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Hachette Books

From throwing his opponent's balls into bunkers to exaggerating his 2.8-stroke handicap, Donald Trump's alleged penchant for cheating on the golf course is the subject of retired sportswriter Rick Reilly's new book, "Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump."

Why it matters: "It's a way to look at Trump in an apolitical way," Reilly told me by phone yesterday. "It's not about his presidency, but rather a way to look at his soul."

  • "Arnold Palmer always used to say, 'I'll never do a business deal until I play golf with a guy because you can't hide who you are out there on the course," Reilly added.

Details: One of the book's stories focuses on the time Trump played golf with the old ESPN "Monday Night Football" crew. It's him and Jon Gruden versus Mike Tirico and Ron Jaworski.

  • At one point, Tirico hit "the 3-wood of his life" toward the green only to find his ball in a sand trap 50 feet left of the pin. Later on, Trump's caddy told Tirico that his ball had been 10 feet from the hole. "Trump threw it into the bunker. I watched him do it," said the caddy.
  • At Winged Foot Golf Club in New York, the only non-Trump property where the president is a member, he kicks his ball back onto the fairway so often that the caddies call him "Pele."
  • "Trump is actually pretty good at golf," Reilly told me. "Tiger said he's about a 10 handicap. That's pretty good. In fact, that's great for a 72-year-old guy. He wouldn't be bad as an honest golfer." (He isn't, though.)

The bottom line: There's something refreshing about a Trump-related story devoid of politics. Instead of immediately retreating to our corners, we're able to, hopefully, examine this at face value and decide for ourselves what to make of it.

  • "Who cares, plenty of people cheat at golf" is one possible conclusion. "Golf says a lot about a man" is another.

P.S. ... For all of our D.C. readers, Rick is doing a book signing at Solid State Books near Union Station at 7pm ET tonight.

Go deeper

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Photo Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden swiftly recommitted the U.S. to the Paris climate pact and the World Health Organization, but America's broader foreign policy is in a state of flux between the Trump and Biden eras.

Driving the news: One of the most striking moves from the Biden administration thus far was a show of continuity — concurring with the Trump administration's last-minute determination that China had committed "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims.

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  3. Vaccine: NYC postpones vaccine appointments following shipment delays — Private companies step in to fill vaccine logistics vacuum.
  4. World: Biden will order U.S. to rejoin World Health OrganizationBiden to bring U.S. into global COVAX initiative for equitable vaccine access.
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Congress grants waiver for retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to lead Pentagon

Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd Austin. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Both chambers of Congress on Thursday voted to grant retired Gen. Lloyd Austin a waiver to lead the Pentagon, clearing the path to confirmation for President Biden's nominee for defense secretary.

Why it matters: Austin's nomination received pushback from some lawmakers, including Democrats, who cited a law that requires officers be out of the military for at least seven years before taking the job — a statute intended to reinforce the tradition of civilian control of the Pentagon.

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