Posts tagged with "Axios"

Top Trump-aligned conservative group buys up prime D.C. office space

January 19, 2023

An influential conservative nonprofit led by former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows is buying up millions of dollars’ worth of office space on Capitol Hill, records show, according to a report by Axios.

The Conservative Partnership Institute, as the  nonprofit is called, is the backbone of a policy and advocacy apparatus aligned with hard-right legislators such as Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia).

Indeed, Axios says, the real-estate purchases are a sign of the conservative nonprofit’s growing clout—and grandiose plans—as it tries to steer the direction of Republicans’ new House majority and prepare for the next GOP administration.

Just this month, several right-wing lawmakers who opposed Representative Kevin McCarthy’s (R-California) bid for speakership —including Gaetz, and Representatives Byron Donalds (R-Florida), Paul Gosar (R-Arizona), Ralph Norman (R-South Carolina) and Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) — met at the CPI offices, according to Yahoo News.

CPI completed its most recent purchase early this month: $11.35 million for new space on Pennsylvania Avenue, adjacent to both the Capitol and CPI’s headquarters on Independence Avenue, D.C. property records show.

That followed multiple purchases last year on Pennsylvania Avenue—and ones on nearby 3rd Street SE and C Street SE—each made in the name of a different LLC.

Also last year, CPI paid more than $7 million for a 14,000-square-foot lodge on more than 2,000 acres near the Maryland shore, according to property records.

Led by Meadows and ex-Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), CPI has incubated or financially supported a number of allied organizations. Many are run by Trump Administration alumni and considered integral to early planning for another potential Trump presidency.

Founded in 2017, CPI has grown substantially in recent years. Its operating budget shot up from $7.1 million in 2020 to more than $45 million the following year, tax records show.

CPI leases some of its office space to the House Freedom Caucus’ political arms — the House Freedom Fund and House Freedom Action, Federal Election Commission records show. Staffers for HFC members and other conservative legislators routinely travel to CPI’s Maryland property—where the group hosts training sessions on topics ranging from communications to congressional procedure to investigative tactics.

CPI’s offices are designed not just as venues for political strategy and advocacy, but also as places where conservatives can find—in its words—”a sense of community.”

In its 2021 annual report, the group says, “Within our historic building and adjacent properties—just a half mile from the U.S. Capitol—conservatives learn how to resist the lure of the Establishment and be effective in Washington.”

Research contact: @axios

Trump Organization receives maximum fine for New York tax fraud scheme

January 16, 2023

On Friday, January 13, the Trump Organization received the maximum fine under New York law after it was convicted last month of running a 15-year tax fraud scheme, reports Axios.

A New York judge ruled that a pair of the former president’s business entities must pay a $1.6 million penalty, the AP first divulged. The Trump Organization said it plans to appeal the ruling, per Reuters.

Last month, Trump Organization subsidiaries Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp. were convicted of 17 felonies, which included criminal tax fraud, falsifying business records, and conspiracy.

  • Under New York law, the company faced up to a $1.6 million fine from the verdict.
  • Trump and his family were not charged in the case.
  • Earlier this week, former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg was sentenced to five months in jail for his role in the scheme. He was taken into custody and is expected to serve his sentence at Rikers Island in New York.
  • Weisselberg pleaded guilty in August to assisting in the scheme and admitted to 15 felonies.

Friday’s ruling could lead to additional consequences if companies that are not allowed to conduct business with felons choose to cancel their contracts with the organization, ABC News reports.

In addition, New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a civil lawsuit accusing the former president and members of his family of financial fraud and referring them to federal prosecutors and the IRS for criminal investigation.

Research contact: @axios

Biden Administration sues Arizona governor over attempt to fill in border wall

December 16, 2022

The Biden Administration sued outgoing Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) on Wednesday, December  14, over his construction of a barrier made of double-stacked shipping containers along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border.

 According to a report by Axios, Ducey launched the effort to fill in gaps in the Trump Administration’s border wall amid a sustained surge in border crossings—and has continued the project as a final, symbolic act before he leaves office in January. Federal authorities have said, however, that the barrier is unlawful since it is erected on U.S. land.

The new lawsuit asks the court to order Arizona to stop building the barrier and remove the containers in the San Rafael Valley—citing operational and environmental concerns. Arizona “is trespassing on federal lands,” the complaint states.

“In installing shipping containers on National Forest System lands, Arizona has widened roads and cleared lands for staging areas … cut down or removed scores of trees, clogged drainages, and degraded the habitat of species listed under the Endangered Species Act.

“The shipping containers are blocking approximately 30 naturally occurring ephemeral watercourses, which will interrupt natural watershed patterns, erode soil in the immediate area, and damage vegetation and forage.”

Arizona’s installation also has “detrimentally impacted” law enforcement functions and “interfered with the Forest Service’s ability to carry out its official duties by, among other things, causing the National Forest System lands to be occupied by armed private security guards,” the suit alleges.

The Biden Administration is seeking compensation to fix any damages along the border.

Research contact: @axios

NASA hires Icon to 3D-print U.S. base on the Moon

December 1, 2022

Mankind may not physically be back on the Moon just yet, but the Moon Economy is already booming. Case in point: Axios reports that an Austin-based three-dimensional printing firm called Icon just landed a $57.2 million cash infusion from NASA for its Project Olympus, an endeavor to create 3D-printed lunar shelters.

Icon plans to have its Moon huts ready for NASA use by 2026, assuming that the Artemis mission schedule remains intact. If the Moon is, indeed, to become a human outpost, durable and lightweight lunar housing will be essential — a reality that Icon CEO Jason Ballard doesn’t seem to be taking lightly.

“We feel real weight and responsibility — we’re not just doing this for ourselves,” Ballard said, according to a report by Futurism, adding that “we’re giving humanity the capability to build on other worlds.”

He added, “The final deliverable of this contract will be humanity’s first construction on another world,” he added, “and that is going to be a pretty special achievement.”

While Icon is best-known for its work building Earthly structures, it’s been hoping to build in space for some time now. Project Olympus was first launched in 2020, and the company also appears to have its eye on one day constructing a 3D-printed Mars colony.

Rather than bring a bunch of Earthly junk to the Moon’s relatively pristine surface, Icon’s goal is to build the lunar dwellings out of actual lunar materials — Moon dust, broken rocks, and the like, says Futurism.

According to Ballard, learning to build from the Moon’s natural regolith ensures the viability of long-term human tenure on the Moon. (After all, it would inconvenient if Moon miners had to receive a payload from Earth every time they needed to build a new road.)

“If you tried to plan a lunar settlement or a moon base and you had to bring everything with you, every time you wanted to build a new thing it’s like another $100M,” Ballard told Payload. “But once you’ve got a system that can build almost anything—landing pads, roadways, habitats—and it uses local material, you are probably two or three orders of magnitude cheaper to build a permanent lunar presence than you would be in any other way that we can think of.”

Research contact: @futurism

“Amirite, bae?”: Scrabble Dictionary adds 500 new words

November 21, 2022

“Bae,” “vax,” “verbing” and “zonkey” are among some 500 new words added to the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary as of Friday, November 18, reports Axios.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has released its seventh edition of the dictionary—adding new words to the game for the first time since 2018.

Words like “adorbs,” “bae,” “hangry” and “subtweet” are common in the current culture and seem like natural additions. “Amirite?”

Some food-related additions included”queso” and “matcha.”

Words that are a bit more obscure like “zonkey,” “vaquita” and “embiggen” also have been added.

“Dumpster” is a surprising addition in that it wasn’t already allowed. Until now, the term was categorized as a trademark in the dictionary, but now it’s a playable noun.

“So much about the new words for Scrabble [is a consequence] of the way dictionaries classify words,” per a tweet from Merriam-Webster.

“For example, VERB had always been playable, but now VERB is a *verb*! Which means that VERBED and VERBING are now playable. A grammatical distinction that allows for new plays.”

Research contact: @axios

NFL launches subscription streaming service

July 26, 2022

The National Football League debuted its new subscription streaming video service on Monday, July 25—NFL+, for $4.99 a month or $39.99 annually, reports Axios.

Why it matters: The service will help the NFL reach a wider audience of younger fans who don’t watch traditional TV.

Details: For the first time in the NFL’s history, the service will make all NFL games, including local matches, widely accessible on-the-go via streaming.

But there’s a catch: In an effort to respect its live television partnership rights, the live local and primetime regular and post-season games are only available on phone and tablet.

  • Live local and national audio of every game, however, is available on the app, as well as live video coverage of all out-of-market pre-season games.
  • In addition to live games, the regular tier of the app includes NFL Network shows on demand, NFL Films archives and other content.
  • Users can also buy a premium package for $9.99 a month or $79.99 annually, which includes game replays and other features, such as access to the All-22 Coaches Film, which essentially provides video for those looking to study game plays.

Be smart: The premium version of NFL+ essentially replaces a product called NFL Game Pass in the United States. It’s meant to cater to the more intense NFL fan and will include full-game replays across all devices, including streaming television.

What they’re saying: “Today marks an important day in the history of the National Football League with the launch of NFL+,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

The big picture: The NFL has been aggressive in its efforts to bring more of its games to streaming without cannibalizing its lucrative live TV contracts with various TV networks.  It has already brokered a deal to make Amazon the exclusive broadcaster of its Thursday night games, and it has awarded ESPN+, ESPN’s streaming service, an exclusive game to stream.

The league is expected to soon announce the winner for its last remaining multi-season rights package for Sunday Ticket. That package is widely speculated to go to a streaming service like Apple or Amazon.

Research contact: @axios

Senate Democrats warn of G.O.P. effort to restrict abortion nationwide

May 10, 2022

Democrats rang alarm bells on Sunday, May 8, about the likelihood that Republicans would try to restrict abortion nationwide, two days after an interview was published in which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said a ban was “possible” if his party gained control in Washington, D.C., reports The New York Times.

On the Sunday talk shows and in other public statements, Democratic senators said Republicans would not stop at letting the states decide the issue, but would most likely push for federal restrictions. That made it paramount, they said, that the Democratic Party maintain control of the Senate as it tries to codify abortion rights into federal law.

“We need to make sure that every single voter understands that the Republican Party and Mitch McConnell does not believe that their daughters, that their mothers, that their sisters have rights to make fundamental life and death decisions,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We are half-citizens under this ruling. And if this is put into law, it changes the foundation of America.”

After a leaked draft decision indicated that the Supreme Court was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that established a constitutional right to abortion, McConnell said in an interview with USA Today that a national abortion ban was “possible” if that draft document became an official opinion of the court.

“If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies—not only at the state level but at the federal level—certainly could legislate in that area,” McConnell said when asked if a national abortion ban was “worthy of debate.”

McConnell argued that the discussion about a federal ban was premature, but that it was clear that the Republican Party has long been opposed to abortion.

Discussions already are underway among some Republican senators about pushing to ban abortion after a certain number of weeks, ranging from six to 20, depending on the proposal.

“If and when the court makes a final decision, I expect everybody will be more definitive,” McConnell said. “But I don’t think it’s much secret where Senate Republicans stand on that issue.”

Indeed, the Times reports, a document circulated by the National Republican Senatorial Committee and obtained by Axios urged candidates to be low key about abortion, casting themselves as “compassionate consensus builders” with a post-Roe America looming as early as next month.

“States should have the flexibility to implement reasonable restrictions,” the document states.

Research contact: @nytimes

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki plans to leave for an on-air role at MSNBC

April 4, 2022

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, is planning to leave her post to take an on-air role at MSNBC, a source familiar with the matter told CNBC on April 1.

Psaki, who is still fleshing out details with the company, is expected to leave the White House around May, Axios reported earlier Friday.

Psaki will host a show for NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, Peacock, Axios reported. She had reportedly also been in talks with CNN and other networks.

Psaki did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

“We don’t have anything to confirm about Jen’s length of planned service or any consideration about future plans,” a White House official told CNBC in an email. “Jen is here and working hard every day on behalf of the president to get you the answers to the questions that you have, and that’s where her focus is.”

News networks have long looked to recruit spokespeople and other high-profile Beltway figures for their day-to-day political coverage, both as anchors and regular contributors.

Longtime ABC News host George Stephanopoulos, for instance, was formerly the White House communications director under President Bill Clinton. MSNBC political analyst and host Nicolle Wallace was a senior spokesperson for the George W. Bush administration and a spokesperson for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Last March, former President Donald Trump’s final Press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, joined Fox News as a commentator. More recently, CBS News signed ex-Trump official Mick Mulvaney as a paid contributor.

Research contact: @CNBC

Trump’s White House toilet was ‘repeatedly clogged’ by torn wads of wet printed paper

Febraury 11, 2022

It’s no surprise, with his notorious diet of Big Macs and Diet Coke, that Donald Trump’s toilet is often the worse for wear. However, according to an upcoming book from  The New York Times  reporter and Trump expert Maggie Haberman, it’s not the fast food that’s to blame, reports The Daily Beast.

In an excerpt from Haberman’s new book, Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America (Penguin Press, to be released October 4)—first reported by Axios on Thursday morning, February 9—the author claims that White House staff would often find Trump’s toilet clogged up with shredded documents.

Indeed, staffers believed that the papers were destroyed and flushed by the president himself. Haberman reports that workmen had to fix the toilet on more than one occasion.

She appeared on CNN’s New Day to discuss the revelation later on Thursday morning. Maggie, we start with the toilet,” host Brianna Keilar said to open the interview, in a sentence that has perhaps never before, and will likely never again, be heard on a national broadcast news.

As I was reporting out this book, I learned that staff in the White House residence would periodically find the toilet clogged,” said Haberman. “The engineer would have to come and fix it, and what the engineer would find would be wads of, you know, clumped up printed wet paper.”

The reporter went on to clarify: “[This was] not toilet paper. This was either notes or some other piece of paper that they believe he had thrown down the toilet. What it could be, Brianna, it could be anybody’s guess. It could be Post-Its, it could be notes he wrote to himself, it could be other things, we don’t know. But it certainly does add… another dimension to what we know about how he handled material in the White House.”

CNN’s John Berman clearly wanted to know more. He went on to ask Haberman if she knows whether the clogging happened more than once, and if we know for sure if it was Trump’s toilet that had been blocked.

“They would periodically find this to be the case,” Haberman explained. “The exact number, John, I’m not certain of, but it was not just once… It was in the pipes… it was in the pipes. This was his bathroom.”

Trump, as he so often does, dismissed the claims as “fake” news.In a statement on Thursday morning, the twice-impeached-former-president said: “Also, another fake story, that I flushed papers and documents down a White House toilet, is categorically untrue and simply made up by a reporter in order to get publicity for a mostly fictitious book.”

Trump’s mishandling of official documents has come under closer scrutiny since 15 boxes of papers were taken away from Mar-a-Lago last month. The boxes were previously reported to have contained Kim Jong Un’s “love letters” to Trump, as well as the handover note left for the incoming president when Barack Obama left the White House in 2017.

However, reports this week have suggested that the documents swiped from the White House by Trump’s team were perhaps even more sensitive than previously realized. Late Wednesday, The New York Times reported that National Archives officials found what they believed to be “classified information” when searching through the seized boxes.

Earlier Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that the National Archives had gone so far as to ask the Justice Department to investigate Trump’s handling of the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Mark Meadows knuckles under; agrees to cooperate with House January 6 Select Committee

December 1, 2021

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has agreed to cooperate with the House Select Committee in charge of investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection, the panel said on November 30, according to a report by Axios.

Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson confirmed the news with the following statement: “Mr. Meadows has been engaging with the Select Committee through his attorney. He has produced records to the committee and will soon appear for an initial deposition. The Select Committee expects all witnesses, including Mr. Meadows, to provide all information requested and that the Select Committee is lawfully entitled to receive. The committee will continue to assess his degree of compliance with our subpoena after the deposition.”

With the capitulation of Meadows, the committee has achieved a major win; and Meadows, himself, has possibly staved off prosecution. After rejecting a subpoena to appear for a deposition before the panel, it was believed that Meadows could face contempt charges.

Meadows, who failed to appear before the panel earlier this month, is believed to have insight into former President Donald Trump’s role in efforts to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s election win.

According to Axios, Meadows became the second person to defy the committee’s subpoena, following former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who was taken into custody on November 15 on charges of contempt of Congress.

Research contact: @axios