Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

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

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

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Evan Vucci / AP

Last weekend, we reported that President Trump was seriously considering withdrawing from the U.S.-Korea free trade deal, known as KORUS.

Turns out Trump's withdrawal from KORUS was much more than a serious consideration. It was as close as it gets to a done deal, stalled at the last minute by senior officials who raised concerns with Chief of Staff General, John Kelly, that the president hadn't been fully briefed before making such a consequential decision.

I've spent the past week piecing together what happened with the KORUS trade deal, talking to sources with knowledge of what happened.

The sequence of events:

  • Two Fridays ago, on the morning of September 1, Kelly told senior administration officials the president was headed towards withdrawing from KORUS.
  • Several officials, including National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and top economic adviser Gary Cohn, raised concerns with Kelly about whether the president had been properly briefed before making such a consequential decision. (According to the U.S. government, South Korea is America's sixth-largest goods trading partner, with $112.2 billion in two-way trade in 2016.)
  • Senior officials aired concerns about the effect the withdrawal from KORUS would have on financial markets, U.S. exports, relationships with allies, and the overall national security picture with the rising threats from North Korea.
  • McMaster's concerns were taken especially seriously, as there'd been far less discussion about the national security implications than there'd been about the economic consequences.
  • Kelly expressed frustration when he learned the appropriate range of information hadn't been shared with the president.
  • Kelly delayed the withdrawal and set up a normal process for Trump to make the decision. (This echoes Trump's last minute reversed decision, in April, to re-negotiate rather than withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. Top staff, including Cohn and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, aggressively lobbied the president to rethink the NAFTA decision, and are key voices protecting KORUS now, as well.)
  • Trump spoke by phone to South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday, September 1, as scheduled. Some U.S. government officials were relieved when they learned Trump didn't tell Moon he was withdrawing from KORUS.
  • On Sunday, September 3, North Korea detonated by far its most powerful nuclear bomb ever.
  • Top administration officials met with Trump on Tuesday, September 5, to hash out KORUS. Those who shared their concerns about withdrawing from the deal included Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Perdue.
  • The only adviser encouraging Trump to terminate the deal immediately has been Bannon's ally Peter Navarro, a protectionist trade hawk. Sources familiar with the arrangements tell me Trump has sent his trade representative Robert Lighthizer back for more negotiations with the South Koreans. Trump wants real, tough, concessions from Moon — a man he regards as a weak leader.

Bottom line: Administration sources say Trump might still decide to withdraw from KORUS, although probably not in the near term.

Go deeper

Trump, your 2024 GOP nominee

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Former President Trump is telling most anyone who'll listen he will run again in 2024 — and poll after poll shows the vast majority of Republicans would gladly cheer him on and vote for him. 

Why it matters: Trump is the heart, soul and undisputed leader of the Republican Party and will easily win the nomination if he wants it, the polls make unmistakably clear.

Ina Fried, author of Login
59 mins ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

How smartphone cameras became the best cameras

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

For years, the smartphone has been the most convenient camera, and in recent years it has also become the easiest and most versatile camera. But this year's high-end smartphones have taken things to a new level — capturing images that would be either tough or impossible even with a high-end digital camera.

Between the lines: Traditional cameras have the advantage of bigger sensors and better lenses, but smartphone cameras are rivaling and even surpassing them by tapping computational power.

The rise of vegan food in unexpected places

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vegan cuisine is popping up in two places it wasn't present before: fine dining and fast food.

Why it matters: The single biggest way an individual can reduce their carbon footprint is to eat less meat and dairy. Now, the popularization of meatless meals could help curb meat consumption in the U.S.