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Josh Raffel (R) with Jared Kushner (C) in New York City in 2013. Photo: Paul Bruinooge / Patrick McMullan / Getty Images

Senior communications official Josh Raffel is leaving the White House, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Raffel, a former Hollywood PR executive, was originally brought in early last year to run communications for the Office of American Innovation, but quickly became the point man internally for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Even though Raffel was a Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter, White House staff (including some Trump originals) told me they were surprised how quickly they grew to like and trust him.

One White House official told me that when there’s a crisis “we call Josh.” The official said he didn’t envy Raffel because “he is always handling the worst stories.”

In the fall of 2017, Raffel was quietly promoted to deputy communications director and began taking a bigger role internally. Raffel oversaw communications for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, worked with Gary Cohn on a number of NEC issues, including tax reform, and also formed a close relationship with Michael Anton at the National Security Council.

Raffel was known to have high-level relationships at major print publications and the TV networks.

I’m told Raffel has been telling friends and colleagues including Jared and Ivanka over the past two months of his plans. He has told them he has to deal with family obligations back in New York and will return to the private sector.

Senior officials Jason Greenblatt, Ivanka Trump and Gary Cohn all sent quotes about Raffel for this story.

  • Greenblatt: “Josh was an integral part of our peace team and became a close friend. He guided all of us through the process of communicating serious and complex issues that impact people across the world.”
  • Ivanka: “Josh is honest, passionate and thoughtful. Whether it was offering strategic guidance on the communications for tax reform or a foreign trip, Josh's guidance was invaluable. The White House won’t be the same without him.”
  • Cohn: “Josh has been a trusted partner as we worked to enact the President’s economic agenda and passed historic tax reform. He is focused and thoughtful in our day-to-day operations and in driving a policy roll-out, and he will be missed.”

I’m told Raffel’s final day will be sometime over the next two months.

Go deeper

Exclusive: Lawmakers urge probe into DOJ's alleged racial profiling of Asians

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Nearly 100 members of Congress members urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the Justice Department's alleged racial profiling of Asians, according to a letter shared with Axios.

Why it matters: The case of Anming Hu, a scientist who was baselessly targeted in an espionage probe, has renewed scrutiny of the DOJ after an FBI agent admitted to falsely implicating the Chinese Canadian.

Physical stores go hybrid with micro-fulfillment centers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Retail stores of all sizes are turning part of their real estate footprint into logistics and fulfillment centers as they try to blend in-store shopping with e-commerce offerings.

Why it matters: In addition to staying competitive in a buy-everything-online environment, the trend is pushing brands to locate stores closer to dense population centers to try to reach consumers where they are and better cover the last-mile delivery zone to doorsteps.

Updated 1 hour ago - Sports

The Olympic events to watch today

Katie Ledecky. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

5 events to watch today...
  • Baseball: USA plays Israel in the opening round at 6 a.m. ET on nbcolympics.com (Watch the replay at 10:30 a.m. ET on NBC Sports).
  • Women’s soccer: USA takes on the Netherlands in the quarterfinals at 7 a.m. ET on NBC Sports (watch the replay at 6 p.m. ET on NBC Sports).
  • 🏊 🚴 🏃‍♀️ Team triathlon: The mixed team relay Triathlon makes its Olympic debut at 6:30 p.m. ET on USA Network.
  • 🏊‍♀️ Swimming finals: Watch Katie Ledecky swim the women’s 800m freestyle final and Caeleb Dressel go for his third gold at this year’s Games in the men’s 50m freestyle. Plus live action from the mixed 4x100m medley relay. Coverage starts at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
  • 🏃‍♀️ Track and field: Athletes compete in prelims and round 1 of several events, including the women’s 400m hurdles and men’s 100m.