Trump and Putin, in pursuit of a deal - Axios
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Trump and Putin, in pursuit of a deal

Sam Jayne / Axios

President Trump has his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. An administration official familiar with the planning tells me there'll only be a half dozen people in the room: Trump, Putin, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and translators.

The big picture

A senior GOP foreign policy official sets the scene: "Temperamentally, [Trump and Putin] are very different. Both see the world as transactional and are deal-makers. Trump is a big picture, let's handle the details later, flashy salesman. Putin is sober and calculating, with a list of items to be secured, with respect for him and his country at the top of the list. The potential for cooperation should be very broad, and even easy. But circumstances are against anything substantive emerging. Congress is about to impose new sanctions on Russia and tightly tie Trump's hands. Why would Putin believe Trump can deliver on anything he might promise?"

Sources close to Trump say he wants to see if a broad deal with Russia (including on Syria, terrorism and Ukraine) is possible, but an administration official cautions that Trump's interactions with China's Xi Jinping have taught him a lesson: "keep in mind that [Trump] understands better now the limits to the 'personal'... i.e. Xi in Mar-a-Lago and Xi now."

Why this matters: Trump has long believed that many of America's diplomatic and trade problems aros because we didn't have the "Art of the Deal" dealmaker. Trump tried his charm on Xi — lavishing him in hospitality at Mar-a-Lago — but has already discovered that Xi cannot, or is unwilling to, restrain North Korea. He's now getting tough on Xi — selling weapons to Taiwan and sanctioning Chinese entities. Expect a blunter, more transactional Trump today with Putin.

Trump's preparation

It's futile trying to predict what Trump will say to Putin. Trump is known to discard talking points and change tack at the last minute.

Foreign officials tell us that when they prepare to speak with Trump they keep a set of objectives in mind but know they won't be able to stick to a script. The perceptive ones say they try to avoid scoring points against Trump. Many leaders bring gift-wrapped "victories" to meetings with Trump — such as major investments in America and new jobs he can brag about afterwards.

Go Deeper Trump 101: How to deal with Donald

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Trump's strategic options with Putin

The safe move, according to a senior Republican foreign policy official:

  • "[T]o lie low, mumble something in public about a desire to cooperate on issues of mutual concern, such as North Korea, while also emphasizing they had a 'frank' discussion of the need to respect international norms, some reference to 'the need to work toward peace and security in Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders', etcetera."
  • In this "safe" scenario, Trump would outmaneuver his waiting critics by confronting Putin over Russia's hacking of the presidential election.
  • "That would be the smart thing to do, at least in terms of his political interests — to stop handing the Democrats and [hawks like] McCain the means to bash him…And who knows, he might listen to his advisers on that."
  • "However," the official adds, "it's Trump and I can't imagine that part of him doesn't want to just shove it in those same people's faces, especially because the whole Russia thing is under the microscope and they want him to be running scared."

The more classically Trumpian move, per that same official:

  • Would be for the President to not mention the election hacking, and to stick by his long-held instincts that the U.S. can forge better relations with Russia, do more business, perhaps strike a deal over Ukraine and fight terrorism in Syria together. In this scenario, Trump would treat Putin like a valued deal-partner. He'd ask for Putin's help with North Korea but probably wouldn't get anything substantive.
  • "There's no way he's ever going to admit, even to himself, that he's wrong about the benefits of cooperating with Putin... and he isn't going to run scared when he believes there's nothing to the charges of cooperation with the Russians in the campaign, and that this is all political."
  • "I assume he wants his face-to-face meeting with Putin to be positive and demonstrate his determination to work with Russia and to get Putin to ignore the political situation in D.C. What they will then say in public is something different, but I doubt Trump will be all that disciplined in terms of messaging."

AP

The thing to remember about Trump

Both Trump and Putin want a deal, even though Putin was angered by Trump's decision to strike Syria in response to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons.

Trump has always respected Putin and often excused his behavior, and Trump doesn't like confrontation — he defaults to his businessman persona in his face-to-face meetings, believing it's better to charm than to lecture.

Recall that he branded China as an economic enemy on the campaign trail, but when he hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, lavished him with hospitality and afterwards pointedly refused to fulfill his campaign promise to declare China a currency manipulator. Also recall the friendly Oval Office scenes captured by Russian state photographers the last time Trump met with Russian officials.

Backdrop from Putin's perspective

Per a U.S. official close to the matter:

  • "I expect Putin will go into this meeting assuming nothing much of substance will happen — not because it will not be friendly but because Trump's enemies won't let him deliver.
  • "Putin understands the U.S. political system is in chaos. He's quite aware that Trump wants to deal but that hardline anti-Russia members of Congress and the Democrats in particular are determined to stop him and are even now trying to force new and harsher sanctions on Russia. The focus of the new sanctions bill is to tie Trump's hands and prevent him from warming relations with Russia.
  • "Putin is more likely to be circumspect, making positive noises in their conversations and committing to nothing. And either wait until Trump is in a sufficiently strong political position to be able to make good on his genuine desire to cooperate on substantive matters or simply move on under the assumption that the U.S. is a permanent adversary.
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Sneak Peek: Pence to the pyramids

Pence listens as Trump announces his Jerusalem move. Photo: Alex Brandon / AP

With President Trump's announcement on Jerusalem lighting up the Middle East, Vice President Mike Pence embarks Saturday on his first trip to Israel since taking national office.

The vice president will be gone for a week, with stops in Egypt and Germany:

  • Pence takes off from Washington, lands in Tel Aviv and goes straight to Jerusalem for a bilateral meeting with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu.
  • Pence then will light a menorah at the Western Wall.
  • An aide said that Pence's message in Israel will be that Trump, as he said in his speech recognizing Jerusalem as the capital, is committed to working for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • Pence will use his meetings with leaders in the region to reaffirm the administration's commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East and to "defeat radicalism."
  • On Monday, Pence will give the signature speech at the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. The speech will be aimed at the region overall. Pence will emphasize that he is there on behalf of the president, and detail why Israel is a most cherished ally of the United States.
  • Pence will then fly to Cairo for a bilat with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The two will discuss security and joint efforts to fight ISIS.
  • Pence will visit the pyramids and will talk with media with the ancient wonders as a backdrop.
  • Pence will fly home through Ramstein Air Base in Germany, and will do a meet-and-greet with troops.

The takeaway: A key theme for Pence's remarks and interviews will be U.S. efforts to stop persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the region.

Go deeper: Palestinians won't meet with Pence.

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Exclusive: Policy official leaving White House

The White House South Portico is adorned with Christmas lights. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Paul Winfree is leaving the White House, according to a senior administration official with knowledge of the decision. Winfree, who declined to comment, has resigned from his position as Deputy Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and Director of Budget Policy.

  • Why this matters: Winfree's departure is part of what we've been forecasting will be a wave of White House staff departures after year one of the Trump presidency. His last day in the White House will be Friday.

Winfree, a respected policy wonk with strong ties to the conservative movement, is the second senior official to announce a departure in three days. Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell told colleagues she's leaving to return to her family in New York.

What Winfree has been telling friends and colleagues:

  • He and his wife are expecting a second baby boy in a few weeks.
  • He'll return to the Heritage Foundation, where he will run economic policy.
  • He also plans to start his own policy consulting business. -
  • Starting in February, he will teach a seminar on policymaking at a top university, where he will draw on his experiences working in the White House, the U.S. Senate, and with think tanks.
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NYPD adjusts interview techniques for sexual assault victims

New York police officers march. Photo: Andres Kudacki / AP

Amid a flood of sexual misconduct allegations — some of which have turned into police investigations — the New York Police Department has taken a new approach to questioning victims, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The bottom line: "The focus that’s occurring on sexual criminal conduct coming out of the Hollywood celebrities and members of Congress may be a watershed moment,” NYPD Deputy Chief Michael Osgood told the Journal. He says more sensitive and open-ended questioning techniques may lead to breakthroughs in cold cases that have been abandoned for years.

The backdrop: Police tactics in dealing with victims of sexual assault have long been controversial, with critics saying harsh questioning puts undue scrutiny on victims and pushes them to silence. These critcisms were thrown into the spotlight when ProPublica, in conjunction with the Marshall Project, published "An Unbelievable Story of Rape" — an investigative project which showed how a police department in Washington state coerced a woman into retracting a rape allegation.

NYPD detectives in the Special Victims division received training in Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI) techniques this year. The methods include asking victims of sexual assault open-ended questions such as, "Tell me about your experience," instead of specifics about the perpetrators appearance and the time and place of the incident.

How it works: Such specific details are "stored in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which shuts down during traumatic events. In FETI training, the detectives are instructed to ask broad questions that tap into a victim’s primitive brain, which maintains sensory information of those events. Channeling this part of the brain can result in a more substantial narrative," per Osgood.

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White House: "Unfortunate" that Palestinians won't meet with Pence

Vice President Pence's office has called the decision by Palestinian officials not to meet with Pence on his visit to the region "unfortunate. The Palestinians are refusing to meet with Pence over President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The statement:

"The Vice President very much looks forward to traveling to the region to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President el-Sisi. It’s unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority is walking away again from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region, but the Administration remains undeterred in its efforts to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians and our peace team remains hard at work putting together a plan."
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The mental health crisis among young Americans, by the numbers

Illustration: Sam Jayne / Axios

One in five American young adults under the age of 25 lives with a mental illness or behavioral disorder, NBC reports, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The big picture: Per the CDC's research, the state of young adult mental health in the U.S. is only worsening, with the suicide rate among teenage girls reaching a 40-year high in 2015. Here's a look at the numbers that tell the story of this crisis.

The numbers:

  • 15 million, or 1 in 5, American children and young adults battle mental illnesses or learning disorders.
  • 10 million, or two-thirds of them, are undiagnosed or aren't receiving treatment.
  • Among children ages 3 to 17: 6.8% are diagnosed with ADHD, 3.0% suffer from anxiety, 2.1% suffer from depression
Featured

The case that bitcoin is a bubble

A man uses a Bitcoin ATM in Hong Kong. Photo: Kin Cheung / AP

The case against bitcoin, stated concisely by the Economist:

"It seems that every day, Bitcoin seems to hit a new high. But the reported price can move up and down by $1,000 or so within a few hours. This might have made it a great investment for those who got in at the right price and are nimble enough to get out in time. But it doesn't make it a useful means of exchange. When the price is rising fast, those who use bitcoin will be reluctant to part with it; when the price falls, those who sell goods will be reluctant to accept it."

Bitcoin as bubble: "This blogger remains convinced it is a bubble. Indeed its exponential rise only reinforces the argument. The beauty of bitcoin is that its intrinsic value is impossible to determine and that makes any value plausible to true believers. This is not the same as saying there is no merit in electronic currencies or blockchain technology; of course there is. But the range of prices which can be found on cryptocompare shows this is a narrow, illiquid market."

Go deeper: Read the whole article for an excellent Monty Python reference.

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The state of racial inequality in 12 major U.S. cities

The March Against Racism in Boston Common in 1974. Photo: Frank C. Curtin / AP

A deep-dive into racial inequities from the Boston Globe's Spotlight team reveals the cities where gaps between white and black residents are closing and the cities where little has changed since the 1970s.

The big picture: A survey commissioned by the Globe found that 54% of African-Americans feel Boston isn't welcoming to people of color, the highest of the cities surveyed. That percentage is 34% for Chicago and 28% for New York. Atlanta fares best, at 16%.

Boston

  • 7% of residents are black; 73% are white
  • 54% of African-Americans believe the city is unwelcoming to people of color
  • 4 neighborhoods have visible black middle class populations meaning, per the Globe's analysis, "At least 15 percent of the residents are black; and among the black residents, at least 30 percent had a four-year college degree and their household income was at or above the median for their metro area."

New York

  • 16% of residents are black; 48% are white
  • 28% of African-Americans believe the city is unwelcoming to people of color
  • 150 neighborhoods have visible black middle class populations

Washington, D.C.

  • 25% of residents are black; 47% are white
  • 119 neighborhoods have visible black middle class populations

Philadelphia

  • 20% of residents are black; 63% are white
  • 34% of African-Americans believe the city is unwelcoming to people of color
  • 36 neighborhoods have visible black middle class populations

Chicago

  • 17% of residents are black, 54% are white
  • 34% of African-Americans believe the city is unwelcoming to people of color
  • 33 neighborhoods have visible black middle class populations

Atlanta

  • 33% of residents are black; 49% are white
  • 16% of African-Americans believe the city is unwelcoming to people of color
  • 110 neighborhoods have visible black middle class populations

Dallas

  • 15% of residents are black; 49% are white
  • 50 neighborhoods have visible black middle class populations

Houston

  • 17% of residents are black; 38% are white
  • 57 neighborhoods have visible black middle class populations

Miami

  • 20% of residents are black, 33% are white
  • 24% of African-Americans believe the city is unwelcoming to people of color
  • 38 neighborhoods have visible black middle class populations

Los Angeles

  • 6% of residents are black; 31% are white
  • 24 neighborhoods have visible black middle class populations

Charlotte

  • 35% of residents are black, 45% are white
  • 38% of African-Americans believe the city is unwelcoming to people of color

San Francisco

  • 6% of residents are black, 54% are white
  • 34% of African-Americans believe the city is unwelcoming to people of color
  • 9 neighborhoods have visible black middle class populations

Go Deeper: The full piece from the Globe is well worth the click.

Featured

Nikki Haley: Trump's accusers deserve to be heard

Diverging from the White House line, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said on CBS' "Face the Nation" that the women accusing President Trump of sexual harassment and assault "should be heard."

"I know that he was elected, but, women should always feel comfortable coming forward and we should all be willing to listen to them," she said. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has denied all of the dozen-plus claims and said Thursday that "the people of this country addressed" the allegations when they elected Trump.

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Sen. Shelby says Alabama "deserves better" than Roy Moore

Shelby. Photo: Alex Brandon / AP

Richard Shelby, Alabama's senior senator, told Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that the Ethics Committee will have to investigate Roy Moore should he be elected on Tuesday, and the Senate will have to make a decision as to whether he's fit to serve.

Why it matters: As the NY Times' Jonathan Martin notes, "The most senior Ala R goes on nat’l TV to torpedo his would-be colleague!... Shelby has been in Cong for 40 years. He knew exactly what he was doing accepting this Sunday show invite."

  • "I'd rather see the Republican win, but I'd rather see a Republican write-in. I couldn't vote for Roy Moore. I didn't vote for Roy Moore."
  • "There's a tipping point.... When it got to the 14-year-old's story, that was enough for me."
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Trump: View each day as TV episode

A TV is on in the West Wing of the White House. Photo: Susan Walsh / AP

Read this sentence twice to understand this year and Trump: "Before taking office, Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals."

  • That's from a juicy N.Y. Times tour de force on the president's style and habits, "The President vs. the Presidency ... Inside Trump's Hour-by-Hour Battle for Self-Preservation," by Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush and Peter Baker.

It's been one helluva season for this Trump show:

  • "Around 5:30 each morning, President Trump wakes and tunes into ... CNN for news, moves to 'Fox & Friends' for comfort and messaging ideas, and sometimes watches MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' because, friends suspect, it fires him up for the day."
  • "Trump spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television, sometimes with the volume muted."
  • "Watching cable, he shares thoughts with anyone in the room, even the household staff he summons via a button for lunch or for one of the dozen Diet Cokes he consumes each day."
  • "Trump is an avid newspaper reader who still marks up a half-dozen papers with comments in black Sharpie pen ... [Steve] Bannon has told allies that Mr. Trump only 'reads to reinforce.'"
  • "As he ends his first year in office, Mr. Trump is redefining what it means to be president. He sees the highest office in the land ... as a prize he must fight to protect every waking moment, and Twitter is his Excalibur. Despite all his bluster, he views himself less as a titan dominating the world stage than a maligned outsider engaged in a struggle to be taken seriously."
  • "Trump still takes shots at Mark Cuban, a fellow rich-guy reality star, and expresses disappointment that Tom Brady ... has distanced himself."
  • After dinner, he "sometimes 'hate-watches' CNN to get worked up, especially Don Lemon."
  • "In between, it is time for phone calls ... In recent weeks, Mr. Trump's friends have noticed a different pitch, acknowledging that many aides and even his own relatives could be hurt by Mr. Mueller's investigation. As for himself, he has adopted a surprisingly fatalistic attitude ... 'It's life,' he said of the investigation."
  • "From there it is off to bed for what usually amounts to five or six hours of sleep."
  • Get your Sharpie out.

P.S. The article has this footnote: "Glenn Thrush contributed to this article before he was suspended pending the result of an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior. Matt Apuzzo also contributed reporting."