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Taliban leaders during peace talks with the U.S. in July in Qatar. Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images.

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien told Axios in an exclusive interview that "it is possible" Trump will cut a deal with the Taliban this year but that even if a deal can't be struck, the president is still poised to reduce troops in Afghanistan.

Driving the news: "We're back in a situation where we're in talks with the Taliban," O'Brien said. "The Afghan forces are doing better, and I think we'll be in a position at some point soon, whether it's with a deal or without a deal, to reduce our military footprint in Afghanistan."

Behind the scenes: Trump has long said he wants to pull American troops out of Afghanistan. A source close to the president told Axios Trump views this as one of his biggest unmet promises. The source worries Trump would order a major drawdown before the 2020 election.

  • Asked whether he thought Trump would strike a deal with the Taliban before the election, O'Brien said, "I don't judge things based on when the election's going to take place, but I think it is possible that there'll be a deal this year."
  • "We're working on it. But it has to be a good deal."
  • "We were very close to doing a deal last year, and the Taliban felt that they could increase pressure on the United States by blowing up a bunch of people, including an American, right before some critical end-game talks. This president does not respond to that type of tactic."

The bottom line: "The president said there has to be a reduction in violence prior to the signing of a deal and there needs to be a reduction of violence and immediate transition to inter-Afghan talks after a deal," O'Brien added. "Ultimately it's going to be up to the Afghans to bring peace to Afghanistan."

More from the interview:

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The big picture: The headquarters of the U.S. military went under temporary lockdown after multiple shots were fired. The area reopened after being secured, though the station remains closed, according to the Pentagon Force Protection Agency.

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Top New York Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, renewed calls for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to resign on Tuesday after an independent investigation concluded he sexually harassed multiple women in violation of federal and state law.

Why it matters: Cuomo had previously urged those calling for his resignation to wait for the results of the investigation overseen by New York Attorney General Letitia James. But following the release of the investigation's report, he refused to step down, saying "the facts are much different than what has been portrayed."