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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Like an NFL coach reviewing game film, Trump likes to watch replays of his debate and rally performances. But instead of looking for weaknesses in technique or for places to improve, Trump luxuriates in the moments he believes are evidence of his brilliance.
Behind the scenes: Trump commentates as he watches, according to sources who've sat with him and viewed replays on his TiVo, which is pre-loaded with his favorites on the large TV in the private dining room adjoining the Oval Office. When watching replays, Trump will interject commentary, reveling in his most controversial lines. "Wait for it. ... See what I did there?" he'll say.
In the early weeks of the administration, Trump loved to relive his debate performances against Hillary Clinton. His favorite, according to sources with direct knowledge, was the St. Louis debate after the Access Hollywood tape leaked, when the Trump team invited Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct accusers as their guests in the live audience.
A source who's discussed the moment with Trump told me, "He thinks it's the greatest thing that ever happened in the history of presidential debates."
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Since last summer, Trump's staff have changed their philosophy on his vacation. When Trump unwound last year at his Bedminster golf club or at his Mar-a-Lago estate, his senior staff often scrambled to fill his time — planning events and scheduling golf games with people who might engage him in productive conversation. They feared he would live-tweet his favorite TV shows, setting off national and geopolitical firestorms (remember the Obama wiretap classic?).
According to staff who've joined him on Bedminster trips, Trump likes to play golf in the mornings. Bedminster, like Mar-a-Lago, remains open to members while Trump is there, which keeps the Secret Service busy.
"Bedminster is really something," said a source who's spent time there with Trump. "People in a swimming pool all day, 15 yards from POTUS' house."
The bottom line: For the next week or so, Trump will be left to his own devices at a place where he feels totally at home. What could go wrong?
Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Imagine the United States entering simultaneous trade wars with China, India, Pakistan, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Ukraine, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Hong Kong, Brazil and Turkey.
Judging by his tweets this morning, that might sound pretty good to President Trump. And if his economic adviser Peter Navarro had gotten his way last September, it could have happened.
Between the lines: To my knowledge, this is the most expansive tariff proposal ever floated in the Trump administration. Its death is thanks to — well, just about everyone. Officials at Commerce, State, Treasury, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative all considered the proposal totally unworkable.
Why this matters: While many of Trump's top economic advisors view tariffs as taxes on the American people, Navarro is totally uncowed by the near-consensus. As long as he’s in the administration, there will be a persistent, noisy, enthusiastic voice for the kind of tariffs that would make Sherrod Brown blush.
Read the full document in the Axios stream.
Photo: Kevin McCarthy/Instagram
A little over a week ago, when Kevin McCarthy was in Ohio campaigning for Troy Balderson, his phone rang. It was President Trump. McCarthy quickly put Trump on speakerphone for a conversation with Balderson and the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Rep. Steve Stivers.
Why this matters: This incident highlights Trump’s freewheeling approach to electoral politics this year. Most presidents don’t get involved in primaries, but Trump — to the horror of some top Republican officials — relishes his role as party kingmaker. And while his political team gives him advice, they can’t control him.
What's next? Senior Republican officials have told me they're holding their breath, hoping Trump won't endorse hardliner Kris Kobach in Tuesday's Kansas gubernatorial primary. Kobach is as far right as a Republican gets on immigration and voting rights, and Democrats view his potential victory as an opportunity to steal centrist voters.
The first half of the Trump administration's new Iran sanctions strategy will kick in on Monday.
Why this matters: Trump is moving ahead with his Iranian version of "maximum pressure" — though the end game, beyond a hope of unprecedented behavior change or regime collapse, remains unclear. These sanctions represent the first substantive move by the Trump administration after its May 8 withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.
What's next? Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told me: "Reimposing these sanctions is the first step towards tightening the noose on Tehran, putting the regime to a choice between continuing its malign activities or improving its economy..."
On ABC's "This Week," Host George Stephanopoulos confronted President Trump's lawyer, Jay Sekulow, about a statement he'd previously made on the show.
Stephanopoulos then laid out the timeline of shifting responses regarding the infamous Trump Tower meeting. "You said the president wasn't involved in any way at all..."
Sekulow did something rare for a Trump surrogate: he copped to a mistake.
The House and Senate are on recess.
President Trump's schedule, per a White House official: