Welcome to Sneak Peek, our weekly lookahead for both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus my best scoops. I'd love your tips and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org. And please urge your friends and colleagues to join the conversation by signing up for Sneak Peek.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Axios has obtained a leaked draft of a Trump administration bill — ordered by the president himself — that would declare America’s abandonment of fundamental World Trade Organization rules.
The details: The bill, titled the "United States Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act," would give Trump unilateral power to ignore the two most basic principles of the WTO and negotiate one-on-one with any country:
"It would be the equivalent of walking away from the WTO and our commitments there without us actually notifying our withdrawal," said a source familiar with the bill.
Behind the scenes: Trump was briefed on this draft in late May, according to sources familiar with the situation. Most officials involved in the bill's drafting — with the notable exception of hardline trade adviser Peter Navarro — think the bill is unrealistic or unworkable. USTR, Commerce and the White House are involved.
White House response: Spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said, "It is no secret that POTUS has had frustrations with the unfair imbalance of tariffs that put the U.S. at a disadvantage. He has asked his team to develop ideas to remedy this situation and create incentives for countries to lower their tariffs. The current system gives the U.S. no leverage and other countries no incentive."
Be smart: Congress is already concerned with how Trump has been using his trade authorities — just look at recent efforts by Republican Sens. Bob Corker and Pat Toomey and Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet to roll back the president's steel and aluminum tariffs.
Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
This leaked bill is part of a much larger story: Trump's war on multilateral, global institutions and agreements. Some of these, like the World Trade Organization, form the core of the post-World War Two international order.
Trump has expressed skepticism, and in some cases outright hostility towards NATO, the European Union, the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the Group of Seven (G7). He's already withdrawn the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Iran deal, and the Paris climate accord, and has seriously contemplated terminating NAFTA.
Between the lines: Michael Wessel, a China hawk who's worked on trade for more than 30 years, channels the Trump-Navarro thinking behind getting aggressive with the WTO, such as through the legislation we reported in item 1.
The Washington Post spread from Saturday.
Top Supreme Court contender Brett Kavanaugh received the worst imaginable treatment in The Washington Post on Saturday: a giant photograph of him taking the oath beside George W. Bush coupled with a photo of him hugging Karl Rove.
But, but, but: If Trump reads the article accompanying the pictures, he'll find a lot to like. The opening paragraph points out that Kavanaugh "has argued that presidents should not be distracted by civil lawsuits, criminal investigations or even questions from a prosecutor or defense attorney while in office." (Catch that, Robert Mueller?)
What's next? Trump will spend much of the next week interviewing candidates to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, according to a senior administration official.
What we're hearing: Despite Ted Cruz pitching hard for him, sources close to Trump tell me Utah Sen. Mike Lee has approximately a zero percent chance of being picked as Trump's next Supreme Court justice.
Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images
Democrats plan to make health care the central issue in their fight to oppose whomever Trump picks to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.
Democrats plan to keep hammering two arguments:
Why this matters: Democrats believe these arguments will resonate with voters whom polls show are already worried about their health care under Republican leadership. Democrats also think they'll resonate with the swing vote senators needed to confirm Kennedy's replacement — many of whom support abortion rights and voted against Trump's efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Go deeper: Read Axios' Sam Baker on the Trump Justice Department's decision to not defend the Affordable Care Act in court, including "the provision of the law that forces insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions."
In today's Fox News interview between Maria Bartiromo and President Trump:
In today's CBS interview between "Face the Nation" host Margaret Brennan and national security adviser John Bolton:
Photo: Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images
Those who speak in public on behalf of Donald J. Trump have all developed their own phrases to try to tread that tightrope between maintaining integrity and not angering or defying the boss. Sean Spicer's catchphrase was "the tweet speaks for itself." Sarah Sanders is understandably a big fan of "I'd refer you back to the president’s outside counsel."
Now, it looks like John Bolton is developing a good one: "That's not the position of the United States."
From today's CBS interview between "Face the Nation" host Margaret Brennan and Trump's national security adviser:
Flashback: Axios, June 28 — In his private meeting with G7 heads of state, Trump told the leaders "NATO is as bad as NAFTA" after saying earlier in the conversation that Crimea probably should belong to Russia because everyone there speaks Russian.
Congress is out for the July 4th holiday.
President Trump's schedule, per a White House official:
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
During his year and a bit as Trump's chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn tried many different tactics to persuade the president why some of his most hardwired instincts on trade were, in Cohn's view, misguided.
In one memorable Oval Office meeting, Cohn told a fictional story about Trump's Scottish golf course to explain why Trump shouldn't try to remove a key protection in international trade deals, according to three sources familiar with the meeting.
Cohn said to Trump: "Mr. President, think about your golf course at Turnberry. If a bunch of birds started nesting in the bunker on the 18th hole and they were an endangered species, what if the town of Turnberry decided to close down the 18th hole to protect the endangered species?
What happened next: Trump's trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer interjected and said Cohn's golf course example was "ridiculous." Then Trump agreed it was ridiculous and went off on a tangent about what a magnificent property Turnberry was, how it was "one of the greatest places in the world," and mentioned all the things he'd done for Scotland, meaning this imaginary situation would "never happen."
Why this matters: The fight over whether to keep the investor-state dispute settlement (or ISDS) is a major sticking point in the Trump administration's NAFTA negotiations with Canada and Mexico.
Ya can't make it up: The Trump Panama Hotel is in a commercial dispute involving the Panamanian government. The Trump Organization's lawyers are invoking rights under the countries' investment treaty and threatening to bring a claim for damages.