Welcome to Sneak Peek, our weekly lookahead for both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus our best scoops.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
President Trump has sent highly unusual, Sharpie-written notes to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at least twice, Axios has learned. One missive was so odd, the Canadian ambassador double-checked with the White House to be sure it wasn't a prank.
In at least one instance, Trudeau also wrote to Trump. The exchange of handwritten notes, never before reported, was confirmed by several sources with firsthand knowledge. The diplomatic missives include:
Context: The May 1–7, 2017, issue of Bloomberg Businessweek — featuring a picture of Trudeau headlined "The Anti-Trump" — caught President Trump's attention, according to 4 sources with direct knowledge. Trump tore the cover off the magazine and wrote on it, in silver Sharpie, something to the effect of "Looking good! Hope it's not true!" according to these sources.
Months later, on Dec. 8, 2017, President Trump falsely told a rally crowd in Pensacola, Florida, that the U.S. has a trade deficit with Canada. Around that same time, Trump also mailed Trudeau a document purporting to show that the U.S. had a trade deficit with Canada, according to a source with direct knowledge.
A few weeks later, Trump received a handwritten letter from Trudeau. The note, on Trudeau's official stationery marked by the Maple Leaf, began with a friendly tone, but ended with a drop of acid.
The second page of the letter brought the kicker. Trudeau enclosed a printout of Canada's informational page from the website of the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
A Canadian government official responded to this reporting: "We're not going to comment on whether or what paper was exchanged between our 2 countries. There was a lot of back and forth. That said, it is certainly true that there were disagreements between our 2 countries about the figures, and we repeatedly pointed to USTR and U.S. Commerce's own figures. On your second point (the Bloomberg cover), no comment, but we don't deny it."
Go deeper: Read my full story on the Trump-Trudeau relationship and how it fits into the bigger picture of the president's foreign relations in Year 3.
Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Anthony Scaramucci, who famously served as President Trump's communications director for 11 days, says Republicans may need to pick a different candidate in 2020.
In a phone interview on Sunday afternoon, Scaramucci compared Trump to a melting nuclear reactor and said he may support a Republican challenger to Trump.
Scaramucci, who has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates, including Trump's 2016 campaign, said that if Trump "doesn't reform his behavior, it will not just be me, but many others will be considering helping to find a replacement in 2020."
The big picture: Scaramucci has said that Trump's attacks on congresswomen of color "divide the country." And yesterday the president attacked his former communications director in a couple of tweets.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
On Saturday, the president of the United States retweeted a conspiracy theory video claiming Bill and Hillary Clinton had a hand in the death of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. The news media did not treat this as a major story; the Sunday New York Times editors found a few inches for it on page 21.
Behind the scenes: I asked a senior White House official whether anybody internally did anything about the Clinton tweet. "I think we're beyond the point of trying to control these things," the official said.
Advocates of gun reform legislation hold a candle light vigil for victims of recent mass shootings outside the headquarters of the NRA, Aug. 5, Fairfax, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Conservatives in President Trump's close orbit are worried that he is serious this time about supporting new gun control measures.
Behind the scenes, per the New York Times: "On the way to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., Mr. Trump stopped in the Hamptons, raising $12 million at two fund-raisers and telling his donors he was confident that lawmakers would agree to a deal on new gun legislation. He said the Senate doesn’t need to return early because the congressional leadership in both parties would agree on something that members could vote on when they return in the fall."
Go deeper: The Times has a well-reported piece on Trump's long, vacillating history on the gun issue.
Photo: Image Source/Getty Images
The House and Senate are out of session until Labor Day.
President Trump is staying at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, this week. A White House official shared his public events:
Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
World leaders aren't the only politicians who've been startled by President Trump's pen-pal diplomacy. Members of Congress, including at least 1 Democratic senator, have received unusual Sharpie-scrawled notes and even autographs from Trump.
What we're hearing: Early in Trump's presidency, Marc Short's Office of Legislative Affairs would produce pocket-sized briefing cards on senators or congressmen that Trump was going to be meeting at the White House or on Air Force One.
As his attention drifted in some of his meetings with members, Trump got into the habit of autographing and writing little notes with his Sharpie on these lawmakers' briefing cards. He would then either hand the cards to the members or ask one of his aides to make sure the members received the card, 2 sources familiar with the situation said.
One of the Democratic senators who received these Sharpie-scrawled presidential briefing materials was Chris Coons of Delaware. A source familiar with the situation said Coons' briefing card was inoffensive but that Coons' office gave the White House Office of Legislative Affairs a friendly heads-up that their briefing material had found its way to Capitol Hill.