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President Trump addresses the Project Safe Neighborhoods National Conference, Dec. 7, 2018. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
To prevent leaks from Trump's Friday night Mar-a-Lago speech to RNC donors, security guards made attendees put their cellphones in magnetized pouches that they carried around like purses until they left the club.
Some of his remarks raised eyebrows.
1. Referring to the recent anti-semitism controversies with Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, Trump told the donors: "The Democrats hate Jewish people."
2. Trump went off on what one guest called a "bizarre tangent." He described being home alone in the White House over Christmas "while the Democrats were in Hawaii."
Behind the scenes: The confab was for the RNC to update its donors on its activities. Secretaries Wilbur Ross and Linda McMahon attended, as did Don Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Guests munched on surf and turf under a tent with dangling chandeliers. Many of the private discussions turned to the 2020 race.
Tim Cook turned into "Tim Apple" on social media after a slip-up by President Trump. Photo: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images
Republican donors in attendance called it one of Trump's weirdest lies ever. On Friday night, under a tent erected over the pool at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, President Trump claimed the media were spreading "fake news" when they said he called the CEO of Apple "Tim Apple."
Two donors who were there told me they couldn't understand why the president would make such a claim given the whole thing is captured on video. Nobody cared, they said, and Tim Cook took it in good humor by changing his Twitter profile to Tim Apple.
"I just thought, why would you lie about that," one of the donors told me. "It doesn't even matter!"
Between the lines: This isn't the first time Trump has tried to persuade people not to trust video. As The New York Times first reported, Trump privately told a senator that the Access Hollywood tape, in which he talks about sexually assaulting women, was fake. (Trump had previously admitted the voice was his, and apologized for "locker room talk.")
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
The big picture: The plan — which acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and policy staff are developing, and which is in its early stages — would have Trump sign a series of executive orders on issues including education, drug pricing, the opioid epidemic and veterans affairs. Aides say the moves would appeal to Democrats and Republicans.
What's next? White House officials have already drafted some of these executive orders, and the White House Counsel's office has started vetting them. Officials familiar with the planning say they think most Americans will back them, as was the case with criminal justice reform.
The plan is still in its infancy, sources cautioned. "It gives the president the chance to take actions that go over the heads of and can be done without Congress," said a source familiar with the planning.
An early example of the strategy: On Tuesday, Trump signed an executive order "on a National Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End Suicide." The order called for a "Task Force," "roadmap" and "national research strategy" to "end the national tragedy of veteran suicide."
It's also an early example of the potential pitfalls. Task forces, road maps and national strategies don't exactly get people's blood running.
The emerging strategy assumes that Congress won't pass any legislation to advance Trump's agenda.
But it has some major, immediate hurdles.
1. The Trump administration will unveil the top-line figures from its 2020 budget on Monday.
2. Veto watch
OPEC headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Trump administration officials are divided over legislation that would allow the federal government to sue OPEC nations for attempting to control oil prices, Axios' Amy Harder has learned.
Driving the news: The bipartisan measure, which has been introduced many times over the last 20 years, finally has a shot at becoming law — which experts say would upend global oil markets. President Trump has long been critical of the oil-producing group, and years earlier he backed the bill in question, but division is rampant elsewhere across the government, according to several people familiar with the dynamic.
"Like many things in this administration, the bureaucracy is trying to slow roll things as much as possible to keep it away from the political decision makers."— David Goldwyn, former top energy official, President Obama's State Department
Goldwyn, now president of his own consulting firm, says the policy has the makings of everything Trump likes, including expanded executive branch power and a chance to show off America's energy dominance. "If he gets it, he'll sign it. If someone asks him, he'll say yes," Goldwyn said.
Details: The legislation at issue is called the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act (thus the apt acronym NOPEC). It would give the U.S. attorney general the ability to bring lawsuits against OPEC for perceived anti-competitive conduct with petroleum commodities. Previous attempts to sue OPEC have lost in court.
For the record: A senior administration official told Axios: "The administration does not have a position on NOPEC legislation at this time." Requests for comments to the Justice Department and OPEC weren’t returned.
Go deeper: Subscribe to the Axios Generate newsletter by clicking here to read Amy’s full Harder Line column tomorrow morning.
Mar-a-Lago. Photo: Wangkun Jia/Getty Images
This story could be a sleeper. Buried under last week's news, two pieces are worth following:
Why this matters: "The subpoena was served late Monday on the company, Aon, one of the largest insurance brokerage firms in the world. ... It came just days after Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer and lawyer, indicated in congressional testimony that the Trump Organization inflated the value of its assets to insurance companies," per the NYT.
Brett Kavanaugh sworn in as a Supreme Court justice, Oct. 08, 2018. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Brett Kavanaugh's defenders have a new project: a book to preempt several forthcoming books expected to describe allegations of sexual assault and their bearing on Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Carrie Severino and Mollie Hemingway — of Judicial Crisis Network and The Federalist, respectively — tell us they will release a book this summer offering a sympathetic, insider account of Kavanaugh's confirmation.
Photo: Henryk Sadura/Tetra Images/Getty Images
The House will frame the coming week as "Sunshine Week" — "focused on increasing government transparency and accountability," to follow their vote last week on sweeping anti-corruption legislation, according to senior House Democratic aides.
The Senate will confirm Neomi Rao to be a judge on the District of Columbia Circuit. It's a significant win for Trump after a rocky confirmation process for Rao.
President Trump's schedule, per a White House official: