Feed is personalized — around family, friends and interests, to help users discover new content.
More social engagement: It will allow for comments and reactions so users can engage with each other, and it will show you what your friends are watching
Accessible on TV: It will be accessible via a TV app and multi-device as opposed to Snapchat which is mobile-only.
Why it matters: Facebook is officially going after the TV market. It will offer users access to TV-like shows that they can watch on any screen, and it will allow Facebook to win over ad dollars typically spent on cable and broadcast. It’s also another copycat feature that will likely slow Snapchat’s user growth and audience engagement.
Dave Lawler 14 hrs ago
North Korea says plan to attack Guam will be ready by mid-August
KRT via AP Video, File
North Korea has said it will have a plan prepared by mid-August to attack near the island of Guam, a U.S. territory and home to multiple U.S. military bases, the Associated Press reports. After the plan is ready, it will be presented to Kim Jong-un for his approval, according to the report.
North Korea also said President Trump’s threat of “fire and fury” was a “load of nonsense” and “only absolute force” toward the U.S. can be effective.
The current status of North Korea’s nuclear program
Mattis says aggression will mean “the end” of North Korean regime, people
An expert weighs in on the standoff
Shane Savitsky 14 hrs ago
“Incidents” in Cuba lead to hearing loss for U.S. diplomats
Ramon Espinosa / AP
The United States has expelled two Cuban diplomats from Washington after U.S. officials stationed at the American Embassy in Havana “reported incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms,” per the AP.
The details: Some Americans posted at the embassy in Havana — who lived in housing owned and maintained by Cuba, as do all foreign diplomats — experienced mysterious symptoms that reportedly include potentially permanent hearing loss.
The cause: Though the investigation is still occurring, American investigators believe there’s a possibility that the Cuban government — or someone sympathetic — may have placed devices that emitted sounds outside the range of human hearing inside or around the homes of those affected.
Why it matters: Trump already cancelled some portions of the détente that began under the Obama administration, and these allegations could cause the relationship to deteriorate further.
Tech Politics Business Health Care Science Future of Work Mike Allen Jim VandeHei 2 hrs ago Featured The Committee to Save America Sam Jayne / Axios Here’s one of the most intriguing — and consequential — theories circulating inside the White House: The generals, the New Yorkers and Republican congressional leaders see themselves as an unofficial committee to protect Trump and the nation from disaster. This loose alliance is informal. But as one top official t