Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Trump signs a document reinstating sanctions against Iran back in May. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

On a White House conference call with Iran experts last week, a senior administration official said the Trump administration will reimpose sanctions on financial messaging services later this year. That might sound boring. But the administration official was referring to what could soon become another major fight between the Trump administration and Europe.

Why this matters: In the context of Iran sanctions, "financial messaging services" refers to SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) — a linchpin of the global financial system that facilitates payments across borders and connects more than 11,000 banks around the world.

  • SWIFT cut off Iran from the global financial system in 2012 as a result of American pressure on the Europeans to crack down on Tehran. Then SWIFT reconnected Iran after Obama secured the nuclear deal with Iran.
  • "SWIFT is the backbone of the global financial system and without access to SWIFT Iran can't move money around the world, cannot get paid for oil, pay for their imports and would have a difficult time financing its activities abroad," said Mark Dubowitz, an Iran hawk who heads the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and was on the call last week.
  • "The administration seems committed to financially and economically squeezing the regime using all instruments of national power," Dubowitz added, "and has already signaled that it will bring back the SWIFT sanctions to deny Iranian banks access to the SWIFT system."

Behind the scenes: Following Trump's withdrawal from the Iran deal, in May, the Europeans have been fighting to keep the deal alive and to make sure that enough money is flowing to placate Iran's leaders. A big part of that is ensuring that Iranian banks remain plugged into the SWIFT network.

  • A U.S. source in close touch with senior European officials tells me they want to shield SWIFT from U.S. pressure to expel Iranian banks.
  • But Trump officials are signaling they may even sanction SWIFT officials if they keep Iran connected to the global financial system.

What's next? SWIFT is governed by a board of directors, including senior executives from the world's largest banks. In November, the board will have to decide whether or not to call Trump's bluff.

  • "Regardless of the views of European political leaders, SWIFT may want to protect the integrity of its financial messaging platform from the illicit financial activities of Iranian banks that will be re-sanctioned by the administration," Dubowitz told me.
  • If they do call Trump's bluff, the president will have to decide whether to take the unprecedented step of sanctioning top executives from the world's leading banks, like Citi and J.P. Morgan.

The bottom line: This issue isn't getting much attention yet, but it could become one of the biggest brawls between the Trump administration and the EU.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

First look: The LCV's $4M ad buy

A screenshot from a new League of Conservation Voters ad supporting Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

The League of Conservation Voters and Climate Power are aiming another $4 million worth of ads at centrist House Democrats, urging them to support the climate provisions in President Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Progressive groups are trying to counter the onslaught of conservative money pouring into swing districts. Both sides are trying to define Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda and pressure lawmakers to support — or oppose — the legislation scheduled for a vote in the House this week.

Shutdown Plan B

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Senate will hold a futile vote Monday night — just 72 hours before a potential shutdown — on a House-passed bill to fund the government through Dec. 3 and raise the debt limit.

Why it matters: The bill is going to fail. Period. But then comes Plan B: A "clean" continuing resolution — stripped of language about raising the debt limit — that Democrats spent the past week preparing, Axios is told.

Glenn Youngkin's play: Forever- and Never-Trumpers

Glenn Youngkin in Harrisonburg, Virginia, on Friday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Standing on a flatbed hitched to a John Deere tractor in red Rockingham County, Virginia, Glenn Youngkin decried California liberalism and bashed his rival, Terry McAuliffe. He also encouraged early voting. Two words he avoided: Donald Trump.

Driving the news: Youngkin, the Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee, is mounting a serious challenge to McAuliffe — a former governor and veteran of Democratic politics. Axios caught up with him on Friday in Harrisonburg, Virginia.