Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Trump insiders tell Axios that Labor Secretary Alex Acosta did little to help himself at his high-stakes news conference defending his handling of the Jeffrey Epstein case when he was a federal prosecutor in Florida.

The state of play: Trump hates being goaded into action by media outcries, and a source close to the president said there was "zero" chance he fires Acosta right away. "Zero," the source repeated — but allowing for Trump's impetuousness, another close source said: "I wouldn't say zero."

Between the lines: Trump will decide Acosta's fate based in part on his instinct about how Acosta performed on camera, and how the awkward presser plays.

  • In part, this is Trump as theater critic, making decisions almost as a detached observer of his own administration.

The bottom line: Acosta remains in a tough, shaky position.

  • The secretary has no ideological support with conservatives close to Trump.
  • And his TV performance wasn't particularly strong.

Go deeper: Acosta on thin ice with Trump

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden pushes unity message in new TV wave

A fresh Joe Biden ad, "New Start," signals an effort by his campaign to make unity a central theme, underscoring a new passage in his stump speech that says he won't be a president just for Democrats but for all Americans.

What he's saying: The ad — which began Friday night, and is a follow-up to "Fresh Start" — draws from a Biden speech earlier in the week in Manitowoc, Wisconsin:

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m. ET: 32,390,204 — Total deaths: 985,302 — Total recoveries: 22,286,345Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m ET: 7,020,967 — Total deaths: 203,481 — Total recoveries: 2,710,183 — Total tests: 98,476,600Map.
  3. States: "We’re not closing anything going forward": Florida fully lifts COVID restaurant restrictions — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus.
  4. Health: Young people accounted for 20% of cases this summer.
  5. Business: Coronavirus has made airports happier places The expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance looms.
  6. Education: Where bringing students back to school is most risky.

Trump prepares to announce Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court replacement

Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Photo: Matt Cashore/Notre Dame University via Reuters

President Trump is preparing to nominate federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, a favorite of both the social conservative base and Republican elected officials, to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Republican sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Barrett would push the already conservative court further and harder to the right, for decades to come, on the most important issues in American politics — from abortion to the limits of presidential power. If confirmed, she would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the high court.