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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that President Trump "keeps getting policy that's not his policy" because he has surrounded himself with hawkish advisers who "disagree" with the president's instincts to withdraw the U.S. from the Middle East.

What he's saying:

"He keeps appointing people to represent him that think the Iraq War was just great. They love [former Vice President] Dick Cheney's position, and they still don't admit there was a mistake. So that's why he keeps getting policy that isn't his policy. But I do think his instincts are pure. He's been saying it ... for a long time that the wars have drained our treasury and that he's not in favor of these wars."
— Rand Paul

Why it matters: Trump ran in 2016 on ending "endless" wars in the Middle East, but his administration has deployed thousands of troops to the region in response to increased tensions with Iran. The president's order to kill Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani makes it unlikely that the U.S. military will end its presence in the Middle East anytime soon.

The big picture: Despite claiming to be opposed to foreign intervention, Trump has appointed hawks like former national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to key positions. They have helped shape the "maximum pressure" sanctions campaign against Iran that has contributed to heightened tensions over the past year.

Yes, but: Trump is sometimes willing to break with his hawkish advisers, as seen by Bolton's chaotic departure from the White House in September. Bolton's opinions on North Korea and Syria angered Trump, Axios' Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene reported at the time.

Worth noting: The New York Times and Wall Street Journal both reported that Trump told associates he was under pressure to kill Soleimani from GOP hawks in the Senate whose support he will need in the upcoming impeachment trial. Axios has not independently confirmed this reporting.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Tech scrambles to derail inauguration threats

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies are sharing more information with law enforcement in a frantic effort to prevent violence around the inauguration, after the government was caught flat-footed by the Capitol siege.

Between the lines: Tech knows it will be held accountable for any further violence that turns out to have been planned online if it doesn't act to stop it.

Dave Lawler, author of World
5 hours ago - World

Uganda's election: Museveni declared winner, Wine claims fraud

Wine rejected the official results of the election. Photo: Sumy Sadruni/AFP via Getty

Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a sixth presidential term on Saturday, with official results giving him 59% to 35% for Bobi Wine, the singer-turned-opposition leader.

Why it matters: This announcement was predictable, as the election was neither free nor fair and Museveni had no intention of surrendering power after 35 years. But Wine — who posed a strong challenged to Museveni, particularly in urban areas, and was beaten and arrested during the campaign — has said he will present evidence of fraud. The big question is whether he will mobilize mass resistance in the streets.

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”

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