Andrew Harnik / AP

"Away from the cameras and apart from the nonstop drama of the White House, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has come to play a role unlike any other Cabinet member," the WashPost's Greg Jaffe and Dan Lamothe write on the front page:

  • "The retired Marine general has become a force for calm, order and, in the eyes of the president's critics, quiet resistance to some of President Trump's most combative and divisive instincts."
  • "Mattis has maintained this air of independence without directly provoking a president who demands absolute loyalty."
  • "The latest example came [yesterday] morning when Trump vented his frustrations with North Korea after its latest missile launch. 'Talking is not the answer!' Trump tweeted ... 'We're never out of diplomatic solutions,' Mattis said."
  • "On Tuesday night, Mattis seemed again to be in mitigation mode when he announced that he would be pulling together a 'panel of experts' to provide advice on how to implement Trump's ordered ban on transgender troops."
  • Why it matters: "Mattis's deft political touch has surprised many who watched him fall out of favor with the Obama White House. ... In the Trump administration he has managed to press his differences without provoking a backlash."

Be smart: Mattis is a linchpin of what we call the unofficial Committee to Save America — administration and congressional leaders who see themselves as playing a behind-the-scenes role in protecting Trump and the nation from some of his instincts.

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1:30 p.m. ET: 20,412,501 — Total deaths: 744,649— Total recoveries: 12,629,465Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1:30 p.m. ET: 5,163,509 — Total deaths: 164,994 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi on state of coronavirus stimulus talks: "It's a chasm"
  4. Business: U.S. already feeling effects of ending unemployment benefits.
  5. Public health: America is flying blind on its coronavirus response.
  6. Education: Gallup: America's confidence in public school system jumps to highest level since 2004.

Pelosi on state of coronavirus stimulus talks: "It's a chasm"

Democrats and the Trump administration remain "miles apart" on negotiations over a coronavirus stimulus deal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Wednesday.

Driving the news, via Axios' Dion Rabouin: Congress' failure to renew enhanced unemployment measures for millions of Americans at the end of July is already affecting consumer spending patterns, holding down retail purchases and foot traffic, economists at Deutsche Bank say.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. threatens to veto UN peacekeeping in Lebanon over Hezbollah concerns

Peacekeepers with Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon. Photo: Jalaa Marey/AFP via Getty

The Trump administration is threatening to veto a resolution to extend the UN's long-standing peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon if its mandate isn't changed, Israeli and U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: The U.S. is the main funder of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has an annual budget of $250 million. The veto threat is a tactical move, and part of a broader effort to put pressure on Iran and its proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah.