Good Wednesday morning!
Governing by winging it ... It’s as if the post-election presidential transition to power never ended for Donald Trump. Or never began. Everything in this White House is in flux — and in play:
Some officials tell us it’s like Jan. 20, 2017, every day — with different characters and different plots, but the same maddening improviser, with the same maddening tricks.
Here's what's happening inside, from the deep, 24/7 reporting of Jonathan Swan:
Be smart: The result of all of this is a White House that often feels like madness, even to those present for opening night, and still in the cast today.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
At his Senate hearing yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg morphed from a shy tech nerd into a confident business executive who ran circles around lawmakers, Axios' Sara Fischer and Dan Primack write:
Zuckerberg was well-prepared, but he also benefited from redundant questioning that rarely included smart follow-ups:
By the end, some lawmakers were making jokes and asking Zuckerberg for his help:
A dissenting voice was Fox News, which often framed the Facebook issue as being more about censorship of conservative voices than about privacy.
Be smart: Congress might adopt some minor regulations on political advertising. But the idea of this group of senators regulating digital data right now seems far-fetched.
Bottom line: Zuckerberg and Facebook won by default, or forfeit.
Mitch McConnell speaks after weekly policy lunch at the Capitol yesterday, joined by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Sen. John Barasso (R-Wyo.), and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
Little by little, Senate Republicans are souring on Trump — dissing his trade moves, his Mueller threats and constant drama, Jonathan Swan reports.
At a weekly Senate Republican lunch at the Capitol yesterday, lawmakers from farm states said they're furious about Trump’s threats of tariffs.
But some of these red state Senators who represent farmers — think Iowans, Kansans, and Nebraskans — have already called the White House with their concerns.
More juice: Word has reached Republican senators that the White House is considering subsidies to compensate farmers who are hurt by tariffs. Some senators hate the idea of a trade compensation bank, saying it's not conservative.
New! Where the trade fight is heading:
Be smart: The free-traders hope Xi will be smart and give Trump enough “wins” to take a public relations lap and break the cycle of escalating tariffs.
An aide to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg closes a binder of notes left on the table as Zuckerberg takes a short break from testifying yesterday.
A source present at the taping says James Comey's interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, airing Sunday at 10 p.m. as a "20/20" special, is "going to shock the president and his team."
In an ABC promo, Stephanopoulos says Comey compared Trump to "a mob boss."
According to the source:
See the ABC promo, aired last night during "Roseanne."
Shot ... White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, asked yesterday if Trump believes he has the power to fire Mueller: "[W]e’ve been advised that the president certainly has the power to make that decision."
"Trump Said to Weigh Removal of Deputy Attorney General," by N.Y. Times' Mike Shear, Matt Apuzzo and Sharon LaFraniere:
Behind the raids ... "Federal prosecutors investigating President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael D. Cohen, are seeking records related to two women who received payments in 2016 after alleging affairs with Trump ... Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal," per the WashPost's lead story.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen today will outline her priorities for the first time — including protecting election security and countering foreign meddling — during a House Appropriations Committee hearing.
Ian's insight: It’s not just Europe and America. Technological and economic changes, the historic flow of people across borders, and public demand for protection have empowered a whole new class of politicians with a talent for pitting one group against another.
There’s a hopeful vision, too:
The N.Y. Times Magazine's upcoming cover story by Linda Villarosa, who directs the journalism program at the City College of New York, in Harlem, is an investigative and personal piece:
Premiering tonight at 10 p.m. on National Geographic Channel ... a new series about race, tech and more, "America Inside Out with Katie Couric":
"Once limited to descriptions of birds, wingspan has become one of the most important measurements for basketball prospects," AP's Janie McCauley reports from Oakland:
Thanks for reading! We'll have real-time coverage of Mark Zuckerberg's second day on the Hill on Axios.com.