May 23, 2017

Copying Clinton, Trump builds scandal war room

Andrew Harnik / AP

Day 124... White House officials tell me they're gearing up for months, and likely years, of Russia defense. Trump and his inner circle are belatedly scrambling to install war-room-like mechanisms designed to prevent the drama and threat from consuming the entire West Wing, and derailing everything else.

Trump aides have studied precedents, including the Reagan White House's handling of Iran-Contra and President Clinton's scandal machinery.

The West Wing appears to be absorbing key lessons from its predecessors, although even Trump allies tell me he's just beginning to take steps to wall off the controversy that should have begun on Day 1:

  • Trump aides recognize the Russia defense will be essentially permanent, and are finally planning structures to reflect that.
  • A key takeaway from past administrations is to designate one office or official to handle all the legal and communications issues, so there's a consistent response and everyone else isn't constantly sucked in.
  • In "Trump looking at outside counsel for Russia probe," the WashPost's Bob Costa and Ashley Parker report: "[A]ttorneys who have spoken to the White House and who are seen as the finalists are Marc E. Kasowitz; Robert J. Giuffra Jr.; Reid H. Weingarten; and Theodore B. Olson."
  • "Two other attorneys who were originally viewed as contenders but have since drifted away from the mix ... are Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. ... and A.B. Culvahouse Jr."
  • "Kasowitz, who has known Trump for decades, is expected to take a leading role."
  • Separately, Trump "personally reached out to two of his former campaign aides — his first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and his deputy campaign manager, David Bossie — to sound them out about working with the administration as crisis managers," per Politico's Eliana Johnson and Josh Dawsey.

What could go wrong? One Trump ally said the list of legal eagles is encouraging: "These guys know how to fight a war."

  • Be smart: Both Republican and Democratic lawyers tell me the legal "Team of Rivals" could replicate some of the West Wing's dysfunction, forcing lawyers who are used to being in charge to compete for Trump's ear.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 5,626,047 — Total deaths: 351,815 — Total recoveries — 2,314,233Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 1,684,173 — Total deaths: 99,123 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Public health: Fauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine — Nearly half of Americans say someone in their household has delayed medical care.
  4. Tech: Zipline drones deliver masks to hospitals; vaccines could be next
  5. Business: Boeing to lay off 6,770 more U.S. employees.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter ... vs. Trump.
  7. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Live updates: SpaceX to launch historic crewed mission for NASA

The Falcon 9 rocket with a Crew Dragon atop. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX will attempt to launch NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station today.

Why it matters: If all goes well, this launch — expected to happen at 4:33 p.m. ET — will mark the first time a private company has successfully launched people to orbit and the first crewed, orbital rocket launch from the U.S. in 9 years.

Follow along below for live coverage...

Pompeo tells Congress Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Wednesday that he has certified to Congress that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China and does not warrant special treatment under U.S. law.

Why it matters: Revoking Hong Kong's special status would hasten its economic and financial decline, already set in motion by China's growing political grip on the city. The preferential status that the U.S. has long granted Hong Kong has made the city a top U.S. trading partner.

Go deeper (1 min. read)ArrowUpdated 40 mins ago - World