Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

President Trump will confront Kim Jong-un using "a strategy to impress as well as intimidate" — and is open to planting a U.S. embassy in North Korea.

The big picture: U.S. officials involved in the summit preparations have even discussed enlisting gymnasts and musicians to bring the cultures together, sources familiar with summit prep tell Axios.

  • Part of Trump's expected message is telling Kim how much wealthier he and his people would be if he were engaged with the U.S. A source familiar with the U.S. preparations says Trump likes the idea of iconic American businesses, like McDonald's, eventually getting to North Korea.
  • Trump will insist that the price of engagement — and modern relationships and amenities — is the start of a denuclearization process, a source close to the White House told Axios. 
  • Asked about the plans, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told us: "We aren’t going to discuss internal discussions."

It's part of an anything-goes approach that includes, as scooped last night, the possibility of establishing official relations with North Korea and even eventually putting an embassy in Pyongyang.

  • Trump, Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have all discussed the dimension of the offer, sources tell us. 
  • "It would all depend what he gets in return," the source said. "Denuclearization would have to be happening."
  • We're told Trump's view is: "We can discuss that: It's on the table. Let’s see."
  • The bottom line: Aides say Trump is taking nothing off the table going in.

Axios has also learned that the U.S. officials involved in pre-summit discussions have been exploring ways to engage North Korea beyond standard official diplomacy:

  • U.S. diplomats are taking a cue from the "ping-pong diplomacy" of 1971, when the U.S. and China exchanged table tennis players as part of a thaw that led to President Richard Nixon's visit to China in 1972.
  • So the Trump team is considering avenues for cultural engagement, including the possibility of the U.S. hosting North Korean gymnasts and Pyongyang's symphony orchestra.

Be smart: Unlike any other meeting with any other leader, Trump is negotiating with someone with similar personality quirks and impulses. He truly believes he will know almost instantly whether he can spin up the deal of the decade. 

  • Trump at Quebec presser, before leaving G7 summit for Singapore, asked how long it'll take him to know if Kim is serious: "I think within the first minute I’ll know. ... Just my touch, my feel. That’s what I do."

Go deeper: Trump's "great man" play on North Korea.

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Survey: Fears grow about Social Security’s future

Data: AARP survey of 1,441 U.S. adults conducted July 14–27, 2020 a ±3.4% margin of error at the 95% confidence level; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Younger Americans are increasingly concerned that Social Security won't be enough to wholly fall back on once they retire, according to a survey conducted by AARP — in honor of today's 85th anniversary of the program — given first to Axios.

Why it matters: Young people's concerns about financial insecurity once they're on a restricted income are rising — and that generation is worried the program, which currently pays out to 65 million beneficiaries, won't be enough to sustain them.

Axios-SurveyMonkey poll: Doubts over fair election results

SurveyMonkey poll of 2,847 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 11–12, 2020 with ±3% margin of error; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

One in four Americans is worried their ballot won't be accurately counted this year, and four in 10 worry mail-in voting could yield less reliable results, according to a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

The big picture: Partisan identification is a massive driver of distrust in both categories — and the stakes are huge this year.

Exclusive: Biden signals fall strategy with new COVID-19 ads

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Gety Images

Joe Biden's campaign is doubling down on its criticism of President Trump's mishandling of the coronavirus, launching two new 30-second ads today on the heels of Biden's own call for an outdoor mask mandate.

Why it matters: With Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris, now in place to amplify and augment the message, the campaign is signaling it will hit Trump on the pandemic every day until Nov. 3.