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Olivier Matthys / AP

After celebrating July 4th, President Trump leaves Wednesday for the second foreign trip of his administration. He heads first to Warsaw, Poland, then to Germany for the G-20 meetings with the world's most powerful leaders.

What we'll be watching:

  • Trump's meeting with Putin: comes at an extraordinarily tense time for U.S.-Russia relations. Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to manipulate the election. And Congress is about to slap tough new sanctions on Russia. In a briefing last week, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said the President would "like the United States and the entire West to develop a more constructive relationship with Russia," but we're still yet to see Trump confront Putin over the election hacking.
  • U.S.-German relations: Some are expecting a difficult interaction between Trump and Merkel, due to Trump's pulling out of the Paris climate change accord and his protectionist views on trade. One oddity that may bring Merkel and Trump together: the White House doesn't like the Senate's Russia sanctions bill, and the Germans hate it too. As the WSJ reports, the Germans and Austrians are describing the sanctions "as an illegal attempt to boost U.S. gas exports and interfere in Europe's energy market."
  • Trump's meeting with Xi: They're having a warm-up phone call tonight, but U.S.-China relations are in a tricky spot. When Trump first met with Xi at Mar-a-Lago he emerged gushing about China and how it was going to help with North Korea, and so he didn't want to press too hard on trade. "Completely predictably," says a senior Republican foreign policy official, "the Chinese have done nothing of any substance regarding North Korea. In the past few days week, the U.S./Trump Administration has approved a weapons sale to Taiwan and slapped sanctions on Chinese businesses working with North Korea. Xi of course is all hurt and shocked. So the Trump/Xi meeting will be interesting. Is Trump now the wiser?"
  • How Trump deals with NATO leaders: On his first foreign trip Trump upset NATO allies by publicly lecturing them in his Brussels speech and initially declining to reaffirm America's commitment to Article 5 — the pact that an attack on one NATO ally is an attack on all. McMaster says Trump will "reiterate both America's commitment to NATO's common defense and his expectations that all countries share responsibilities and burdens for that defense." (Caution: McMaster isn't always a perfect predictor of what Trump will say.)

Go deeper

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.
Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

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