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Cotton heads to a Intelligence Committee meeting. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Sen. Tom Cotton praised President Trump's approach to Iran but differed with the president on North Korea and the standoff with China over telecom giant Huawei in an hour-long conversation with former acting CIA Director Michael Morell at the Atlantic Council's annual forum on Friday.

Why it matters: The hawkish Army veteran has President Trump's ear, and may well end up in his administration.

  • On Saudi Arabia: Cotton says the kingdom's current turmoil results from "political instability in the Saudi model, insecurity because of Iran... as well as economic" pressures in the global oil market. He said the U.S.-Saudi relationship is "critical," and we shouldn't "sunder" it over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
  • On North Korea: Cotton wants to see tighter enforcement of sanctions, disagrees with Trump's decision to cancel U.S.-South Korea military exercises, and says he "wouldn't let this drag on forever." In the meantime, he says, the U.S. should improve its defenses against North Korea missiles.
  • On China: Cotton says China is a "unique adversary in the world" and is seeking to displace the U.S. in the long-term, but can't match Washington's network of alliances. He says Beijing's approach to its neighbors can boil down to "we're big, you're small."
  • On Russia: Cotton says "Vladimir Putin doesn't think Russia lost the Cold War, they were just behind at half-time and catching up now." He says the U.S. needs to approach Putin "without making out that he's 10 feet tall, and recognizing they're a declining power."

On Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, held in Canada on charges related to U.S. sanctions, Cotton said: "I want to see her extradited, I want to see her face the full force of U.S. law." He said letting trade influence things (as Trump suggested) would send the "wrong signal" to China and U.S. allies.

One surprising thing: Asked whom he admires most in the history of U.S. foreign policy, Cotton chose John Quincy Adams, for shaping the Monroe Doctrine.

Go deeper

Inequality Index signals October jobs growth for lower-income Americans

Data: Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index; Chart: Axios Visuals

Polling for the Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index suggests that as the Delta variant ebbed over the last month, job security improved for lower-income Americans.

The big picture: As a result of the improving environment, the Inequality Index this month declined to its lowest point since April — reversing a significant spike in September.

White House unveils landmark reports on climate links to security, migration

Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The Biden administration on Thursday released a sweeping set of assessments on climate change's threat to national security and its role in fueling migration.

Why it matters: One of the key products, a formal National Intelligence Estimate on climate change, marks the first time all 18 elements of the U.S. intelligence community have released a consensus report on the topic.

Scoop: Garland defends DOJ's handling of Jan. 6 probe

Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland will tell the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday that federal prosecutors "are doing exactly what they are expected to do" in seeking accountability for the "intolerable assault" on the Capitol on Jan. 6, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Allies of former President Trump, including Republican congressmen, have criticized the department's treatment rioters charged with crimes, and sought to recast the insurrection as a righteous protest. Garland's testimony with be his first appearance before the panel.