May 20, 2017

Exasperated Trump WH staff admit his special resilience

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."

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll hits 3,900

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. death toll from the novel coronavirus has just hit 3,900, per Johns Hopkins data.

Details: Tuesday night's grim milestone came hours after President Trump said it's "going to be a very painful two weeks," with projections indicating the novel coronavirus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place. "They are going to be facing a war zone," he said of medical workers.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 13 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates: UN warns of recession with "no parallel" to recent past

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

The novel coronavirus pandemic is the "greatest test" the world has faced together since the formation of the United Nations just after the Second World War ended in 1945, UN chief António Guterres said Tuesday.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 858,000 and the death toll exceeded 42,000 Tuesday night, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy reported more than 12,000 deaths.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 18 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 857,957 — Total deaths: 42,139 — Total recoveries: 178,091.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 188,547 — Total deaths: 3,899 — Total recoveries: 7,068.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  6. Coronavirus in custody: Inmates in all U.S. federal prisons are set to enter a 14-day quarantine on April 1. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release 10 detained immigrants who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 while in confinement.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.