Allies of Steve Bannon fear the White House chief strategist is about to be pushed out, following the posting last night of an ominous interview with Trump by Michael Goodwin, a New York Post columnist and someone the president has been comfortable with over many years.
Maggie later added: "Trump loves the shiny new object, whether it's a thing or a person. Right now that shiny new object is Cohn."
Steve LeVine, a former foreign correspondent who joined Axios from Quartz this week, writes: "Putin knows that he has a problem in Syria — he wants to retain Russia's military presence there, but is not wedded to President Bashar al-Assad. Therefore, he will be looking for a face-saving way out of the current crisis."
Get smart: Both presidents have extremely sober-minded senior aides who understand that the harsh exchange of rhetoric between the countries could escalate out of control.
Same lead story in all Big 3 papers ... N.Y. Times: "White House Says Russia Is Engaged in Covering Up Syrians' Chemical Attack" ... WSJ: "U.S. Accuses Russia of Cover-Up" ... WashPost: "U.S. disputes Russia's claims."
Visitors to Steve Bannon's West Wing office are often taken by his whiteboard, covered with promises from the campaign trail. Trump's chief strategist checks off tasks when they're accomplished, but there are some pledges on Bannon's whiteboard that nobody believes will be met — not in the first 100 days, and in some conspicuous cases, not ever.
Read Axios' Jonathan Swan on "Trump's rhetoric vs reality": "The reality looks much smaller, and, as much as Trump would hate to admit it — conventional.
Cowen's Chris Krueger raises possibility tax reform delayed to next year: "Base case remains tax relief in late Q4, though potential delay to Q1 18. Will need FY18 Budget to move taxes. So back to Square One on process, policy, and politics. Q1 17 a policy zero."
Department of Close Calls ... Kansas City Star: "Republican Ron Estes will be the next congressman from the state of Kansas, but his victory Tuesday night did not come as easily as many expected in the deep-red state. GOP strategists warned in recent days that Democrat James Thompson, a civil rights attorney, was in striking distance ... in the special election to replace Mike Pompeo."
Sean Spicer at yesterday's briefing: "You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to using chemical weapons. So you have to, if you're Russia, ask yourself is this a country that you and a regime that you want to align yourself with? "
Spicer's job security! @NancyPelosi tweets: "@realDonaldTrump, it's time to fire @PressSec Sean Spicer."
Rick Perlstein — who has written books on Goldwater, Nixon and Reagan — in N.Y. Times Magazine, "I Thought I Understood the American Right. Trump Proved Me Wrong. A historian of conservatism looks back at how he and his peers failed to anticipate the rise of the president":
The 1960s and '70s New York in which Donald Trump came of age, as much as Klan-ridden Indiana in the 1920s or Barry Goldwater's Arizona in the 1950s, was at conservatism's cutting edge, setting the emotional tone for a politics of rage. ...
The often-cynical negotiation between populist electioneering and plutocratic governance on the right has long been not so much a matter of policy as it has been a matter of show business. ... [T]he producers of "The Apprentice" carefully crafted a Trump character who was the quintessence of steely resolve and all-knowing mastery.
AP break at 5 a.m. ... "Records match some Ukraine ledger payments to ex-Trump aide," by Jack Gillum, Chad Day and Jeff Horowitz: "Last August, a handwritten ledger surfaced in Ukraine with dollar amounts and dates next to the name of Paul Manafort, who was then Donald Trump's campaign chairman. Ukrainian investigators called it evidence of off-the-books payments from a pro-Russian political party."
"Now, financial records ... confirm that at least $1.2 million in payments listed in the ledger next to Manafort's name were actually received by his consulting firm in the United States. They include payments in 2007 and 2009, providing the first evidence that Manafort's firm received at least some money listed in the so-called Black Ledger."
"United faces more questions as dragged passenger hires high-powered attorney" — Chicago Tribune: "David Dao, the passenger at the center of the growing imbroglio, retained a high-powered Chicago personal injury lawyer, Thomas Demetrio. Dao was in a Chicago hospital undergoing treatment for his injuries ... [F]our [U.S.] senators sent several questions about the 'very disturbing' incident."
Amid an advertiser backlash prompted by accusations of harassment, Bill O'Reilly announced on last night's show that he's taking a vacation. A Fox News spokesperson confirmed to Axios AM that "O'Reilly is on a pre-planned vacation and he will return on April 24th."
CNN's Dylan Byers says that per "O'Reilly spokesperson Mark Fabiani," the vacation is a family trip that was planned in October, including airline and hotel reservations.
Dana Perino is scheduled to fill in for O'Reilly tonight, we're told.
Gabe Sherman in New York mag: "Two highly-placed Fox News sources say 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch would like O'Reilly to be permanently taken off the air, while his father Rupert and older brother Lachlan are more inclined to keep him."
This news from Monday's Times looks worrisome for Reilly: "21st Century Fox has enlisted the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to investigate at least one accusation of sexual harassment against the Fox News host Bill O'Reilly. ... Wendy Walsh, a former guest on Mr. O'Reilly's show, ... called 21st Century Fox's anonymous hotline last week, prompting the investigation."
"Freaky Fast: Dodge Demon Challenger lays claim to fastest production car":
Fiat Chrysler's Dodge brand ... says its Demon Challenger can go from zero to 60 ... in 2.3 seconds. That beats the Tesla Model S P100D sedan, which hits 60 in 2.5 seconds.
Dodge used explosions, burnouts and a small drag strip to roll out the car Tuesday just ahead of the New York International Auto Show press days. The company even brought in Fast and Furious star Vin Diesel for effect.
The street-legal Demon also can hit 140 mph while running a quarter mile in 9.65 seconds, about two seconds faster than a typical muscle car. It's available in the fall.