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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

During his year and a bit as Trump's chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn tried many different tactics to persuade the president why some of his most hardwired instincts on trade were, in Cohn's view, misguided.

What we're hearing: In one memorable Oval Office meeting, Cohn told a fictional story about Trump's Scottish golf course to explain why Trump shouldn't try to remove a key protection in international trade deals, according to three sources familiar with the meeting.

Cohn said to Trump: "Mr. President, think about your golf course at Turnberry. If a bunch of birds started nesting in the bunker on the 18th hole and they were an endangered species, what if the town of Turnberry decided to close down the 18th hole to protect the endangered species?

  • "Without ISDS," Cohn continued, "that case would be heard in the local court in Turnberry," and the local court would decide whether Trump was owed compensation.
  • The killshot — or so Cohn apparently thought: "Mr. President, which would prefer? Having the local court in Turnberry hear the case where they'd probably shut down the hole forever and take it from you [without compensation]? Or go to ISDS, which is an arbitration panel where you choose on arbitrator, Turnberry chooses one, and the two of you mutually agree upon a third?"

What happened next: Trump's trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer interjected and said Cohn's golf course example was "ridiculous." Then Trump agreed it was ridiculous and went off on a tangent about what a magnificent property Turnberry was, how it was "one of the greatest places in the world," and mentioned all the things he'd done for Scotland, meaning this imaginary situation would "never happen."

Why this matters: The fight over whether to keep the investor-state dispute settlement (or ISDS) is a major sticking point in the Trump administration's NAFTA negotiations with Canada and Mexico.

  • Cohn vehemently opposed Trump's and Lighthizer's desire to rid NAFTA of ISDS — a provision, commonly negotiated in trade deals, that allows U.S. investors to sue foreign countries before international tribunals for alleged expropriations or discriminatory practices.
  • Trump and Lighthizer believe ISDS undermines American sovereignty because it allows foreign companies to sue the U.S. government. And they believe the legal certainty it provides incentivizes American investments overseas.

Ya can't make it up: The Trump Panama Hotel is in a commercial dispute involving the Panamanian government. The Trump Organization's lawyers are invoking rights under the countries' investment treaty and threatening to bring a claim for damages.

  • In other words: Trump's lawyers are invoking, in Panama, the very provision Cohn tried to talk Trump out of removing from NAFTA.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
10 mins ago - Economy & Business

Meme stonks lose their appeal to the world of crypto

Data: Cardify; Chart: Axios Visuals

That sucking sound you hear is the outflow of meme-chasing dollars from the stock market.

Why it matters: The caravan has moved on. The dream of getting rich quick still lives, but today it's more often found in the world of crypto, NFTs or even sports betting than it is in the stock market.

Latinas who brew seek to shake craft beer industry

A server at Mujeres Brew House in San Diego rings up a customer in front of a selection of craft beers. Photo: Russell Contreras/Axios

Independent craft brewers are popping up in cities across the country, and a small but growing number of them are Latina-owned or run by a Latina head brewer.

The big picture: Latinas are opening up independent craft breweries from California to Colorado as Latina-owned small businesses continue to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the economy despite a lack of venture capital.

59 mins ago - Sports

China pulls Celtics games after Enes Kanter criticizes Xi Jinping

Celtics center Enes Kanter. Photo: Jim Michaud/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

China will no longer stream Boston Celtics games after center Enes Kanter called Chinese President Xi Jinping a "brutal dictator" in a social media post over the Chinese government's repressive policies in Tibet, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: Kanter's criticism of Beijing has sparked another round of trouble for the NBA in China, one of its largest and most restrictive markets.