Aug 15, 2018

Trump's presidential reality show

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

In private conversations with President Trump before his first Omarosa eruption, advisers counseled him to hold his tongue.

What we're hearing: Several told him to ignore her and that engaging would only boost her book sales. Trump said privately that First Lady Melania Trump had advised him to stay above it. But they knew he wouldn't be able to resist.

And they were right. Trump's reality TV background, always a subtext of his approach to governing, this week became the dominant sensibility as he and his aides repeatedly engaged the celebrity villain from his "Apprentice" days:

  • Trump tweets about the former communications director for his Office of Public Liaison: "When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!"
  • Even Trump defender Geraldo Rivera scolded the president for that one: "Fear my friend @realDonaldTrump undermines himself by using intemperate, boorish language to describe his enemies. I can't stand @OMAROSA a bully, back stabber & big mouth. But to call her a 'dog' & 'low life' is beneath dignity of the office of @POTUS & open to ugly connotation."
  • The enemy of my enemy ... To bolster his case against O, Trump retweets Michael Cohen, the former fixer who turned on him and released an audio clip of Trump discussing hush money. Cohen tweeted: To "the many dozens of #journalists who called me, questioning @OMAROSA claim in her new book that @POTUS @realDonaldTrump took a note from me, put it in his mouth and ate it...I saw NO such thing and am shocked anyone would take this seriously."
  • "Trump's campaign arm ... filed a complaint with an arbitrator, accusing former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman of violating a 2016 confidentiality agreement with her tell-all book and publicity tour." (NPR)
  • And then, in response to Sarah Sanders' inability to issue a blanket denial on Omarosa's most incendiary allegation, the cable news banners ... CNN: "WH: 'CANNOT GUARANTEE' TAPE WON'T REVEAL TRUMP USING N-WORD" ... Fox: "WH: CANNOT GUARANTEE RECORDINGS WON'T REVEAL TRUMP USING RACIAL SLUR."

A current White House official told us: "From the folks I've talked to (and I know I feel this way), it's honestly more of true disappointment that she did this."

  • "Not because she's some pillar of integrity ... but because at the end of the day, she was in the trenches with us."
  • "[I]t's truly a bummer to think anyone can turn on so many people, so quickly."
  • "And ... she's clearly enjoying it."

The big picture, from an outside West Wing adviser: "Friends and allies are unfazed by the chaos around Omarosa, stunned by his retweeting Cohen ... and fearful about Manafort rolling over."

  • Omarosa ends her three pages of acknowledgments: "To God be the glory!"

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 618,043 — Total deaths: 28,823 — Total recoveries: 135,736.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 104,865 — Total deaths: 1,709 — Total recoveries: 894.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump signed the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill to provide businesses and U.S. workers economic relief.
  4. State updates: A group of Midwestern swing voters that supported President Trump's handling of the coronavirus less than two weeks ago is balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter. Alaska is latest state to issue stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month.
  5. World updates: Italy reported 969 coronavirus deaths on Friday, the country's deadliest day. In Spain, over 1,300 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. Business latest: President Trump authorized the use of the Defense Production Act to direct General Motors to build ventilators for those affected by COVID-19. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has been appointed to enforce the act.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancing.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Coronavirus updates: World case count tops 600,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that the novel coronavirus pandemic could worsen if people fail to take the appropriate containment measures, at a news conference in Tokyo.

The big picture: The U.S. leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, as the number of global cases nears 615,519. Governments around the world are trying to curb the medical and financial fallout of COVID-19, as infections surge across Europe and the U.S.

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