West Wing officials are prepping for a years-long war with investigators and the bureaucracy, with plans to beef up legal, surrogate, communications and rapid-response teams as part of a "new normal" for President Trump — besieged.
"The White House is embracing the fight, which is going to last as long as Donald Trump is president," said a Trump ally familiar with the preparations. "We're getting street fighters ready to go."
A West Wing official said Trump has been frustrated by the ferocity of the incoming, and has demanded a more visible response.
Trump aides recognize that besides being in the crosshairs of investigators on Russia, they will be the continuing target of leaks from the bureaucracy. The Trump ally referred to this second enemy as "nameless, faceless, deep-state types" who have been inflamed and are punching back through the media.
Be smart: The new machinery is an effort to compartmentalize the scandals, so that some officials can focus on probes and revelations while others do their day jobs. But the success of that plan depends partly on President Trump's willingness to compartmentalize. Close aides have trouble imagining that.
Top White House officials tell me the key to forcing a more disciplined President Trump like the one onstage overseas is limiting his screen time. In Trump's case, it's curtailing his time watching TV and banging out tweets on his iPhone.
Trump himself has been pushing staff to give him more free time. But staff does everything it can to load up his schedule to keep him from getting worked up watching cable coverage, which often precipitates his tweets. It has worked well overseas so far.
The Congressional Budget Office scoring of the House healthcare bill was laden with bad news for Republicans, putting them in a terrible political position and making it even harder to find a way out in the Senate.
Under the CBO projections, the House bill will still un-insure a lot of people (23 million vs. 24 million before the "fix"), save less money in deficit reduction than the prior version, and open up a can of worms that could make people with employer-sponsored insurance worry that their policies might change.
Anyone with a preexisting condition now covered by Obamacare will worry that they might lose coverage (and they could). Opponents will argue that it disproportionately hurts older, sicker, and poorer Americans, and makes insurance more expensive for the sick and the pregnant.
The big takeaway ... "Final House health care bill could cause some state markets to unravel," by Axios' David Nather: "The last-minute changes to the [House] bill didn't affect the cost or coverage estimates that much. ... But CBO is warning Congress that the latest changes — letting states opt out of two of the ACA's main insurance regulations — could ruin the insurance markets in those states even if they make insurance cheaper for healthy people."
CNN's Manu Raju and Evan Perez: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings he had last year with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance."
N.Y. Times lead story, "Top Russian Officials Discussed How to Influence Trump Aides Last Summer," by Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo: "American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over ... Trump through his advisers," mainly Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.
"Police investigating the Manchester Arena bomb attack have stopped sharing information with the US after leaks to the media, the BBC understands."
Today is special Election Day in Montana, to fill the sole congressional seat, and the favored candidate has been charged with assault ...
"Republican candidate charged with assault after 'body-slamming' Guardian reporter ... Audio of Greg Gianforte attacking Ben Jacobs corroborated by Fox News journalists in the room, who described candidate 'slamming him to the ground.'"
Cord-cutters are ditching their cable packages faster than ever opting instead for cheaper, bundled digital TV options, Axios' Sara Fischer writes.
The 10 highest-paid women CEOs for 2016, as calculated by The Associated Press and Equilar, an executive data firm (with change from last year):
New Census Bureau figures ... 10 of the 15 fastest-growing cities with populations of 50,000 or more were spread across the South in 2016, with four of the top five found in Texas, AP's Terry Wallace reports from Dallas:
"Al Gore on the French Riviera: Why he was reluctant to make 'An Inconvenient Sequel,'" by L.A Times' Kenneth Turan: