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☕ Good Wednesday morning.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
When a frustrated adviser once tried to convince President Trump to consider a strategic plan, the president launched into a story about his friend Mike Tyson, the former world heavyweight boxing champion.
Jonathan Swan had asked the adviser whether Trump ever expressed frustration that his West Wing lacked enough of a plan for the crises ahead.
Trump used the Tyson quote as evidence that detailed strategic plans are pointless and said, in the adviser’s recollection, "We’ve just gotta fight every day and that’s how we win."
A third senior official insisted that the Tyson example is not entirely representative, and said that while Trump doesn’t personally like discussing plans he likes to know there is a plan.
For Trump’s part, he often claims there is a plan, he just won’t reveal it.
Why it matters: Trump's aversion to planning has been evident throughout his administration.
Despite President Trump's lack of personal interest in the planning, the White House Counsel’s Office is now moving fast to prepare for the twin threats of Robert Mueller and the new Democratic House majority, Jonathan Swan reports.
Much of the mid-level White House staff remains oblivious to what’s going on behind the scenes. But the new White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, has impressed the officials he's dealt with and Republican legal eminences Swan has spoken to.
White House lawyer Emmet Flood — who helped Clinton through impeachment proceedings, and faced Democratic investigators when he worked for George W. Bush — has been coaching some White House staff on what to expect and how to prepare, according to sources with direct knowledge.
While the new counsel has hired experienced lawyers from the George W. Bush era, Flood is the only lawyer on staff who — from his time with Bill Clinton — fully appreciates the scale and intensity of what's about to hit them.
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie settles scores in "Let Me Finish," a memoir out Jan. 29 from Hachette Books, writing that President Trump "trusts people he shouldn’t, including some of the people who are closest to him."
I did everything I could to make sure my friend Donald reached the White House fully prepared to serve. But a handful of selfish individuals sidetracked our very best efforts. They set loose toxic forces that have made Trump’s presidency far less effective than it would otherwise have been. If this tragedy is ever going to be reversed, it is vital that everyone know exactly how it occurred.
Once Steve Bannon started unburdening himself ... in his Trump Tower office, he couldn’t seem to stop. “The kid’s been taking an ax to your head with the boss ever since I got here,” he blurted out. “It’s been constant. He never stops. Ancient bitterness, I guess.”
In Bannon-speak, the KID is only one person. Not Donald Jr. Not younger son Eric. Not Ivanka or Tiffany. The kid is Jared Kushner, the husband of Ivanka Trump and the son of the real estate developer Charles Kushner, a man I once sent to prison.
Be smart: This would certainly be awkward if Christie were Trump's White House chief of staff — a position he discussed with Trump at the White House just a month ago.
"Attorney general nominee William P. Barr suggested ... that any report written by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III might not be made public," per the WashPost.
"A day after travelers waited nearly 90 minutes in snail-speed security lines at the world's busiest airport, Atlanta's mayor is concerned about the waits that could result when the city hosts the 2019 Super Bowl," AP's Jeff Martin reports.
The state of play: The Washington Post headlines, "The shutdown threatens the promise of government jobs — and a way of life"
P.S. ... "The partial government shutdown is inflicting far greater damage on the United States economy than previously estimated, the White House acknowledged on Tuesday," reports the New York Times.
After reaching a record-breaking number of 14,542 migrant children in its custody last month, the Department of Health and Human Services has managed to release more than 3,500 children, according to data collected by the Associated Press from individual HHS migrant child shelters, writes Axios' Stef Kight.
Why it matters: While President Trump keeps the government shut down over his demands for a border wall, one aspect of the humanitarian crisis seems to be coming back under control.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s historic defeat in the House of Commons yesterday has emboldened those in Westminster and around the country who argue a second referendum is needed to decide whether the U.K. goes ahead with Brexit or reverses course, Axios World editor David Lawler writes.
May argues that reversing course now would betray the will of the people and erode trust in politics for a generation. But some, including European Council President Donald Tusk, argue a second referendum is the only remaining course of action that makes any sense.
The bottom line: There have only been three nationwide referendums in U.K. political history. Another referendum on Brexit has never been the likeliest course. But it has also never looked as likely as it does now.
"Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand entered the growing field of 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, ... telling ... Stephen Colbert that she's launching an exploratory committee," AP's Juana Summers writes:
"Colbert presented Gillibrand with a basket of campaign gifts, including an ear of yellow corn to wave in Iowa, a piece of granite for New Hampshire and a one-of-a-kind button that reads 'I announced on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.'"
"Speaker Nancy Pelosi exacted revenge against one of her most outspoken detractors Tuesday night, blocking Rep. Kathleen Rice from landing a seat on the high-profile House Judiciary Committee," Politico's Heather Caygle, Rachael Bade and John Bresnahan report:
"New York members ... were still upset that another member of their delegation, freshman Rep. Anthony Brindisi, was blocked from getting on the Armed Services Committee on Monday night."
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
U.S. companies — desperate for workers despite the threat of recession — are lowering the qualifications they've previously demanded of new employees, writes Axios future editor Steve LeVine.
What's happening: Cities across the U.S. are stepping in with "life and employment skills" classes and assistance for Americans who have been left out of the economy — former convicts, ex-drug addicts, and others at the fringes.
"A wheeled robot named Marty is rolling into nearly 500 grocery stores to alert employees if it encounters spilled granola, squashed tomatoes or a broken jar of mayonnaise," AP's Matt O'Brien reports:
"The robots move around using laser-based 'lidar' sensors and pause when shoppers and their carts veer into their path."