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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
During White House discussions about renewable energy, President Trump has declared — more than once and to the amusement of senior administration officials — "I hate the wind!"
And yet, Axios' Amy Harder writes that the Trump administration is working hard to promote wind farms up and down the Atlantic Coast.
Why this matters: The Trump administration's energy policies reveal an extraordinary gap between the president and his administration.
"His policy is, wherever he goes he likes what they have," said a source with direct knowledge of the internal White House energy discussions. "Even if it's contrary to what he said at the last place. He basically just tells everyone what they want to hear; that's his energy policy."
But the deeper Axios dives into Trump's energy policies, the more we find an administration twisted in ideological knots:
1. In private conversations with administration officials, Trump has said he loves hydroelectricity. And yet, he hasn't publicly supported what would help the most: legislation in Congress speeding up the federal licensing process.
2. Trump touts his deregulatory efforts — and they have been substantial — but in two huge areas he's doing the opposite:
"The biggest contradiction," the source with direct knowledge of the internal discussions said, is that "Trump will literally say 'we'll save coal' and in the next sentence that we'll become 'energy independent.' You can't do both. The natural gas boom is coming at the expense of coal."
Go deeper: Read the full story in the Axios stream.
Photo: Carlos Tischler/Getty Images
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will lay down an important marker for China in a speech on Monday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Indo-Pacific Business Forum. Pompeo won't say this explicitly, but he'll subtly tell China's neighbors they don't have to choose Chinese investment over American investment.
Axios has been briefed on the speech from a source with direct knowledge of its latest contents, as of early Sunday evening. Pompeo is expected to frame the speech as a discussion of the Trump administration’s "economic strategy for advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific."
The key line: "I am here to say emphatically that the Trump administration is expanding our economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific." (The Trump officials are expected to announce new initiatives to promote U.S. private sector investments in Asia, especially in energy, infrastructure and the digital economy, the source told me.)
Between the lines: Pompeo has a tough job selling the Trump administration's economic engagement in Asia. One of Trump's first acts as president was withdrawing the U.S. from the region's biggest trade deal — the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
China has been operating like a pay-day lender as it aggressively expands and lays down major investments around the world.
Behind the scenes: About a half-dozen Cabinet secretaries and agency heads, including Wilbur Ross and Rick Perry, will lay out the administration’s economic and commercial strategy for the Indo-Pacific at the event on Monday, the source said.
Photo: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images
Trump is obsessed with the FBI building. For months now, in meetings with White House officials and Senate appropriators intended to discuss big-picture spending priorities, the president rants about the graceless J. Edgar Hoover Building in downtown Washington, D.C.
Behind the scenes: In the midst of one rant about the FBI, he lit into the building. "Even the building is terrible," he observed to an Axios source. "It's one of the brutalist-type buildings, you know, brutalist architecture. Honestly, I think it's one of the ugliest buildings in the city."
The White House response: In response to my emails about this story, a senior official said, "POTUS has interest in the issue and has met with FBI officials, but more importantly the GSA [General Services Administration] team. GSA has concerns that the building can't be rehabilitated particularly given the security requirements and has relayed that to him."
Be smart: To risk stating the obvious, it's highly unusual for the president of the United States to micromanage a building project.
Photo: Olivier Douliery, Pool/Getty Images
President Trump tweeted this morning that he is "willing to 'shut down'" the government this fall if congressional Democrats don't help to pass his immigration agenda.
"I would be willing to 'shut down' government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!"
Between the lines: The consensus from senior administration officials and Republican leadership sources I spoke to today is that he's serious, but will not shut down the government before the midterm elections in November.
Behind the scenes: Trump met with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan on Wednesday and they agreed the border wall funding doesn't need to be one of the bills settled before the end of September, according to sources familiar with the meeting.
Be smart: The more interesting dynamic to pay attention to — because it's happening quietly and getting very little media coverage — is the tussle between the debt-loving president and his penny-pinching Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. Mulvaney has been privately pushing Trump to get more aggressive about cutting spending, but debt and deficits have, so far, only ballooned under Trump.
The House is on recess.
The Senate will vote on Monday evening to confirm Judge Britt Cagle Grant to the Eleventh Circuit.
President Trump's schedule, per a White House official:
In a March 2016 interview with The Washington Post's Bob Costa and Bob Woodward, then-candidate Donald Trump claimed that if he got elected president he would eliminate the United States' $19 trillion debt in just eight years, without needing to increase taxes.
But hope springs eternal, at least in one quarter of the White House.
Here's Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow, the optimist-in-chief, talking to CNN's Jake Tapper on today's "State of the Union":