Welcome to Sneak Peek, our weekly lookahead for both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus my best scoops.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
The president is giving a speech on the environment on Monday. And some people think that's a little weird. Two senior administration officials told me they were surprised when they first heard that President Trump would be giving a speech about his administration's "environmental leadership." Both said the president probably won't win a public debate on environmentalism, given he's spent much of his time in office proudly repealing President Obama's environmental regulations.
White House response: Judd Deere, a WH spokesman, pushed back on this characterization, saying there was "broad consensus at the leadership level" of the White House and the EPA "to put the facts out on the president's record and what this administration is doing. There should be no surprise about this speech. We've been discussing internally for weeks."
Behind the scenes: Administration sources with direct knowledge confirmed that Ivanka Trump encouraged the president to make a public case for his environmental record. These officials also said Brooke Rollins, a presidential adviser who is close to Kushner, has helped with Monday's speech.
Between the lines: Aides say we shouldn't expect Trump to do a backflip and declare that, suddenly, he's become deeply concerned about climate change. When Axios interviewed the president in October, he pooh-poohed the findings of his own government's scientists, who reported that human activities are the dominant cause of global warming observed since the mid-20th century.
What to expect: Axios' Amy Harder writes that "one of the most common environmental talking points of Trump administration officials is that natural gas has lowered America's carbon emissions and is cleaning up the air for countries around the world importing U.S. gas."
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
On Tuesday, Joe Biden told his advisers he wanted to give a speech in South Carolina to address, and preempt, the mounting attacks on his record concerning race and civil rights. Sources close to Biden told me he was still rewriting the draft on Saturday in the car en route to Sumter, South Carolina, where he gave the speech to a mostly black audience.
Between the lines: Biden's interview with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and his speech on Saturday signaled a more assertive approach from the Democratic front-runner.
Behind the scenes: Advisers say Biden was ready for Sen. Bernie Sanders to attack him on the debate stage for being insufficiently progressive, as his camp hinted it would come. Biden anticipated that busing might come up in the debate, aides said, but they said he did not expect Harris to misleadingly imply that he opposed the local voluntary busing that took her to school as a child.
Iran's Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said in a press conference that Iran will begin enriching uranium beyond the cap set by the nuclear deal "in a few hours," July 7. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
As the Iranian economy craters, Tehran and its proxies are lashing out in increasingly aggressive ways. In just the past month:
Between the lines: A senior administration official told me on Sunday they thought Iran has made a "miscalculation" by believing that "if they started being provocative the effort [from the U.S. and Europeans] would be to de-escalate at all costs."
Why this matters, from Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies: "This escalation will be a case study in risk-taking for Tehran. That's why the Western response matters so much."
Photo: liveslow/Getty Images
Senior administration officials told me on Saturday afternoon that they expected the president to take executive action early this week to force the citizenship question onto the 2020 Census.
Behind the scenes: As recently as Wednesday afternoon, administration lawyers, both in the White House Counsel's Office and in the Justice Department, did not even consider an executive order to be a realistic option, according to two sources with direct knowledge. And administration lawyers remain skeptical an executive order would pass muster at the Supreme Court, these sources told me.
The opinions of former Federal Judge J. Michael Luttig have been brought to the president's attention, per sources close to Trump.
Photo: Stefan Zaklin/Getty Images
The House will take up the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act — must-pass legislation that outlines defense budgets and policies, per a senior Democratic aide. This legislation will take up most of the week given there are roughly 300 amendments to the bill.
The Senate plans to consider four tax treaties that were reported out of the Foreign Relations committee in late June, per a Republican leadership aide. The aide said the Senate will also confirm the following nominees in this order:
President Trump's schedule, per a White House official:
A new book on Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation process discloses that the White House held a secret mock hearing for Kavanaugh after allegations of sexual assault against him broke — which leaked to the press before it was even finished, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.
What they're saying: In the forthcoming book — "Justice on Trial," out Tuesday — the Judicial Crisis Network's Carrie Severino and The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway write that Kavanaugh's team was wary of leaks, but that those leading the confirmation effort argued that the advantages of broadening the group involved in his preparation were "worth the risk."