Welcome to Sneak Peek, our weekly lookahead for both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus our best scoops.
Situational awareness: Defense Secretary Mark Esper asked for Navy secretary Richard Spencer's resignation today after losing confidence in him over his handling of the case of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher. Go deeper.
Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde. Photos: Pool/Getty Images
When Gordon Sondland arrived at the Trump fundraising breakfast at Manhattan's Cipriani restaurant on Dec. 7, 2016, he had trouble getting in. Sondland hadn't sent his RSVP, he hadn't sent any money and the Secret Service had not cleared him to enter.
Behind the scenes: Sondland had another problem that December morning. He was ready to spend big to get back into Trump's good graces and had brought with him checks totaling $1 million, made out from multiple LLCs. But donors at this breakfast were legally only allowed to give a maximum of $5,000 each.
Sondland, blocked from entering the breakfast, called Eli Miller, who had worked as a Trump campaign fundraiser and would go on to become chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
The big picture: After contributing $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee, Sondland was still so alienated from key Republican officials that it took him more than a year to achieve his goal of becoming an ambassador.
For the next year, Sondland kept pushing. He rounded up prominent Republicans outside the White House and pressed administration officials to advocate for him. He eventually was entered into consideration for a diplomatic post.
Sondland's attorney, Robert Luskin, declined to comment.
Erdoğan listens to translators as he meets with Trump and senators in the Oval Office, Nov. 13. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Many were perplexed and outraged when, right after clashing with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a heated Oval Office meeting on Nov. 13, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham hurried back to the Senate floor and did something that likely delighted Erdoğan. Graham blocked a resolution that would have formally recognized Turkey's genocide of the Armenian people.
Behind the scenes: Graham had just scolded Erdoğan over his invasion of Syria and attacks on the Kurds, according to sources in the room.
What happened next, which has not been previously reported: As Graham was leaving the Oval Office, senior White House staff asked him to return to the Senate and block the Armenian genocide resolution — a measure that would have infuriated Erdoğan.
Asked whether he felt uncomfortable blocking the Armenian genocide resolution, Graham replied: "Yeah. Because I like Bob [Menendez]. He's been working on this for years, but I did think with the president of Turkey in town that was probably more than the market would bear."
The "next time" happened last week. Menendez and his Republican Senate colleague Ted Cruz introduced the Armenian genocide resolution again. This time, the White House asked another Republican Senate ally, David Perdue, to block it.
The big picture: The Trump administration is pushing Turkey to give up its Russian-made S-400 air defense system. While they're negotiating, they're trying to block Congress from calling out Turkey’s human rights atrocities.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The Trump administration is pushing for a monthly cap on what seniors pay out-of-pocket for drugs through Medicare's pharmacy benefit to be added to a bipartisan drug pricing bill in the Senate, a senior administration official told Axios' Caitlin Owens and me.
The big picture: The cost of prescription drugs is still a top priority of the administration, even amidst all of the impeachment furor — and the president could very much use a big win on the subject heading into the 2020 election.
Between the lines: One unexpected side effect of impeachment is that it has dragged drug prices to the front of Trump's mind again, the official said.
Details: The Grassley-Wyden bill currently caps enrollee cost-sharing in Part D at $3,100 a year beginning in 2022. The official said the administration is working with members to spread that cap out on a monthly basis.
Go deeper: Sign up for Vitals for much more on this tomorrow — including an update on the international pricing index.
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Pete Buttigieg's term as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, ends in January — freeing up the rising 2020 competitor’s schedule and opening the doors to new potential fundraising avenues just weeks before the Iowa caucuses, Axios' Ursula Perano reports.
What's happening: Buttigieg hasn't been tied to his desk, but hometown responsibilities have occasionally taken him off the trail. Most notably, he paused campaigning in June after an officer-involved shooting of a black man sparked protests throughout his town.
Buttigieg counts many fans on Wall Street. But policies at several financial institutions limit employees from donating to sitting politicians when the transaction could be interpreted as pay-to-play.
What to watch: Buttigieg's hand-picked successor will be sworn in on Jan. 1. The Iowa caucuses are on Feb. 3.
Around a month ago, President Trump started asking people about Jenna Ellis. The constitutional law attorney appears frequently on Fox and joined the Trump 2020 Advisory Board about a year ago.
Behind the scenes: About a month ago, Ellis and Trump spoke for the first time by phone. She met with Trump in the Oval Office the week of Veteran's Day, according to sources familiar with their interactions.
Ellis has had a limited public profile. She has blogged for the Washington Examiner and spent a year as the head of the Dobson Policy Center, which is part of the James Dobson Family Institute. Dobson is a prominent evangelical Christian leader, and Ellis has written about the intersection of faith and politics.
Photo: C.E. Seo/Getty Images
The House and Senate are on recess until the week of Dec. 2.
President Trump's schedule, per a White House official:
Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde. Photos: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
Twenty years ago next month, a political novice and former KGB operative named Vladimir Putin assumed the Russian presidency.
In a special report launching tomorrow, my colleague Dave Lawler explores Putin's rise, his escalating hostility toward the West, the Russia he's built and what will happen to it once he's gone.
"He's able to be in your eyes what you want him to be," Khodorkovsky tells Axios of Putin. "The only thing I can say in my defense is that I wasn't the only person who was deceived by him."