Axios Apr 16
SaveSave story

Trump's aides push him toward tougher stance against Russia

Trump and Putin at the G20 Summit
Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump at the G20 Summit in Hamburg. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

"In battle over Russia policy, Trump’s aides are winning" ... The WashPost reports on "a tension at the core of the Trump administration’s increasingly hard-nosed stance on Russia."

The bottom line: Trump, a "reluctant hawk," "instinctually opposes many of the punitive measures pushed by his Cabinet that have crippled his ability to forge a close relationship with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin."

The reporters — Greg Jaffe, John Hudson and Phil Rucker — uncork this illustration:

  • "Trump seemed distracted in March as his aides briefed him ... on the administration’s plan to expel 60 Russian diplomats and suspected spies. ... The United States, they explained, would be ousting roughly the same number of Russians as its European allies."
  • Trump instructed: “We’ll match their numbers ... We’re not taking the lead. We’re matching.”
  • "The next day, ... Trump erupted ... France and Germany were each expelling only four Russian officials."
  • "His briefers tried to reassure him that the sum total of European expulsions was roughly the same as the U.S. ... 'I don’t care about the total!' [an] administration official recalled Trump screaming."
  • "Growing angrier, Trump insisted that his aides had misled him."
Axios 3 hours ago
SaveSave story

Axios situational awareness

🚨Trump’s “great man” playQualcomm layoffsJeff Bezos presents 7 ways to lead— 📊 Big Tech visa uptick

Sign up for Mike Allen's Axios AM.

Jonathan Swan 3 hours ago
SaveSave story

Trump's "great man" play on North Korea

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

President Trump views the North Korean crisis as his “great man” of history moment.

The big picture: He came into office thinking he could be the historic deal maker to bring peace to the Middle East. He’s stopped talking about that. There’s very little point. The peace deal looks dead and cremated. But Trump wants to sign his name even larger into the history books, and he views North Korea as his moment.