Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner bragged in an interview with Bob Woodward on April 18 about Trump "getting the country back from the doctors," in reference to the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, according to audio obtained by CNN.

Why it matters: Trump has campaigned on a message of "opening up" the country after lockdowns designed to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the spring resulted in widespread economic disruption. But some health experts have criticized states for opening up too fast, leading to a second and third surge of coronavirus infections as Election Day nears.

Between the lines: Trump has faced criticism for attacking his own health experts, including top infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci, who he has called a "disaster." At a rally earlier this month, Trump said that his opponent Joe Biden would "listen to the scientists," and that it would result in more economic restrictions.

Driving the news: Woodward conducted two separate interviews with Kushner in April and May for his new book, "Rage."

  • On April 18, after the White House released guidelines for reopening, Kushner told Woodward: "There were three phases. There’s the panic phase, the pain phase and then the comeback phase. I do believe that last night symbolized kind of the beginning of the comeback phase."
  • "That doesn’t mean there’s not still a lot of pain and there won’t be pain for a while, but that basically was, we’ve now put out rules to get back to work. Trump’s now back in charge. It’s not the doctors. They’ve kind of – we have, like, a negotiated settlement," he added.

Kushner went on to say that he viewed it as "very smart politically" for Trump to put much of the responsibility for responding to the coronavirus on governors — a decision that has since prompted significant criticism.

  • "The states have to own the testing," Kushner said. "The federal government should not own the testing. And the federal government should not own kind of the rules. It's got to be up to the governors, because that's the way the federalist system works." 
  • "But the President also is very smart politically with the way he did that fight with the governors to basically say, no, no, no, no, I own the opening. Because again, the opening is going to be very popular. People want this country open. But if it opens in the wrong way, the question will be, did the governors follow the guidelines we set out or not?"

The big picture: Kushner also called the Republican Party, "a collection of a bunch of tribes" and said Trump essentially did a "full hostile takeover" of the party when he became the presidential nominee back in 2016.

  • He told Woodward that the "most dangerous people around the president are over-confident idiots," and that Trump had replaced them with "more thoughtful people who kind of know their place."

Go deeper ... Trump's testing czar: COVID surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests

Go deeper

John Kelly: Trump's delay in transitioning "hurts our national security"

John Kelly with President Trump in the White House in January 2017.

President Trump's delay in transitioning "hurts out national security," John Kelly, Trump's former chief of staff, told Politico on Friday.

Why it matters: Trump has not publicly conceded to Joe Biden, and General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy — a Trump political appointee — has not signed documents declaring Biden the apparent winner, preventing his agency review teams from having access to the information they need in order to get to work.

Updated 25 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Sen. Kelly Loeffler to return to campaign trail after 2nd negative test

Sen. Kelly Loeffler addresses supporters during a rally on Thursday. Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Sen. Kelly Loeffler's (R-Ga.) campaign announced Monday that she "looks forward to getting back out on the campaign trail" after testing negative for COVID-19 for a second time, following earlier conflicting results.

Why it matters: Loeffler has been campaigning at events ahead of a Jan. 5 runoff in elections that'll decide which party holds the Senate majority. Vice President Mike Pence was with her on Friday.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Key government agency says Biden transition can formally begin

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy. Photo: Alex Edelman/CNP/Getty Images

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy said in a letter to President-elect Joe Biden on Monday that she has determined the transition from the Trump administration can formally begin.

Why it matters: Murphy, a Trump appointee, had come under fire for delaying the so-called "ascertainment" and withholding the funds and information needed for the transition to begin while Trump's legal challenges played out.