A pro-democracy protester sticks a poster featuring President Trump on a pillar in the Hong Kong financial district today. Photo: Kin Cheung/AP

President Trump thrilled China hardliners in the U.S. yesterday by signing two bills backing human rights in Hong Kong, provoking a threat of "firm counter measures" from Beijing.

Why it matters: Trump signed the bills knowing they would complicate trade negotiations. That suggests that he thinks he has a winning hand, based partly on weak economic data from China and stronger signs in the U.S.

  • The bills had been approved nearly unanimously in the House and Senate, but it was unclear if Trump would sign them.
  • The expected signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) helps provide political cover.

Between the lines: Trump chose not to take the easy way and let the legislation go into law by default on Tuesday.

  • China had threatened retaliation for weeks, so this was seen as thumbing his nose at Xi.

The latest: China reacted furiously, summoning the U.S. ambassador to protest, and warning the move would undermine cooperation with Washington. (AP)

  • Protesters in Hong Kong staged a "Thanksgiving" rally, "with thousands of people, some draped in U.S. flags, gathering in the heart of the city." (Reuters)

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 12,859,834 — Total deaths: 567,123 — Total recoveries — 7,062,085Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 3,297,501— Total deaths: 135,155 — Total recoveries: 1,006,326 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. States: Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases with over 15,000 — NYC reports zero coronavirus deaths for first time since pandemic hit.
  4. Public health: Ex-FDA chief projects "apex" of South's coronavirus curve in 2-3 weeks — Coronavirus testing czar: Lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table"
  5. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."

Scoop: How the White House is trying to trap leakers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told several White House staffers he's fed specific nuggets of information to suspected leakers to see if they pass them on to reporters — a trap that would confirm his suspicions. "Meadows told me he was doing that," said one former White House official. "I don't know if it ever worked."

Why it matters: This hunt for leakers has put some White House staffers on edge, with multiple officials telling Axios that Meadows has been unusually vocal about his tactics. So far, he's caught only one person, for a minor leak.

11 GOP congressional nominees support QAnon conspiracy

Lauren Boebert posing in her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, on April 24. Photo: Emily Kask/AFP

At least 11 Republican congressional nominees have publicly supported or defended the QAnon conspiracy theory movement or some of its tenets — and more aligned with the movement may still find a way onto ballots this year.

Why it matters: Their progress shows how a fringe online forum built on unsubstantiated claims and flagged as a threat by the FBI is seeking a foothold in the U.S. political mainstream.