J. Scott Applewhite / AP

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that "it was perfectly appropriate" for Deputy AG Rod Rosentstein to appoint a Special Counsel in the Russia investigation. Just yesterday he said the three ongoing Russia investigations are enough.

  • On whether Trump scandals are slowing down the political agenda: "It's always nice to have less drama" said Ryan, but Congress can "walk and chew gum" at the same time.
  • Would the GOP be better off with Pence as president? "I'm not even going to give credence to that."
  • "Our goal for tax reform is calendar year 2017... I feel very confident we can meet this goal."

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SurveyMonkey poll: Trump improves, but not enough

Trump and Biden during the final debate. Photo: Xinhua/Liu Jie via Getty Images

President Trump's final debate performance exceeded Americans' expectations, but it wasn't enough to shift the dynamics that left him trailing Joe Biden across most measures, according to a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

What they're saying: "Liar" was the word used most by debate watchers to describe Trump's performance, followed by "lies," "strong," "presidential" and "childish." "Presidential" was the word used most to describe Biden's performance, followed by "liar," "weak," "expected" and "honest."

Hunter Biden saga dominates online debate

Data: NewsWhip; Table: Axios Visuals

The mainstream media turned away. But online, President Trump's charges about Hunter Biden were by far the dominant storyline about the final presidential debate, according to exclusive NewsWhip data provided to Axios.

  • Coverage of business dealings by Joe Biden's son — and pre-debate allegations by one of his former business associates, Tony Bobulinski — garnered more than twice as much online activity (likes, comments, shares) as the runner-up.