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Andrew Harnik / AP

Republicans are seizing on a familiar — and for them, distressing — pattern: when President Trump applies unconventional or inappropriate pressure to "independent" public officials, his intervention is often followed by damaging leaks.

About an hour after the Washington Post broke the story Wednesday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, I started hearing from Republicans who are starting to draw a straight line from Trump's undisciplined venting to damaging leaks.

Text message from a GOP operative close to the White House: "Leak was probably a response to stories about POTUS firing Mueller. Can't fire him now."

Why this matters: We don't know where the Post got their leak or what the motivations were behind it, but we do know why former FBI director James Comey leaked memos of his private conversations with the President. Comey said in his public testimony that when Trump tweeted about possibly having "tapes" of a critical conversation with Comey — the contents of which Trump disputes — the former FBI director felt it was urgent to get his contemporaneous accounts of the conversations into the public sphere. He thought it might lead to the appointment of a special counsel (which it did.)

Bottom line: Had Trump kept his mouth shut and his thumbs away from his iPhone, he'd be in a much safer space.

Go deeper

20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Hundreds of Biden staffers receive COVID vaccine

Screenshots of an email inviting White House staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, obtained by Alayna Treene/Axios

A week into the job, President Biden's White House medical team has administered the coronavirus vaccine to several hundred staffers — and aims to vaccinate all in-person staff over the next few weeks, officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: The new administration is ramping up steps to protect President Biden and all staff working inside the White House complex. The administration is also requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The Leon Black clock strikes midnight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Leon Black is "retiring" as CEO of Apollo Global Management, the alternative investment giant he has led since co-founding it in 1990. But he is not making a full break, as Black will remain chair of Apollo's board of directors.

Why it matters: This is the culmination of 18 months of head-in-the-sand obfuscation of Black's dealings with Jeffrey Epstein.

Reddit traders look to pummel Wall Street's old guard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Reddit traders are taking on Wall Street pros at their own game with this basic mantra: Stocks will always go up.

Why it matters: Their trades — egged on in Reddit threads — have played a role in historic market activity in recent days.