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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

One of the hardest things about reporting on President Trump is his tendency to propose wild ideas out loud and then repeat them before coming to his senses or getting talked off the ledge.

The big picture: The media, us very much included, break news on controversial ideas that never happen, leaving all of us to wonder: Was this a real idea killed by exposing it or a POTUS brain blip? It’s the virtual reality dimension of this presidency.

An off-the-top-of-our-head list:

In some cases, Trump follows through, or at least comes very close:

  • Trump signed off on an order to evacuate families of service members from South Korea. Allies would have viewed that as a prelude to war, and former White House chief of staff John Kelly and former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis managed to stop it. But the order was drafted, per sources who were there at the time.
  • The U.S. won't leave the WTO, in all likelihood. But the administration drafted legislation, as scooped by Swan, that would effectively blow up the nation's WTO commitments.

Remember: Trump has already withdrawn the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate agreement, and he's done what no president dared: move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

  • The president has been so globally disruptive that you can’t ignore his private venting — even stuff that sounds unlikely.
  • He has begun withdrawing from Syria. Is anyone willing to bet against him doing the same in Afghanistan?
  • And even though he never withdrew from KORUS (the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement) — which aides viewed as potentially calamitous — an order was drafted, as Bob Woodward recounts in "Fear."

Be smart: Trump blurts out most ideas that roll through his mind. The most frustrating part for top officials is they must quickly move the machinery of government to conform to — or more often to terminate — the suggestions. 

  • P.S. Trump has suggested the shutdown could drag on as long as a year. It sounds unthinkable and absurd. But so did the travel ban. 

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 43 mins ago - World

Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate panel will recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with "crimes against humanity," alleging his COVID-19 pandemic response led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, per the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The latest: The lawmakers initially said Bolsonaro should be charged with mass homicide and genocide, but lawmakers updated the report to replace these with the new charge, its lead author, Sen. Renan Calheiros, told the NYT.

California governor declares drought emergency for entire state

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speakinng to reporters in Los Angeles in September. Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended a drought emergency declaration to cover the entire state on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures," per a statement from the governor's office. This past August was the driest and hottest one on record, "and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record," the statement added.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.