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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Two years of Donald Trump, of Russia, of federal investigations, of fake news, of Fox all come together today in a made-for-the-big-screen and destined-for-the-history-books scene.

The big picture: At today's Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, you have an American president huddling alone with an enemy of the United States who infiltrated our election system.

  • They'll do it on the first weekday after the president’s own government indicted a dozen Russian intelligence agents for carrying out the cyberattack. Also Friday, Trump's top intel official declared that the current danger of more Russian cyberattacks is akin to warning signs before 9/11, when 3,000 were killed and terrorism reshaped the core of our country and lives. 
  • You have an American president who publicly shrugs at the threat, and claims most of the coverage is fake — even as it echoes the precise warnings and conclusions of his own government officials.

When the meeting concludes, Vladimir Putin will postgame with a Fox News interview (Chris Wallace), while Trump will hit two Fox News shows (Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson) to give his own spin.

  • Trump will surely amplify his take on Twitter. This morning, he began Summit Day by tweeting: "Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!"
  • The post-summit sit-downs will be with the same Fox News many expected would be tempered — or even fade — after Roger Ailes was ousted. Instead, it's now the most powerful White House visual stage in history, thanks to Trump.
  • And the same Twitter that was the playground for reporters and news junkies is now the most powerful presidential messaging system in history, thanks to Trump. 

Be smart: Sitting silently back in D.C. will be the one man who can pull all these strings together, sort through the fact and fiction, and tell a tale no one will ever forget — Robert Mueller. 

Continuing coverage on Axios.com, with Jonathan Swan in Helsinki:

  • Trump has a "1:1 bilateral meeting with the President of the Russian Federation," beginning at 6:20 a.m. ET, per the White House schedule.
  • The two leaders are scheduled to hold a joint press conference at 9:50 a.m. ET.

Go deeper

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The 2014 shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.

3 hours ago - World

Biden's ambassador nominee: "China is not an Olympian power"

Nick Burns testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee to serve as ambassador to China delivered a stark assessment of the challenges the U.S. faces in confronting Beijing, but stressed that the rising superpower is "not all-powerful" and the West retains "substantial" advantages.

The big picture: Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, used his confirmation hearing Wednesday to echo the growing bipartisan consensus that China poses "the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world" in the 21st century.

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to form team to solve consulate dispute

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (right) meet in Washington. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel are planning to form a joint team to hold discreet negotiations on the reopening of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: The consulate handled relations with the Palestinians for 25 years before being shut down by then President Donald Trump in 2019. Senior officials in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government see the consulate issue as a political hot potato that could destabilize their unwieldy coalition.