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Carolyn Kaster / AP

After a week abroad that gave him at least physical distance from the chaos in his West Wing, President Trump this week will confront decisions on three questions that will affect the rest of his term:

  1. Whether to embrace the Paris climate accord, dial back U.S. commitments, or renounce it.
  2. How to structure a crisis-communication apparatus to contain the Russia response, so it doesn't preoccupy the entire West Wing, and how it'll interact with legal and P.R. operations on the outside.
  3. What additions to make to his senior staff, and whether anyone should go.

A ton of juice in a N.Y. Times front-pager, "Kushner's Role In White House Is Under Strain: Family Ties Tested as Russia Case Grows," by Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman and Sharon LaFraniere:"[T]he Trump-Kushner relationship, the most stable partnership in an often unstable West Wing, is showing unmistakable signs of strain.""The most serious point of contention between the president and his son-in-law ... was a video clip this month of Mr. Kushner's sister Nicole Meyer pitching potential investors in Beijing on a Kushner Companies condominium project in Jersey City.""In the following days during routine West Wing meetings, the president made several snarky, disparaging comments about Mr. Kushner's family and the visas that were clearly intended to express his annoyance ... Kushner did not respond, at least not in earshot."Trump, in a statement to The Times last night: "Jared is doing a great job for the country. I have total confidence in him. He is respected by virtually everyone and is working on programs that will save our country billions of dollars. In addition to that, and perhaps more importantly, he is a very good person."P.S. Merkel say Europe must go it alone:

  • N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Ivo H. Daalder, a former United States ambassador to NATO, on comments by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany saying that Europe can no longer rely on the United States: "This seems to be the end of an era, one in which the United States led and Europe followed."
  • What's behind this, from Jonathan Swan: Trump publicly lectured NATO allies that they must stop shirking their financial commitments and begin paying for their own defense rather than relying on the U.S. Trump's unmistakable message to Europe on his first foreign trip was that the days of unquestioning protection from the U.S. are over.
  • Quote of note, from Politico, quoting a senior EU official who was briefed on the closed NATO meetings in Brussels: "Like when there's a new strange kid in the class nobody likes ... You behave civilly when teachers [media] watch but don't spend time with him in private because he's so different."
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Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
25 mins ago - Economy & Business

The fragile recovery

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is falling but remains remarkably high three weeks before pandemic assistance programs are set to expire. More than 1 million people a week are still filing for initial jobless claims, including nearly 300,000 applying for pandemic assistance.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 14, 20.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits of some kind, including more than 13.4 million on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs that were created as part of the CARES Act and end on Dec. 26.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
45 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The top candidates Biden is considering for key energy and climate roles

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Mary Nichols, chair of California's air pollution regulator, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The reported push by Schumer could boost Nichol's chances of leading an agency that will play a pivotal role in Biden's vow to enact aggressive new climate policies — especially because the plan is likely to rest heavily on executive actions.

U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 6.9%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The labor market continues to recover even as coronavirus cases surge— though it's still millions of jobs short of the pre-pandemic level. The problem is that the rate of recovery is slowing significantly.