Axios Sneak Peek - Axios
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Axios Sneak Peek

Welcome to Sneak Peek, our weekly lookahead for both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus the cream of the Sunday shows. I'd love your tips and feedback: jonathan@axios.com.

Please urge your friends and colleagues to join the conversation by signing up for Sneak Peek and the other Axios newsletters. See you all week in the Axios STREAM, and next Sunday evening in Sneak Peek.

1 big thing: Trump’s wall

Chuck Schumer has concluded that denying President Trump his wall is perhaps the surest major defeat Democrats can hand the President in his first year.

Trump needs 60 Senate votes to fund construction of his "great wall" along the Southern border. Unlike healthcare or tax reform, Republicans can't use the budget process to ram the wall funding through Congress using only Republican votes.

  • Schumer's thinking: There's nothing the Republicans would be willing to offer that could get Trump the eight Democratic Senators he needs to fund the wall. Mitch McConnell's only other option would be to invoke the nuclear option and bypass the filibuster. But Democratic appropriators are betting the Republican leader won't be willing to undermine such a fundamental Senate tradition just to pay for Trump's wall.
  • The evolving plan, being discussed by Schumer's office and Senate appropriators: If Republicans put money for the wall into a bill, Democrats block it. It doesn't matter what else is in the bill — Schumer will make it about the wall. The way Democrats see it, if they can block the wall, they'd crush a central feature of Trump's political identity. And as the face of the strategy, Schumer would thrill the Democratic base (though less so the red-state Democratic senators up in 2018).
  • What happens next: Team Trump knows it's not going to be easy to fund the wall. A source familiar with the administration's plans says the preferred strategy would be to attach the wall funding to the bill that funds the military. That way, Republicans could tell the public that Schumer and the Democrats are blocking money not only for border security but for our troops. They'll run relentless attack ads against Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2018 in states that Trump won.
  • What happens if Schumer wins: A second source familiar with the administration's thinking said that even if Democrats block funding, the administration will find ways to get by in the short term. "We have enough money to get a decent amount of the wall done in first year," the source said. "We can reprioritize some funding within [the Department of Homeland Security]. ... It's not like work would come to a complete halt."

2. The clean-up

The Sunday shows were supposed to focus on Obamacare — the policy issue that's supposed to be consuming Washington right now — but instead they were dominated by President Trump's explosive and unsubstantiated claim that Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower.

On ABC's "This Week," host Martha Raddatz became exasperated with the White House's representative — deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders. Sanders told Raddatz that "if this happened, if this is accurate, this is the biggest overreach and the biggest scandal."

"If, if, if, if," Raddatz replied, pointing out that Trump didn't hedge in his tweet. He categorically asserted that Obama committed what would be a crime of Watergate proportions.

Republicans are distressed and irritated, and nobody in the White House or on Capitol Hill has offered evidence to support Trump's allegation:

  • Republican Susan Collins, who sits on the Senate intelligence committee, said she has "seen no evidence" of what Trump alleged. "It would be more helpful if he turned over to the intelligence committee any evidence that he has," she told John Dickerson on CBS's "Face the Nation." "What we need to deal with is evidence, not just statements."
  • Marco Rubio told Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press": "The president put that out there, and now the White House will have to answer as to exactly what he was referring to."
  • Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Chuck: "For the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw as DNI, there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign."

3. Window into Trump's mind

Trump's aides desperately want to move on from the wiretap flap. Press Secretary Sean Spicer issued a statement this morning saying the President requests that the congressional committees look into the allegations as part of their investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. "Neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted," he said.

But, but, but ... As is so often the case in Trumpland, the President has his own ideas. Trump's friend Christopher Ruddy gives us a window into the president's current state of mind. Ruddy, the CEO of conservative media outlet Newsmax, writes this morning:

"I spoke with the President twice yesterday about the wiretap story. I haven't seen him this pissed off in a long time. When I mentioned Obama 'denials' about the wiretaps, he shot back: 'This will be investigated, it will all come out. I will be proven right.'"

What many in Congress will say: Given Trump made the claim, the onus is on him, not us, to produce the evidence. The president has access to any piece of classified intelligence in the country. It's well within his power to find out whether Obama ordered the tapping of Trump Tower.

4. Obamacare's big week

The Hill will be consumed by Obamacare for the foreseeable future but this week is a big one, with House committees expected to mark up the first legislative text.

Committees responsible for the health-care bill — led by Ways and Means chair Kevin Brady and Energy and Commerce chair Greg Walden — worked over the weekend with the White House "to tie up loose ends and incorporate technical guidance from the administration," a senior GOP aide tells me.

There was a weekend call with the big players crafting the policy: Speaker Ryan, Walden, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, HHS Secretary Tom Price, White House senior policy hand Andrew Bremberg, and others.

Outstanding issues, still being worked through by the committees:

  • Design of the tax credits: We're told that Republicans are going to put an income cap on the tax credits. This helps bring down costs — a top GOP priority — and will ensure that the super-rich aren't getting financial assistance they don't need.
  • Tweaking coverage: We're told that the early estimates about how many people would be covered by the healthcare plan were pretty bad. Republicans have been tweaking the plan to ensure that the coverage gets better.

1 fun thing: The Onion's prediction

Many laughed in 2012 when a news anchor on the satirical website The Onion reported that "due to Facebook ... every potential candidate for the 2040 presidential race, no matter how smart or accomplished, is now completely unelectable."

Turns out The Onion had a solid grip on the future, with a new political attack ad comprised entirely of unflattering footage found on social media.

NPR reports: "Jon Ossoff, 30, is running as a Democrat in a special election in Georgia ... The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super-PAC aligned with GOP leadership, launched an attack ad Wednesday [which] includes a clip of him dressed as Han Solo in a Star Wars parody of the school's alcohol policy."

"The ad marks a new era in politics," writes NPR's Jessica Taylor. "In years past, opposition researchers would have to dig deep to hope for leaked videos or testimony from former friends, rivals and roommates. Now, they don't have to go much farther than Google or the photos section of Facebook pages."

Featured

Sessions vows to take travel ban appeal to Supreme Court

Ted S. Warren / AP

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced the DOJ will ask the Supreme Court to review Thursday's ruling from a federal appeals court keeping the block on President Trump's travel ban in place:

"President Trump's executive order is well within his lawful authority to keep the Nation safe…The Department of Justice strongly disagrees with the decision of the divided court..."

The dissenters: Sessions is right, the court was split 10-3. The dissenters said that the law does not permit judges to second-guess a president's ability to make decisions about national security.

The majority: Chief Judge Roger Gregory, however, wrote the ban "drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination."

Featured

Ford veteran returns after brief stint at Uber

Alan Diaz / AP

Sherif Marakby, an automotive executive who left Uber in April after one year, has re-joined Ford, where he previously spent 25 years, according to the Wall Street Journal. Marakby will be a vice president overseeing the company's self-driving and electric-car businesses.

The news comes a few days after Ford abruptly named James Hackett as its new CEO, replacing Mark Fields. Hackett was previously heading the company's Smart Mobility division.

Between the lines: Marakby's departure from Uber was only the latest amid a slew of controversies around the company, including an ongoing lawsuit from Alphabet's self-driving car unit, Waymo. And with Detroit's increasing focus on keeping up in the autonomous driving race and rethinking car ownership models, it's no surprise to see Marakby being wooed back by Ford, which has been heavily investing in those areas over the past year.

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U.K. resumes sharing intel with U.S.

Matt Dunham / AP

The U.K. has resumed sharing intel with the U.S. according to the U.K. Home Secretary, Reuters and BBC report. This comes after the U.K. halted sharing intel with U.S. officials due to undesired leaks to the media about the Manchester bombings and photos of the crime scene.

Why now? U.K. counter-terrorism officers reportedly received assurances today about the U.S. Earlier today Trump said he had asked the DOJ to launch review of the leaks and threatened prosecution.

Featured

Millennials want to buy houses, but not save for them

Keith Srakocic / AP

Avocados aside, almost 80% of millennials plan to buy a home at some point, but aren't prepared for it, according to a study by Apartment List. The study also found that many millennials, especially those in metropolitan areas, significantly underestimate how much a down payment will cost them.

  • Almost 70% of 18- to 34-year-olds have saved less than $1K for a down payment.
  • 40% don't save at all on a monthly basis — even among 25-34 year olds who historically have owned or would be soon owning a home already.
  • Millennials making less than $24K typically save about 10% in general, while those who make more than $72K only save 3.5%.
  • Less than 30% of 25- to 34-year-olds can save enough for a 10% down payment in the next three years.

Why: In the survey, not being able to afford to buy a home was the biggest determent, followed by not being ready to settle down or waiting to get married. Student debt, rent and delayed careers due to the recession could all attribute to the affordability problem, as well as trends in urban areas to spend more on food and entertainment, Wall Street Journal points.out.


Featured

Zuckerberg: We need more purpose

Steven Senne / AP

Mark Zuckerberg told Harvard's graduating Class of 2017 Thursday that strong projects creating a sense of purpose for everyone involved. He said his hardest times at Facebook came about when he didn't take the time to explain the purpose of the project.

His call to action: Let''s "do big things not just to create progress, but to create purpose...You are graduating into a world that needs purpose. It's up to you."

His advice to those with big ideas: "Be prepared to be misunderstood."

What pop culture gets wrong about tech and innovation: "The idea of a single eureka moment is a lie," which he says is detrimental to future innovators who tend to think, "we feel like we just haven't had ours yet." Also, "no one writes math formulas on glass."

Here's everything Zuckerberg says our society needs right now:

  • "How about stopping climate change before we destroy the planet and getting millions of people involved installing solar panels?"
  • Track health data and share genomes
  • "Invest in cures so people don't get sick"
  • "How about modernizing democracy so everyone can vote online?"
  • "And how about personalizing education so everyone can learn… continuous education through our lives"
  • "Let's do it in a way that gives everyone" a role
  • "We need affordable child care"
  • "Healthcare that's not tied to just one employer"
  • "We need a society that's less focused on locking us up and [that] stigmatizes us when they do"
  • Eliminate income inequality
  • Deal with automation and self-driving trucks
His take on globalization: "There are people left behind by globalization…It's tough to care about other people when we don't feel good about our lives at home. There's pressure to turn inward."
Zuckerberg was accepted into Harvard as a member of the Class of 2006 and today received a Doctor of Laws with the Class of 2017.
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OPEC down for "whatever is necessary" to raise oil prices

Ronald Zak / AP

Following a series of meetings between OPEC and non-OPEC countries in Vienna Thursday, Saudi Arabia's energy and oil minister, Khalid Al-Falih announced that all members will do "whatever is necessary to balance the markets," even if that means further extending cuts in oil output past March 2018.

Why March? Earlier today, the group agreed to extend its November deal to cut oil output by nine months. Al-Falih said that although they believe they will hit their desired target by the end of the year, the three-month extension should help with any buildup of stocks.

Conformity to deal: "The conformity level from the members is exceptional. We have reached 102% of overall conformity, so we are even exceeding our commitment," said Al-Falih. Russia's minster of energy, Alexander Novak, also noted that his country reached full conformity at the end of April.

The caveat: Despite Al-Falih's boasting of such high conformity, not all OPEC and non-OPEC members who agreed to cut oil output by 1.8 million barrels a day are keeping up their end of the bargain. Iraq is just one example of cheating the agreement. According to Bloomberg, Iraq produced roughly 80,000 more barrels of oil a day than permitted.

Next meeting: All OPEC and non-OPEC members will meet again on November 30, 2017. Al-Falih said that the two groups are considering extending their close alliance and continuing to work together beyond 2017 and the nine-month extension.

  • 14 OPEC countries, as of January 2017: Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Equatorial GuineaGabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia (the de facto leader), United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.
  • 10 non-OPEC countries: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, Sudan and South Sudan.
Facts Matter Featured

What is NATO Article V and where does Trump stand on it?

Matt Dunham / AP

The issue

At a NATO leaders meeting May 25 President Trump did not explicitly endorse the collective defense article, Article V, of the North Atlantic Treaty, which binds member nations to defend one another if one comes under attack.

The facts

Trump was expected to make a commitment to Article V in the speech, but then stopped short of doing so. He did discuss shared "commitments," using the example of the September 11 attacks (the only time Article V has been invoked):

"We will never forsake the friends who stood by our side. And we will never waver in our determination to defeat terrorism and to achieve lasting prosperity and peace."

Why it matters

Article V is the cornerstone of NATO, and NATO member countries have been waiting to hear Trump confirm the U.S. will honor it, especially as he has repeatedly stressed that not all members are paying their fair share of defense spending and once called the alliance "obsolete." After the backlash to the omission, Sean Spicer stepped in to explain they're "not playing cutsie" and that Trump is "fully committed" to Article V.

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Ryan says Congress will move up deadline on debt ceiling

Andrew Harnik / AP

House Speaker Paul Ryan told investors Thursday that Congress will move up its deadline to raise the debt ceiling to avoid an economic default, reports AP. Congress was initially expected to vote on the debt limit this fall.
"The debt ceiling issue will get resolved."
—Paul Ryan
Timing: His reassurance comes a day after Treasury Secretary Mnuchin warned that Congress needs to vote to raise the nearly $20 trillion ceiling before their August recess.
Featured

Trump to Macron: "You were my guy"

Peter Dejong / AP

French officials said today that President Trump denied having supported far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen in the recent French presidential election while meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron today. Instead, Trump told Macron:

You were my guy.

Worth noting: While it certainly seems like Le Pen's nationalist positions would have endeared her to Trump, he stopped short of endorsing her in an April interview with the AP: "No, I have no comment on [endorsing Le Pen], but I think that [the April 20 shooting of Paris police officers] will probably help her because she is the strongest on borders and she is the strongest on what's been going on in France."

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Senate will start putting together draft health care bill next week

(Jacquelyn Martin / AP)

After three weeks of working group meetings, Senate Republicans will begin drafting their version of a health care bill over next week's recess.

"Over the break, initial legislation will be drafted, and then we'll have more time — we'll actually have a basis to discuss on these things," Sen. Ron Johnson told reporters, saying leadership and committee staff will write the bill.

What to watch: While we expect the Senate bill to take on some the same basic policy structure as the House bill, some pieces are subject to change — particularly after the release of the Congressional Budget Office score yesterday. There's a lot of hesitation to include state waivers that allow states to opt out of the Affordable Care Act ban on charging sick people higher premiums, and the Medicaid per-person funding growth rate debate is still unresolved.