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Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

In an exit interview with the L.A. Times, White House chief of staff John Kelly argued that his tenure is "best measured by what the president did not do when Kelly was at his side," including a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan, immigration and security reporter Molly O'Toole writes.

The bottom line: "Trump sometimes pressed his advisors on the limits of his authority under the law, often asking Kelly, 'Why can’t we do it this way?’ But Trump never ordered him to do anything illegal, Kelly stressed," O'Toole writes. Kelly leaves Wednesday after 17 months in the West Wing.

As for the border wall, which is at the center of debate during the government shutdown: "To be honest, it’s not a wall," Kelly said.

  • O'Toole writes that one of Kelly's first acts after becoming secretary of Homeland Security in early 2017 was to "seek advice from those who 'actually secure the border,' Customs and Border Protection agents who Kelly calls 'salt-of-the-earth...'"
  • Those people told Kelly that the U.S. needs "a physical barrier in certain places, we need technology across the board, and we need more people.'"
  • Kelly told O'Toole: "The president still says 'wall' — [increasingly] he’ll say 'barrier' or 'fencing,' now he’s tended toward steel slats. But we [abandoned the idea of] a solid concrete wall early on in the administration, when we asked people what they needed and where they needed it."

"Asked if there is a security crisis at the Southern border, or whether Trump has drummed up fears of a migrant 'invasion' for political reasons, Kelly did not answer directly, but said, 'We do have an immigration problem,'" O'Tool writes.

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Wall Street is digging in for a potentially rocky period as Election Day gets closer.

Why it matters: Investors are facing a "three-headed monster," Brian Belski, chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets, tells Axios — a worsening pandemic, an economic stimulus package in limbo, and an imminent election.

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How Biden might tackle the Iran deal

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Four more years of President Trump would almost certainly kill the Iran nuclear deal — but the election of Joe Biden wouldn’t necessarily save it.

The big picture: Rescuing the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is near the top of Biden's foreign policy priority list. He says he'd re-enter the deal once Iran returns to compliance, and use it as the basis on which to negotiate a broader and longer-lasting deal with Iran.

Kamala Harris, the new left's insider

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images     

Progressive leaders see Sen. Kamala Harris, if she's elected vice president, as their conduit to a post-Biden Democratic Party where the power will be in younger, more diverse and more liberal hands.

  • Why it matters: The party's rising left sees Harris as the best hope for penetrating Joe Biden's older, largely white inner circle.

If Biden wins, Harris will become the first woman, first Black American and first Indian American to serve as a U.S. vice president — and would instantly be seen as the first in line for the presidency should Biden decide against seeking a second term.