Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Trump enjoyed yesterday's episode of "The Trump Show": He played the president he sometimes fantasizes being — a post-partisan leader, bigger than Republican or Democrat, a celebrity dealmaker with no firm attachments, who’d overwhelm Washington through the sheer strength of statecraft and deal-cutting genius. A real Davos man. P.T. Barnum with a pulpit. 

His presidency hasn’t lived up to that vision. Trump’s victories have been partisan victories — unwinding regulations, appointing conservative judges, withdrawing from the Paris climate deal, passing a Republican tax bill and repealing the cornerstone of Obamacare. 

But Trump yesterday showed the side we often hear about from behind closed doors:

  • He opened an immigration negotiation session to reporters for 54 minutes. During the meeting, he floated that he wanted a comprehensive immigration deal — something that scares the living daylights out of the right wing of his party. (N.Y. Times lead story: "Trump Receptive to Working Out Citizenship Path ... 'I’ll Take the Heat,’ He Says, Seeming to Back a Broader Deal.")
  • He lamented about how the two parties don’t get along, and can’t cut deals like they did in the good old days.
  • He said that maybe Congress should bring back earmarks — a.k.a. “pork” — another Republican apostasy.
  • We learned that he'll attend Davos — the clubby globalist conference in Switzerland (60 heads of state or government, plus top CEOs and over 1,000 leaders from civil society, academia and media).

Why this matters: When Trump is in these moods, he’s at his most unpredictable (and therefore most dangerous, in the eyes of Republican leaders.)

  • Trump is in the middle of high stakes negotiations to avoid a government shutdown, and his lack of attachment to any ideology or principles means he could easily veer into Chuck and Nancy’s arms.

Go deeper

The hacking of Iran's hackers

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

An Iranian cyber operations front organization that’s a target of new U.S. sanctions was itself the victim of an attack that looted its own hacking tools and dumped them on the internet two years ago.

Driving the news: Last week, amid increasing tensions between Washington and Tehran, the Treasury Department announced major new Iran-related sanctions targeting cyber operators working for Iranian intelligence. The sanctions targeted 45 individuals affiliated with Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), Tehran’s main civilian intelligence agency.

FDA chief vows agency will not accept political pressure on coronavirus vaccine

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn promised that "science will guide our decision" for a coronavirus vaccine at a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

Why it matters: More Americans are expressing doubt about a first-generation vaccine, despite President Trump's efforts to push an unrealistic timeline that conflicts with medical experts in his administration.

CEO confidence rises for the first time in over 2 years

Data: Business Roundtable; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A closely-watched CEO economic confidence index rose for the first time after declining for nine straight quarters, according to a survey of 150 chief executives of the biggest U.S. companies by trade group Business Roundtable.

Why it matters: The index, which still remains at a decade low, reflects corporate America's expectations for sales, hiring and spending — which plummeted amid uncertainty when the pandemic hit.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!