Welcome to Sneak Peek, our weekly lookahead for both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus our best scoops.
Tonight's newsletter is 1,537 words, 6 minutes.
Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Ed Jones/AFP, Saul Loeb/AFP, Brendan Smialowski/AFP, and Sergei Gapon/AFP all via Getty Images
In his sharpest criticism yet of his old workplace, John Bolton suggested the Trump administration is bluffing about stopping North Korea's nuclear ambitions — and soon might need to admit publicly that its policy failed badly.
Why now? The president's former national security adviser, who served until September, is speaking out ahead of an end-of-year timetable.
If Kim Jong-un follows through on his threatened Christmas provocation, Bolton says the White House should do something "that would be very unusual" for this administration: admit they got it wrong on North Korea.
Why it matters: Kim is back on his white horse, and the North Korean nuclear threat may be greater than ever, analysts say.
Bolton, who has advocated for a more aggressive North Korea strategy, also criticized Trump for saying earlier this year that Kim's short-range missile tests don't bother him.
The big picture: The imminent threats from North Korea seem a world away from June 2018, when Trump returned from his Singapore summit with Kim to boast, "There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea."
Go deeper: Read the full story about Trump's North Korea policy amid Kim Jong-un's fresh threats.
Buttigieg at the December presidential debate, Dec. 19. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
In a recent email exchange with a wealthy prospective donor, a top fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg made an offer that was unusually blunt — even by modern pay-to-play standards.
Why it matters: Brendan Fischer at the campaign finance watchdog the Campaign Legal Center said the Buttigieg fundraiser's pitch "is an example of a campaign offering potential donors an opportunity to buy influence."
The prospective donor was also disturbed by the solicitation. "It's very telling and concerning that one of the campaign's major bundlers would talk like that," said the donor, who asked not to be named.
Sean Savett, a Buttigieg campaign spokesperson responded: "The campaign did not see or authorize the language in this email. But it is ridiculous to interpret it as anything more than asking potential supporters who may be interested in Pete to join our campaign before caucusing and voting begins."
The big picture: Buttigieg's fundraising tactics have emerged as a major issue in the 2020 Democratic primary. Left-wing rivals of the South Bend mayor, Warren and Bernie Sanders, have refused to attend private fundraisers with wealthy donors and have said Buttigieg's style of fundraising breeds corruption.
Go deeper: Read the full story about the Buttigieg campaign's fundraising tactics.
Nancy Pelosi presides of votes on the second article of impeachment, Dec. 18. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
"Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who labeled Mr. McConnell a 'rogue' majority leader because of his openly hostile attitude toward the House impeachment proceedings, has held off on sending the House articles across the Capitol. First, she says, she wants to make certain fair ground rules are set for the Senate proceedings," per NYT.
Why it matters: "Democrats hope the procedural fight keeps the spotlight squarely on Mr. McConnell — who has already declared himself 'not an impartial juror' — and makes other Senate Republicans queasy about shutting down witnesses when many Americans would expect such testimony as a standard part of any trial."
Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
The House and Senate are out for Christmas.
President Trump will spend the Christmas period at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.
"We’ll have an economy based on wind. I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much. I've studied it better than anybody I know. It's very expensive. They're made in China and Germany mostly — very few made here, almost none. But they're manufactured tremendous — if you're into this — tremendous fumes. Gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, right? So the world is tiny compared to the universe. So tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything. You talk about the carbon footprint — fumes are spewing into the air. Right? Spewing. Whether it's in China, Germany, it's going into the air. It's our air, their air, everything — right?— From the White House transcript of President Trump's speech to the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach on Saturday.
The Democratic presidential candidates participate in the last debate of 2019. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images
"The live feed of the sixth Democratic presidential debate was cut without warning in China Thursday night during a discussion on allegations of human rights abuses in the country's western region of Xinjiang," per CNN.
The big picture: "Censors regularly screen live broadcasts on international media networks in China, ready to cut any segment from the air if it is deemed politically sensitive by the ruling Communist Party."