Welcome to Sneak Peek, our weekly lookahead from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus our best scoops.
Situational Awareness: I’m excited to introduce you to Axios’ newest newsletter author, Bryan Walsh! Check out Axios Future for his latest coverage on the mega-trends impacting our world! Sign up.
Tonight's newsletter is 1,815 words, a 7-minute read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: WPA Pool/Getty Pool, Drew Angerer/Getty Staff
The Trump White House and its allies, over the past 18 months, assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust — and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them — according to more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort who spoke to Axios.
Driving the news: By the time President Trump instructed his 29-year-old former body man and new head of presidential personnel to rid his government of anti-Trump officials, he'd gathered reams of material to support his suspicions.
In reporting this story, I have been briefed on, or reviewed, memos and lists the president received since 2018 suggesting whom he should hire and fire. Most of these details have never been published.
The big picture: Since Trump's Senate acquittal, aides say the president has crossed a psychological line regarding what he calls the "Deep State." He feels his government — from Justice to State to Defense to Homeland Security — is filled with "snakes." He wants them fired and replaced ASAP.
Let's get to the memos.
1. The Jessie Liu memo: Shortly before withdrawing the nomination of the former D.C. U.S. attorney for a top Treasury role, the president reviewed a memo on Liu's alleged misdeeds, according to a source with direct knowledge.
Between the lines: The Liu memo is not the first such memo to reach the president's desk — and there's a common thread in Groundswell, a conservative activist network that's headed by Thomas and whose members include Ledeen.
Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Over the past year, President Trump has told senior administration officials, including Attorney General Bill Barr, that he wants a major overhaul of national security surveillance powers and the secret court that approves them.
Behind the scenes: In one such discussion last year about the need to reauthorize government authorities to surveil U.S. citizens, Trump went so far as to say he'd rather get rid of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) altogether.
Why it matters: Key measures in FISA — including the business records provision, Section 215 — are set to expire on March 15.
Between the lines: Trump's discussions came several months before the Justice Department Inspector General released a scathing report about the abuses of the FISA process involved in the surveillance of Page.
Since at least last summer, officials in the Trump administration have been hotly debating the best way to turn Trump's instincts into policy. Domestic Policy Council head Joe Grogan has led an internal process to develop reform options, per sources briefed on the effort.
Members of Congress — including Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Steve Daines and Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Patrick Leahy — have been working on legislation to reform FISA.
But, but: This wouldn't be Trump's first bait-and-switch on FISA. On Jan. 11, 2018, hours before a vote on warrantless FISA surveillance, Trump tweeted that the authorities had been used "to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign."
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Effective tomorrow, the U.S. will begin blocking more foreigners from obtaining green cards and some visas based on the Trump administration's guesses about what kind of people they'll become and whether they may ever burden taxpayers, Axios' Stef Kight reports.
Why it matters: The long-expected "public charge" rule effectively creates a wealth and health test, which could keep hundreds of thousands of people from making the U.S. their legal home.
Factors that could potentially hurt an immigrant's chances at a green card:
Go deeper: Read Stef's full story in the Axios stream
Courtesy of The Big Tent Project
The Big Tent Project, a Democratic political group focused on promoting moderate presidential candidates, has sent hundreds of thousands of mailers bashing Bernie Sanders to black voters in South Carolina who voted in the state's 2016 Democratic primary, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.
Why it matters: Sanders' rise to the top of the pack, as dueling moderate candidates split their side of the vote, is worrying many in the Democratic political establishment who fear a democratic socialist can't beat President Trump.
What's next: Sanders' performance in South Carolina will test how far he's come in gaining the support of black voters and whether it's enough to deprive Joe Biden of the comeback critical to his campaign’s survival.
Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images
The House returns Tuesday and will vote on a series of bills this week, including the Veterans Affairs Reporting Transparency Act. It would direct the VA secretary to establish a website to let the public obtain electronic copies of legislatively requested reports, Alayna writes.
The Senate returns Monday and will consider the following nominations this week, per a Republican leadership aide:
They will also vote on:
President Trump's schedule, per a White House official: