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It's from a CNN report about the trade war. Here is the context:

Driving Trump, according to aides, is a persistent aversion to appearing weak, even in the face of dire warnings and political fallout. But he has also allowed internal divisions to persist -- a management style he prefers -- offering up uncertain negotiating territory and giving Beijing an opening to exploit divisions among the President's top economic advisers.

I've got three questions to ask.

  1. What does "driving" mean here?
  2. Is the "is" in phrase "is a persistent aversion to appearing weak" a misprint? I have only found a phrase "have an aversion to doing" in the Cambridge Dictionary.
  3. What does "offering up uncertain negotiating territory" mean?
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Driving Trump, according to aides, is a persistent aversion to appearing weak, even in the face of dire warnings and political fallout.

The subject and predicate in this sentence are inverted around the linking verb "is". There is no misprint, but "is a persistent aversion to appearing weak" is not a predicate in this sentence.

"A persistent aversion to appearing weak, even in the face of dire warnings and political fallout" is the subject of the sentence. The sentence says that according to aides, this aversion "is" "driving Trump". The relevant construction is to be driving [someone]: when we say that something "is driving" someone, it means that this thing is a major motivation for that person's actions.

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  1. What does "driving" mean here?

"Driving Trump" means roughly, making Trump do what he does. You could say, "Desire to do well in my exams is driving me to study harder".

  1. Is the "is" in phrase "is a persistent aversion to appearing weak" a misprint?

It doesn't look that way to me. Trump hates appearing weak, doesn't he? So he averts anything which might suggest he's weak.

  1. What does "offering up uncertain negotiating territory" mean?

I'm not sure I understood that sentence myself.

  • The gerund "Driving Trump" working as a subject in this sentence makes me confused. I feel the subject should be a person. The sentence "Trump 'has' a persistent aversion to appearing weak" would make sense to me. – h3po2 Sep 25 '18 at 8:45
  • The subject of this sentence is actually "A persistent aversion to appearing weak"; this is what drives Trump, according to aides. – Wilson Sep 25 '18 at 8:53

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