Dec 6, 2020

Axios Sneak Peek

Welcome to Sneak Peek, our nightly lookahead from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus our best scoops. Remember: We're now running Monday through Thursday, too.

⚡️Situational awareness: Rudy Giuliani has tested positive for COVID-19, President Trump tweeted this afternoon.

📺 Kayleigh McEnany may not admit Trump lost the election, but she's worried about Kamala Harris casting tie-breaking votes in the Senate (scroll to 3:06 mark).

Today's newsletter — edited by Axios contributor Glen Johnson — is 644 words, a 2½-minute read.

1 big thing: Trump's wild exit

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump is considering a made-for-TV grand finale: a White House departure on Marine One and final Air Force One flight to Florida for a political rally opposite Joe Biden's inauguration, sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: The former network star is privately discussing using his waning powers as commander in chief to order up the exit he wants after dissing Biden by refusing to concede the election, welcome him to the White House or commit to attending his inauguration.

The big picture: The Trump talk could create a split-screen moment: the outgoing president addressing a roaring crowd in an airport hangar while the incoming leader is sworn in before a socially distanced audience outside the Capitol, as NBC News first reported.

  • Immediately announcing he is running for re-election in 2024 would set up four years of Trump playing Biden's critic-in-chief.
  • The visual also would embody the vast difference in the two leaders' approaches to the pandemic.
  • And flying off from the South Lawn before landing in Florida would let Trump escape protests, the normal pleasantries of welcoming the incoming president to the White House — and sitting there while Biden takes the oath of office.

The Trump campaign declined to comment on his plans.

2. "Amtrak Joe's" inaugural arrival

Joe Biden stood on a platform in Wilmington, Del., in 1988 before taking a train back to Washington after being treated for a brain aneurysm. Photo: Joe McNally/Getty Images

There's talk within Bidenworld of the president-elect ditching the typical flourish of arriving in Washington on an Air Force plane, pulling in instead on the same Amtrak train he rode to and from Delaware for 30 years as a senator.

Why it matters: A train trip would be very on-brand for "Amtrak Joe." It also would mirror Barack Obama, who rode into Washington on a vintage railcar in January 2009.

Sources involved in the planning tell me Biden plans to forgo the traditional inaugural balls and parades because of the coronavirus, choosing instead to celebrate with close family and advisers.

Both Donald Trump and George W. Bush came to D.C. on the Air Force version of a Boeing 757.

  • While not the bigger 747 that ferries a president as Air Force One, the planes gave a preview of coming attractions. They were emblazoned in the presidential blue-and-white paint job and the words "United States of America."
3. The only Trump thing Biden wants to keep

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden disagrees with most of President Trump's foreign policy initiatives, but several of his advisers tell Axios' Barak Ravid and me that there is one he plans to keep: the Abraham Accords.

Why it matters: Continuing to push the Abraham Accords — the biblical branding the administration has given to the individual normalization agreements between Israel and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — could help Biden build positive relationships with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders in the Persian Gulf.

The endgame: Biden could use additional deals to induce Netanyahu to take steps toward preserving the option of a two-state solution — the way Trump got Bibi to kill the annexation of the West Bank in return for his agreement with the UAE.

The Obama administration had said Arab states would only make peace with Israel as a group, and only after it reached an agreement with the Palestinians.

  • Now, Dan Shapiro, former U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Obama, tells me normalizing ties one by one "is something Biden made clear during the campaign that he embraces. He said he'll push it forward, and they’ll try to get other Arab states to do the same thing."
  • "It might be the only Trump foreign policy initiative that Biden has had something positive to say about," one adviser said.

Go deeper.

4. Tracking Biden's Cabinet nominees

We'll be updating this chart as Joe Biden continues to announce nominees for top administration roles. Bookmark this link for more.

5. Sneak Peek diary

The national Christmas tree and the White House, Dec. 4. Photo: Xinhua/Liu Jie via Getty Images

Congress has a very ambitious legislative agenda on tap this week:

  • Pass the National Defense Authorization Act.
  • Pass a spending deal by Friday to avert a government shutdown.
  • Strike a deal on coronavirus stimulus.

The House is scheduled to break for recess on Friday — a very short timeline to tackle these massive pieces of legislation.

  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says he will keep members in town if needed, but he is pushing for them to leave on Dec. 11 so they have enough time to quarantine before spending the holidays with their families.

The Senate may consider joint resolutions of disapproval of the arms sales to the UAE that followed its peace treaty with Israel, per a Republican leadership aide.

6. Pic of the day

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