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Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP

With increasing legal and practical questions about their presence in the West Wing, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are trying to remain viable by shrinking their purview and making more of an effort to "stay in their lane," associates tell us.

Why it matters: Both are formal White House officials, and their presence creates periodic confusion and resentment — for some, a reminder of why nepotism isn't a good idea:

  • White House Counsel Don McGahn has vented to friends about the complications of having the couple in-house.
  • Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, reported to clients after the UN General Assembly that he had heard from three separate international sources that on-thin-ice SecState Rex Tillerson has taken to calling them "the royal family."
  • Kushner was interviewed on Capitol Hill about his Russia contacts during the campaign, and was involved in many of the matters that special counsel Bob Mueller is probing.
  • Kushner supported the firing of FBI Director Jim Comey, seen by many Trump allies as a disastrous decision.

The couple's friends say they expect them to stay for now, although they never planned to stay all four years:

  • Both see themselves as under constant attack, as a way to get at the president.
  • In the chaotic early days of the administration, "Javanka" — as Steve Bannon derisively called them — were involved in almost everything, from personnel to presidential statements.
  • But now — with the departures of Bannon and Reince Priebus, and the stricter processes put in place by the new chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly — colleagues say they are sticking more closely to their formal portfolios.
  • Under Kelly, "they understand now that they don't have to take on those responsibilities," a colleague said. "Now there are proper channels, and they're just doing what they're supposed to be doing."
  • So Ivanka is focusing on issues like job creation, working families, paid family leave, a child-care tax credit, STEM education and a World Bank fund to help women entrepreneurs.
  • Jared's jobs include the Middle East peace process, NAFTA, improving job training in federal prisons, and his Office of American Innovation. He organized Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia, and brought tech execs to the White House after the Trump climate decision that they hated.

Be smart: As Mueller begins interviewing White House staff and the West Wing becomes increasingly consumed with what he's going to decide, New York may start to look tempting to the couple.

One possible exit strategy: Trump, who has called Ivanka "Honey" and "Baby" in public and is protective of her internally, could say she has paid too high a price for him, and should return to her own life.

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Go deeper

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas case, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."

5 hours ago - Health

Pfizer says COVID vaccine over 90% effective in kids

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting children between the ages of 5 and 11 from symptomatic infections from the virus, according to a study posted online by the FDA Friday.

Why it matters: Pfizer is seeking an emergency use authorization to vaccinate children — one of the last groups of Americans still largely ineligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine.