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The White House Correspondents' Association reduced for the second time the number of briefing-room seats that can be occupied on Monday. Photo: Alex Brandon/AP

President Trump egged on by a growing number of advisers and business leaders, believes the economy will crater absent a strong signal, and wants to stagger the reopening of work nationwide, people who’ve spoken to him tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: Trump has been hearing from lots of people in the business community and conservative media telling him the economy can't survive this shutdown much longer. The sources say that "horrific," "truly scary" economic consequences were described to Trump.

"We have to get this going," Trump said during a dinnertime briefing that lasted nearly two hours.

  • "[T]he faster we get it going, the more likely it is that those stores, little businesses, big businesses, medium-sized businesses open up."
  • "And we'll get [the economy] going very fast. ... As soon as we say 'let's go' — and it's gonna be pretty soon. ... It's gonna be sooner than people would think."

What's next: Nothing has been decided yet. But Trump has been persuaded, in line with his instincts, that the economy can’t sustain this shutdown for much longer.

  • The administration is discussing different tiers to ease Americans back into normal life after the 15-day period that ends next Monday.
  • People with underlying health issues or in the highest risk age range will likely be asked to stick with isolation.
  • But others could be encouraged to get back into a more normal routine.

Between the lines: Remember that Trump has no public health professionals in his circle of informal advisers. Those are not his go-to calls when he's in the residence late at night. They’re all business or media folks.

  • The president wants an end date to give businesses, markets and consumers — hence his fixation on the 15-day deadline.

Reality check, via Axios health care reporter Caitlin Owens: For now, the only way to avoid large numbers of deaths is to keep people away from each other to stop the virus' spread.

  • And as long as the coronavirus is spreading, it’s likely to hurt the economy.

Go deeper

Anti-abortion activists' Supreme Court dreams are coming true

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photos: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

This is the moment the conservative legal movement has been building toward for decades: The solidly conservative Supreme Court is about to hear two major abortion cases within a month of each other.

Why it matters: All of this is likely to end with significant new restrictions on abortion and a clear path for Republican-led states to win the next big abortion cases, too — the culmination of a long and bitter fight for control of the judiciary.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
5 hours ago - Economy & Business

Trump's volatile return to the stock market

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios Visuals 

Donald Trump this week became both a meme stock and a social-media entrepreneur at the same time, by announcing that a new company called Trump Media & Technology Group was going to merge with an existing company listed on the stock market.

Why it matters: The medium-term promise of Trump's media company is that it will replace Twitter for anybody wanting to keep track of Trump's messages. The short-term promise is that it can be a hot new speculative vehicle for people wanting to get rich quick in the stock market.

Updated 14 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.