Aug 2, 2017

Trump's 6 red alerts

Alex Brandon / AP

President Trump is spoiling for a fight. Aides say he's excited about plans, revealed last night by Axios' Jonathan Swan, to move aggressively against China over its theft of U.S. intellectual property.

  • Against what some aides call his better judgment, Trump moderated his campaign rhetoric about China. Now, irritated about how little Beijing has done to help pressure North Korea, Trump plans to let loose.
  • That announcement, which aides expect soon, reflects a coming hot period for the Trump administration.
  • Suddenly, Trump is facing a bunch of high-stakes confrontations, any one of which could define his presidency.

Richard Nixon wrote a book called "Six Crises" after losing the 1960 presidential race to JFK. Here are six of Trump's coming trials:

  1. North Korea's nuclear capability went from a long-range worry to a clear and present danger, with Denver and Chicago now thought to be in range of weapons the regime is testing. The U.S. has few levers for directly inflicting pain on Kim Jong-un, and the military options are all horrific.
  2. The administration has been sending mixed signals about trade. But the new plan to confront China is a sign that Trump may touch off a trade war, with unpredictable consequences — from the disruption of the flow of commerce, to possible retaliation by the world's other economic superpower.
  3. Anyone in government with access to intelligence and data will tell you the most likely source of a crippling attack on the U.S. is cyber — and the most likely genesis is Moscow. Although this is a known risk, with Putin interfering in elections around the world, Trump has done little to mitigate the danger.
  4. Trump is at real risk of losing his party. His base voters are remaining steadfast, but Republican senators are getting increasingly impatient and resistant. Sen. John McCain's surprise thumbs-down on health care is likely the beginning of a wave of defections from establishment Republicans.
  5. It's rarely discussed publicly, but people in government say that a domestic attack — although unlikely to be on the scale of 9/11 because of all the countermeasures that have been added — is a constant possibility. And critics and skeptics worry about ways Trump could consolidate power in the wake of such an event.
  6. We put Bob Mueller last just because the special counsel gets so much attention. But make no mistake: The special counsel's investigation remains the existential threat to this presidency. Reuters reported that Mueller just added a 16th lawyer to his team — Greg Andres, who has experience prosecuting illegal foreign bribery.

Be smart: Trump, who had a pretty good life before, has never seemed to love this job as much as friends thought he might. And he's about to find out just how hard a job it is.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:00 a.m. ET: 5,594,175 — Total deaths: 350,531 — Total recoveries — 2,288,579Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:00 a.m. ET: 1,681,418 — Total deaths: 98,929 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Business: How the new workplace could leave parents behind.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  7. Public health: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," CDC says, but more data is neededCDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the virus.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 9 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Hong Kong police fire pepper pellets at demonstrators

Hong Kong riot policeissue a warning as they aim to clear away people gathered downtownon Wednesday. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong riot police have fired pepper pellets at activists and surrounded the Legislative Council during demonstrations against a bill proposing to criminalize "disrespect of the Chinese anthem" on Wednesday, per Reuters.

Why it matters: The bill is the latest concern pro-democracy protesters have that Chinese authorities are encroaching on the high degree of autonomy the former British colony has retained since it was returned to China in 1997.

Minneapolis unrest as hundreds protest death of George Floyd

Tear gas is fired as police clash with protesters demonstrating against the death of George Floyd outside the 3rd Precinct Police Precinct in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Tuesday. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Minneapolis police used tear gas during clashes with protesters demanding justice Tuesday night for George Floyd, an African American who died in police custody, according to multiple news reports.

Driving the news: The FBI is investigating Floyd's death after video emerged of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on his neck for several minutes, ignoring protests that he couldn't breathe. Hundreds of protesters attended the demonstration at the intersection where Floyd died, per the Guardian.