Evan Vucci / AP

Sources at the White House described scenes of confusion in the hours following news of Trump firing Comey. Internally, at least at a fairly senior level, people were scrambling to figure out what happened.

The firing was done in such haste that his own comms shop couldn't catch up, and the vast majority of White House staff learned about it on TV when the news broke, per White House sources. There was a meeting in Spicer's office with about 20 staffers after they announced the news, which happened as Chuck Schumer was on TV giving his response to the news of the firing.

  • Democrats were on message within minutes: special prosecutor, constitutional crisis, Nixonian. Republicans did not have a coherent response.
  • This left Trump exposed in a way that horrified his officials, and the White House response was so weak that Trump took to Twitter as his own crisis communications manager.
  • From a White House official: "it's insane. The whole thing is just insane."
  • The big takeaway: how exposed White House officials and Trump confidants felt. They didn't have the information, the preparation, the tools, to defend the President.

The big questions: Where were the surrogates who could defend Trump's decision? Jason Miller and Kellyanne Conway were "one-man flak jackets," per multiple people, but where were the law enforcement and AG surrogates?

Go deeper

Updated 35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Mitt Romney says he'll support moving forward with Supreme Court pick

Photo: Greg Nash/AFP/Pool via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced Tuesday that he would support moving forward with a Senate vote on President Trump's selection to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Why it matters: Barring any big surprises, Democrats have virtually no shot at stopping the confirmation process for the president’s nominee before November’s election.

Dave Lawler, author of World
40 mins ago - World

In UN address, Trump says China "unleashed this plague onto the world"

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump used a virtual address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday to defend his response to the coronavirus and call on other countries to “hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China.”

Setting the scene: Trump ticked through four years of major decisions and accomplishments in what could be his last address to the UN. But first, he launched into a fierce attack on China as Beijing’s representative looked on in the assembly hall.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 31,361,979 — Total deaths: 965,642— Total recoveries: 21,528,674Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 6,859,117 — Total deaths: 199,911 — Total recoveries: 2,615,949 — Total tests: 95,841,281Map.
  3. Health: The CDC's crumbling reputation — America turns against coronavirus vaccine.
  4. Politics: Elected officials are failing us on much-needed stimulus.
  5. Business: Two-thirds of business leaders think pandemic will lead to permanent changes — Wall Street fears stimulus is doomed.
  6. Sports: NFL fines maskless coaches.

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