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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
On election night 2016, shortly after Donald Trump's team realized he would win the presidency, Michael Cohen told a handful of people on the 14th floor of Trump Tower about his own dreams for the future — to be mayor of New York.
"This is the beginning of a dynasty," Cohen told the group, according to a source who heard him.
Surprised by the remark, one of the people asked Trump's longtime personal attorney that if by "dynasty" he meant Ivanka or Don Junior was going to get the political bug next.
Later that night, around 3:30 a.m., the Trump team was leaving its victory party at the Hilton Hotel on Manhattan's 6th Avenue. In the hotel, escalators took the crowd from the party down to the lobby. A member of Trump's entourage saw Cohen near the bottom of the escalator and yelled out: "Cohen for mayor!"
Cohen appeared to have no idea who said it, but looked over his shoulder and pumped his fist in the air.
Why this matters: The scene highlights the hubris of one of Trump's closest confidants in the hours after the election victory — and the extraordinary nature of his fall.
Postscript: A second source told me that in the months after the election, Cohen asked their advice about setting up a campaign to run for New York City mayor. But he never ended up challenging Bill de Blasio.
President Trump boards Marine One en route to Camp David. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
One of the under-reported ways Donald Trump has changed Washington: Deadlines suddenly matter.
We saw it last week when Trump hit allies — the European Union, Mexico and Canada — with steep steel and aluminum tariffs. Trump had announced these tariffs back in March, but exempted some key trading partners. Trade lawyers and lobbyists following the situation told me they expected Trump to extend the deadlines when they expired on June 1, rather than throw these key relationships into further turmoil.
John Stipicevic, a lobbyist with pulse of House Republican conference (formerly Kevin McCarthy's floor director), told me this trend became so stark to him that he sent a note to clients on Friday warning them about it.
What's next: At the end of September, government funding is set to expire and Congress will ask Trump to sign another deal. Hill Republicans want Trump to sign a short-term funding bill, rather than shut down the government so close to the midterms. But nobody I've spoken to is 100% confident he’ll do that.
The bottom line: A source close to Trump told me the line "but you said..." is one of the most powerful lines you can use with the president when he's considering going down a different policy path than the one he previously promised. "If I'm talking to him later in the year when they're talking about this, I'd be saying 'but you said...'"
House Speaker Paul Ryan casts his shadow on a glass door. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
In mid May, senior House Republican officials huddled at the Hyatt on the Chesapeake Bay to discuss their messaging plan to save the House majority.
One of their guest speakers was the well-respected election forecaster Charlie Cook, who founded the non-partisan "Cook Political Report." According to sources in the room, Cook gave the Republican staffers a bleak view of the midterms. He said he was deeply skeptical that simply touting the economic wonders of tax reform would be enough to save the House.
Sources in the room walked away with different impressions of Cook's presentation. A non-leadership source told me it should be a wake up call to leadership, who are fixated on using tax reform as a selling point to voters. But leadership sources disputed that to me, saying tax reform is just one message in their toolkit, though an important one.
The bottom line: Republicans have a heck of a hard job saving the House this year, as the president's party almost always loses seats in his first midterm. Trump's approval rating remains under water. Democrats are more energized than ever, and there are serious questions about whether Republicans will be motivated enough to show up and vote in the numbers required to save the House.
Photo: Zach Gibson/AFP via Getty Images
My Axios colleague Sam Baker reports that the Supreme Court has 29 cases to decide by the end of this month, including all of the term’s biggest blockbusters.
The big questions the court still has to resolve:
Why it matters: All of these cases have enormous political implications. Some, like the gerrymandering challenges, could directly and immediately affect the actual practice of politics.
The X-factor: As if this month wasn’t sufficiently full of drama, throw in the persistent speculation about whether Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire — giving Trump an opportunity to pull the court further to the right, especially on issues like LGBT rights.
What to watch: The court will issue rulings Monday at 10am. Until the very end, there’s no way of knowing which decisions will come down when. So all we know for sure is that we’re in for a dramatic and high-stakes June at the Supreme Court.
The House and Senate return from a weeklong break.
The House expects to vote on a water infrastructure bill and begins the 2019 appropriations process with a spending bill that combines funding for "Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs," according to a leadership source.
The Senate will confirm three more district judges and could begin consideration of National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) before the end of the week.
President Trump's schedule, per a White House official:
Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Unprompted, Rudy Giuliani brought up the word "impeachment" five times in his interview with NBC's Chuck Todd on today's "Meet the Press."
Giuliani repeatedly pointed out to Todd that while Trump has awesome powers as the boss of the executive branch, any move by this president to terminate the Mueller investigation or to pardon himself would likely lead to impeachment.
Why this matters: Several Trump allies have told me they think it's politically useful to talk about impeachment as much as possible between now and November.