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Michael Sohn / AP

One of the more contentious — and consequential — international relationships is set to be that between Donald Trump and the German leader Angela Merkel.

Bloomberg reports interesting details today:

Merkel has been poring over old interviews and video of Donald Trump, seeking clues on how to influence the incoming U.S. president when they first meet, according to two people familiar with her preparations...Merkel is trying to take the new president's measure while gearing up her own campaign for a fourth term in Germany's fall election, where she's already using Trump as a foil. The chancellery in Berlin has reached out to Trump's transition team to suggest an early meeting, which would give Merkel a chance to get Trump's ear and counter his dismissive views on the European Union, NATO and free trade, according to another government official.

Can we make a suggestion? If she's not already done so, Merkel should put the nationalist populist website Breitbart News near the top of her reading list. Breitbart is planning to open a new bureau in Berlin.

  • A source familiar with Breitbart's plans has told Axios that one of the central goals of the Berlin website will be to attack Merkel for her open borders policies. This mirrors Trump's publicly stated contempt for Merkel's decision to open Germany to refugees (Trump says they're a Trojan Horse for Islamist terrorists.)
  • Breitbart is also planning a Paris bureau, which will support the presidential candidacy of nationalist leader Marine Le Pen. And this all comes after Breitbart invested heavily in their London bureau — including forging close ties to UKIP leader Nigel Farage — to promote the Brexit movement.

Why this Matters: The Trump-Merkel relationship could have major implications for the future of the European Union. Steve Bannon, the former chair of Breitbart who is now Trump's chief strategist, has carved himself a deliberately undefined and broad brief. Unlike Reince Priebus, who will be handling daily operations as chief of staff, Bannon will have free rein to think big picture and influence not just messaging but big picture strategy, including national security and foreign policy.

Anybody who thinks Trump will moderate his views towards globalism, NATO, and the European Union would be well served understanding the depth of opposition to these concepts within the Bannon-Stephen Miller-Jeff Sessions elements of the President's inner circle.

Go deeper

Trump bump: NYT and WaPo digital subscriptions tripled since 2016

Data: Axios reporting and public filings; Chart: Axios Visuals

The New York Times and The Washington Post have very different strategies for building the subscription news company of the future.

The big picture: Sources tell Axios that the Post is nearing 3 million digital subscribers, a 50% year-over-year growth in subscriptions and more than 3x the number of digital-only subscribers it had in 2016. The New York Times now has more than 6 million digital-only subscribers, nearly 3x its number from 2016.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Biden's emerging climate orbit

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

As of Tuesday morning, we know a lot more about President-elect Joe Biden climate personnel orbit, even as picks for agencies like EPA and DOE are outstanding, so here are a few early conclusions.

Why it matters: They're the highest-level names yet announced who will have a role in what Biden is promising will be a far-reaching climate and energy agenda.

Janet Yellen is back

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images

A face familiar to Wall Street is back as a central player that this time will need to steer the country out of a deep economic crisis.

Driving the news: President-elect Joe Biden is preparing to nominate former Fed chair Janet Yellen to be Treasury secretary.