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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.

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1 big thing: Trump's "ultimate deal"

Every American president fantasizes about being the Middle East peacemaker. It's the great unattainable — a sure-fire Nobel Peace Prize, and your own page in the history books.

Influential figures in the conservative pro-Israel community have concluded that President Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner have convinced themselves that their dealmaking talents can clinch this "ultimate deal" between Israel and the Palestinians.

Trump the dealmaker has begun inching to the left on Israel:

  • The Trump administration alienated some allies in conservative pro-Israel circles by allowing the State Department to hire Michael Ratney, who was a senior U.S. diplomat in Jerusalem under John Kerry. In recent days, a number of influential conservatives have reached out to White House officials, urging them to fire Ratney.
  • On the campaign trail, Trump promised to "move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem." As president, Trump is keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv as a bargaining chip to extract future concessions from Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.
  • Trump infuriated Palestinians by breaking with U.S. policy and saying he could potentially support a one-state solution. But during the same recent visit with Netanyahu, Trump threw a bone to the left by gently chiding the Israelis on settlement building.
  • On Friday, Trump spoke by phone to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. According to the White House, they "discussed a comprehensive agreement that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Trump invited Abbas to visit the White House in the near future.
So what comes next?
The hardbitten view: A conservative pro-Israel leader tells me Trump's aspirations "will run up against the reality of dealing with the Palestinians."
The most hopeful words: In a recent interview on David Axelrod's podcast, The Atlantic's editor Jeffrey Goldberg repeated a joke that Jared Kushner's principal qualification to be Trump's Middle East peacemaker was that he'd been to Jewish summer camp. But Goldberg wisely noted that the "great geniuses of American diplomacy" have all failed to achieve a deal:
"There's almost like a Jewish comic novel in this ... And then a boy named Jared Kushner emerged from Trump Tower and brought peace to the tribes of Abraham. I mean ... who knows?"

2. The highest bar

The White House and Republican Hill leaders are setting a dauntingly high bar for their plan to replace Obamacare:

  • Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday" that the administration will do "whatever it takes" to get the bill passed.
  • When NBC's Chuck Todd asked on "Meet the Press" what success would look like, HHS Secretary Tom Price said it means "more people covered than are covered right now, and at an average cost that is less" (which contradicts the administration's line that coverage is the wrong focus).
  • Price also told Chuck that "nobody will be worse off financially."
  • Speaker Ryan told John Dickerson on CBS's "Face the Nation" that he agrees with President Trump that the 2018 elections would be a "bloodbath" for Republicans if they fail to pass his Obamacare replacement.

Echoing into the week ... On ABC's "This Week," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton had this warning for Republican House members: "Do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate and then have to face the consequences of that vote."

3. Undercutting Speaker Ryan

Inside the Oval Office last week, there was a telling exchange between conservative activist Jenny Beth Martin and the president.

During Trump's Wednesday meeting with conservative leaders over the healthcare plan, Tea Party Patriots leader Martin subtly reminded Trump that her super-PAC stood by him "through thick and thin" during the campaign, unlike a certain politician from Wisconsin.

According to two sources in the room, Martin didn't mention Paul Ryan's name. But everyone knew who she was talking about. She reminded Trump that in October — when the crude "Access Hollywood" tape leaked and Ryan disinvited Trump from a Wisconsin event — Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund volunteers were working the phones on Trump's behalf.

Trump smiled and glanced over at his chief of staff Reince Priebus. Trump said that, yes, he had been disinvited. And he thanked Martin for standing by him. (Of course, Martin wasn't always a Trump loyalist. She gave a blisteringly anti-Trump speech at CPAC in 2016, but has since changed her tune.)

  • Why this matters: Some conservatives who oppose the House GOP Obamacare replacement plan believe it's strategically smart to divide the president from the speaker. They think the president is more open than Ryan to negotiating, and they believe that branding the bill as "Paul Ryan's plan" and emphasizing Ryan's disloyalty during the campaign could make Trump less attached to the specifics of the current bill.
  • However: So far, the White House and Ryan are publicly sticking close together even on the controversial stuff. The controversial Medicaid timeline that's in the bill "is what the president supports," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday, adding: "it's not a question of negotiation."

4. Lowering sights on tax

It didn't get much media attention, but Trump's chief economic adviser Gary Cohn said something very important in a Friday interview with CNBC:

"We're going to have to be deficit neutral over a 10-year period."

Why this matters: Sources familiar with the administration's tax planning say there's nothing close to agreement on how — or if — the administration will "pay for" the cuts it has planned to corporate and individual rates. Given Trump's oft-professed love for debt, many sources had been assuming the administration would give up on revenue neutrality, instead suffering short-term deficit hikes in hopes of long-term growth.

Cohn's comments change that calculus, since they sure look like an official White House endorsement of the House's commitment to revenue neutrality.

I checked in with Stephen Moore, one of Trump's top economic advisors during the campaign. He worries that Cohn & Co. are preparing for a less ambitious rate cut.

  • Here's the rub: If the administration doesn't get behind new taxes to pay for the cuts — like the House Republicans' trillion-dollar border adjustment tax — then taxes won't be cut as much as Trump originally promised.

1 fun thing: celebrities struggling with Trump

The celebrity community is still having trouble adjusting to Trump's America, as was on display this week in two big ways:

  • First, Madonna — never one to err on the side of understatement — released a short video announcing that we have entered a "New Age of Tyranny."
  • Even more dramatic, if that's possible, was the escalating feud between Shia LaBeouf and members of the troll-infested Internet message board 4chan. According to Page Six, LaBeouf livestreamed a flag that read "He Will Not Divide Us," billowing in the wind over an undisclosed location. 4chan members reportedly found the flag, pulled it down, and replaced it with a "Make America Great Again" hat.

Not your daddy's culture war, but here we are.

Featured

Moore, Bannon go after establishment, media, accusers on election eve

Photo: Brynn Anderson / AP

Roy Moore told Alabama voters "if you don't believe in my character, don't vote for me" in an election eve rally that featured Steve Bannon, and in which the participants repeatedly challenged the credibility and motives of the women who have accused Moore of sexually harassing or assaulting them when they were teens.

Why it matters: Moore emerged Monday night after hardly appearing publicly in recent weeks with a group of anti-establishment surrogates and a closing argument — the woman accusing me are lying, the media is conspiring against me and I'll represent your voice and Trump's agenda in the "swamp" of Washington.

  • Both Moore and Bannon took swipes at the "establishment," including Richard Shelby, Alabama's senior senator who has publicly opposed Moore. Bannon even indirectly mocked Ivanka Trump — alluding to her quote that "there's a special place in hell for people who prey on children" — while heaping praise upon her father.
  • Bannon said the GOP establishment was only using Trump to get a corporate tax cut, and would quickly abandon him afterward. He told voters that the message they should take from recent events is that if you try to challenge the status quo like Trump and Moore, "they're going to try and destroy you and your family."
  • Moore was introduced by his wife, who portrayed her husband as the victim of a coordinated character assassination attempt by the media and said, "our sails are torn, but our anchor holds."
  • Moore criticized his opponent Doug Jones for supporting "transgender rights," gay marriage and legal abortion.

Controversial moments:

  • Seeking to discount claims of prejudice, Moore's wife Kayla said "one of our attorneys is a Jew," along with some friends.
  • As Jonathan Allen of NBC News points out, Bannon mocked MSNBC's Joe Scarborough for not getting into as prestigious a college as he did — but Scarborough went to the University of Alabama.
  • In an apparent reference to the allegations of child sexual abuse against him, Moore said his wife "has closer contacts to kids than I do."
  • A man who served with Moore in Vietnam spoke, testifying to Moore's character. He mentioned a time another officer led them to a "private club" that turned out to be a brothel, in which some of the prostitutes were "very young," and Moore immediately said they should leave.
Featured

Weighing the benefits and risks of birth control pills

A birth control pill dispenser. Photo: Mike Derer / AP

A recent Danish study linked hormonal birth control to an increased risk of breast cancer, but the same contraceptives have also been shown to protect against certain less common cancers, such as endometrial and ovarian, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The study published last week raised alarm with its conclusion that users of hormonal birth control see about a 20% increased risk of developing breast cancer. But "it’s really problematic to look at one outcome in isolation. Hormonal contraception has a complex matrix of benefits and risks, and you need to look at the overall pattern," JoAnn E. Manson, a professor of women’s health at Harvard Medical School, told the Times.

The results: A British study that followed 46,000 women from 1968 to 2012 found birth control pill users had increased risks of breast and cervical cancers, but the overall cancer rates among users and non-users was equalized by the fact that users were less likely to develop other cancers.

“There is good data to show that five or more years of oral contraceptive use substantially reduces ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer risk, and may reduce colorectal cancer. And the protection persists for 10 or 20 years after cessation" of use, David J. Hunter, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the University of Oxford told the Times.

Featured

Macron lures climate scientists to France for Trump's term with millions in grants

Under a program called 'Make Our Planet Great Again', France has offered 18 climate scientists — 13 of them U.S. based — millions of euros in grants to work in France for the rest of President Trump's term, according to the Guardian.

French president Emmanuel Macron announced the contest right after Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord, and more than 5,000 people pursued the grants.

Why it matters: The program, with the branding driving home the point, makes clear that France views the U.S. under Trump as hostile ground for climate science.

Featured

Report: Trump furious Haley said his accusers "should be heard"

Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

President Trump was "infuriated" by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley's remark Sunday that the women accusing him of sexual assault and harassment "should be heard," the AP reports.

Per the report, Trump has "grown increasingly angry in recent days that the accusations against him have resurfaced, telling associates that the charges are false and drawing parallels to the accusations facing Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore." White House advisers were "stunned" by Haley's statement, made on CBS' "Face the Nation," according to the AP.

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House tax bill adds $1 trillion to deficit over 10 years, official analysis finds

The U.S. Capitol dome reflected in water. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin / AP

An analysis released Monday by the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation projects that the House tax bill would generate enough growth to produce $428 billion in revenue over ten years, per WSJ. That's less than one-third of the $1.4 trillion in tax revenue that would be lost over that time due to the cuts.

  • The bottom line: Estimates find that the bill would come nowhere near paying for itself, despite claims to the contrary from GOP leadership and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin.
  • What's next: The House and Senate are reconciling their two versions of the bill.
Featured

Barkley vs. Bannon: Election eve in Alabama

Charles Barkley, Jones' headliner, and Steve Bannon, Moore's headliner. Photos: AP

It's Election eve in Alabama and Senate candidates Roy Moore and Doug Jones have brought in big-name guests to headline their final rallies. Former NBA player and current sports analyst, Charles Barkley, an Alabamian, is appearing with Jones. And Steve Bannon is returning to rally for Moore.

Where things stand: Polls out of Alabama are showing wildly different projections for Election Day, with one from Fox News showing Jones leading by 10 points and another from Emerson College showing Moore up by 9.

Featured

New Yorker cuts ties with Ryan Lizza over alleged sexual misconduct

Lizza. Screengrab via PBS on YouTube.

The New Yorker has cut ties with Ryan Lizza — a prominent political reporter at the magazine who is also a CNN analyst — over "improper sexual conduct," per Politico's Michael Calderone.

The statement: "The New Yorker recently learned that Ryan Lizza engaged in what we believe was improper sexual conduct. We have reviewed the matter and, as a result, have severed ties with Lizza. Due to a request for privacy, we are not commenting further."

Lizza responded, saying the New Yorker's decision was "a terrible mistake."

The law firm representing Lizza's accuser, Wigdor, LLP, put out the following statement, per the Daily Beast: "In no way did Mr. Lizza's misconduct constitute a 'respectful relationship' as he has now tried to characterize it. Our client reported Mr. Lizza's actions to ensure that he would be held accountable and in the hope that by coming forward she would help other potential victims."

Lizza's controversial interview with then-White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci led to Scaramucci's resignation.

Georgetown University, where Lizza is adjunct lecturer, said: "Georgetown recently learned of the New Yorker's actions. Classes have concluded for the fall semester at the University. Mr. Lizza will not be teaching any classes next semester."

CNN says Lizza will not appear on air while it looks into the allegations.

Featured

Alabama polls show wildly different results on election eve

Brynn Anderson/AP

One day before Alabama's closely watched Senate special election between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, two new polls were published — one from Fox News showing Jones leading by 10 points and another from Emerson showing Moore up by 9 .

Background: Since the Washington Post first reported about alleged sexual misconduct by Moore, polls in Alabama have been going back and fourth between both candidates. So who's really leading? The old addage applies: it all comes down to turnout.

What to keep in mind: As the Washington Post's Philip Bump points out, pollsters use various indicators such as historic results and enthusiasm shown by voters in prior polls, to figure out who will turn out on Election Day. There are also other factors that make it tough to determine who's going to turn out, he added:

  1. This is a highly contested statewide contest with few precedents on which to base estimates.
  2. It's happening under the most polarizing president in modern history.
  3. Moore was already an unusual and controversial candidate prior to the allegations.

Worth noting: There's also speculation that there's a pool of voters who won't admit to pollsters they're voting for a man who's facing allegations of sexual misconduct.

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NYC terror suspect in custody after subway blast

The scene following an explosion near Times Square on Monday. Photo: Andres Kudacki / AP

27-year-old Akayed Ullah is in custody after he intentionally detonated a low-tech pipe bomb in a subway station near Times Square on Monday. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the explosion was "an attempted terrorist attack."

The Department of Homeland Security said Ullah came to the U.S. in 2011 after presenting a passport displaying an F43 family immigrant visa. Ullah "is a Lawful Permanent Resident from Bangladesh who benefited from extended family chain migration," said DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton.

Details of attack:

  • The New York Police Department said the explosion occurred in an underground walkway that runs through the Port Authority bus terminal and Times Square along 42nd Street.
  • NYC Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill said during a press conference that Ullah had attached the "low-tech" pipe bomb to himself with a “combination of Velcro and zip ties." It's unclear whether Ullah was attempting a suicide bombing.
  • O'Neill also said Ullah acted alone and no other devices had been found.
  • Following the blast, Ullah was taken into custody and transported to Bellevue Hospital where he was treated for severe burns to his hands and abdomen. NYPD said three others suffered minor injuries.
  • No formal announcement has been made on what's next, but both federal and local law enforcement officials have indicated that Ullah will be prosecuted in federal court in Manhattan, reports the New York Times. The attack is also being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

What they're saying:

  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: "This is New York. The reality is that we are a target for people who would like to make a statement against democracy, against freedom. We are not going to allow them to disrupt us."
  • Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen: The Trump administration is taking “appropriate action to protect our people and our country ... The administration continues to adopt significant security measures to keep terrorists from entering our country and from recruiting within our borders."
  • White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders: : "We know that the president's policy calls for end to chain migration .. had [Trump's] policy been in place, then the attacker would not have been allowed to come into the country."
Featured

White House says Trump accusers' "false claims" are politically motivated

Rachel Crooks, left, Jessica Leeds, center, and Samantha Holvey have all accused President Trump of sexual misconduct. Photo: Mark Lennihan / AP

Three women who have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct spoke out again today in an NBC interview with Megyn Kelly and in a press conference hosted by Brave New Films, saying they hoped their allegations would be treated differently given the momentum of the #MeToo movement. The White House, which has disputed the claims before, issued this statement Monday in response:

"These false claims, totally disputed in most cases by eyewitness accounts, were addressed at length during last year’s campaign, and the American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory. The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes, and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them."