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Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

President Trump today will unveil a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan that his own aides don't think will pass, and a $4 trillion budget that reads like "science fiction."

It's the strangest of year-ahead plans for a party that controls the White House and both chambers of Congress: Top Republicans see Job 1 for this year as promoting the tax cut they passed last year.

The state of play: With the House in danger in November's midterms, a Republican close to the White House tells me this is a year for pumping Trump's base on taxes, economic growth and the wall (or the fight for the wall), "while the Dems help with focus on immigrants. For Rs, this is a year to avoid losing."

So ignore the documents and blather today. Here's Trump's real plan for '18:

  • A source close to the White House tells me that with an eye to getting Republicans excited about voting for Republicans in midterms, the president this year will be looking for "unexpected cultural flashpoints" — like the NFL and kneeling — that he can latch onto in person and on Twitter.
  • The source said Trump "is going to be looking for opportunities to stir up the base, more than focusing on any particular legislation or issue."
  • One of D.C.'s savviest Democrats had come to the same conclusion, without my even mentioning it.
  • Matt Bennett, c0-founder of the centrist Democratic group Third Way, said: "His administration is cranking away on these Potemkin legislative efforts."
  • "But what he's really interested in is storylines revolving around him — driving the conversation with whatever crosses his mind at that moment, and then comes out of his mouth or his fingers."

Be smart ... All that is more evidence for our continuing reminder to you that Trump will be more Trump this year:

  • With the departure of centrist aides and the gravitational pull of midterms in November and his reelection race in 2020, Trump's nationalist campaign instincts are likely to get even more sway than they did last year.

P.S. The White House begins this week with unfinished business — continuing fallout from the messy resignation of Staff Secretary Rob Porter:

  • N.Y. Times: "Even when reporters called the White House press office roughly three weeks ago asking about Mr. Porter’s divorces and whether they had affected his security clearance, that did not stir concern."
  • NYT: Without longtime deputy Kirstjen Nielsen, now Secretary of Homeland Security, Chief of Staff John Kelly "sometimes does not remember what he has said to different people, two officials said."
  • L.A. Times: "Over and over again the past few days, various White House aides have buttonholed reporters to tell them ... that they think Kelly either lied to them or tried to get them to lie about what he knew when."
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Go deeper

Tech scrambles to derail inauguration threats

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies are sharing more information with law enforcement in a frantic effort to prevent violence around the inauguration, after the government was caught flat-footed by the Capitol siege.

Between the lines: Tech knows it will be held accountable for any further violence that turns out to have been planned online if it doesn't act to stop it.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Uganda's election: Museveni declared winner, Wine claims fraud

Wine rejected the official results of the election. Photo: Sumy Sadruni/AFP via Getty

Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a sixth presidential term on Saturday, with official results giving him 59% to 35% for Bobi Wine, the singer-turned-opposition leader.

Why it matters: This announcement was predictable, as the election was neither free nor fair and Museveni had no intention of surrendering power after 35 years. But Wine — who posed a strong challenged to Museveni, particularly in urban areas, and was beaten and arrested during the campaign — has said he will present evidence of fraud. The big question is whether he will mobilize mass resistance in the streets.

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”