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Evan Vucci / AP

As the the bombshell headlines flew with Air Force One en route Saudi Arabia yesterday, a top outsider adviser to the West Wing emailed me: "The drips are filling the bucket."

And a top official in another Republican White House told me in a phone call: "He may be abroad, but he can't escape."

In conversations all over town, people realized they were living history: momentous revelations about peril inside the West Wing, just as "The Trump Show" was headed overseas for the first time.

Axios' Jonathan Swan is in 24/7 communication with White House sources, and tapped out this gripping postcard on his iPhone:

[M]ost WH officials I've spoken to privately this week are closer to being numb than panicked. Those who went through the campaign with Trump are numb to the crises and thought so many times before that *this* would be the one to break Trump. They've been wrong so many times before — the vast majority of Trump campaign staff, no matter their public posturing, thought Clinton would crush him.
They view their boss as completely undisciplined and self-destructive. They're exasperated by him ... They're sick and tired of the media feeding frenzy. But even in their most frustrated moments, they'll admit that Trump has got some special resilience that they can't begin to understand. A coat of protection that almost seems supernatural to them.
White House sources have texted me this week asking how bad I think the story of the day is. One asked me whether I thought Trump's private comments to Comey were a better story or worse for Trump than the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape. Those who were there for "Access Hollywood" have no idea what it would take to sink Trump.

After we talked, Swan sent this P.S.: "The core Trumpers from the campaign — who view themselves as loyal to Trump above all else — are completely unfazed by the Russia and Comey revelations. They're just swinging for Trump and have no qualms working to defend him."

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Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”