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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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Go deeper

40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's latest executive order: Buy American

President Joe R. Biden speaks about the economy before signing executive orders in the State Dining Room at the White House on Friday, Jan 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden will continue his flurry of executive orders on Monday, signing a new directive to require the federal government to “buy American” for products and services.

Why it matters: The executive action is yet another attempt by Biden to accomplish goals administratively without waiting for the backing of Congress. The new order echoes Biden's $400 billion campaign pledge to increase government purchases of American goods.

Tech digs in for long domestic terror fight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With domestic extremist networks scrambling to regroup online, experts fear the next attack could come from a radicalized individual — much harder than coordinated mass events for law enforcement and platforms to detect or deter.

The big picture: Companies like Facebook and Twitter stepped up enforcement and their conversations with law enforcement ahead of Inauguration Day. But they'll be tested as the threat rises that impatient lone-wolf attackers will lash out.

The pandemic could be worsening childhood obesity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The 10-month long school closures and the coronavirus pandemic are expected to have a big impact on childhood obesity rates.

Why it matters: About one in five children are obese in the U.S. — an all-time high — with worsening obesity rates across income and racial and ethnic groups, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show.