Carolyn Kaster / AP

CNN's Brian Stelter says "this story reads like a cry for help" from NSC staffers. It's the two-column lead of the N.Y. Times, "Tensions and Chaos Rattle National Security Council: Foreign Policy Made via Twitter Tests Staff," by David Sanger, Eric Schmitt and Peter Baker, "based on conversations with more than two dozen current and former council staff members and others throughout the government." Top nuggets:

  • "K. T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser, said that early meetings of the council were brisker, tighter and more decisive than in the past, but she acknowledged that career officials were on edge."
  • Sign of the times: "Two officials said that at one recent meeting, there was talk of feeding suggested Twitter posts to the president so the council's staff would have greater influence."
  • "Many [officials] who remain, who see themselves as apolitical civil servants, have been disturbed by displays of overt partisanship. At an all-hands meeting about two weeks into the new administration, Ms. McFarland told the group it needed to 'make America great again,' numerous staff members who were there said."
  • "New Trump appointees are carrying coffee mugs with that Trump campaign slogan into meetings with foreign counterparts, one staff member said."
  • "Nervous staff members recently met late at night at a bar a few blocks from the White House and talked about purging their social media accounts of any suggestion of anti-Trump sentiments."

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Why it matters: The projection of U.S. norms and laws around the world has been an integral (and much resented) part of America's "soft power" since 1945. As China positions itself to replace the USA as global hegemon, expect it to become increasingly assertive along similar lines.

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Geoffrey Berman, the former top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, was expected to say in closed-door testimony today that Attorney General Bill Barr repeatedly urged him to take another job, warned him that getting fired would not be good for his resume or job prospects and steered him toward a high-level Justice Department post in DC.

Driving the news: Axios has obtained a copy of Berman's opening statement for his closed-door hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.