Trump walking out to deliver his 2019 State of the Union address. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

President Trump will give his third State of the Union address tonight at 9 p.m. ET, seven weeks after he was impeached by the House of Representatives and one day before he's set to be acquitted by the Senate.

Why it matters: The president typically strikes a more measured tone during formal, teleprompter-guided speeches like the State of the Union, but all bets could be off as an emboldened Trump looks ahead to a scorched earth election campaign.

What to watch

Impeachment: Bill Clinton, the only other president to deliver a State of the Union address in the midst of an impeachment trial, did not once mention the charges brought against him during his 1999 speech.

A senior administration official declined to answer whether Trump would address impeachment, but said the theme of the speech will be "the great American comeback" with an overtone of "relentless optimism."

  • Some Republicans have said they would advise the president against bringing up impeachment, but as Axios previewed this weekend, everything we've heard from Trump's aides over the last month suggests he plans to give less and less credence to voices urging caution.
  • As the president flexes his heightened sense of invincibility, he'll be flanked to the left by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who helped him achieve one of his primary policy goals — the USMCA trade deal — while simultaneously impeaching him for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
  • Whether Democrats applaud any of the achievements touted by a president they've called a legitimate threat to democracy will be a fascinating dynamic to watch.

2020: The 2020 campaign will be front of mind one day after the debacle that was the Iowa Democratic caucuses. The president will seek to highlight what the White House believes are his strongest arguments for his re-election — economic growth, energy production and trade deals, among other things — while accusing his Democratic opponents of favoring "socialist" policies.

  • A senior administration official did not confirm whether the president would directly call out any of his potential 2020 opponents — some of whom will be sitting in the audience — but said he would be "comfortable" doing so.
  • Worth noting: Trump's approval rating has risen to 49%, his highest rating in that poll since taking office, according to Gallup's tracking poll.

Guests: White House officials say Trump's favorite speechmaking device for the State of the Union is to point to guests in the audience and use their stories to dramatize his points.

  • Based on conversations with aides, and on past experience, we expect the White House has at least one surprise guest to create the kind of emotional made-for-TV moment that Trump requires for these speeches.

But we can glean a lot about the White House's priorities for the speech from the guests they've already announced:

  • Trump wants to highlight "Opportunity Zones" — the policy, born out of his 2017 tax bill, that uses tax breaks to encourage businesses to invest in poor neighborhoods — as well as his care for veterans.
  • Trump wants to highlight the importance of being "tough on the border." He'll lionize the deputy chief of U.S. Border Patrol and has invited the brother of a man killed by an undocumented immigrant.
  • As expected, Trump will celebrate his killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani. The president and first lady have invited the widow and son of a U.S. soldier killed by a roadside bomb the White House says was supplied by Soleimani.
  • And he's expected to use a man who escaped from Venezuela to the U.S. to cite the need for regime change — a topic Trump has largely dropped since U.S.-led efforts to force out Nicolas Maduro failed last year.

The other side: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar will deliver the Democratic rebuttals to Trump's speech in English and Spanish, respectively.

  • Democratic guests include Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, and Courtenay Wild, who has spoken publicly about being sexually assaulted as a teenager by Jeffrey Epstein.

Go deeper

Trump's Tucker mind-meld

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images and BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

If you want to understand the rhetorical roots of Trump's Independence Day speech at Mount Rushmore, go back and watch Tucker Carlson's monologues for the past six weeks.

Between the lines: Trump — or rather his speechwriter Stephen Miller — framed the president's opposition to the Black Lives Matter protest movement using the same imagery Carlson has been laying out night after night on Fox.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 11,366,145 — Total deaths: 532,644 — Total recoveries — 6,154,138Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 2,874,396 — Total deaths: 129,870 — Total recoveries: 906,763 — Total tested: 35,512,916Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona hot spot near capacity — Houston mayor warns about hospitals
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Former Trump official Tom Bossert says face masks “are not enough”
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: Sports return stalked by coronavirus
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.

Bolton's hidden aftershocks

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The news media has largely moved on, but foreign government officials remain fixated on John Bolton's memoir, "The Room Where It Happened."

Why it matters: Bolton's detailed inside-the-Oval revelations have raised the blood pressure of allies who were already stressed about President Trump's unreliability.