May 2, 2019

Bill Barr is Trump's dream attorney general

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump ranted and raged at what he perceived as insufficient loyalty by his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

The state of play ... Trump now has his man: Attorney General Bill Barr positions himself squarely in the president's corner, and makes no public effort to preserve the traditional remove between the Justice Department and the White House.

We saw this with the torque Barr put on the Mueller report, when he issued a summary that was criticized as being overly generous to Trump — by none other than special counsel Robert Mueller.

  • We saw this with Barr's decision to hold a news conference — announced by Trump — to spin the Mueller report several hours ahead of its release.

And we saw this with Barr's unapologetic tone yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

  • Barr referred to Mueller's note criticizing his summary as "a bit snitty," and "probably written" by the special counsel's staff.
  • Questioned about obstruction, Barr insisted: "I didn't exonerate."
  • This dynamic was most clear with Barr's defiant, brusque treatment of Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) — the senator who Trump calls "Da Nang Dick."
  • The day ended with Barr refusing to appear today before the House Judiciary Committee — although Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said he'll still meet at 9 a.m. (AP headline: "House committee to face an empty chair instead of Barr.")

Behind the scenes: A source familiar with Trump's thinking said the president thought Barr was great and did an excellent job. Trump talked about his toughness and competence. 

  • Be smart: Don't lose sight of the fact that Barr released the whole report, lightly redacted. He spun for POTUS, but he didn't suppress the report.

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Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."

Situational awareness

Warren Buffett. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Warren Buffett releases annual letter, reassures investors about future of Berkshire Hathaway
  2. Greyhound bars immigration sweeps
  3. U.S. military officially stops offensive operations in Afghanistan
  4. America's future looks a lot like Nevada
  5. Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

America's future looks a lot like Nevada

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Today's Nevada caucus will foreshadow the future of American politics well beyond 2020.

Why it matters: The U.S. is in the midst of a demographic transformation, and the country's future looks a lot like Nevada's present. Today's results, in addition to shaping the 2020 race, will help tell us where politics is headed in a rapidly changing country.