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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

2 hours ago - Sports

Gonzaga University revokes NBA great John Stockton's tickets over mask stance

Former Utah Jazz player John Stockton during a 2017 press conference in Salt Lake City. Photo: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Gonzaga University suspended the season tickets of notable alumni John Stockton after the NBA Hall of Famer failed to comply with the school's basketball games mask mandate, the Spokesman-Review first reported.

Driving the news: "Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear a mask to the games and being a public figure, someone a little bit more visible, I stuck out in the crowd a little bit," the former Utah Jazz point guard told the outlet in an interview Saturday.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

State Department orders evacuation of U.S. diplomats' families from Ukraine

From left, undersecretary for political affairs Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. chargés d'affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien during a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv. Photo: Yevhen Liubimov/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The State Department will begin evacuating families and nonessential staff from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv this week, according to a travel advisory published Sunday evening.

Why it matters: The move underscores U.S. fears that a Russian invasion could destabilize Ukraine and threaten the embassy's ability to assist Americans.

Perfect storm brewing for extreme politicians

Data: Axios research; Table: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Redistricting and a flood of departing incumbents are paving the way for more extreme candidates in this year's midterm elections.

Driving the news: At least 19 House districts in 12 states are primed to attract such candidates — hard partisans running in strongly partisan districts — according to an Axios analysis of districts as measured by the Cook Political Report's Partisan Voter Index (PVI).

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