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Cover: Penguin Press

A sneak peek for Axios readers at a passage from "A Very Stable Genius," by the WashPost's Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig, out Tuesday:

The night of January 23 [2017], the first Monday of his presidency, Trump came face‑to‑face with House and Senate leaders from both parties at a White House reception ... At a long table in the State Dining Room, Steve Bannon ... could not stop looking at Nancy Pelosi...
Pelosi assumed Trump would open the conversation on a unifying note, such as by quoting the Founding Fathers or the Bible. Instead, the new president began with a lie: "You know, I won the popular vote." He claimed that there had been widespread fraud, with three to five million illegal votes for Clinton. Pelosi interjected. "Well, Mr. President, that’s not true," she said. "There’s no evidence to support what you just said, and if we’re going to work together, we have to stipulate to a certain set of facts.
"Watching Pelosi challenge Trump, Bannon whispered to col­leagues, "She’s going to get us. Total assassin. She’s an assassin."

Go deeper: The one book to understand Steve Bannon

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Go deeper

6 hours ago - World

Top general: U.S. losing time to deter China

Stanley McChrystal. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Stanley McChrystal, a top retired general and Biden adviser, tells Axios that "China's military capacity has risen much faster than people appreciate," and the U.S. is running out of time to counterbalance that in Asia and prevent a scenario such as it seizing Taiwan.

Why it matters: McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, recently briefed the president-elect as part of his cabinet of diplomatic and national security advisers. President-elect Joe Biden is considering which Trump- or Obama-era approaches to keep or discard, and what new strategies to pursue.

Progressives shift focus from Biden's Cabinet to his policy agenda

Joe Biden giving remarks in Wilmington, Del., last month. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Some progressives tell Axios they believe the window for influencing President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet selections has closed, and they’re shifting focus to policy — hoping to shape Biden's agenda even before he’s sworn in.

Why it matters: The left wing of the party often draws attention for its protests, petitions and tweets, but this deliberate move reflects a determination to move beyond some fights they won't win to engage with Biden strategically, and over the long term.

Dave Lawler, author of World
8 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.