Stories by Jonathan Swan

Trump's China bind

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Sources close to President Trump tell Axios that the White House is in a China bind: A trade deal with China is "tough to improbable" in this deteriorating environment, with escalating security tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Why it matters: The biggest tool Trump has to pump the economy and the markets is a trade deal with China. But if anything, senior administration officials have turned harder against China in recent weeks.

Scoop: Top Homeland Security aide resigns amid tensions with White House

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan
McAleenan testifies at a House committee hearing in July. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan's top aide and spokesperson is resigning amid frustration in the White House over the Department of Homeland Security's handling of major policy rollouts and White House distrust of McAleenan and his inner circle, sources familiar with his resignation tell Axios.

Why it matters: Andrew Meehan's departure comes amid broader internal tensions between the White House and DHS leadership. President Trump is wary of McAleenan, whom he associates with the Obama administration, and his top aides, several current and former administration officials tell us. These sources say Trump has no intention of formally nominating McAleenan for a permanent position.

Scoop: Inside Trump's naval blockade obsession

Illustration of a map with Battle Ship game toy pieces placed near Venezuela.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump has suggested to national security officials that the U.S. should station Navy ships along the Venezuelan coastline to prevent goods from coming in and out of the country, according to 5 current and former officials who have either directly heard the president discuss the idea or have been briefed on Trump's private comments.

Driving the news: Trump has been raising the idea of a naval blockade periodically for at least a year and a half, and as recently as several weeks ago, these officials said. They added that to their knowledge the Pentagon hasn't taken this extreme idea seriously, in part because senior officials believe it's impractical, has no legal basis and would suck resources from a Navy that is already stretched to counter China and Iran.