Feb 25, 2019

Axios PM

Mike Allen

📺 Situational awareness: "The Oscars ended its four-year streak of dwindling viewership, reaching 29.6 million on Sunday to beat last year’s audience by 12 percent, but it still represents the second-smallest audience in the award show’s history." (AP)

📽️ D.C. readers ... You're invited: Join Axios' David Lawler tomorrow evening at 5 pm for a screening of "The Price of Free" and a panel discussion on the film.

  • He'll sit down with Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), along with designer Rachel Roy and Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, to shine a light on the reality of child labor and slavery in the U.S. and abroad. 
  • RSVP here
1 big thing: Trump's grand bargains

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The three words to watch at President Trump's pair of summits over the next month: verifiable, measurable and enforceable.

  • Trump is on his way to Vietnam, where he'll meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
  • He'll then host Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago sometime in March.
  • On Monday, Trump teased a "signing summit" with Xi, saying negotiators are "getting very, very close."

The big picture: It’s hard to find anyone in government who believes North Korea or China are willing to make the dramatic shifts Trump believes he can bring about — complete denuclearization for North Korea and immense structural changes for China — Axios' Jonathan Swan emails.

China’s leaders are masters at playing the Americans. They’ve done so over multiple administrations — and they don’t even acknowledge that they steal U.S. intellectual property on a vast, state-sponsored scale.

  • Xi remains committed to his "Made in China 2025" advanced manufacturing strategy to give Chinese high-tech companies advantages over American ones and would, if successful, prevent Trump from achieving his trade goals.
  • A source close to the negotiations described the debate with the Chinese over the important "structural" issues as a "death march."

North Korea’s leaders are even craftier than the Chinese negotiators. "No one has played [a hand of] two 2s better than they have," said a former senior U.S. official with extensive experience negotiating with North Korea.

  • The Trump team hopes to get a roadmap to denuclearization from this week's Hanoi summit, but Kim doesn't appear to have even made the basic decision to denuclearize. 

The bottom line: Whatever wins Trump may tout in his post-summit rhetoric, check the fine print.

P.S.: "Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suddenly resigned late Monday night without warning," AP reports.

  • He overcame "Western suspicions to strike the accord with world powers that saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions."
  • Yes, but: "[H]e came under attack by anti-Western hardliners in Iran after the United States pulled out of the agreement last May and reimposed sanctions" that were lifted under the deal. (Reuters)
Bonus: An A-list selfie
Photo: Emma McIntyre/VF19/WireImage

Glenn Close and Steven Spielberg pose for a selfie during the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

2. What you missed
  1. 58 former senior national security officials issued a joint declaration today arguing "there is no factual basis" for Trump's use of emergency powers to build a border wall. Go deeper.
  2. The U.K.'s Labour Party will back the idea of another "public vote" on Brexit, should its own Brexit plan fail in Parliament this week as expected. Details.
  3. Warren Buffett admitted Berkshire Hathaway overpaid for its stake in Kraft Heinz, which saw its stock implode last week after terrible earnings results. Go deeper.
  4. In a rare interview, Jared Kushner said the upcoming U.S. peace plan will focus on "drawing the borders" between Israel and the Palestinians as well as solving the core issues in the conflict. Details.
  5. A look into the other side: A dozen current and former employees who moderated disturbing and traumatic content for Facebook at a third-party contractor in Arizona talked with The Verge about their experiences. The big picture.
3. 1 🥚 thing

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The latest round of White House Easter Egg roll photos, videos and memes is coming your way on April 22, the day after Easter, the White House announced today.

How to attend, via AP: "Tickets are free and can be requested through an online lottery scheduled to open Thursday at 10 a.m. EST and close March 4 at 10 a.m. EST. The White House says there’s no fee to enter the lottery and winners will be contacted by email by March 14."

  • "Families with children ages 13 and younger are invited to join President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump for a day of festivities on the South Lawn."
  • Sign up here
Mike Allen