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Andrew Harnik / AP

Operation Normal achieved supremacy yesterday — and a new phase of Trump's presidency begins.

Sound smart: conservatives should have seen this coming. Trump goes where the applause is loudest. If that means being a full-throated birther, fine! If that means inciting hysterics about Mexicans, game on! If that means hugging NATO or smiling at corporate cronyism, Trump's your man! It would be a hoot if he came full circle and morphed into Michael Bloomberg.

The list of his shifts:

  • Centrist forces led by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were ascendant, now are dominant.
  • Trump's salvo in the N.Y. Post was an invitation for Steve Bannon to change his approach, or resign.
  • Trump changed his stances on NATO, Chinese currency and the Ex-Im Bank. (White House officials say he's not reversing himself — these targets are hearing his concerns and coming his way.)
  • SecState Rex Tillerson was finally in the spotlight.
  • All this follows the successful Xi meeting at Mar-a-Lago, and the Syrian intervention over Bannon's objection.

Where all this could lead: Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State, to Brian Williams on MSNBC:

"If you think back, Brian, to Henry Kissinger's famous triangulation in 1972, the opening to China: It was strengthening our relationship with China in order to leverage the ... Soviets, in many ways. ... Time after time in the last few days, we've seen very tough rhetoric by Rex Tillerson against the Russians ... So, a very tough line against Russia. A very soft, friendly, conciliatory line against China. ... I think Trump feels he's got an opening with China and really not much business to do with Putin at this time."

The coverage: N.Y. Times front page, "Wall Street Wing Seems to Be Edging Populists" ... WashPost front page, "Trump backs off fiscal pledges and adopts centrist policies that he once fought" ... Wall Street Journal p. A6, "Trump Voices NATO Commitment ... President makes sharp break in rhetoric from his campaign."

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Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
3 hours ago - World

Remote work shakes up geopolitics

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The global adoption of remote work may leave the rising powers in the East behind.

The big picture: Despite India's and China's economic might, these countries have far fewer remote jobs than the U.S. or Europe. That's affecting the emerging economies' resilience amid the pandemic.

Trump gives Biden access to presidential intelligence briefings

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Trump White House on Tuesday gave President-elect Biden access to daily presidential intelligence briefings, a source familiar with the matter tells Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has refused to share the briefs until now, as he continues to challenge the result of the election and declines to concede. The president's acquiescence comes as another sign that the transition to a Biden administration is taking place.

AOC and Ilhan Omar want to block Biden’s former chief of staff

Reps. Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are boosting a petition against Joe Biden nominating his former chief of staff to a new role in his administration, calling Bruce Reed a "deficit hawk” and criticizing his past support for Social Security and Medicare cuts.

Why it matters: Progressives are mounting their pressure campaign after the president-elect did not include any of their favored candidates in his first slate of Cabinet nominees, and they are serious about installing some of their allies, blocking anyone who doesn't pass their smell test — and making noise if they are not heard.