White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens to local and state officials during a meeting Feb. 12. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Chief of Staff John Kelly's White House enemies are ready to use FBI Director Chris Wray's testimony as a weapon: "Wray’s FBI timeline makes one thing clear: the Kelly coverup is unraveling right before our eyes," a White House official says.

Kelly’s allies insist he knew nothing about the domestic violence until the Daily Mail story and that former White House aide Rob Porter misled Kelly to get the positive statement. (Porter denies this and tells associates he gave Kelly a full picture of what would be in the story, and denied the more serious accusations of physical abuse.)

Kelly’s story — that he acted immediately and decisively “within 40 minutes” to terminate Porter last Tuesday night — is also undermined by what multiple White House officials told reporters in real time. They said on Wednesday that nobody asked Porter to resign and in fact several senior officials asked him to “stay and fight.”

Why this matters: Kelly had overseen relative calm among White House staff since his appointment. The bungled response to allegations of abuse by Porter has thrown that into disarray.

Go deeper: How the FBI director contradicted the White House on the Porter timeline

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election.
  2. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  3. Health: Studies show drop in COVID death rate — The next wave is gaining steam — The overwhelming aftershocks of the pandemic.
  4. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — San Francisco public schools likely won't reopen before the end of the year.

Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a vote on Republicans' $500 billion targeted COVID-19 relief bill, a far less comprehensive package than the $1.8 trillion+ deal currently being negotiated between the Trump administration and House Democrats.

Why it matters: There's little appetite in the Senate for a stimulus bill with a price tag as large as what President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been calling for. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) "skinny" proposal was mostly seen as a political maneuver, as it had little chance of making it out of the Senate.

The hazy line between politics and influence campaigns

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The recent firestorm over the New York Post’s publication of stories relying on data from a hard drive allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden shows the increasingly hazy line between domestic political “dirty tricks” and a foreign-sponsored disinformation operation.

Why it matters: This haziness could give determined actors cover to conduct influence operations aimed at undermining U.S. democracy through channels that just look like old-fashioned hard-nosed politics.