Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Mike Theiler, Pool/Getty Images

Senior Trump administration officials have spent the weekend holed up with their Mexican counterparts, haggling over the final details of a new NAFTA deal. Sources briefed on the negotiations tell us the negotiators are on the brink of a handshake deal, and Mexico's Economy Minister told reporters today the two countries were in the "final hours of this negotiation."

But, but, but: We’re skeptical. Remember, there's a third party to these NAFTA talks: Canada.

  • The Canadians have sat on the sidelines while the Trump team has ironed out its bilateral issues with Mexico — but they must be party to any deal.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be loath to appear to capitulate to demands from Trump, who is widely detested in his country.

The three countries want to sign the deal by the end of August to stop the ultra-left wing Mexican leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador from throwing a wrench in the talks.

  • U.S. trade law requires a 90-day waiting period after nations reach an agreement before they can sign a pact. Therefore, if the U.S., Canada and Mexico can't reach an agreement by the end of August, the negotiations would be transferred to Obrador, who gets inaugurated on December 1.

Behind the scenes: Only a tiny circle of administration officials, including Robert Lighthizer and Jared Kushner, have full visibility of the NAFTA negotiations. They've been almost entirely leakproof. That said, two trusted sources who've spoken to Lighthizer outlined for me how he is privately angling to get a new NAFTA deal through Congress:

  • The most important point: Trump is hugely popular with the Republican base, so just giving the new NAFTA his imprimatur will move a ton of Republican members of Congress — at least 180 votes in the House, by Lighthizer’s count.
  • For the rest, you grind it out. The coalition Lighthizer has privately discussed is "energy plus labor," according to two additional sources with direct knowledge of his thinking. He's looking to give the energy sector a better deal than some other industries on the investor-state dispute settlement to protect their investments in Mexico in particular, and to safeguard them from nationalization by AMLO. If the oil and natural gas industries are happy, it will be tough for members from energy states like Texas to oppose a deal.  
  • Lighthizer’s bet on labor unions has generated significant skepticism among sources close to the talks, inside and outside the White House. "He and Navarro think if the labor unions like the deal they will push Democrats to vote for it," a source with knowledge of Lighthizer's thinking told Axios. "I think that's crazy."

The Trump administration response: After I shared this reporting with the administration, Emily Davis, a spokeswoman for Lighthizer, replied: "USTR declines to confirm or comment on this."

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!