May 12, 2017

Loyalty and Russia on Trump's mind ahead of Comey firing

Alex Brandon / AP

The loyalty pledge: The NYT reports that a week after taking office, Trump "summoned" Comey to the White House for a dinner in which he twice asked the FBI Director to promise to be loyal to him — and Comey declined. This tallies with earlier reports that Trump wanted and didn't receive an assurance of loyalty, and is shows the Comey camp clearly wants to get his side of the story out.

Russia on his mind: Trump told NBC's Lester Holt that before pulling the trigger on firing Comey he thought, "you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story."

Our full coverage: Trump blames press team but loves Sanders, Majority of Americans disagree with Comey firing, The White House's evolving explanations, Fallout is just beginning.

The full Trump/Russia quote: "Regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it. In fact, when I decided to just do it I said to myself, 'you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.' And the reason they should have won it is the electoral college is almost impossible for a Republican to win."On the timing:"When I did this now I said, 'I probably maybe will confuse people. Maybe I'll lengthen the time, because it should be over with, in my opinion it should have been over a long time ago because all it is is an excuse. I told myself, I might even lengthen out the investigation. But I told myself, I have to do the right thing for the American people. He's the wrong man for the position."On Sally Yates and Michael Flynn:"My White House Counsel Don McGahn came back to me and didn't make it sound like an emergency, and she actually didn't sound that way either in the hearings the other day in the hearings the other day, like it had to be done immediately. This man has served for many years, he's a general, he's in my opinion a very good person. I believe it would be very unfair to hear from somebody who we don't even know and immediately run out and fire a general."

Go deeper

DMV area issues coronavirus stay-at-home orders

Data: Axios reporting; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser issued stay-at-home orders on Monday, with exceptions for residents engaged in essential services, including health care and government functions.

The big picture: The states and territory are the latest to announce policies to enforce social distancing, which have affected almost 250 million Americans. More than 1.5 billion people worldwide had been asked to stay home as of last week.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 11 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 766,336 — Total deaths: 36,873 — Total recoveries: 160,001.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 153,246 — Total deaths: 2,828 — Total recoveries: 5,545.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30 — Rep. Nydia Velázquez diagnosed with "presumed" coronavirus infection.
  4. State updates: Virginia and Maryland issued stay-at-home orders to residents, joining 28 other states — Florida megachurch pastor arrested for refusing to call off mass services.
  5. World updates: Italy reports 1,590 recoveries from the virus, its highest ever.
  6. In photos: Navy hospital ship arrives in Manhattan
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Cuomo: Engaging in politics during coronavirus crisis is "anti-American"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a Monday press briefing that he won't get into a political tussle with President Trump — calling it "counterproductive" and "anti-American" — as his state deals with the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the country.

The backdrop: Trump said during an appearance on "Fox & Friends" earlier Monday that Cuomo has received high polling numbers during the outbreak because New York has received federal aid.