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Peter Navarro wants Gary Cohn's job, terrifying D.C.

Peter Navarro at the 'Death By China' in 2012. Photo: Andy Kropa/Getty Images

President Trump's spirit animal Peter Navarro is telling associates he wants Gary Cohn's job as the president's chief economic adviser.

What we're hearing: Publicly, Navarro has been coy, telling Bloomberg TV he's not in the running for the job. But privately, the hardcore nationalist trade adviser is all in for the job. 

Sources familiar with Navarro's thinking tell me he believes there are too many people inside the White House perimeter who oppose the president's agenda. Cohn, in particular, obstructed Navarro, telling colleagues that the nationalist trade adviser had no idea what he was doing, had no grasp of economics, and constantly "lied" to the president. 

Why this matters: Choosing Navarro would be the path of least resistance for Trump's trade agenda, but it would cause something approaching a riot on Capitol Hill and within the White House. Senior officials tell me they expect the entire National Economic Council staff would quit their posts immediately if Trump appoints Navarro; and Republicans on the Hill would go crazy. Republican leaders view Navarro as a menace and a danger to both the U.S. and world economies.

  • The problem for them: Trump loves Navarro, and Navarro reflects the president's hardwired beliefs on trade far more closely than Cohn ever did, or did any of the other top officials involved in the trade debate besides Wilbur Ross. "Where's Peter?" Trump would sometimes say, when senior staff had "forgotten" to include Navarro in a meeting. 

Bottom line: Trump is spitballing up to a dozen names for Cohn's replacement. Cohn has been advocating for Shahira Knight — a senior figure on the NEC who is well-regarded on the Hill and played a crucial role in passing tax reform. The chances that Trump will appoint Navarro currently seem low, but you'd be a fool to totally count him out. 

Jonathan Swan 6 hours ago
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Bolton bombshell: the clashes to come

John Bolton
John Bolton speaks at CPAC in 2016. Photo: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sources close to President Trump say he feels John Bolton, hurriedly named last night to replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, will finally deliver the foreign policy the president wants — particularly on Iran and North Korea.

Why it matters: We can’t overstate how dramatic a change it is for Trump to replace H.R. McMaster with Bolton, who was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under President George W. Bush.

Erica Pandey 7 hours ago
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How China became a global power of espionage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

As China’s influence spreads to every corner of the globe under President Xi Jinping, so do its spies.

Why it matters: China has the money and the ambition to build a vast foreign intelligence network, including inside the United States. Meanwhile, American intelligence-gathering on China is falling short, Chris Johnson, a former senior China analyst for the CIA who's now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, tells Axios: "We have to at least live up to [China's] expectations. And we aren't doing that."