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Photo: Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Senior administration officials tell Axios that a trade deal with China isn't close and that the U.S. could be in for a long trade war.

The state of play: A senior administration official said the differences between the two sides are so profound that, based on his read of the situation, he can't see the fight getting resolved before the end of the year.

  • Trump yesterday held out the possibility of meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 in Japan next month. That statement may have been made in part to calm the stock market, which yesterday had its worst day since January. (Lead Financial Times headline: Global markets reel.")

The bottom line: White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow was right when he said on Sunday that "both sides will suffer" in a U.S.-China trade war.

  • The Chinese economy will be harmed. But so, too, will America's. And so will American consumers, who will pay higher prices, and American farmers, who will be targeted for retaliation by China.
  • The question remains: Can Trump, facing a re-election race in 2020, outlast China's "president for life"?
  • Both Trump and Xi have to contend with hardliners in their parties. But only one of them can harness all the tools of authoritarianism.

Trump’s mindset on the Chinese is simple: They only respond to shows of brute force.

  • And he thinks they’ll suffer more than America will, because they buy fewer products.

I've asked several current and former administration officials whether Trump actually believes that China pays the tariffs — rather than the reality that U.S. importers and consumers do.

  • The consensus is "yes": That's what he actually believes.
  • And as one former aide said: There’s little point trying to persuade Trump otherwise, because his belief in tariffs is "like theology."

Go deeper ... Trump's trade war: Where American workers are hit hardest

Go deeper

Cuomo asks New York AG and chief judge to choose "independent" investigator into sexual harassment claims

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Feb. 24. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

A special counselor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement Sunday asking the state's attorney general and chief judge to jointly pick an "independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation" to investigate claims of sexual harassment against the governor. The AG's office subsequently turned down the offer, saying it wants to conduct its own probe.

The state of play: The statement is an about-face from Cuomo, who had previously selected a former judge close to a top aide to lead the investigation, the New York Times reported, a move that was widely criticized.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.