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Alex Brandon / AP

Another Trump tweet is making the rounds this afternoon: "While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!" My sense of what's going on:

  1. Readers shouldn't view this as Trump making a definitive China break, or an immediate end to his strategy of using China to exert pressure on North Korea. It MAY mean that the US hits some Chinese companies with sanctions for helping North Korea. The WSJ reported last week that the U.S. gave China a list of companies to target.
  2. The more useful way to interpret this tweet is Trump publicly shaming Chinese Premier Xi Jinping for failing to change Kim Jong-Un's deranged behavior and giving him one last chance to fix it, and signaling to the Chinese that they've run out of time.
  3. This can also be seen as a classic Trump negotiating tactic: as he wrote in The Art of the Deal, the worst thing you can do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. Lots of people have written off Trump as a sucker for the Chinese, but he's written: "I protect myself by being flexible. I never get too attached to one approach."
  4. Administration officials are horrified by what happened to Otto Warmbier. It's being taken seriously at the highest level, and reinforced to Trump and his top aides that they're dealing with a very crazy person who will do whatever it takes to survive.
  5. The White House believes Xi has made unprecedented efforts to help, but they don't believe it's enough, and they're running out of time.

Go deeper

Updated 45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information โ€” Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategy โ€” Biden's COVID-19 bubble.
  4. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine โ€” CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  5. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge โ€” Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries.
  6. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  7. ๐ŸŽง Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.
Bryan Walsh, author ofย Future
4 hours ago - Health

Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic

Illustration: Aรฏda Amer/Axios

President Biden's plan to accelerate the reopening of K-8 schools faces major challenges from a still out-of-control pandemic and more contagious coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The longer American kids miss in-person schooling, the further they fall behind. But the uncertain state of the science on the role young children play in the pandemic continues to complicate efforts to reopen schools.

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.