Welcome to Sneak Peek, our weekly lookahead for both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, plus our best scoops.
🎥 The first-ever "Axios on HBO" special just aired tonight with Mike Allen interviewing Joe Biden. You can catch it again on HBO.
Tonight's newsletter is 1,761 words, <7 minutes.
Photo: "Axios on HBO"
Former Vice President Joe Biden, in an interview with Mike Allen on "Axios on HBO," promised to prohibit his son Hunter, and other family members, from cashing in on his name and position overseas if he wins the presidency.
Why it matters: Questions may intensify as impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump move to the Senate and the Iowa caucuses approach. Biden already has drawn scrutiny for allowing his son to get paid handsomely by a Ukrainian business while the former vice president led the Obama administration's anti-corruption push in Ukraine.
The big question: Will Biden move away from a posture of defending his son's honor to acknowledge and address legitimate concerns about his own judgment from some Democrats and swing voters?
Biden said his family will be banned from making money overseas if he wins, faulting the president's family members' government and business conflicts of interests — not Hunter's work — for the need for a formal guardrail.
Axios' Alexi McCammond, who spent time on Biden's Iowa bus tour last week, said after he called a man a "damn liar" at one event for making unsubstantiated claims about Hunter's work, Biden told reporters the next day that he "probably shouldn't have challenged him to pushups" and doesn't want to stoop to Trump's level in sparring with critics.
Photo: "Axios on HBO"
Biden told "Axios on HBO" that stuttering isn't to blame for a string of verbal mistakes in the 2020 campaign.
Why it matters: A reporter for The Atlantic who stutters wrote recently that he studied Biden's verbal miscues and concluded that lifelong stuttering struggles were to blame, Axios' David Nather explains.
“I don't think of myself as continuing to stutter. ... That doesn't cross my mind that I'm stuttering,” Biden said. “Look, the mistakes I make are mistakes. And some people think I still stutter. I don't think of myself that way.”
Biden has had a number of verbal stumbles during the campaign. He referred to the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, as taking place in Houston and Michigan, and he said he met with the Parkland high school students as vice president when that mass shooting happened after he left office.
Biden did talk about the embarrassment he faced as a child because of his stutter. "I remember stuttering when I had to speak publicly, when I had to stand up and read. When I had to. And it was mortifying," Biden said.
Republican lawmakers from Florida who are strong allies of President Trump are pressing the administration to respond more aggressively after a Saudi Air Force officer gunned down three U.S. sailors on Friday at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida.
Driving the news: Florida Sen. Rick Scott told Fox News "we need to suspend this program" of training foreign nationals on military bases while the administration reviews the circumstances that allowed the Saudi Air Force officer to murder U.S. sailors.
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, whose congressional district includes the Pensacola base, said on ABC's "This Week" that the Saudi attack was an "act of terrorism" and that the shooting should "inform our ongoing relationship with Saudi Arabia."
Behind the scenes: Trump immediately struck a conciliatory tone toward King Salman of Saudi Arabia. A senior administration official said the president's initial tweet, after his phone call with King Salman, was ill-advised given it came before law enforcement had established the facts about the shooter's motives or whether other Saudis were involved in planning the attack.
The official said more skepticism was warranted — even though Saudi Arabia is an important Middle East ally who helps counter Iran — given America's complicated recent history with the kingdom.
Trump and Johnson at the NATO summit in England this month. Photo: Steve Parsons-WPA Pool/Getty Images
President Trump will be watching another political contest this week: The U.K.'s Dec. 12 general election will decide what happens to Brexit and if Prime Minister Boris Johnson — aka "Britain Trump" — remains in charge.
Why it matters: If Johnson's Conservatives win the majority in Parliament, Brexit clears the way for the bilateral U.S.-U.K. trade relationship that Trump favors over negotiating with the European Union.
Details: Among the hurdles between Johnson and a runaway election victory this Thursday are a polarized electorate, his own reputation for dishonesty and Trump, Axios' Dave Lawler writes.
Behind the scenes: Trump is politically toxic throughout much of the U.K. And Johnson, one of the few European leaders with whom he has genuinely warm relations, was careful not to get too close to Trump during last week's NATO summit in London.
Yes, but: James Johnson, who ran Downing Street's polling under Theresa May, says focus groups suggest Trump isn't as much of a liability with British voters as he's made out to be. Johnson, the pollster, gives the Conservatives a 75% chance of a parliamentary majority.
The bottom line: Peter Westmacott, former British ambassador to the U.S., tells Lawler that even if Boris Johnson's Brexit deal passes, there will be "numerous dramas throughout the course of 2020" as the U.K. negotiates its future trading relationship with the EU, while a U.S.-U.K. trade deal will take "years of hard bargaining."
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Democrats will argue during tomorrow's impeachment hearing that no U.S. president in history, until Donald Trump, abused presidential powers to attack America's democracy and corrupt its elections, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.
Driving the news: Democrats plan to argue that Trump committed the following offenses that the founders "found alarming and most worthy of impeachment," per a Democratic aide working on the impeachment inquiry:
What to expect: You'll hear opposing arguments from the Democratic and Republican counsels to the Judiciary Committee and the Intelligence Committee, followed by rounds of questioning from Judiciary Committee members.
Between the lines: Our reporting indicates that the Democrat-led hearings so far have not only failed to move Republicans toward impeachment. They have also had the effect of hardening and consolidating Republican support — in both the House and Senate — behind the president.
Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
The House Judiciary Committee will hold an impeachment hearing on Monday, during which Democratic and Republican counsels for the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees will present their evidence.
The Senate will vote on the following nominees, per a Republican leadership aide:
President Trump's schedule, per a White House official: