Welcome to Sneak Peek, our weekly lookahead from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus our best scoops.
Tonight's newsletter is 2,090 words, an 8-minute read.
Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images
President Trump is leaning toward preserving his total funding cut for the World Health Organization after being on the brink of announcing he'd restore partial funding to the global health agency, according to three sources familiar with the situation.
Behind the scenes: Trump spent his weekend at Camp David with some of his closest Republican allies in the House of Representatives. A source familiar with the private discussions said that House members at Camp David pressed Trump "to not give a dime to WHO."
The big picture: Last month, Trump shocked the world by announcing he was freezing U.S. funding to the WHO, pending an investigation into the global health agency and its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has eviscerated the organization, describing it as controlled by China and grossly negligent in the early days of the outbreak. He has also used the issue to deflect from criticisms of his own handling of the virus.
Between the lines: Until late last week, Trump was planning to announce that the U.S. would restore partial funding to the WHO. He was amenable to the idea of keeping a small amount of funding — around 10% of the U.S.' current roughly $400 million annual spend — so the U.S. could maintain some influence over the organization.
Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Pool/Getty Images
Don't be fooled by the grandmotherly demeanor and whimsical scarf collection. Administration officials say they've been taken aback by Deborah Birx's masterful political skills — including a preternatural ability to get what she wants while telling people what they want to hear.
Behind the scenes: Senior officials said a conversation in the Situation Room several weeks ago crystallized the differences between the White House's top two doctors.
In the Situation Room, Birx was very critical of the WHO and its relationship with China. She said the institution badly needed reform, according to two sources in the room. In subsequent TV appearances, however, she sang a different tune. She was far less harsh about the WHO than behind closed doors, according to one official.
Between the lines: The episode highlights the starkly different approaches Birx and Fauci have taken to wielding influence in the Trump White House. Fauci speaks his mind with little if any considerations of politics. Colleagues say Birx strategically emphasizes the points Trump wants to hear — and she can play multiple angles on any given issue.
President Trump speaks during a coronavirus press briefing, May 11. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
The White House Coronavirus Task Force is shifting its focus to be more in line with Trump's emphasis on reopening.
Driving the news: On Friday, the task force added officials who are experts on the economy and on vaccines and therapeutics. These included Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and NIH director Francis Collins.
Behind the scenes: After reading a New York Times article that criticized his decision to shut down the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the president decided to keep it running indefinitely. An aide said that was for public relations purposes.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
For months, Democrats have been attacking President Trump over his national coronavirus response — but a new digital campaign is about to test how much more potent the argument becomes when it's targeted to individual states and communities, Axios' Margaret Talev reports.
Details: The $1.5 million buy from Pacronym, a super PAC with ties to President Obama's former campaign manager and strategist David Plouffe, is running on digital platforms in five battleground states — Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
What they're saying: Shannon Kowalczyk, Pacronym's chief marketing officer, tells Axios in an email that the campaign will amplify "so many stories from around the country of small businesses who are struggling to get relief as large corporations and chains receive bailouts from the Trump administration" and "how that has impacted our local economies."
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The House will work remotely through May 27, per a Democratic leadership aide. However, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Friday that some members may return to Washington this week for committee meetings, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.
The Senate will vote on the following nominees, per a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:
President Trump's schedule, per a White House official:
Donald Trump Jr. visits SiriusXM Studios, Feb. 13, New York City. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images
Donald Trump Jr. has spent his quarantine vacuuming up cash for the GOP.
Here's how the Trump campaign and Congressional candidates have deployed him over the last month:
What's next: On Monday, Don Jr. will launch what's called a "Team Page" on the Republican Party's fundraising platform, WinRed. His page, "Don Jr's #MAGA candidates of the week," will direct his followers to donate to his favored House and Senate candidates. The candidates and the Trump campaign will split the cash.
Why it matters: As Joe Biden has admitted, he has some catching up to do when it comes to digital campaigning. The Washington Post's David Weigel recently signed up for alerts from both the Trump and the Biden campaigns, and he concluded that the Trump campaign is running circles around Biden online.
From his new book — which will soon hit the Fox News opinion circuit — here's the former acting attorney general Matt Whitaker musing over why he didn't fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller:
"Should I have fired Mueller once I realized the Special Counsel’s office was sitting on its findings long after its determinations had been made? Doing so might have been legally justifiable, but it would have been politically catastrophic for the White House, and, I reasoned, a replacement for Mueller would perhaps even extend the investigation in order to justify his appointment. The President never asked me to fire Mueller, but if he had, I would have advised against it. Would I have liked to rein in the Mueller investigation and save the country millions of wasted taxpayer dollars? Of course, but I doubted it could be done without an even greater uproar and possibly even greater damage to our country. The President and the American people deserved to have this behind them."