Photo: Carlos Barria, Pool/Getty Images

A source close to President Trump tells Jonathan Swan that he thinks a declaration of a national emergency at the border — which Trump stopped short of last night — remains the most likely ultimate option, because of the latitude it gives the president.

Yes, but: Conservatives, including sources in the conservative legal orbit surrounding Trump, don’t like what they view as an abuse of this authority.

Meanwhile, the White House Office of Management and Budget has been exploring other creative ways to get Trump his wall money without having to go through Congress, according to a source close to Russ Vought, a top OMB official.

  • OMB, at Trump's behest, is exploring whether he can tap Pentagon resources to fund the wall without going to Congress, the source said.
  • The Pentagon option is one of a couple of possibilities being seriously contemplated, per the source.
  • Any such move, of course, would face political headwinds, given that even the most obscure pots of federal money have members of Congress jealously guarding them.

Privately, President Trump "dismissed his own new strategy as pointless," the N.Y. Times' Peter Baker reports and I've confirmed:

  • "In an off-the-record lunch with television anchors hours before the address, he made clear in blunt terms that he was not inclined to give the speech or go to Texas [for a border visit tomorrow], but was talked into it by advisers."

"It’s not going to change a damn thing, but I’m still doing it," Trump said.

  • "The trip was merely a photo opportunity, he said. 'But,' he added, gesturing at his communications aides Bill Shine, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway, 'these people behind you say it’s worth it.'"

P.S. The N.Y. Times' Maggie Haberman, post-gaming on CNN: "It's just not a natural setting for him, and we didn't hear a whole lot new."

  • "We certainly heard a whole lot — although less than usual — things that were not true. They are still talking past each other, these two sides."

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 6,681,251 — Total deaths: 197,763 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 91,546,598Map.
  3. Politics: Trump vs. his own administration on virus response.
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  5. Business: Unemployment drop-off reverses course 1 million mortgage-holders fall through safety netHow the pandemic has deepened Boeing's 737 MAX crunch.
  6. Education: At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable.
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Where it stands: Airline CEOs met Thursday with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who said President Trump would support an additional $25 billion from Congress to extend the current aid package through next March.

House Democrats ask DOJ watchdog to probe Durham's Trump-Russia investigation

Attorney General Bill Barr. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynsky/AFP via Getty Images

Four Democratic House committee chairs on Friday asked the Justice Department's inspector general to launch an "emergency investigation" into whether Attorney General Bill Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham, his appointee, are taking actions that could "improperly influence the upcoming presidential election."

Catch up quick: Last year, Barr tapped Durham to conduct a sweeping investigation into the origins of the FBI's 2016 Russia probe, after he and President Trump claimed that it was unjustified and a "hoax."