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Alex Brandon / AP

Friends and colleagues say President Trump, chief strategist Steve Bannon and policy guru Stephen Miller think they're off to a terrific start. They see complaints about the travel ban as media misinformation and hype — amplified by Republicans they don't like and that they know will never like them.

On a conference call with reporters last night, a senior administration official said: "It really is a massive success story in terms of implementation on every single level."

And asked about the softening yesterday of the administration's stand on green-card travelers from the seven restricted countries, a senior administration official told Axios' Jonathan Swan: "The only issue is the media created an issue that never existed, and then asked us to resolve an issue that never existed. … The EO [executive order] is not going to be changed."

Despite the bravado, others who are high-up inside the administration worry that the ham-handed handling of the ban and its rollout are indicative of bigger problems ahead. These sources say:

  • Big decisions, and edits to crucial documents, are made in the dark of night, with scant input beyond the inner circle. "There are a few guys who keep everything to themselves," said a top official.
  • The insular inner circle is getting more insular, as it amasses more power.
  • No force within the West Wing is a sure-fire counterweight to Bannon/Miller.
  • The inner circle, resentful of leaks, seeks little input from the Cabinet, outside allies or Hill leaders. A leadership aide told us yesterday afternoon: "Congressional leaders had no hand in drafting this and haven't been briefed from the White House on how it works."
  • Trump is showing no signs of WANTING order: He loves the competing views, internally and externally, allowing him to be the (usually last-minute) decider.
  • The place oozes paranoia. So every bad move is simply chalked up to media-hate.
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Go deeper

22 mins ago - Axios Twin Cities

Brooklyn Center mayor in the spotlight after Daunte Wright shooting

Mike Elliott has moved swiftly after the death of Daunte Wright. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)

The killing of Daunte Wright by a Brooklyn Center, Minn., police officer has thrust Mayor Mike Elliott into the national spotlight.

The big picture: Elliott, with the backing of the city council, has acted quickly and boldly in the wake of the shooting. He fired longtime city manager Curt Boganey, took control of the police department and called for the firing of officer Kim Potter, who resigned on Tuesday.

Exclusive: White House meeting with members of Problem Solvers Caucus

Members of the Problem Solvers Caucus discuss the COVID-19 relief bill in December. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Top White House officials will meet Wednesday with a bipartisan coalition of House lawmakers as the administration tries to enlist moderates to support the president's infrastructure proposal.

Why it matters: The meeting is something of an olive branch after President Biden's team courted groups of progressives to back the $2.2 trillion package.

2 hours ago - Health

The new vaccine threat is fear itself

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The FDA’s decision to pause the use of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine has set off a chain reaction of fear — about the safety of the vaccine, and about whether the FDA is overreacting — that's causing unnecessary drama just as the vaccine effort is finally picking up speed.

The big picture: Throughout the pandemic, the public and the media, and sometimes even regulators, have struggled to keep risks in perspective — to acknowledge them without exaggerating them, and to avoid downplaying them because other people will exaggerate them.