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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The White House is trying to dig itself out of a self-inflicted crisis on Capitol Hill after a hellish week.

Driving the news: President Trump has signaled 3 moves that, while modest in substance, throw scraps of reassurance to anxious Republicans.

  1. A tactical truce with China that pauses the trade war, calms the markets, forestalls planned tariff hikes, and clears the way for Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural products.
  2. A tweet that he is likely to support sanctions against Turkey for its invasion of northern Syria, which has led to the slaughter of America's Kurdish allies and the escape of ISIS prisoners. (Trump is trying to clean up after he cleared the way for Turkey's invasion last Sunday night.)
  3. A deployment of an additional 1,800 U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia to discourage Iranian aggression.

Behind the scenes: Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and senior diplomat Jim Jeffrey have been working behind the scenes with Trump to encourage him to put pressure on Erdogan, per sources with direct knowledge.

  • And Trump is coming to the view that he probably has no choice but to support Congress' impending Turkey sanctions, per these sources. An overwhelming majority of Congress — likely enough to override a presidential veto — appears poised to move on these sanctions.
  • Erdoğan has few friends these days on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers from both parties have been waiting for an opportunity to punish him for his deal with Russia to buy the S-400 missile system. Trump made these sanctions a near certainty from the moment he blindsided allies by announcing the withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria — thus abandoning the Kurds.
  • The White House guaranteed this turmoil on the Hill by blindsiding crucial partners, including the Israelis, key Republican senators and the Christian right.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed hard for the additional troop deployment to Saudi to deter Iran. He did so over the objections of other national security officials, according to a senior administration official.

The big picture: Republican senators are increasingly spooked after being blindsided by weighty presidential decisions, a shift in public opinion toward impeachment, the absence of direction from the White House on impeachment, the fear of what other unknown scandals are still out there, and the daily controversies that all seem to involve the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

  • Trump has "had a terrible 30–40 days," a source close to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. The China truce "stabilized the markets and consumer psychology," the source added. "As far as I'm concerned, this is as serious as a heart attack."

Between the lines: Five White House officials tell me they were relieved by the stabilizing moves, but several expressed skepticism the trend can hold through the week. "This is the pattern of the past 3 years," said a senior White House official. "[Trump] pushes things as far as they can go, to breaking point, and then pulls back. It happens again and again."

  • Another senior official expressed hope that everyone in the White House wakes up to the dangers Trump faces on Capitol Hill.
  • This official acknowledged a split in the White House: One group is naively oblivious to a risk that the bottom could fall out of Trump's support in the Senate. Another group is convinced it can't take Senate Republican support for granted, even though most senators still fear Trump because the Republican base has totally bonded to him.

Go deeper

12 mins ago - World

India sets new COVID world record as oxygen demand jumps seven-fold

COVID-19 patients being treated with free oxygen at a makeshift clinic in Indirapuram, Uttar Pradesh, India. Photo: Rebecca Conway/Getty Images

India has seen demand for oxygen jump "seven-fold" as the country set a new world record for daily COVID-19 cases on Thursday, per AP.

By the numbers: India's health ministry reported 412,262 new infections, taking the official tally past 21 million, and 3,980 deaths from the coronavirus in the past 24 hours. The official death toll now stands at 230,168. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher.

2 hours ago - World

U.K. sends patrol ships to British island amid fishing dispute with France

The HMS Tamar, one of the two ships deployed to Jersey. Photo: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it has deployed two Royal Navy patrol vessels to the island of Jersey "as a precautionary measure," as tensions over fishing rights escalate with France.

Why it matters: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement the government took the action to protect Jersey against threats of "a blockade" of French fishing boats at the island, which is off the coast of northwest France.

Social media's "in-kind contribution to Biden"

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Facebook's continued suspension of Donald Trump's account extends the silencing of Joe Biden's most potent critic — and the current president's control over the national political narrative into his second 100 days.

Why it matters: Biden has been able to successfully focus on COVID-19 relief, his infrastructure plan and fielding his new administration, in part, because Trump hasn't been able to shake his social media muzzle and bray about the migration crisis or any White House misstep.

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