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Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

President Donald Trump, in a "startling public outburst" at the U.S. chief of mission residence here in Belgium ahead of the NATO summit, said "Germany is a captive of Russia" and "totally controlled by Russia” because of energy purchases.

Between the lines: The gas pipeline is something Trump has been complaining bitterly about for months.

  • He views it as one of Angela Merkel's vulnerabilities, and he fully intends to hammer it at the NATO summit.
  • Sources who've spoken to Trump about the Nord Stream gas pipeline say he has two chief complaints: 1. He wants Germany to buy American gas, not Russian gas. 2. He views Merkel as a hypocrite — always lecturing him about the "rules-based international system," and yet, in Trump's mind, not spending enough on Germany's defense, while sucking up to Iran and Russia.

Earlier in London, I spoke with a former British government official who’s familiar with the planning for Trump’s upcoming visit to England and Scotland:

  • “This is about making Trump feel good about Britain. [A planned visit to] Blenheim [Palace] is about flattering him by association with Winston Churchill — Trump feels he’s a latter day Churchill. And of course he and Melania will be thrilled to have tea with the Queen."
  • “Outcomes ... With this guy, you don’t really expect the usual intensive staff work to produce a significant policy statement. ... It’s about politics, relationships and impressions."
  • "For the Brits, it will be about showing that there’s a great life after Brexit. This week especially, [Prime Minister] Theresa May will be grateful for some nice, touchy-feely remarks from Trump about Brexit and life after Brexit."

Be smart: It looks like the U.K. visit will need to achieve rapid corrective surgery after combative Trump appearances at NATO.

  • Whether she likes it or not, Theresa May is Trump’s bridge between NATO and Vladimir Putin, with whom he meets Mondayin Helsinki.

Go deeper

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.

U.S. Chamber decides against political ban for Capitol insurrection

A pedestrian passes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters as it undergoes renovation. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealed Friday it won't withhold political donations from lawmakers who simply voted against certifying the presidential election results and instead decide on a case-by-case basis.

Why it matters: The Chamber is the marquee entity representing businesses and their interests in Washington. Its memo, obtained exclusively by Axios, could set the tone for businesses debating how to handle their candidate and PAC spending following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.