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Cover: Dutton

ABC's Jonathan Karl writes in "Front Row at the Trump Show," out Tuesday, that during a meeting in 2017, President Trump interrupted a presentation by then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster on the deteriorating situation in Venezuela, and demanded a war plan. "I will pass that order on to the Pentagon immediately, Mr. President," McMaster replied.

The big picture: Karl writes that one of the options Trump "had in mind was a naval blockade of Venezuela, which didn't make sense for a lot of reasons, including the fact that Venezuela is not an island."

As McMaster marched into his office, then-chief of staff John Kelly hustled after him, Karl writes:

"What the hell are you doing?" Kelly asked.
"I am going to carry out an order from the commander in chief," McMaster answered.
Kelly told him to stand down and not to pass the president's order on to the Pentagon.

Why it matters: It's a juicy example of the approach Kelly, who tried to bring discipline to a chaotic West Wing, took to corralling Trump.

  • At a crowded sports bar in Manila during a presidential trip, Kelly told Karl that "the most important thing he did was tell the president no. 'No. Don’t tweet that. No. Don’t change your policy on that. No, no, no.'"

Between the lines: When Karl went to Kelly and asked if he could use a certain off-the-record exchange in the book, the retired general had a surprisingly blanket response, Karl writes in a footnote: "[H]e agreed to allow me to quote this and other previously off-the-record remarks he made while he was chief of staff."

Left: The New York Post's Jonathan Karl interviewed Donald Trump in 1994, and Trump asked if he wanted to "get a picture." (Photo courtesy Jonathan Karl) Right: ABC's Jonathan Karl questions President Trump this week. (Photo courtesy Doug Mills/The New York Times)

Go deeper ... New book: Steve Bannon called Nancy Pelosi "an assassin"

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Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Rahm Emanuel floated for Transportation secretary

Rahm Emanuel. Photo: Joshua Lott for The Washington Post via Getty Images

President-elect Biden is strongly considering Rahm Emanuel to run the Department of Transportation, weighing the former Chicago mayor’s experience on infrastructure spending against concerns from progressives over his policing record.

Why it matters: The DOT could effectively become the new Commerce Department, as infrastructure spending, smart cities construction and the rollout of drone-delivery programs take on increasing economic weight.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden turns to experienced hands for White House economic team

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Joe Biden plans to announce Cecilia Rouse and Brian Deese as part of his economic team and Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: These are experienced hands. Unveiling a diverse group of advisers also may draw attention away from a selection of Deese to run the National Economic Council. Some progressives have criticized his work at BlackRock, the world's largest asset management firm.

Biden taps former Obama communications director for press secretary

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Jen Psaki, who previously served as Obama's communications director, will serve as President-elect Joe Biden's press secretary, the transition team announced Sunday.

The big picture: All of the top aides in Biden's communication staff will be women, per the Washington Post, which first reported Psaki's appointment.