Welcome to Sneak Peek, our weekly lookahead for both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus our best scoops.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
President Trump has suggested to national security officials that the U.S. should station Navy ships along the Venezuelan coastline to prevent goods from coming in and out of the country, according to 5 current and former officials who have either directly heard the president discuss the idea or have been briefed on Trump's private comments.
Driving the news: Trump has been raising the idea of a naval blockade periodically for at least a year and a half, and as recently as several weeks ago, these officials said.
In private, Trump has expressed himself more vividly, these current and former officials say.
Hawkish GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, has a different perspective about the value of a show of military force. "I've been saying for months that when the Venezuelan military sees an American military presence gathering force, this thing ends pretty quickly," he told me.
Behind the scenes: In recent months, an alleged drug lord in President Nicolás Maduro's inner circle has reached out to the White House through intermediaries, according to administration officials and other sources briefed on the outreach.
The big picture: Thus far, Trump has sought to strangle dictator Maduro with escalating sanctions. Senior administration officials say they are focused on diplomacy and economic pressure and have little interest in military options, though they won't rule them out.
Go deeper: Read my full story on Trump's Venezuela deliberations. The story includes details of a classified memo requesting military options that has never been reported until now.
Photo: drnadig/Getty Images
If new gun legislation doesn't pass in September, it won't get done before the 2020 election, sources involved in the talks between the White House and Capitol Hill tell Axios' Alayna Treene and me.
State of play: The president genuinely wants to expand background checks, according to White House and Hill officials. He's directed the Domestic Policy Council and Office of Legislative Affairs to provide him with options for a reform package, these sources said.
Behind the scenes: The president's outside lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, says that he and Trump have discussed the need for "a bigger debate" over how much a psychiatrist is able to share from sessions with their patients.
Giuliani also argued that the controversial New York "stop, question and frisk" policy is an effective deterrent for illegal gun owners.
Worth noting: It's unclear how serious these discussions were. Two White House officials said they hadn't heard anything about bringing psychiatrists into the larger gun debate.
Go deeper: Read our full story on the latest gun deliberations inside the White House and on Capitol Hill.
David Bossie, who Axios exposed as milking elderly donors by flaunting President Trump's name, is trying to repair and revive his controversial fundraising operation, Alayna reports.
The bottom line: Bossie told Alayna he suspended fundraising after Axios revealed that very little of the money he was raising actually went to political campaigns. Trump was livid about the news, and Bossie retreated.
Behind the scenes: Bossie claimed he directed his political group, the Presidential Coalition, to cease all fundraising on May 7, 2 days after Axios published the findings of its investigation, done in collaboration with the Campaign Legal Center (CLC).
The big picture: We crunched the numbers, with the help of CLC, and they show Bossie's group still spends only a tiny percentage of the money it raises to boost Trump and his allies.
The fallout: Bossie said his group is "currently redesigning our fundraising programs, because of my longstanding relationship with the president and because of my desire to only help the president and the administration."
Go deeper: Read Alayna's full story in the Axios stream.
White House economic adviser Peter Navarro on CNN's "State of the Union," Aug. 18. Photo: CNN
Stow these forecasts — from President Trump's top economic advisers — in your time capsules:
"I'll tell you what, I sure don't see a recession."— Larry Kudlow on NBC News' "Meet the Press," Sunday, Aug. 18
"[Tariffs] are not hurting anybody here … OK? They're hurting China."— Peter Navarro on CNN's "State of the Union," Sunday, Aug. 18
"Democrats seeking the White House are starting to focus on issues facing Native Americans: Native American voter turnout has ticked upward in the last several elections, and while Native Americans make up a small slice of the electorate, they overwhelmingly support Democrats," the Des Moines Register's Ledyard King and Shelby Fleig report.
Why this matters: "An increase in Native American voters in key battleground states could overcome the margins of victory President Donald Trump earned in Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and North Carolina, native activists said," per the article.
Between the lines: One of the Democratic candidates attending the forum, Elizabeth Warren, claimed for years that she was Native American and even took a DNA test — a stunt that backfired when it showed only the most distant lineage and offended some tribal leaders.
Photo: lucky-photographer/Getty Images
The House and Senate are out of session until Labor Day.
President Trump's schedule, per a White House official:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren addresses a crowd at a town hall event on Aug. 17 in Aiken, South Carolina. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images
The New York Times' Shane Goldmacher, K.K. Rebecca Lai and Rachel Shorey reported an illuminating, graphic-rich story on the 2020 Democrats' money race.
A detail that stood out: