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President Trump departs his press conference on the Census with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Attorney General William Barr. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Top figures in the conservative legal community are stunned and depressed by President Trump's cave in his fight for a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

The state of play: Sources say Leonard Leo and other Federalist Society stalwarts were shocked and floored by how weak the decision was. "What was the dance ... all about if this was going to be the end result?" a conservative leader asked.

  • "A total waste of everyone’s time. ... It’s certainly going to give people pause the next time one has to decide how far to stick one’s neck out."
  • One GOP strategist called it a "punch in the gut."

A week after insisting that he was "absolutely moving forward," Trump said in the Rose Garden that he instead was directing federal agencies to try to compile the information using existing databases. (AP)

  • Trump said: "There used to be a time when you could proudly declare, 'I am a citizen of the United States.'"
  • Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, cheered.

A senior administration official summed up the internal frustration at the opposition to the fight from key Justice Department lawyers:

  • "What's sad is the President has been right on this since Day 1, but he’s being told it's too hard and too long a road legally. Washington lawyers too often bow to the courts and treat them like a higher branch, when this is ripe for a fight, with American people in full support."

Go deeper: 2020 Census could be worst undercount of black and Latinx people since 1990

Go deeper

Why some Republican governors oppose anti-trans bills

Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Chistopher Goodney (Bloomberg), Drew Angerer, Stephen Yang/Getty Images

Some Republican governors have found themselves at odds with their own party over a record number of bills targeting transgender children.

Why it matters: Social conservatives see a winning issue in bills to restrict trans students' participation in sports and access to health care, but the sudden push has met resistance even from some staunch conservatives.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
11 hours ago - Science

China makes history with successful Mars landing

A model of the Tianwen-1 Mars rover is displayed during an exhibition at the National Museum of China in Beijing. Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

A Chinese lander carrying a rover successfully touched down on Mars for the first time, state media reports.

Why it matters: This is the first time China has landed a spacecraft on another planet, and it launches the nation into an elite club of only a few space agencies to successfully make it to the Martian surface.

12 hours ago - World

UN: 10,000 Palestinians displaced in Gaza as Israel-Hamas fighting escalates

A Palestinian woman walks after she collects her belongings inside her damaged house following an Israeli air in the northern Gaza Strip. Photo: Ahmed Zakot/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The United Nations warned Friday that ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas "has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis," in not only the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, but "the region as a whole."

The big picture: More than 125 Palestinians, including 31 children have been killed in Gaza since fighting began Monday, per the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Eight people, including two children, have been killed in Israel, Reuters reported, citing Israeli authorities.