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President Trump talks to journalists before boarding Marine One yesterday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump's sudden decision to cashier his choice for director of national intelligence, Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas — five days after announcing the pick on Twitter — is a microcosm of how this White House works.

Catch up quick: First, months ago, Trump hears from conservative friends that Ratcliffe is a loyal guy — on Team Trump. Then Trump is blown away by Ratcliffe’s TV performance as he hammered Robert Mueller during his House hearings.

  • Trump is eager to replace a man he doesn't like or trust — Dan Coats — and starts telling staff he wants Ratcliffe.
  • Nobody was ready to announce him last Sunday. But aides said that when Axios and then the N.Y. Times reported that Trump was seriously considering Ratcliffe, the president decided to move.
  • He went ahead and tweeted, a couple hours after the Axios story, that Ratcliffe was the pick.

A number of senior officials were skeptical about Ratcliffe. But as far as we can tell, nobody put up much of a fight to Trump before he announced Ratcliffe.

  • The White House appears to have done no vetting of Ratcliffe's résumé — assuming, perhaps, that if he'd been elected to Congress, he’d been vetted.

Between the lines: Per a source involved, it was only after Trump announced Ratcliffe that aides really scrambled to do a vulnerability assessment on their DNI candidate.

  • The media did it quicker, discovering that Ratcliffe "had exaggerated his role in terrorism and immigration enforcement cases when he served as a federal prosecutor in Texas," writes the Washington Post.

Two people close to Ratcliffe said that Ratcliffe made the decision to withdraw:

  • He didn't anticipate the intensity of the blowback against his potential nomination and his deceptive résumé.
  • A friend of Ratcliffe's said he decided not to put his family through the ordeal, given it was far from clear that at the end of it all, he’d have enough Republican votes to be confirmed.

The end ... Trump finished Ratcliffe off on Twitter, blaming the media instead of the congressman's inflation of his own biography:

Go deeper

Updated 2 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. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists — National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
  5. Cities: Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. World: London police arrest dozens during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

Tony Hsieh, longtime Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Tony Hsieh, the longtime ex-chief executive of Zappos, died on Friday after being injured in a house fire, his lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 46.

The big picture: Hsieh was known for his unique approach to management, and following the 2008 recession his ongoing investment and efforts to revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
9 hours ago - Economy & Business

The unicorn stampede is coming

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Airbnb and DoorDash plan to go public in the next few weeks, capping off a very busy year for IPOs.

What's next: You ain't seen nothing yet.