Aug 2, 2017

John Kelly closes the Oval Office door

Alex Brandon / AP

The door to the Oval Office used to be wide open, with favored officials drifting in and out — even in the middle of meetings — to kibitz with Trump.

Now, the door is closed. Gen. John Kelly, the new White House chief of staff, has taken control in dramatic fashion, and is already imposing unmistakable signs of order after just a few days on the job:

  • Even POTUS appears to be trying to impress his four-star handler, picking up his game by acting sharper in meetings and even rattling off stats.
  • Meetings are shorter and stick to their scheduled topic.
  • Everyone — even uber-aides Jared and Ivanka, and economic adviser Gary Cohn — is being deferential to Kelly.

Be smart: The most consequential workplace in America has been one of the most dysfunctional. General Kelly took an instantly assertive tack, and some of the overt shenanigans stopped overnight.

But the ultimate boss has no plans to really change. (Yesterday he tweeted: "Only the Fake News Media and Trump enemies want me to stop using Social Media (110 million people). Only way for me to get the truth out!") And the new internal order will remain only as long as he plays along.

Go deeper

The cost of going after Bloomberg

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Here's the growing dilemma for 2020 Democrats vying for a one-on-one showdown with frontrunner Bernie Sanders: Do they have the guts — and the money — to first stop Mike Bloomberg?

Why it matters: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren all must weigh the costs of punching Bloomberg where he looks most vulnerable: stop-and-frisk, charges of sexism, billionaire entitlement. The more zealous the attacks, the greater the risk he turns his campaign ATM against them.

How Trump’s economy stacks up

Source: "Presidents and US Economy", Trump figures through 2019 courtesy of Alan Blinder; Note: Data shows real GDP and Q1 growth in each term is attributed to the previous president; Chart: Axios Visuals

Average economic growth under President Trump has outpaced the growth under Barack Obama, but not all of his recent predecessors.

Why it matters: GDP is the most comprehensive economic scorecard — and something presidents, especially Trump, use as an example of success. And it's especially relevant since Trump is running for re-election on his economic record.

Coronavirus cases rise as 14 American evacuees infected

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

14 Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for the novel coronavirus before being flown in a "specialist containment" on a plane repatriating U.S. citizens back home, the U.S. government said early Monday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,770 people and infected almost 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China. Taiwan confirmed its first death on Sunday, per multiple reports, in a 61-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Health officials were investigating how he became ill.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health