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Andrew Harnik / AP

Jeff Sessions' close allies in the administration are infuriated that Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined to publicly voice confidence in the Attorney General from the podium. During Tuesday's White House press briefing, Spicer was asked if the President still has confidence in Sessions.

"I have not had that discussion with him," Spicer said, and declined to voice confidence when asked the same question again.

Sessions allies told me that wasn't good enough, though defenders of Spicer empathize with his not wanting to get ahead of the President. Spicer didn't respond to a request for comment.

Per a close ally of the attorney general in the administration:

"Spicer's passive aggressive 'I haven't talked to the President' dance now has him refusing to defend our own attorney general... What an embarrassment. Would he answer the same way if he'd asked about Reince? I don't think so."

Why this matters: A second source who works with Sessions described the comments from the podium as "unhelpful," and said it only added to the media firestorm already building around the tense relationship between Trump and Sessions.

Behind-the-scenes: The reports of tensions between Trump and Sessions are broadly correct, and it's true, as ABC's Jonathan Karl first reported, that Sessions offered to resign. But two sources familiar with the encounter say the resignation was more a gesture than anything that was likely to come to fruition.

Some added nuance: Sessions is aware of how frustrated Trump has been about his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Sessions "basically said out of a sense of honor that he serves at the pleasure of the President and is willing to step aside if [the President] feels like he would be better served by someone else in that role," says a close Sessions ally who has been briefed on the encounter. "[The President] said no that's not necessary. And that was the extent of it."

Go deeper

Updated 46 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.