SaveSave story

Scoop: Besieged Sessions dines with Rosenstein, Francisco

If Donald Trump finally follows through on his rage and fires Jeff Sessions, the image with this story will be printed in history books.

Tonight at 7:35pm, the Attorney General strode into a high-end Washington restaurant to dine with his deputy Rod Rosenstein and the Solicitor General Noel Francisco.

Sessions at dinner
Photo: Axios

The symbolism was unmistakable: the three top ranking officials in the Justice Department appearing together in a show of solidarity on the same day Trump is publicly and privately raging about Sessions.

When Trump sees this photo he'll have to absorb a concept that some of his aides have been trying to impress upon him for nearly a year, since he first began telling them he wanted to get rid of Sessions.

Photo: Axios

The concept: Fire Sessions, then what next? Are you going to fire Rosenstein too? And then what after that? 

Sources close to the situation say today feels different than Trump's usual rages. Sessions' allies are deeply concerned and Trump is totally fed up with his AG.

Trump has been taunting and publicly humiliating Sessions for months now, but his tweet this morning was as rough as any he's sent:

"Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!"

A source close to Sessions, who has spoken with him, says that this meeting was "in no way planned as pushback or an act of solidarity against the president." The source said Solicitor General Noel Francisco requested the meeting some time ago to talk about carrying out various aspects of the department's and administration's agenda.

Editor's Note: Get more stories like this by signing up for our weekly political lookahead newsletter, Axios Sneak Peek. 

Lauren Meier 2 hours ago
SaveSave story

Facebook's growing problems

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios 

Facebook is caught in the middle of a rapidly unfolding scandal over Cambridge Analytica's improper gathering of data on millions of users, and what that exposed about the company's data collection. The fiasco has drawn the interest of lawmakers and regulators and rekindled the debate over its role in the 2016 presidential election.

Why it matters: The bad headlines continued to pile up; "A hurricane flattens Facebook" said Wired, "Silicon Valley insiders think that Facebook will never be the same" per Vanity Fair, "Facebook is facing its biggest test ever — and its lack of leadership could sink the company" from CNBC, and — as we've yet to hear from the company's top leaders — "Where is Mark Zuckerberg?" asks Recode.

Dave Lawler 8 hours ago
SaveSave story

What Trump and Putin did and didn't discuss

President Trump spoke with Vladimir Putin this afternoon, and congratulated him on winning re-election on Sunday. After the call, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked whether Trump felt the election had been free and fair, and said it wasn’t up to the U.S. to “dictate" how Russia holds elections.

The bottom line: Trump is not alone in congratulating Putin — leaders in France, Germany and elsewhere have done so this week, as Barack Obama did in 2012. But past administrations certainly have seen it as America’s role to call balls and strikes when it comes to elections abroad, and weigh in when democratic institutions are being undermined. A departure from that approach would be welcomed not only by Putin, but other leaders of pseudo democracies around the world.