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Hillery Smith Garrison / AP

The N.Y. Times' Peter Baker — who's writing a biography of James Addison Baker III with his wife, Susan Glasser — quotes the former chief of staff for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush: "You can focus on the 'chief,' or you can focus on the 'of staff.' Those who have focused on the 'of staff' have done pretty well."

  • "Baker's advice is aimed at those who become too full of themselves, acting as a quasi prime minister, as his successor Donald T. Regan did before making the fateful mistake of hanging up the phone on Nancy Reagan. ... Reince Priebus ... may have gone too far the other direction."
  • Today, "as John F. Kelly takes over Mr. Baker's old corner office with the fireplace and patio, he assumes probably the hardest job in Washington other than president."
  • "Kelly ... seemed to be the anti-Priebus. ... Kelly, 67, is more a generational peer and may take advantage of the president's reverence for generals to get him to listen as he did not to Mr. Priebus, 45 and neither wealthy nor a military officer."

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

McConnell: Trump "provoked" Capitol mob

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was "provoked by the president and other powerful people."

Why it matters: Trump was impeached by the House last week for "incitement of insurrection." McConnell has not said how he will vote in Trump's coming Senate impeachment trial, but sources told Axios' Mike Allen that the chances of him voting to convict are higher than 50%.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP leaders skip Trump sendoff in favor of church with Biden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in July. Photo by Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration, congressional sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.