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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Yesterday was a devastating day for President Trump as he heads into his reelection campaign and an era of divided government.

Why it matters: He blinks; he disappoints the people who still love him; he gets no credit for reopening the government, given he already took credit for the shutdown; and we’re back where we started after 35 days of pointlessness.

The big picture: The shutdown not only wasted a month of Trump's presidency, but it accelerates a months-long losing streak:

  • Trump is being outfoxed and outplayed by Speaker Pelosi:
    • He ended the shutdown without getting anything obvious in return, after caving earlier in the week to her refusal to hold the State of the Union address in the House chamber.
    • "Pelosi 2, Trump 0," a senior administration official instantly texted me.
    • Drudge's banner, with a Trump pic: "WALLED IN."
    • Swan tweeted: "A former White House official texts me, unsolicited: 'Trump looks pathetic...he just ceded his presidency to Nancy Pelosi.'"
    • Maggie Haberman tweeted: "Not only did Trump alienate moderates with a shutdown, he upset his core 35 percent by caving — and, most significantly for 2020, did it all as Democrats held together on a major issue fight."
  • Yesterday's indictment of Roger Stone references "senior Trump Campaign officials," "a senior Trump campaign official" and "a high-ranking member of the Trump Campaign":
    • A "senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact STONE about any additional [WikiLeaks] releases and what other damaging information [WikiLeaks] had regarding the Clinton Campaign."
  • The midterm results left Trump weaker in battleground states than many people in his orbit seem to realize.
    • As Jim VandeHei and I pointed out in November: "[A]ll the big trends are working against Trump and the GOP."
  • Trump's election and Year 1 juiced the record bull run, but the stock market wobbled and dipped in Year 2:
Expand chart
Data: Money.Net, Yahoo! Finance. Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Be smart: An adviser to top Republicans told me this week's debacle "rendered Trump impotent."

  • "Total surrender," the adviser said. "Disorganized, disoriented and now disrespected."
  • "The Senate Rs were about to cut and run. He had no exit ramp."
  • "At least it got Stone off the top of the news."
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Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.