Jun 27, 2018

How Trump could reassure America's NATO allies

Trump at last year's NATO summit. Photo: Christophe Licoppe/Photonews via Getty Images

We reported last week that U.S. national security officials were saying one of the most urgent issues leading into the Trump-Putin summit will be Moscow's covert intrusion into American politics.

What we're hearing: Tony Blinken, who served as deputy national security adviser and John Kerry's deputy in the Obama administration, told us that Trump "has an opportunity to reverse the narrative that he's too hard on our allies and too eager to cozy up to Putin." He would do so by demonstrating a "strong, unified alliance" with NATO members and then "go to Putin and put front and center the widespread concerns across our allies about Russian meddling in our democracies."

  • "That would be a great way to flip the narrative that people are concerned about."

But when you press senior U.S. officials on whether Trump will confront Putin over this interference they tend to avoid leaning in too hard.

  • CNN's Elise Labott asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about that very issue recently.
  • Pompeo replied: "Make no mistake; I think President Trump agrees the Russian interfering — Russians interfering in our election — is something that they simply cannot do. I don’t think — I don’t think he’d take any umbrage with that."

Go deeper

Exclusive: Trump's "Deep State" hit list

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: WPA Pool/Getty Pool, Drew Angerer/Getty Staff

The Trump White House and its allies, over the past 18 months, assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust — and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them — according to more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort who spoke to Axios.

Driving the news: By the time President Trump instructed his 29-year-old former body man and new head of presidential personnel to rid his government of anti-Trump officials, he'd gathered reams of material to support his suspicions.

Exclusive: Anti-Sanders campaign targets black South Carolina voters

Courtesy of The Big Tent Project

The Big Tent Project, a Democratic political group focused on promoting moderate presidential candidates, has sent hundreds of thousands of mailers bashing Bernie Sanders to black voters in South Carolina who voted in the state's 2016 primary.

Why it matters: Sanders' rise to the top of the pack, as dueling moderate candidates split their side of the vote, is worrying many in the Democratic political establishment who fear a socialist can't beat President Trump.

Inside the fight over FBI surveillance powers

Carter Page. Photo: Artyom Korotayev\TASS via Getty Images

Over the past year, President Trump has told senior administration officials, including Attorney General Bill Barr, that he wants a major overhaul of national security surveillance powers and the secret court that approves them.

Behind the scenes: In one such discussion last year about the need to reauthorize government authorities to surveil U.S. citizens, Trump went so far as to say he'd rather get rid of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) altogether.