Welcome to Sneak Peek, our weekly lookahead from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus our best scoops.
Tonight's newsletter is 2,027 words, < 8-minute read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
President Trump often says he's the smartest person in the room on virtually every topic. Now, after taking several risks on what he privately calls "big shit" and avoiding catastrophe, Trump and his entire inner circle convey supreme self-confidence, bordering on a sense of invincibility.
Behind the scenes: Trump and his senior aides often cite two decisions as evidence their more experienced colleagues were alarmists.
Between the lines: Over the past month, Trumpworld's sense of being unbeatable has only grown. This is partly because the president sometimes defines victory in narrow terms, like pleasing the base and juicing the markets.
Team Trump's confidence snowballed into the weekend as the Senate voted against witnesses in Trump's impeachment trial and Mitch McConnell set up a Wednesday vote that's expected to acquit the president.
The big picture: Everything we've heard from Trump's aides over the last month suggests he will give less and less credence to voices urging caution.
The bottom line: This sense of invulnerability is why the White House thought it could get away with hosting a gathering of world leaders at Trump's private club in Doral.
"I swear to God, this guy is the luckiest SOB that's ever lived," said a former White House official who stays in close touch with current officials. "That's not to say he hasn't done right things. But the flip side is, he's one of these away from a massive F-up."
Mike Bloomberg addresses local leaders in Oakland, California, as part of his focus on states with large numbers of delegates, Jan. 17. Photo: Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group
Maybe it was the eye-popping FEC data about Mike Bloomberg's Q4 spending. Or a rivalry over their Super Bowl ads. Or a change to Democrats' rules that may soon allow Bloomberg to participate in the primary debates.
Driving the news: Trump tweeted that if Bloomberg qualifies for the next Democratic debate, he'd try to "stand on boxes, or a lift." Trump also accused Bloomberg of getting the DNC "to rig the election against Crazy Bernie," and he vented more in a Sean Hannity interview previewed by Fox News.
The other side: Bloomberg first fired back through his campaign's national press secretary, Julie Wood: "The president is lying. He is a pathological liar who lies about everything: his fake hair, his obesity, and his spray-on tan."
Later, Bloomberg responded directly:
"I will stand on my accomplishments of what I’ve done to bring this country together and get things done. I’ve been doing it for a long time. I stand twice as tall as he does on the stage, on the stage that matters."
While skipping the first four states to run an unconventional national campaign, Bloomberg will be jetting around California while the rest of his opponents are in Iowa.
Behind the scenes: Three of President Trump's advisers told me that Trump seems to view Bloomberg as a serious problem. Trump takes Bloomberg more seriously than some of his advisers, including the Trump campaign team, sources with direct knowledge told me.
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, said of Bloomberg: "His outsized wealth and outsized ego are matched by his overwrought jealousy and spitefulness towards the president. Jealousy is a dangerous motivator for people, leading them to confuse with a sugar high that money can buy with substance that voters demand to hear."
Trump supporters demonstrate against Sanders, April 15, 2019, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images
Bernie Sanders has surged to the front of the polls ahead of Monday's Iowa Caucuses. And some of Trump's political advisers say they are doing their best to help him stay there.
Behind the scenes: "We're trying to promote the rise," said a Trump adviser. "The campaign has been pumping up the national messaging behind Bernie, pushing out fundraising emails. When you attack his policies, it gets the media to talk about him."
Between the lines: Trump advisers, including two senior White House officials, told me that elevating Sanders is far from the main reason so many Trump surrogates are going to Iowa. They want to get free media coverage. And it's working, with the Trump team's visit dominating the front page of Iowa's Des Moines Register the week before the caucuses.
Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Drake University in Des Moines, Jan. 30. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
The star guest spotted at a Sheraton in Des Moines in recent days was Elizabeth Warren's golden retriever, Bailey. But in a conference room off the same hotel lobby, Trump campaign operatives have been quietly orchestrating a massive operation for tomorrow's Republican caucuses, Axios' Alayna Treene, Alexi McCammond and Margaret Talev report.
Why it matters: The Trump campaign is using Iowa as a testing ground for the rest of the campaign trail.
Surrogates: Top surrogates per the Trump campaign: Lara Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
Between the lines: Iowa has a lot of unaffiliated voters, and the Trump campaign plans to focus heavily on voter registration, including converting independent and Democratic voters supportive of POTUS to register as Republicans.
Photo: President Trump's Jan. 30 rally in Des Moines Iowa via a tipster
Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images
The House will recess early on Tuesday to allow for a security sweep of the House Chamber prior to President Trump’s State of the Union address. The House and Senate will meet again around 8:30 pm to receive the address, Alayna reports.
The Senate impeachment trial reconvenes at 11 am on Monday for closing arguments from House managers and President Trump’s defense team. Each side will have up to two hours.
President Trump’s schedule, per a White House official: