Feb 14, 2017

Flynn's 97 hours of hell

Andrew Harnik / AP

At 4:06 p.m. yesterday on MSNBC, Kellyanne Conway — Counselor to the President, and someone who authentically has his ear and affection — twice told anchor Steve Kornacki, live from the White House briefing room, that embattled national security adviser Mike Flynn "does enjoy the full confidence of the president — this is a big week for General Flynn."

Well, at least half that was true. An hour later, press secretary Sean Spicer put out a very different statement, resulting in the all-evening headline on CNN: "WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP IS 'EVALUATING' FLYNN SITUATION." How often does that end well?

We told you Sunday that Flynn "looks gone," and yesterday that he was "toast." It was obvious to our top West Wing sources that he had to go after lying to Vice President Pence, who was mad about it — his own credibility had been damaged, along with the administration's, after the V.P. went on TV and repeated Flynn's assurance that he had not discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador during a transition conversation. After it was clear that transcripts of the call were leaking, Flynn became less sure.

And yet, President Trump hesitated for 97 hours, from the time The Washington Post posted its devastating revelation Thursday night that Flynn had the discussions "despite denials." Flynn took a last joyride on Air Force One, spent the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, and a "senior administration official" told CNN on Sunday that Flynn had "no plans to resign and no expectations that he will be fired."

Who's running this railroad? Yesterday evening, The Post struck again, revealing that acting attorney general Sally Yates, later fired by Trump for refusing to enforce the migrant travel ban, informed White House Counsel Don McGahn late last month that she believed Flynn had misled officials about his communications with the ambassador — and was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail!

At 11:12 last night, the White House finally announced: "President Donald J. Trump Names Lt. General Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr. as Acting National Security Advisor / Accepts Resignation of Lt. General Michael Flynn." (Details of the resignation here.)

The New Yorker's Evan Osnos tweeted:

The Flynn story is a reminder of a big truth: Journalism lives. And principled public servants who got the story out are hidden heroes.— Evan Osnos (@eosnos) February 14, 2017

Alumni of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations are agog: They tell me their bosses never would have tolerated drift in the face of such a revelation. There may well have been something behind the scenes that we don't know about.

If so, someone in the White House will no doubt cough it up, pronto.

Go deeper

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 5,428,605 — Total deaths: 345,375 — Total recoveries — 2,179,408Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil Over 100 cases in Germany tied to single day of church services.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.