Good Thursday morning from New Orleans, where I'm moderating a panel tonight on "The Future of Cities" at the U.S. Conference of Mayors' summer leadership meeting.
Here's one of the most intriguing — and consequential — theories circulating inside the White House: The generals, the New Yorkers and Republican congressional leaders see themselves as an unofficial committee to protect Trump and the nation from disaster.
This loose alliance is informal. But as one top official told me: "If you see a guy about to stab someone with a knife, you don't need to huddle to decide to grab the knife."
The theory was described to Jim VandeHei and me in a series of private chats with high-ranking officials:
These officials see their successes mostly in terms of bad decisions prevented, rather than accomplishments chalked up:
Be smart: One of the biggest dangers to Trump's reign is that if Mueller acts or public support plummets, he suddenly could be lonely in his own White House.
"[T]he process, or lack of one, that led to the ad-libbed comments [threatening North Korea] embodied Mr. Trump's overall approach to foreign policy, an improvisational style that often leaves his national security team in the dark," the N.Y. Times' Peter Baker and Glenn Thrush write on the front page:
The FBI's pre-dawn raid on Paul Manafort's home in Alexandria, Va., makes it look like the special counsel is trying to:
As John Heilemann told Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC: "What Robert Mueller is doing right now is turning up the crank ... There are two guys who could be the prime people who could flip on Donald Trump, on the Trump family: Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn."
"We are now moving into the next phase, which is: 'We see what the case is. We're now gonna try to go in and lock this case down.' And they're moving faster than I think anybody thought."
The deets from the WashPost's Carol Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Roz Helderman:
A cyclist passes the setting moon as she rides across the Key Bridge toward Georgetown early yesterday.
Matt Drudge — who has kept his look steady even as everything else in media has convulsed — made a striking change Monday, beginning with a "NUKE YOU" banner headline: His photos, usually colorful amid the spare typewriter front, were suddenly black and white.
Drudge has recorded 11 billion visits to his site in the past year, and still breaks traffic records after decades as "the nation's assignment editor."
He sometimes makes one-day changes to his look and feel for special occasions: blue type on the Fourth of July, or green type on Christmas.
But when the noir look persisted this week, I had to ask him what was up.
Drudge instantly replied: "We have clearly entered a historic era. It's feeling like The Roaring 20's this autumn with tech valuations at such hysterical heights. The socials, like Instagram Live, are alive with the spirit of Warhol. The sound of the atom splitting is looming over Korea. What's old is new. So, black and white and read all over!"
Why it matters: Journalists these days talk constantly about how to capture and reflect the once-in-a-thousand-years events unfolding in front of our faces. Drudge once again was the innovator — with a retro look, and a prescient rationale.
Anthony "Mooch" Scaramucci joins George Stephanopoulos live Sunday on "This Week," for his first interview since being booted as White House communications director on July 31, after 11 days.
Mooch will then appear Monday on Stephen Colbert's "The Late Show."
The president pays close attention to TIME magazine covers, and the forthcoming issue trumpets new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly as "TRUMP'S LAST BEST HOPE."
Deputy Editor Michael Duffy writes in "Country First":
"Americans are saving less cash: Expenses are rising, incoming is stagnant," per USA Today's Paul Davidson:
P.S. Wall Street Journal front page, "U.S. Can't Get Breakout Economic Growth With Productivity This Low":
"U.S. worker productivity picked up modestly in the second quarter but showed little sign of breaking out of the sluggish trend that has prevailed for more than a decade, holding back economic growth and living standards."
Inflatable Trump chicken takes roost outside White House, transfixing tourists, Twitter and TV cameras, per AP: