Happy Friday! It's Day 190.
Top Republicans tell us that yesterday may have been an inflection point in the West Wing meltdown — that if behavior like this continues, apparently sanctioned by the President, people will finally leave.
The story that they've been telling themselves and others, about the President growing in office, looks more and more like a fable. Instead, insiders feel the situation is getting worse.
A George W. Bush alumnus told us last night: "Republicans don't care about Russia. They do care about dysfunction."
What triggered this new bearishness among White House officials and their allies were the crude quotes by incoming White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci to The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza in a jaw-dropping piece headlined, "Anthony Scaramucci Called Me to Rant About Reince Priebus: He started by threatening to fire the entire White House communications staff. It escalated from there."
In the seconds after the astonishing story posted, a veteran lobbyist sent me a screenshot and said: "not sure if this is truly real."
It wasn't The Onion. It was real:
What some in the West Wing are thinking: There are interns reading this.
Be smart: The President likes people with backbone. And at the moment, Scaramucci is empowered: We're told the President loved the Mooch quotes. But President Trump doesn't like being upstaged. "Mini-me" can't forget the "Mini" part. Being more Trump than Trump, in Trump's house, is a dangerous game.
P.S. A source close to Mooch says he thought he was off the record, and Mooch tweeted: "I made a mistake in trusting in a reporter. It won't happen again."
A New Yorker spokesperson tells us: "Late in the conversation, Scaramucci requested that one part be off the record, and we respected that. The rest was on the record. Today (Thursday), Ryan and Scaramucci had another conversation and Scaramucci was clear and agreed that the conversation was on the record."
1:41 a.m. ... "WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate rejects measure to repeal parts of Obama health law, dealing serious blow to GOP and Trump's agenda."
The bottom line for Axios AM readers, from David Nather, Axios health care editor, and co-author with Tom Daschle of the 2010 book, "Getting It Done: How Obama and Congress Finally Broke the Stalemate to Make Way for Health Care Reform":
In the end, it wasn't Dean Heller or Mike Lee or any of the other leading suspects who ultimately picked up the knife and killed Republicans' efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Axios' Sam Baker and Caitlin Owens write:
N.Y. Times A1, above fold, "White House Lands 3 Punches Against Gay Rights in One Day," by Charlie Savage and Mike Shear: "The Trump administration abruptly waded into the culture wars over gay rights this week, signaling in three separate actions [on Wednesday] that it will use the powers of the federal government to roll back civil rights for gay and transgender people."
Why it matters: "The constellation of events raised alarm among gay rights advocacy groups."
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, physician Priscilla Chan, are staking out aggressive positions as philanthropists in contentious areas like education, affordable housing and criminal justice, Axios tech reporter David McCabe writes:
See details on the gifts, culled from documents, public statements and individual organizations.
USA Today front page, "Mueller's investigators could delve deeply into president's million-dollar real estate transactions," by Nick Penzenstadler and Steve Reilly:
N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Vladimir Putin, denouncing proposed U.S. legislation to bolster sanctions against Russia: ""It is impossible to put up forever with this boorishness toward our country."
David Ignatius column in WashPost, "It's time to start thinking about the unthinkable" (print headline: "A firewall against Trump"):
"In Trump's Washington, it's a fact of life that officials must now weigh whether they would follow presidential orders that might be improper or illegal. Officials mull (and occasionally, discuss quietly) what to do if a presidential request for loyalty conflicts with their sense of right and wrong. A possible order to fire Mueller is an imminent concern ...
"Protecting Mueller by statute may be impossible because of the constitutional separation of powers. If he is fired, though, Congress could enact a new independent counsel law, at least providing the authority needed for a continuing investigation that would get to the truth of what happened. In dealing with this administration, lawmakers and other officials can't wait until the bomb detonates; they should begin to take precautions now."
Boston Globe front page, "DC lobbyists ready for 'Hunger Games' of tax code reform," by Victoria McGrane:
"[S]he describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss ... With humor and candor, she tells readers what it took to get back on her feet — the rituals, relationships, and reading that got her through."
Nick Merrill: "Within 6 hours it was number one on Amazon, and we're still 6 weeks from release. Very exciting, it's a good book, not your typical political memoir. Very personal, it will surprise people."
P.S. Debuting at #1 on the N.Y. Times nonfiction list of Aug. 6 ... "DEVIL'S BARGAIN, by Joshua Green. (Penguin Press) A deeply reported account of the relationship between Donald Trump and his chief strategist."
"Larry David says his blunt 'Curb' character is no Trump," by AP TV Writer Lynn Elber in Beverly Hills: